Mailbag
Anthony Roy and New Mexico State are winless thus far in WAC play. Courtesy NMSU Athletics.

Wings, Wins and Best Three Teams Highlight WAC Mailbag

It is always interesting when I request questions to answer for a mailbag. I always wonder what questions will come. And sometimes they make you chuckle. That’s exactly what my good friend Tyler Creer did in the first response to the request.

And it is a great way to start off this WAC Wednesday mailbag. There were some great questions. Jason Waters, once again, throwing haymaker after haymaker with his questions. More questions about WAC Vegas, final records, and so forth.

And one about a head coach and potential job opportunities. That is probably the best question of the bunch for this mailbag.

So, let’s get to it.

BDubs or Wingstop?

For the sake of the mailbag and because I like to watch games when I eat, I will say BDubs. If it was solely about the wings, then Wingstop. Answering this mailbag question may cause me some grief. But, I stand by my decision.

Who Do You See as the Best Three Teams in the WAC Right Now?

As of right now, as of this mailbag right up, Seattle U, Utah Valley and Sam Houston.

Seattle U because they just continue to win and they have savvy vets.

Utah Valley because, outside of the Seattle U game, they continue to win. And as one coach in the WAC put it, they have a rim protector that allows their guards to do more.

And Sam Houston because they played arguably one of the toughest stretches of league play and are 5-3 after those eight games.

Do You See a Power 5 Program Pursuing Chris Victor?

I think there is a very real chance of that happening. Seattle U head coach Chris Victor is one win away from hitting 40 career wins. Yes, 40…in less than two full seasons. So, there is the very real chance the offers will come if the Redhawks continue to play well.

Now, the follow-up question is will he take a job offer? I would assume the answer will be similar to other coaches…it has to be the right job.

One thing is for sure…Chris Victor is proving himself to be an elite head coach.

Of Bottom 4 Teams at WAC Vegas, Which Team Gets Hot?

Let’s circle back to this question when the seedings are set. It is way too early to decide who is and who isn’t going to WAC Vegas. There are still 10-11 games left in WAC play and the races are too close to call.

Just to enlighten you, though, I think Utah Tech and UTRGV could get hot. Justin Johnson is a lot to handle. And Utah Tech will have a lot of fans at the Orleans. So if we are going by who’s in currently, those two teams are who I would say could get hot.

Any Thought on CBU?

You’re exactly right. CBU is a minute or two from being 6-1 in WAC play. The Utah Valley loss is a perfect example. Why in the world did Reed Nottage take back-to-back 3-pointers with under 30 seconds to play? Especially after one hit the rim and reset the shot clock. Take the ball back out, and then hit free throws to seal a big win. Sure, we can analyze it. And if he knocks down one of them, we don’t question it.

I think CBU is figuring out that they need to score points. When the Lancers hit 70 points, they are 7-1. That doesn’t surprise me. CBU is at its best when it is scoring points, getting up and down the floor, and knocking down shots in rhythm. The Lancers have won four of their last five and in all four of those wins, scored 70-plus points.

This week is a big road trip for them. You have to win the games you are supposed to. And CBU will be favored at UT Arlington and UTRGV.

More Surprising: Competition in the WAC or that NMSU Isn’t Involved In It?

I said it throughout the offseason and have said it all throughout the 2022-23 season…the WAC is as good and as deep as its ever been. And that is despite New Mexico State struggling in its final season in the league.

So, the competition in the WAC isn’t surprising at all. This goes to the second part of your question. It is extremely surprising how much of a struggle it has been for New Mexico State. I remember saying that it would take time for this team to gel.

And I raised concerns about having too many mouths to feed. I got a lot of grief for it and a lot of Aggie fans blasting me for those thoughts. Well, I was spot on with those thoughts. I didn’t expect it to last this long. So, that is the most surprising part of all this.

And the tough part for Aggie fans, is where do the Aggies get a win? The next five games are at Utah Valle, SFA, Seattle U, at Grand Canyon and at CBU.

New Mexico State struggling as much as it has is the biggest surprise of the 2022-23 season.

Do You Still Thing the WAC Champion Will Have 3 or 4 Losses?

This is a good question for the mailbag.

But, yes, I do. Some teams at the top still have a gauntlet they have to go through over the final 10-11 games. Seattle has the Sam Houston/SFA road trip this week. And the Redhawks still have to play at New Mexico State, at Grand Canyon and at CBU plus a home game against Utah Valley. The Wolverines have Southern Utah twice, a road trip to Utah Tech, and have to go to Seattle U among others.

It will be extremely surprising if the regular season champ has less than three losses.

How Many Teams Can Legitimately Win WAC Vegas?

Seven. I think we are seeing the top of the league separate itself a little bit. But, seven can legitimately win WAC Vegas. Obviously, Seattle U, Utah Valley and Southern Utah.

Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are right there. Grand Canyon needs to get healthy with Yvan Ouedraogo and Josh Baker. And California Baptist is starting to play some of its best basketball.

I said eight or nine prior to the season because I thought maybe Abilene Christian and New Mexico State would be there. Obviously, as of right now, that doesn’t look like the case. But, remember, any team can get hot and win 3-4 games in five days.

Will Seattle U Go Undefeated in Conference Play?

Jason always brings quite a few questions for this mailbag.

But, no, the Redhawks will not go undefeated in WAC play. This weekend is a tough road trip to East Texas. It’s the start of a gauntlet to finish out conference play.

Does NMSU Make a Coaching Change if they Go Winless in WAC Play?

That is hard to say. It may cost NMSU most to let Greg Heiar go than to keep him and give him another season. I think it is safe to say that the internal investigation may have more to do with any changes than results on the floor. Sure, Aggie fans are not happy and for good reason. But, I don’t think that is all Heiar’s fault. There are a lot of egos on this Aggie squad. A lot of players who have not adjusted to different roles. And it shows. Too many want to be the hero, which leads to bad basketball. Sure, Heiar can try to coach them up. But, until guys buy in, there’s not a ton a coach can do.

For what it is worth, I don’t think New Mexico State goes winless in WAC play.

Can Tarleton Overcome Their Offensive Struggles as of Late?

Good question. I was talking to someone about this last night. With the way that Billy Gillispie coaches, I am not sure it is a quick fix. It feels like there is a different lineup or the rotations change so much that there is a lack of continuity.

At the Sam Houston game, Tiger Booker started the game. But, Booker didn’t play the entire second half. Lue Williams had 20-plus points in a win earlier in the week. But, was benched just 42 seconds into the second half in the loss.

There has to be continuity. But, I am not sure that is what Billy Gillispie is all about in his coaching style. There is talent there in Stephenville. But, until regular rotations are figured out, it will continue to be a struggle.

Can SUU Win on the Road in a Grind-It-Out Defensive Game?

Another good question for the mailbag.

Southern Utah can light it up at any given moment. On the road, the T-Birds haven’t hit their season average in points in four WAC road games. The recent struggle came on Saturday against Seattle U where the T-Birds scored just 60 points.

But, they won a pair of games at New Mexico State and a close road win at ACU. So, the T-Birds can win close games on the road. Thing is, outside trips to Orem, St. George, and Huntsville, the schedule is pretty favorable for the T-Birds down the stretch.

 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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