Chris Jans talks absence, power outage ahead of contest with New Mexico

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  • Chris Jans
    American basketball player and coach

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans was in the same boat as thousands of viewers watching the Aggies' game against New Mexico on television when the Pan American Center lost power Tuesday night.

Jans, who did not coach in Tuesday's game against UNM due to Covid-19 protocols, had done what he could to replicate his normal game-day routine while he was away from the team. In his weekly press conference Sunday, he shared his thoughts and experiences while he was sidelined for 10 days and his impressions of the team during his absence. He also said he is in great health after missing more than a week.

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He said he shaved, showered and went through some of his typical regimine before a game Tuesday even though he wasn't going to be present, but he felt compelled to do what he could to recreate his normal game-day experience.

Head coach Chris Jans talsk to a ref as the New Mexico State Aggies face off against the UTEP Miners at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.
Head coach Chris Jans talsk to a ref as the New Mexico State Aggies face off against the UTEP Miners at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

He traded his normal suit for pajamas and his folding chair on the bench for a more comfortable seat in his living room and prepared to chart every individual play. He kept his laptop next to him, just in case something happened to his TV or anything unexpected happened.

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"I thought I was prepared for any issues. Certainly, no one had any idea that you were going to have the outages that that we did," Jans said. "It was just frustrating."

Jans said athletic director Mario Moccia called him to provide updates during the delay, but it didn't solve his issue of not being able to watch the game live. So, like many Aggie fans, he tuned into the radio broadcast, which play-by-play broadcaster Jack Nixon was calling from his cell phone.

Jack Nixon, the Play-by-Play Announcer, is forced to do his radio show through his cell phone after the power went out on NMSU campus as the New Mexico State Aggies face off against the University of New Mexico Lobos at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
Jack Nixon, the Play-by-Play Announcer, is forced to do his radio show through his cell phone after the power went out on NMSU campus as the New Mexico State Aggies face off against the University of New Mexico Lobos at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

"That was painful to be honest with you, because in your mind, you're trying to think about how he's calling the action and what actually happened," Jans said. "As I look back, I wish I wouldn't have listened to it. I had no control anyway. It was very frustrating. But fortunately, late that night, early in the morning, I was able to get a (video) copy of most of the game and be able to watch it for myself."

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Jans said he thought associate head coach James Miller, who assumed head coaching duties while Jans was unavailable, did a fantastic job running the program while he was out. The Aggies went 1-1 in the two games Miller acted as head coach, defeating New Mexico Highlands 94-67 and falling to UNM 101-94.

He said Miller was placed in a tough spot having to assume the reins ahead of three straight rivalry games, but he wouldn't have wanted anyone else in charge during the interim.

"People have said this to me in person, people have communicated with this me in other ways: 'That wouldn't happen if you were there,' and I cringe when I hear that," Jans said. "That is so unfair to the guys that were left to try to coach the team during practice, during film sessions, during the games. They're almost substitute teachers, if you will. And for some of us, we know how we felt when the substitute teacher walked in the room.

"It's a different feeling. And they were put in a really bad spot. And at the end of the day, how we performed in those games when I wasn't there is (a reflection of our) program, it's a culture. And I haven't, as the head coach, done a good enough job for us to continue to perform at the level that we're used to."

Jans also said assistant coach Dominique Taylor will be available to coach Monday after missing Friday's game against UTEP in Covid protocol. Tip-off for the Aggies' contest against New Mexico is set for 7 p.m. at The Pit.

Stephen Wagner is a sports reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can found on Twitter at @stephenwag22 and reached at SWagner@lcsun-news.com.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Chris Jans talks absence, power outage ahead of contest with New Mexico

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