Friday, Nov. 11 will serve as the first day of competition for the Aggies 2016-17 college basketball season, as the NM State women’s basketball team will open its season at home vs. San Jose Staté.
The two-time defending Western Athletic Conference and tournament champions are set to square off against the Spartans at 5:30 p.m. (MST) on Friday at the Pan American Center.
WHERE TO WATCH
NM State’s contest with Grand Canyon on Saturday can be viewed on the following TV networks listed below.
-FOX Sports Arizona
-DISH: 452 SD 9574 HD | DISH Hopper: 412-40 | DirectTV: 686-1 SD & HD
NM State returns three starters and eight letterwinners from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, including all-defensive player Moriah Mack and all-newcomer Brooke Salas.
Moriah Mack, leads all returning Aggies with 11.7 points per game and 2.7 assists, per game in 2015-16. The guard captured her second-straight WAC All-Defensive team honors last season, as well as being named to the WAC First-Team. Mack was named to the
Brooke Salas, a sophomore from Placentia, Calif., made an immediate impact on the team last season. As a freshman, she averaged 9.4 points and 4.7 rebounds for NM State, starting in 30 games and earned WAC All-Newcomer and All-Tournament Team honors.
Brianna Freeman, the Academic All-Conference honoree, was a force to be reckoned with for the Aggies last season as she totaled 41 blocked shots, good for sixth on the Aggies single-season record, putting her total up to 90 which is seventh all-time.
NM State was picked to win the Western Athletic Conference in both the coaches’ and media poll. Senior guard Morah Maack was chosen for the WAC First-Team in both polls. Forward Brianna Freeman joined Mack on the first-team in the coaches poll and was named to the second-team with teammate Brooke Salas in the media poll.
TRAKH BOLSTERS ROSTER FOR 2016-17
Head coach Mark Trakh added Gia Pack, Tonishia Childress, Sara Lopez and Aaliyah Prince to the mix for the 2016-17 season after posting a 25-6 mark last year.
Pack, a 5-10 forward out of Phoenix, Ariz., was a four year letterwinner at South Mountain High School and was named Arizona GAtorade Player of the Year as a senior. The forward led her team to an Arizona Division II championship her senior year after averaging 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.8 steals and 3.2 assists. She was also named a McDonald’s All-American finalist.
Childress, a 5-5 guard from Las Vegas, Nev., redshirted last season after transferring from Boise State. While at Boise State, Childress played in every contest her freshman and sophomore seasons. In high school, she was a four year letterwinner at Bishop Gorman and guided the Gaels to four-straight league championships, including a state championship her freshman year. She was named Nevada State 4A Player of the Year as a senior on top of her first-team all-state.
Lopez, a 5-8 guard from El Paso, Texas, served as the team manager her freshman year at NM State before earning a roster spot in 2016-17. While in high school at Horizon, she averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 steals, 3.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds her senior season.
Last, but not least, is Aaliyah Prince, a 5-8 guard who joins NM State from San Antonio, Texas. The Highlands High School graduate led her squad to four-straight playoff appearances. Earned 5A All-District MVP honors her senior season after leading HHS to its second-straight district championship while averaging 20.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.4 steals and 2.7 assists.
NEW FACES ON THE COACHING STAFF
Joining head coach Mark Trakh’s staff this summer was coaches Jason Glover, Ashley Ford and Blanche Alverson.
Glover, comes to Las Cruces after spending the last three seasons in Orem, Utah, where he served as the associate head coach at Utah Valley. He comes to NM State with a plethora of experience, ranging from the prep ranks all the way up to the professional levels in both the NBA and WNBA. In his three seasons with the Wolverines, Glover coached Mariah Seals to a Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honor in 2014-15, a first teamer in Sam Loggins (2015-16), two second teamers in Rhaiah Spooner-Knight (2014-15) and Seals (15-16) and three all-newcomers. Originally brought on as an assistant coach, Glover was recently named Associate Head Coach on the Aggies staff.
Ford joins the New Mexico State women’s basketball staff after spending the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at Nebraska, her alma mater, where she was the starting point guard her senior year under head coach Connie Yori. The Nebraska alum helped guide the Huskers to their fifth-consecutive postseason bid this past season when they earn a spot in the WNIT after going 18-13 on the year and 9-9 in the Big Ten play. It was the first WNIT appearance for Nebraska since 2009. Before returning to her alma mater, Ford spent five seasons (2010-15) as an assistant coach with the Toreros of San Diego.
