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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Hang Time’s’ Theus leads resurgent New Mexico State

    Reggie Theus
    Reggie Theus

    After Reggie Theus finished a 13-year career in the NBA, the second-year head coach at New Mexico State spent nearly 10 years as an actor and sports television analyst, including a three-year stint on the NBC show “”Hang Time.””

    Theus played coach Bill Fuller on the Saturday morning program, but now the 49-year-old is playing the role of real live coach. In his first year at New Mexico State, Theus turned around a program that went 6-24 the year before he arrived, leading the Aggies to a 16-14 record.

    Being in the limelight and receiving recognition from the show’s popularity has proved surprisingly beneficial to Theus in his young head-coaching career, he said by phone yesterday.

    “”It’s amazing, I didn’t realize how popular the show was until I started to recruit,”” Theus said. “”I started to go on the college scene, and that was the age group. They eventually grew up, and now they’re in college, so a lot of college kids and recruits that I’ve (visited) around the country, they all really watched the show.””

    Since the show, Theus has coached the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets summer league teams and been an

    assistant coach under Rick Pitino at Louisville, where he showed his recruiting prowess by helping to secure the rights to David Padgett, a highly sought-after former McDonald’s All-American who transferred from Kansas.

    “”It’s kind of funny to me, but it really has helped me in a lot of ways because my career has spanned three generations – my generation of playing the kids of today, their parents and the kids that watched me do the TNT and ESPN talk stuff and the younger college kids and some of the high school (kids) that remember “”Hang Time.””

    In his brief tenure in Las Cruces, Theus has already recruited the No. 23 player in the class of 2007 according to www.Rivals.com, forward Herb Pope, as well as four transfers who are playing this year ð- former Utah standout Justin Hawkins, former Kansas State guard Fred Peete, center Martin Iti from North Carolina-Charlotte and forward Trei Steward, formerly of Northern Coloradoð – and this year’s class of junior college forward Hatilla Passos, who was the Most Valuable Player of the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament, and high school point guard Jonathan Gibson.

    “”I’ve always thought that’s the quickest way, either with JC kids or if you can get high D-I

    transfers,”” Theus said. “”Because a lot of time they’ve seen the big-time programs work, and they have an understanding of what you expect when you talk about running your program like a high major program.””

    The Aggies, who run a fast-breaking, full-court press style similar to head coach Lute Olson’s Wildcats, whom Theus said he admires, won their first game against Pacific 76-74 and play tonight at Loyola Marymount before heading to Tucson.

    Theus used an eight-man rotation led by Hawkins (18 points and nine rebounds) and Peete (19 points, 8-of-12 from the field), but he will also have last year’s fourth-leading scorer David Fisher back from a one-game suspension.

    But Theus still won’t have last year’s leading scorer Tyrone Nelson, who broke his hand and will be out for three weeks, or Passos, who has an injured knee and will be out for two to three weeks.

    Former St. John’s guard Elijah Ingram, who came off the bench against Pacific and scored 10 points in 19 minutes, is battling a foot injury but will be available.

    “”We will be a tough team, we’ll give (Arizona) a good test,”” Theus said. “”We’ll be a team – if they don’t play – we’ll give them a hell of a basketball game, especially if we’re at full force.””

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