State Notes 07-27-11

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Pair of Lobo players make preseason 1st team, Lobos picked last

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A pair of University of New Mexico Lobo football players, Mackey Watch List candidate tight end Lucas Reed and placekicker James Aho, have been named to the Mountain West 2011 Preseason All-Conference team.
The team was selected by members of the media from the various Mountain West Conference markets. 
Reed is one of 11 returning all-conference players on the list, and one of seven returning first teamers.
Reed was in Las Vegas along with linebacker Carmen Messina and coach Mike Locksley for Mountain West Football Media Days at the Red Rock Resort and Spa. Reed is one of three Lobos this summer to be placed on a national award watch list, as Dillon Farrell was named to the preseason Rimington Watch List and Messina is on both the Butkus and Lombardi Watch Lists.
In the preseason team poll, Boise State was the media pick as league champion. The Broncos garnered 28 of the 31 first place votes and 236 points overall. 
Texas Christian University received the other three first place votes and had 208 points and are picked second. Air Force was third with 176 points, followed by San Diego State (160 points), Colorado State (104 points), Wyoming (80), UNLV (77) and the Lobos (39).
Interestingly, the Lobos have never finished last the year they were predicted to do so in the MWC preseason poll.
For the Lobos, Reed got on the national radar last season with a solid 33-reception year, catching five touchdown passes and 459 yards in receiving yards. He also is one of two Mountain West tight ends on the list, joining Kyle Efaw from Boise State.
In the 2010 season, Reed earned the Mackey Tight End of the Week after a terrific week against Wyoming, catching seven passes for 100 yards, including two touchdowns as UNM picked up a win over Wyoming, 34-31.
 Aho didn’t get many opportunities to kick last year, but when he did he was nearly perfect.
The senior last season went 8-for-9 on field goals, and he was perfect inside of 40 yards.  He also was spot-on with his extra points, drilling all 22 on the season.
Aho’s biggest contribution came against Wyoming, a 34-31 walk-off win.  Aho nailed a career-long 51-yard field goal in the third quarter cutting Wyoming’s lead to 21-17, and then with four seconds left, he cranked home a 38-yard field goal for the win at the gun, his second game-winning kick in as many years.

Menzies announces NMSU hoops schedule

LAS CRUCES — With three seniors and three juniors returning to the hardwood in 2011-12, the New Mexico State University men’s basketball team is slated to host 18 home games in the Pan American Center.
The schedule features three 2011 NCAA Tournament teams and a trip to the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.
NMSU’s fifth-year head coach Marvin Menzies said he was pleased with the schedule that includes six exciting non-conferences games including Arizona, New Mexico, UTEP and Southern Mississippi.
“The non-conference schedule presents a lot of marquee challenges that will aid us in our overall goal to establish a high RPI at the end of the season,” Menzies said. “It is always speculative but assuming our competitors do well, like we are projecting, hopefully, it will shake out that way and work in our favor.”
Menzies said the rivalry games with the Lobos and UTEP’s Miners, along with the games against Arizona and Southern Mississippi would give the team’s RPI a shot in the arm.
The Aggies open their season with an exhibition contest with Eastern New Mexico Nov. 2, before they begin their regular season campaign on the road for the third consecutive year with a rematch of the 2011 ESPNU BracketBuster game at Northern Colorado Nov. 12.
NMSU then meets UNM for the first of their home-and-home series games in Albuquerque Nov. 16, before their home opener against the Miners Nov. 19.
The Aggies will then travel to the Great Alaska Shootout Nov. 24-26. They will play Central Michigan in the opening round and either Southern Miss or UC Irvine in the second round.
The Aggies welcome Arizona to the Pan Am Center Nov. 29. It will be the first time the two teams have played in Las Cruces since 1971. Arizona’s Wildcats made a Elite Eight appearance and won a Pac-10 Championship in 2011.
Western Athletic Conference play for the Aggies starts Jan. 7 when they face Louisiana Tech on the road.
For the second consecutive year, the WAC Tournament, scheduled for March 7-10, will be held in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
“I liked the format we had last year, and I’m hopeful that we get even more fans out from all the schools in order to grow the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas,” Menzies said.
Prep coach joins Lobo volleyball program
ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico head volleyball coach Jeff Nelson announced the hiring of Ben Wallis as an assistant coach for the Lobos’ program.
Wallis, who was the head coach of Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho from 2009-11, will be primarily responsible for scouting and will also assist with the recruiting efforts, camps and, of course, on-court coaching.
Wallis’ hire comes after former assistant Steve Hendricks  accepted the head coaching position at Barry University.
“I’m excited to join such a successful coaching staff and program,” Wallis said. “I know Jeff has had his teams finish third, third and second in conference play the last three years and I hope to help push them over the hump and bring home a conference title this year.”
The 32-year-old Wallis brings roughly a decade of coaching experience with him to UNM.