Alverson enters her first season as an assistant coach at New Mexico State after serving as a graduate assistant the past two seasons under Candi Whitaker at Texas Tech University. During her time with the Lady Raiders, Alverson helped coach Ivonne Cook-Taylor to an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention and Japreece Dean to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. Tech also won its first Big 12 Tournament game since 2012 during Alverson’s time in Lubbock. Prior to her time in Lubbock, Texas, Alverson played a year overseas in Spain for CD Zamarat during the 2013-14 season.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Heading into Friday’s contest, NM State leads the all-time series 27-5. The Aggies won the most recent match up, 75-66, in San Jose last December. NM State had three players in double-figures in the win. Sasha Weber led all scorers with 20 points on 6-of-11 three-point shooting. Brianna Freeman recorded a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Moriah Mack chipped in with10 points.
San José State will be led by a pair of seniors this season in Dezz Ramos and Jasmine Smith. Ramos, a 5-7 point guard was named the MWC Newcomer of the Year as a transfer in 2015-16 and averaged 18.1 points and 4.1 assists for the Spartans, both team-leading. Smith, a 6-0 center, avergaed 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds last season. SJSU also returns Myzhanique Ladd, who leads returners in steals (36) and averaged 7.8 points and 4.9 assists last year.
As a team, San José State is led by fourth-year head coach Jamie Craighead. She led SJSU to an 13-17 overall record in her third year and an 11-7 mark in conference play, good for fourth in the Mountain West Conference.
2015-16 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
-Nov. 30, 2015 – Brianna Freeman named WAC player of the Week
-Dec. 2, 2015 – 6-0 start to the season was halted in loss to Arizona on the road
-Best start to program since 1993-94 team started season 8-0
-Dec. 5, 2015 – 17-game home winning-streak snapped in loss to UTEP
-Dec. 14, 2015 – Mark Trakh earns 350th career win with 76-61 victory over Eastern New Mexico
-Dec. 20, 2015 – NM State wins third-consecutive game over New Mexico
-First season-sweep of UNM since 1995-96 season
-Last time NM State won three-straight or more over UNM was from 1992-96 (10)
-Dec. 21, 2015 – Sasha Weber named WAC & College Sports Madness Player of the Week
-Dec. 30, 2015 –Trakh guided NM State to 10-plus wins for the fourth-straight season in win
-Jan. 25, 2016 – Brooke Salas named College Sports Madness Player of the Week
-Feb. 6, 2016 – Trakh became fourth coach to lead NM State to back-to-back 20-win seasons
-Feb. 15, 2016 – Salas Named WAC & College Sports Madness Player of the Week
-Feb. 18, 2016 – NM State clinches its second-straight regular-season title
-First time since 1986-88 seasons
-March 5, 2016 – 15-game winning-streak snapped in loss to UTRGV in regular-season finale
-Ties program record for most-consecutive wins set by 1987-88 squad
-March 7, 2016 – Trakh repeats as WAC Coach of the Year
-Only fifth head coach in WAC history to win back-to-back
-Only head coach in NM State women’s basketball history to win back-to-back
-March 7, 2016 – Weber, Moriah Mack & Salas headline All-WAC awards
-Second-straight First-Team All-WAC for Weber
-Second-straight all-defensive team and first First-Team All-WAC for Mack
–Salas named to WAC All-Newcomer Team
-March 12, 2016 – Repeated as WAC Tournament Champions
-First time in school history to repeat as conference tournament champions
–Trakh became the fifth head coach to lead three separate teams to two-straight NCAA Tournaments
–Weber named WAC Tournament MVP while Salas earned all-tournament honors
-March 18, 2016 – Finished season 26-5 with 74-52 loss to #11 Arizona State in NCAA Tournament
-26 wins ties program record for most in a single-season
-26 wins is also the most wins a single-season for Trakh
-March 25, 2016 – Assistant coach Aarika Hughes named one of WBCA’s ‘Thirty Under 30’ award honorees
-April 8, 2016 – Freeman and Weber earn WAC All-Academic honors
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN
NM State women’s head coach Mark Trakh continues to leave his mark in the coaching world as last season he became just the fifth head coach to lead three separate teams to two-consecutive NCAA appearances. Of those five coaches, Jim Foster is the only coach to lead four different teams to the Big Dance in consecutive years.
–Jim Foster: Saint Joseph’s (1985-90) | Vanderbilt (1992-98, 2000-02) | Ohio State (2003-12) | Chattanooga (2014-16)
–Gary Blair: Stephen F. Austin (1988-93) | Arkansas (1995-98, 2001-03) | Texas A&M (2006-16)
–Joanne P. McCallie: Main (1995-2000) | Michigan State (2003-07), Duke (2008-15)
–Vivian Stringer: Cheyney (1982-83)* | Iowa (1986-94) | Rutgers (1990-2001, 2003-12, 2015)
–Mark Trakh: Pepperdine (2000, 2002-03) | USC (2005-06) | New Mexico State (2015-16)