Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mike Smith and Las Cruces High Boys Hoops

Here are some reflections on Mike Smith and his tenure as the boys basketball coach at Las Cruces High. The 12-year veteran of the sidelines at NMSU had some good years and some disappointments.

His 2001 team shocked may by winning the district tournament and then went up north to unseat a very good Rio Grande team which had three Division I players on the squad in the first round of the state tournament.

His 2006 team with Gordo Castillo as a junior nearly upset Manzano in the state tournament only to lose in double overtime.

This past year was his best season overall. The team won 23 games, beat Rio Grande and Gallup in the state finals and gave Highland all it could handle in the semifinals.

Smith did things his own way and he had some good years. I would guess one of his disappointments came when Castillo was a sophomore. The Bulldawgs were a serious state title contender that year with regular season wins against Rio Grande, eventual champ Eldorado and 4A champ Deming. But the team faded late, lost in the district tournament semifinals and sat out the state tournament.

That team was solid in so many ways, but just couldn't finish. There were other disappointments for the Bulldawgs during Smith's tenure, but in retrospect, Smith did a fair job over the years.

And he was always fair and solid with us here at the paper. Smith will likely coach again down the road and he has a great knowledge of the game and can help players understand the game better.

So what's next for LCHS? Assistant William Benjamin should get first crack at the job. He's also a smart basketball mind and and he's paid his dues on the bench as an assistant and junior varsity coach. And he likes Las Cruces and is loyal to the kids in the program, which is a huge plus.

- Felix

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike Smith was not a good basketball coach at LCHS. He demoralized his players, refused to adapt to the flow of the game (hence his many, many, many losses against inferior teams at crucial times), and was not shy about displaying his own personal biases against individual players, driving off many talented individuals throughout the years that could have gotten him over the hump. He was a great coach of underdogs, but once he had talent, the entire system would begin to revolve around a single player, and the disappointing losses would begin to pile up. It happened with Brandon, it happened with Mitch, and it recently happened with Gordo. He had a poor rapport with the parents of his players, and LCHS is better off with Mr. Benjamin at the helm. That being said, I do like Mr. Smith as a person and hope that he gets out of his own way at his next destination and finds success.

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