Tag:New Mexico Basketball
Posted on: April 2, 2013 6:14 am

Neal needs to be coach at New Mexico

I hear New Mexico hired Altman from Oregon.  Say it ain't so.

Craig Neal is the only viable coaching hire at this point.  New Mexico would be crazy to not give him a chance because he's the only choice that would keep the Lobo team together next year.  Otherwise, the program loses all momentum.  I think anyone who has watched Alford coach knows that Neal is not only an important part of Alford's success, he may be the most important element.  While I can understand why Alford would take the UCLA job, right now, New Mexico is a better program overall.  Obviously, there is that little thing about the Lobos failing to ever produce in the tournament, but the New Mexico fan base remains impressive.  I can't think of any program aside from Indiana that Alford should have taken.  He had an opportunity to do something special at New Mexico and now that won't happen.  Next year's New Mexico team could be pretty good.  Snell, Kirk, and Bairstow along with Williams would be formidable next year.  I think only Alex Kirk is a legit NBA player right now.  Snell isn't close yet although the potential is obvious.  Williams has a spark but is slow to light.  Bairstow could be a fine role player in the NBA in another year.

On the other side, the freshman class at UCLA and some of the LA recruits may be stellar next season assuming Muhammed sticks around another year...probably not.  I hated Howland's coaching.  He found a way to make great talent mediocre.  He slowed them down so much that it was sickening.  I hate to tell the Bruin fans, but Alford is very similar to Howland.  He slows down the game.  It would be like hiring Bo Ryan thinking he would make UCLA more exciting.

Anyway, hire Craig Neal for a year and see what he does.  He would keep the Lobos intact for a run next year.  I would love to see what he can do.  He would certainly be set up for success next year and not bad if he could keep Kirk.  Contrary to Alford's obvious success, he was never a favorite of the Lobo faithful because of his style.  He's sort of a puhk....a very successful punk, but a punk nevertheless.  Sorry to see his kid go because he was a serious shooter-reminds me of Ole Miss' Henderson- without the antics and baggage.

Hire Craig Neal.  Period...or perhaps a semi-colon...if you can lure the Wichita St coach, that would be fine too.  Good luck though... So while it's not good ridance to Alford, I would say the general sentiment is "hey man, good luck...don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out..."
Posted on: February 3, 2013 8:17 am

Good time to be a Lobo fan

Good time to a New Mexico Lobo fan.   After getting demolished visiting San Diego State, they won two games.  Normally, no big deal, but this week they'll shoot up the polls from #20 to the low teens after Oregon, Butler, Wichita St, Ole Miss, NC St, and Mizzou all lost- most of them twice- and in Butler's case, lost big @ St Louis.  I thought it wasn't possible for anyone to get blown out like New Mexico did at St Louis, but then there was the Butler visit.
Posted on: January 12, 2013 5:18 pm

New Mexico win over Fresno State best yet

Although New Mexico is having a suprising banner year so-far and is now 2-0 in the tougher than usual MWC, this win over Fresno State is their best yet.  At the beginning of the game there was already controversy as starter Chad Adam's knee was too sore to play and team leader Kendall Williams was late to the game and was benched for the entire game by Coach Alford.  The last time a similar thing happened against South Dakota State I think we remembered what happened.  Yeah, the Lobos lost.  This time, against an underrated Fresno State team that although living in the cellar of the MWC, has played almost everygame this year close.  They had held all but one opponent under 65 points.  (UCLA)  Now they had a New Mexico team in the Pit who had been struggling mightily shooting.  So what happens?  New Mexico blows them out.  Cameron Bairstow dominates from the tipoff and Alex Kirk comes in in the second half and dominates.  72-45.  The Lobos outrebound Fresno St 42-21, out shoot them 49% to 33%.  

This Lobo team is deep and if they were to find that kind of combination more, it will be a very good year.    
Posted on: January 10, 2013 7:43 am

Lobos over Runnin' Rebels

The very talented UNLV Runnin' Rebels don't like the Pit.  The place has had that effect on them for generations.  Last year, UNLV visited the Pit and was blown out by 20.  This year it was close.  The Lobos missing enough freethrows down the stretch to give UNLV the chance to tie or win more than once, but it was not to be.  The 6th man was too much...and so was 7-footer Alex Kirk from Los Alamos.  Although not highly recruited, Kirk took some of the best frontcourt players in the nation to school.  He dominated inside and outside from the opening.  UNLV's phenom freshman, Anthony Bennett collected 3 fouls in the 1st half which slowed his aggressiveness down and the human flea, Khem Birch, could not ever get the best of the Lobos big man.  When they stayed inside and established a solid guard low, Kirk popped out beyond the 3-point line and drilled it.  Inside, some fancy footwork by Kirk led to a one-sided affair against some of the nation's best.

