Tag:new mexico lobos basketball
Posted on: December 23, 2012 10:52 am

Jackrabbits eat Wolves

Losing to South Dakota State was a major problem for the Lobos.  Not exactly sure exactly what the problem was.  New Mexico didn't look at all like a top 20 team.  Getting beat on the boards was a major surprise.  Getting outshot like that was also odd-especially at home at The Pit.  Now, Nate Wolters, the SD St star PG is one great guard-probably 2nd or 3rd team All-American- but New Mexico should have had way too many weapons to overbalance his talent.  New Mexico guard, Kendall Williams played well, but couldn't do it by himself.  Inside play was particularly weak and shooting was atrocious.  Belmont, a pretty good team beat SD State 76-49 and Minnesota beat them 88-64.  New Mexico should have done the same thing at home- but never led in the game.  SD State played Alabama close, but have not really beaten anybody convincingly- including loads of FCS-type teams to the extent they did New Mexico.  I was shocked to see the Jackrabbits come into the Pit and beat the Lobos so convincingly.  The 70-65 final score doesn't show how one-sided the contest was.  If not for 3 or 4 amazing plays by the Lobos down the stretch the final score would have been a 10-12 point gap.

As for the Cuse, I thought they played very well and were simply beaten because they missed a couple of key shots down the stretch.  

Hopefully these talented teams will learn something, but we know how it can go.  That first loss was either an anomaly or will prove to be the beginning of an unravelling...Let's hope it's the former. 
Posted on: December 20, 2011 11:21 pm

Gotta beat St. Louis

The New Mexico Lobos are in an interesting position being 9-2.  While one might think that's worth bragging about, the Lobos are in dire straights.  While I know the dangers of looking too far ahead, I'm saying right now that the Billikens visiting the Pit is a MUST WIN game for New Mexico.  Since the Lobos messed around and lost their first game at the 76 Classic in Annaheim to Santa Clara, they have put themselves in a position to not get any respect for their out of conference play.  This is frustrating since the Lobos have beaten 3 PAC12 teams, 1 Big12 team, and 1 ACC team.  You'd think that would be enough, but unfortunately, it isn't.  Each of those big conference opponents have been struggling mightily, so instead of gaining points, it will be a wash.  The only OOC team the Lobos have met who will play in the NCAA tourney is probably St. Louis.  Perhaps New Mexico State and Santa Clara have a chance, but it's not likely.  St. Louis is a must win game.  This assumes that the Lobos will do well in the conference.  (At least 9-5, but 10-4 is much better)

Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:19 am

Manana (un-CBS'd)

