by Daniel Olsen | The Aggies aren’t used to starting off with so many losses but they also aren’t used to playing so many great teams to start out the season. While none of these losses were to ranked teams, they are all teams that have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tournament. The Aggies look more like an NIT team so far but we have seen them slowly work their way into the bubble in the first two seasons under Coach Craig Smith. Who are the players that can get them there? Let’s find out.
Neemias Queta: Mr. Wooden Award Watch List
The junior center at seven feet is making it clear that with Sam Merrill gone, this is his team now. He currently leads the team in points (14.0), rebounds (8.8), and blocks (1.6) per game. He was one of fifty players named to the Wooden Award watch list which is given to the best player in basketball. With the Aggies off to a rough start, Queta will have to continue to dominate in the Mountain West as well as help his team rack up more wins. He still needs to works on catching passes in the post as he averages 1.8 turnovers per game. If he can keep posting up, protect the paint and crash the boards, the Aggies will be strong candidates for their third consecutive Mountain West Conference Tournament title. He has won the conference Defensive and Freshman player of the year before. This year, he could very well be in play for MVP of the Mountain West.
Rollie Worster: Freshman of the Year?
There aren’t many freshmen in the Mountain West that are doing what the former Montana Gatorade Basketball player of the year is doing. He is second in the conference in scoring so far with 12.8 points per game. Only Marcus Williams out of Wyoming is averaging more with a stellar 17 points per game in his first four matchups. As long as he stays healthy and keeps putting the ball in the basket, look for Worster to get some hardware as well as help his team become a contender in the Mountain West for years to come.
Justin Bean: The Hustle Award
Maybe the true meaning of basketball doesn’t come from a box score. Maybe basketball means a little bit more.
This is probably what the Grinches who stole basketball (stats geeks) say to themselves when they watch Bean play. He’s not an athletic above-the-rim guy but he does everything. He dives for loose balls, crashes the boards and is an overall hustle machine. Yesterday, he had a season high 21 points against the College of Idaho and will look to help his team more when they face Weber State on Saturday in Ogden.
I had the chance to talk with Bean in the spring and while he maybe isn’t the leading scorer on the team, the coach did call on him to be a team leader. As a junior he is now an upper class player. Coach Smith has called upon him to be the most vocal guy on the court. So far I feel like he has done a good job but improvement is still possible throughout the season. I predict he and the Aggies will do just that.
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The Aggies sit at 2-3 with a tough schedule so far. They are favorites against the Wildcats, who just beat a Division II team of their own in Westminster. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend and beyond for the Aggies, who will start conference play in the Mountain West a week after the two remaining in-state matchups against Weber and Dixie respectively.
Featured image courtesy Eli Lucero | The Herald Journal via AP Pool