Kirk ended the game with a career high 23 points and 9 boards.  Veteran guard Anthony Marshall led UNLV in both rebounds (9) and assists (7).  That's not good when you have such size and atleticism in one frontcourt.  Lots of credit also needs to go to and undersized and inujured Albuquerque native, Chad Adams, who had the unenviable task of guarding Bennett for much of the night- and keeping him in check.  More than that, he kept the Lobos in it at the opening of the game by scoring 6 points early.  He ended up outrebounding the apparent freshman of the year Bennett 10- 6.

Lobos beat UNLV (who I pick to go deep in the Big Dance) at the Pit.  65-60.

Posted on: December 24, 2012 11:53 am

Cincinnati hosts New Mexico

One of the featured games of Christmas week basketball will be this Thursday, 27 December when the Cincinnati Bearcats host the New Mexico Lobos at 9PM EST.  The game will be televised live on ESPN2.  

The Bearcats haven't lost this season and are now sitting pretty at 12-0.  The Lobos are coming their first loss of the season against South Dakota State and are 12-1.  

Game analysis:

Coming off a rare home loss at the Pit to South Dakota State, and travelling to Cincinnati, advantage should go to the Bearcats who are unbeaten.  New Mexico, however, has played well enough on the road.  New Mexico will want seek to take advantage of its size inside will attempt to get to the freethrow line.  Both teams this season are exceeding expectation.  Cincinnati will attack and try to get the Lobos into a run and gun game.  New Mexico has the ability to shoot from the outside if the Bearcats go to a zone defense. Cincinnati struggles in the half-court offense but excels in the open court.  New Mexico is the opposite.  Cincinnati was unhappy that New Mexico's only date to visit was two days after Christmas which forces the Bearcats to practice on Christmas.  The featured matchup is Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick against New Mexico's Kendall Williams.  New Mexico is 3-0 against the spread on the road this season and Cincinnati is 2-3 at home against the spread.  Line will be Cincy with 7-10 point advantage.  


Led by Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati is one of the top rebounding teams in the country averaging over 46 boards a contest.  They are also in the top 20 in scoring and close to the top 25 in total defense allowing only 57.7 points per game.  Their wins against Iowa State, Oregon, Alabama, and Xavier are notable.  THe only team able to hang with the Bearcats this season was Alabama (58-56) needing PG Cashmere Wright to make a buzzer beater to win the game.  

Cincinnati players:

Sean Kilpatrick (G-F):  Averaging over 19PPG and is the Bearcats leading rebounder.
Cashmere Wright:  Averaging 14 PPG including 36% from beyond the arc, 
JaQuon Parker:  12PPG- not a great shooter, but important all-around performer
Cheikh Mbodj:  Gets in foul trouble, but big presence and shoots a good percentage

Jeremiah Davis III
Justin Jackson
David Nyarsuk
Shaquille Thomas
Jermaine Sanders


Statistically not impressive, but at 12-1 with wins over UConn, Ill-Chicago, George Mason and road wins at Indiana St and New Mexico St, they have played above expectation.  Have played a slightly tougher schedule, overall, than Cincinnati.  Good freethrow shooting team.  7 shoot from beyond the arc.  

New Mexico players:

Kendall Willams:  Energetic guard who shoots, can get to the rim and dishes better than most  15PPG, 5APG
Tony Snell:  Big guard who is the team's best shooter but has struggled.  He can handle the ball also
Alex Kirk:  7-foot center who prefers to shoot from beyond freethrow line, 8RPG, 1 BPG, 
Hugh Greenwood:  Australian PG, great ball handler, shoots, excellent rebounder
Cameron Bairstow:  Another Aussie, big presence, shoots high percentage, scrappy

Chad Adams
Demetrius Walker
Jamal Fenton
Nick Banyard

Posted on: March 12, 2011 9:02 am

Adios Lobos. You got Jimmered.

Well, I wish I hadn't seen this one coming, but I did...and I wasn't alone in that prediction.  Everyone in the country who could get the spotty CBS coverage tuned in to watch the Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette.  And they weren't disappointed.  Jimmer scored at will in every way possible.  When he wasn't scoring, he was threading the needle or controlling the tempo with his dribble and distribution.  During the game he sets the all-time scoring record for BYU, and the individual performance record in the MWC.  He was just plain unstoppable.  

Oh yeah, the Lobos.  Sigh...  The biggest story was that Dairese Gary goes down with what must have been an ACL tear or at least a serious meniscus tear.  He's done for the NIT season too unless they give him morphine...which they might if it's up to Dairese.  Watching him crying saying, "I'm sorry" was heartbreaking even to the BYU fans in the building.  I have never been a true Gary fan, but I was moved and truly sorry to see him go out in that way.   

As to the rest of the team...this is a group of young basketball players that need to get a serious talking to.  If they're not going to devote the kind of energy, preparation necessary to be a good basketball team, then they need to go somewhere else.  My impression of the entire season that was incapsulated in the second half of their last game.  Never maximum effort until it was too late.  Odd rotations.  Waiting for their senior to do something.  And he did.  He hurt his knee and sat in pain (on more level than just physical) watching his beloved team wilt under pressure to a team that just wanted it more and had the best scorer in the nation having a career night.  