The season that could have been... 
Since the 60's I've followed my  beloved Lobos.  It was 1964 and in Bob King's 2nd season, they won the WAC championship.  Prior to that, New Mexico basketball was a real joke- one of the worst programs in the country.  They made Army basketball look strong.  It was during that time that Lou Henson stumbled into Las Cruces and the New Mexico St. Aggies and did the same thing to that program.   Those were good times with guys like Mel Daniels and Ira Harge.  They could flat out play ball.  I've been there during the Ellenberger years and remember a young Marvin Johnson and Michael Cooper as they took the Lobos to a #3 ranking nationally and came into the NCAA tournament with the hopes of winning New Mexico's first National Championship.  That  year, the Lobos were finally better than the "Shark's" Runnin' Rebels.   They did travel to play Cal State Fullerton...and lost.  Unbelievable.  Impossible.  We had just built a new stadium.  What the?   Then frickin' Lobogate put a stop to the momentum.   57 NCAA violations later, Stormin' Norman Ellenberger walked off and the Lobo basketball program went with him out into the desert down Route 66 and never really came back.  Some decent and mostly disappointing coaches wandered through the Duke city- only Dave Bliss did much, but was not a real winner, he was a place holder for...well, we're not exactly sure.  It certainly wasn't Fran Fraschilla.  Anybody with a name like that couldn't do much, and he didn't disappoint.   Ritchie McKay was terrible.  That he was paid to coach was just incredible.   Super talents like Danny Granger walked through the door and the Lobos had some fine season but lost in the Big Dance in the first two rounds.  Granger, of course, was picked as by the Pacers and is now a viable All-Star.  I wasn't the only rabid Lobo fan listening to 77 KOB waiting for Mike Roberts to give the play by play.  Those were good times.  Mostly.     
Now the Lobos have Steve Alford.  At least he was a coach everybody had heard of.  We knew him as a great shooter from Indiana who led the Hoosiers to an undefeated season with Bobby Knight.  Who could forget?  Nobody was exactly sure how New Mexico landed him, or why Iowa didn't really want him anymore.  Perhaps it was the million-dollar salary and promises to hire his coaching staff and to bring his own scholarship players.  In his first year, he made believers out of everyone except those back in Iowa, who either hated him because of inability to do much with the Hawkeyes or because he was always seeming to try to go somewhere else.  In his first year he took the Lobos to a 24-9 record.    Then last year, an unlikely JC bobble headed transfer by the name of Darrington Hobson leaped in and joined Dairese Gary and Roman Martinez and put together the best team (statistically) in Lobo history.  28-3 record.  They ended the season ranked #8 in the country.  They won the MWC regular season but couldn't win the MWC tourney.  They went to the NCAA tourney with a #3 seed and still couldn't get the monkey off their backs in terms of winning two games in a tournament.  ANY TOURNAMENT.  One thing I have to admit.  Alford is the best coach New Mexico has had in 30 years.  Although his win percentage is better than Ellenberger, Norm had more style and personality and I miss that.  Dave Bliss was nearly as good as Alford, but was milk toast and his teams played like it.  I am reminded of Bliss when I see Alford.  I hope that's not a bad thing...

