Theus Hanging Around Las Cruces

By - May 11, 2007

I've come to learn that my dozens of readers and even a handful of my fellow staffers think the name of this blog -- Hang Time -- is a master stroke of stale and uninspired nomenclature. Like I just picked the first generic basketball-related phrase that popped into my head and went with it. Give me a little more credit than that.

Of course, the pop culture cognoscenti know that Hang Time is a nod to one of the more popular Saturday morning sitcoms of the 1990s, which tracked the daily trials and tribulations of the Deering High School basketball team -- school, dating, coming of age, drug and alcohol use, discrimination, teen pregnancy and so on. Current New Mexico State coach Reggie Theus played the role of the team's coach and father figure Bill Fuller, who guided the Tornadoes to countless victories in big games while helping mediate and resolve the various conflicts that arose among the show's ever-changing cast of characters in his spare time.

Theus was written out of the show at the end of the third season when his character was offered the head coaching job at Southern Florida University and Hang Time promptly jumped the shark. The former UNLV standout and NBA player might not have won any Emmys for his role -- but how many other college basketball coaches can claim one degree of separation from Jack Nicholson? (Hang Time co-star Anthony Anderson, who played Theus' godson Teddy Brodis on the show, worked with Nicholson in The Departed.)

This is all just a roundabout way of getting to the contract extension Theus signed Thursday which makes the fomer Rick Pitino assistant the highest paid men's basketball coach in the Western Athletic Conference. Inheriting a team that won only six games during the 2004-05 campaign, Theus has led the Aggies to consecutive winning seasons. This past year, the Las Cruces, N.M., school finished with a 25-9 record, won the WAC Tournament and advanced to the NCAAs for the first time in eight seasons and the second time since 1975. And Theus will make close to a half-million moving forward as a result of the program's sudden resurgence.

With the Aggies returning four of five starters from this year's surprise conference champs and Theus having lured a promising six-man incoming class to campus, short- and long-term prospects appear bright. So while we continue to miss the young coach as an actor, commentator, television personality and surrogate father, we're happy to see Theus enjoy success in his chosen field.

Posted by at 02:46 PM on May 11, 2007

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