I hate to blame the coaches too much, but they just didn't make very good adjustments to the line up.  When BYU ran, they put in slower players.  When Gary got a defensive handle on Fredette, they brought in Snell, who looked completely out of his league as Jimmer buried shot after shot.  The Lobos kept their typical offensive spacing not understanding the 2-3 zone took away their staple end-line 3s.  With time running down, the Lobos tried to set up plays that resulted in killing the clock as if they were the one's who were up and then would throw the ball away.  

Was it possible to have a worse performance from Phil McDonald in the last 5 minutes?  How many times did he throw the ball away or make a silly foul?  Why is it that he could not give his teammates a predictable target?  He ran all over the court trying to rebound here and delivering no look (and no brain) passes to the crowd.  Phillip needs to get serious and I don't want to hear the coaching staff say how proud they are of his play.  He sucked this year and he cost the team dearly in nearly every loss.  He has tremendous potential but had a terrible season and developed innumerable bad habits.  Kendall was left to play one on 4 against BYU's interior zone - as he was relegated to putting up acrobatic shots that just didn't make any sense.  Although he's talented beyond his peers, he's simply too young and inexperienced to win games by himself.  He needs maturing like that cheese commercial.

Drew Gordon and A.J. Hardeman played good games.  While not inspired or tough enough to win big games, they held their own against the smaller and less talented Cougars.  It's always amazing to me how few shots Alford designs for A.J. given his high FG%.  Drew Gordon was mature and did his job again posting yet another double double.  Since the first exhibition game I thought that Jamal Fenton would be a great key to the Lobos' game.  We saw a glimmer of that potential several times this season, but he simply didn't play enough to give him the confidence he should have had in yesterday's game.  Bairstow looked like he could be improving but that's not what we need at this point in the season.  Improvement...  I have no idea why all of a sudden the coaching staff realized that he could play since he rode the pine for nearly 95% of the season.  Not seeing Alex Kirk in this final game was perplexing and a dark sign.  What it tells me is that big Alex could be looking to move somewhere else next season and that would be a huge problem- this kid is talented.  Hopefully they've just told him to get into shape and they'll play him next year.  Obviously, he needs to learn to move his feet on defense, but finding a freshman from New Mexico who can shoot, move his feet and is 7 feet tall doesn't happen every day.

Coach Neal and Alford need to figure it out or they're going to lose the talent they have.  They have the components to win games and to improve dramatically over the next few seasons, but they need to make more intelligent decisions in terms of adjusting their offense and their rotations need to look a bit more logical than the dartboard scheme they seem to prefer.  Alford and co. have given the Lobos something to cheer about in the last couple of years and for that I thank them, but it's time to sit down and think about what they're doing.  Otherwise potential can be squandered.  I'm still going to be around rooting on the Lobos and spending way too much capital on supporting this team.  So it goes with the territory of being a Lobo fan...
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 5, 2011 8:30 pm

New Mexico flies over the Air Force

New Mexico beats Air Force.  Barely.  I'm really not certain that the MWC is good or not good.  I do know that it wasn't easy for New Mexico to win the game.  I have fought the Big Conference snobs daily regarding the perception that the Mountain West conference is weak.  "Who do they play, and who did they beat?"  All relevant questions and comments.  I think Air Force is just mentally tough.  That's what I've always thought.  I think Air Force would finish in the middle of the pack of just about every conference because of that asset.  
o.k.  game time.  Whew!  That powerhouse, Air Force basketball, gave the Lobos all they could handle tonight.  Gordon managed a double-double yet again and Jamal Fenton had a great 1st half.  Nice that Dairese could play his last regular season game and be a piece of winning the game with his play down the stretch.  New Mexico hit freethrows to win.  

This Air Force team just seems to know exactly what to do with New Mexico.  They played exceptionally smart basketball and kept it close throughout and shot the 3's when they needed to.  Th Falcons are a team that could pull an upset next week in Vegas if their long ball is going in.  

A disturbing sign hidden within the obviously successful final night at the Pit was that during the 1st half we saw the same lackadaisical energy that has plagued this year's young Lobo team.  Fortunately, the Lobos started some good effort a bit earlier than many of this year's games and without it, I'm afraid we would have seen another heart-breaking loss at the end of the game.  Hopefully, this was a let-down game after the spectacular performance at Provo.  I will admit that New Mexico did shoot the ball decently from outside in the 1st half, but their perimeter defense was lacking- really it was a general lack of energy- and that just won't do it in any tournament.  The big guys started playing in the 2nd half.
We'll hope for the best next week and that the Lobos have some tough practices and get ready for the 1st round.  Coach Alford and Neal better get their act together and ensure their team starts playing at the tip-off.  The challenge will be to win the first game, because that's the scary one.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 5, 2011 8:21 pm
Category: NCAAB
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