 Then 2010-11 rolls around and here we are.  All of us, hoping for a great season, then we learn that Darrington Hobson elects to enter the draft and is picked by the Milwaukee Bucks- undergoes hip surgery and is let go from the team.  Without the team's spiritual leader, Roman Martinez, (a guy who was still on all the marketing for the Lobos throughout the entire season) diehard fans were worried for good reason.  Although there was a good recruiting class of youngsters including one of the biggest catches in New Mexico, big red headed Alex Kirk from Los Alamos, there wasn't much experience.  Once everyone got to see the Lobos in their exhibition games, all looked well.  There was a little kid by the name of Jamal Fenton who was quick as lighting and another freshman, Kendall Williams, who could shoot the lights out.  If Phillip McDonald had worked during the off season and A.J. Hardeman realized that he was bigger and more skilled than most big men, this was going to be a good year.  Perhaps Dairese Gary would stop being so shy and take hold of these young Lobos and lead them on to greatness.  Always hopeful.  
 Well, it really did look o.k.   A 4-0 start out of the gates, including beating PAC-10 member Arizona St in the newly screwed up Pit.  Well, maybe I'm too harsh, but once a half the fire alarm would go off and two times the Pit was vacated during a game.  Also, the clock didn't work right for the first 6 home games.  Actually it still doesn't work right.  Everything did look good until the Lobos visited Cal- a team that gave the Lobos fits in the Pit last year until the wolves pulled away at the end.  We stuck with a decent Cal team at Berkeley through the 1st half and then something snapped.  It sounded like an ACL of the team's knee.  It was the Lobos' will to play that broke.  All of us had heard that sound before, and it wasn't good.  It was something between giving up and not having the skills to compete.  None of us wanted to believe that we were watching the Lobos of the 80s and 90s, but there it was in mute testimony.  The same team who lost to Cal State Fullerton was back on the court.  Losing.  Badly.  A 25-point beating.  Oh no. 
 Then, just when the old guard gave up on the young team, what do you know?...8 wins in a row!  That's what I'm talkin' about.  Even though nobody had ever heard of colleges named this wood or that wood, and many thought the Citadel was a high school near Socorro, they were wins and the Lobos were cracking the top 25.  Bloggers were claiming that New Mexico could be a #1 seed.  New Mexico beat Big 12 Colorado in Las Vegas and then on to the championship game against Northern Iowa, who had surprised many the year before.  New Mexico played a decent game and lost by only 4 points.  Not bad.  Then on to Texas Tech and another Big 12 win.  One more tough one against Dayton, the previous years' NIT champs and a tough loss in double OT.  The Lobos could hold up, especially after coming back to ABQ and beating the tar out of Cal St Bakersfield and seeing Alex Kirk score 31 points in 20 minutes!  Then...disaster.  A last second shot at Wyoming gives the Lobos a bottom 200RPI loss.  The problem was that Wyoming actually looked like a better team- they certainly wanted to win the game more.  These were the drinking days for Lobo fans, where watching the coaching staffs' substitutions became indiscernible and downright random.  Through the next 8 games the Lobos' leader, Dairese Gary would have more turnovers than assists.  Phillip McDonald couldn't hit the wide side of a barn and kept shooting...and wouldn't stop.  A.J. Hardeman would shoot over 60% from the field and wouldn't put up more than 5 shots in a game.  Unbeaten San Diego State came to the Pit and destroyed New Mexico, then a mediocre Utah team did the same thing- only worse, or better...depending on one's perspective.  Remember, the Pit...where the Lobos aren't supposed to lose?  Well, they weren't only losing, they were getting slaughtered and nobody seemed to be able to stop the bleeding.  Even Christmas present Drew Gordon, UCLA transfer, couldn't do much except to look like he was the only Lobo who had played basketball prior to this season.  The team began to look like they were defeated well into the 2nd half whether they were winning or not.  They would focus for the last 5 minutes of the game.  It went on until they Lobos lost as many as they won after their 12-1 start.  In the middle of the pathetic conference schedule, they figured out how to beat BYU- including smashing them at Provo- which, up to last season hadn't happened in a decade.   Tony Snell, who couldn't shoot, did shoot at Provo and never again...What the heck was going on?  Who knows, but it wasn't good enough to garner and invite to the Big Dance.  They heard the familiar NIT "invite" (hey the NIT knows they will sell ten thousand more tickets than anybody else in the country...they ain't stupid!) and won their first game against their old nemesis UTEP, who couldn't put it together either this season.   Then they lose tonight to a vaunted university who is good at...football.  Many may say that they were outplayed, but they weren't.  They were out-hustled by a team that wanted to win.  A team without heart and without leadership went down to the opposite.   
 This was a year of rebuilding and it ended worse than it began.  I truly wish it weren't just like it always has been.  A fan base that rivals that of Syracuse, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky roots for a team that can NEVER PUT IT TOGETHER.  IN 50 YEARS!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  
O.k.  I'm better now.  I still have my season tickets and and still wearing my Lobo sweatshirt.  I'll be there at the Lobo howl and I'll report on their recruiting saga.  Maybe they'll land a 4 or 5 star recruit!   

 Next year.  We'll be better next year.  We're going to be a top 20 team for sure.  Didn't you hear the commentators?  With the returning young talent New Mexico has, along with the absence of the two Utah teams, New Mexico will run away with the MWC championship.  We'll have 3 legit big men with experience and if we pick up a great point guard, we'll be awesome.  Nobody will keep up with the athletes of New Mexico.  Neal won't take one of those big coaching jobs and everybody will be back. 
Manana.  Tomorrow.  We'll be good then.  Like the Cat Stevens' song:  "We're going to have a good time then."  or always positive Steinbeck, "and we'll live off the fat o the lan'...won't we George?" 
Anyone want to buy 2 courtside tickets to the NIT semi-finals and finals in Madison Square Garden?  I'll sell cheap.
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