Posted on: January 27, 2011 1:14 am

New Mexico pounds TCU

Great performance coming off a tough loss at UNLV.  It's nice to be home in Albuquerque.  While many will say that Phillip McDonald's performance was great- I'm concerned.  He has been rushing shots and not letting the game come to him.  I would have benched him for the first part of this game to get him to learn patience.  Perhaps I'm way off, but he has been the reason New Mexico has struggled in several games and I sure hope he doesn't think that he should take 9 2-point shots every game.  Nice work again by Drew Gordon, who is continuing to grow more comfortable.  I am seeing the makings of a true leader in him.  Dairese Gary dished a bunch of assists, but played a mediocre game overall.  
Anyway, the story tonight was Jimmer Fredette, right?  Huh, you ask?  What a performance at home against a San Diego State that was just out-coached and was unlucky.  Boy, don't we wish that we had the D.J. Gay that went 0-7 from the field tonight rather than the 30-point performance he had at the Pit?  Good news is that New Mexicoo has a bonafide chance to make a statement on Saturday and immediately lift themselves out of the doldrums of mediocrity.  Yep, you got it...beat BYU at the Pit.  I'm not sure what you can do with Jimmer Fredette except pray and steal his passes.  He's just a monster with sharp teeth as a shooter.  I do, however, think that the Lobos can match up with BYU very well otherwise and can put more perimeter pressure on them.  Hopefully the Lobos can shoot the 3's.  If the long ball is falling,  then it could happen.  Drew Gordon, Alex Kirk, and Hardeman can work the bigs of BYU, but they have to want it.  No half-hearted effort will do it against this BYU team.  They are just too good and too confident.  This win is the first step in the chance for New Mexico to qualify for the NCAA tournament.  This is the time that we will really see if New Mexico is going to be a good team this year or not.  It's up to the team.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 24, 2011 6:29 am

Lobos come up short at UNLV

Thomas and Mack is a great basketball venue.  Not as great as "The Pit," but great.  Just had to throw in a jab there to my Runnin' Rebel friends.  I hate to say, "I told you so..." but I told you so.  Kendall Williams is a bright kid with lots of potential, but this team is asking too much of him.  He is trying to pick up a load that is just too darned heavy, and the other Lobos seem content to watch him do it.  How many times are we going to stand around and watch Kendall Williams try to win the game at the last second standing at the freethrow line and throwing in some unlikely shot?  Why is the game coming down to that?  With the exception of Dairese Gary and Drew Gordon, the Lobos aren't playing very good team basketball.  Or individual basketball.  There is a talented Tony Snell running around like his hair is on fire and Phillip McDonald taking things into his own hands.  Lots of poential, but lacking patience and bit out of control.  
The good news is that I hope everyone saw some very promising signs in the Lobos' game at UNLV.  First, UNLV is a hard place to win (forget that Colorado State just went in there and dismantled the Runnin' Rebels) and the stuggling Lobos came ever so close.  Amazingly, New Mexico had a chance to win the game and certainly to send it into OT with an unlikely steal with just a few seconds left on the clock by Kendall Williams.  The youngster knocked down the first freethrow, after being fouled, but missed the second one with just over a second left- game over.  UNLV wins by 1 point.  I was greatly encouraged to witness the improved feel of the team with Fenton back in.  He made a huge difference in my opinion.  I saw a complete turn-around between this and last game for the Lobos and I believe they can put it back together in time for the tournament and will probably pull a few upsets.  Overall, nice effort.  UNLV has some fine talent but weren't clicking- they were lucky to beat the Lobos, and that should be surprising to basketball fans this season.  This team must become more patient on offense and more agresssive on defense.  20 turnovers is just way too many on the road.  3-12 from beyond the arc is a sign of rushing shots.  When New Mexico gets the ball to the open man, they knock them down- when it's rushed, it's just not going in.  Hopefully Alex Kirk will show signs of life, because the Lobos could certainly use a guy with his skills and size.  
Home should be a nice place to be for at least one game against an overmatched TCU team, but next Saturday, the Jimmer Fredette show comes to town and New Mexico better have learned some lessons or it's going to be ugly.  New Mexico probably overmatches BYU (with the obvious exception of Fredette-and possibly Emery) and has every right to play a good game at home.  The 6th man in the Pit is likely going to be ready.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 19, 2011 10:51 pm

State of the Lobos 19 Jan 2011

50 years of watching the team.  Frankly, this is what I expected last year.  I know that may sound strange, but who would have expected Darrington Hobson to be so good?  Most didn't follow him until near the end of the season because noone follows junior transfers right away.  I knew Roman Martinez' character and that he could hit the three, but Dairese Gary never really made it happen with me.  He lacked confidence and was a role player.  But what a team it turned out to be winning nearly every close game they played.  I knew we would see a bunch of freshmen.  Anyway, that team lost only 5 games and ended up 8th in the nation.  Were they that good?  I don't think so because I remember the looks on the opponent's faces as they walked away from the court with a loss shaking their heads wondering what happened.   <hr style="margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; color: #ffffff; background-color: #ffffff; border-top-style: none; border-right-style: none; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-left-style: none; border-width: 1px; border-color: #d9d8d8;" /> This year, after two miraculous years, many of us expected a command performance.  A bunch of youngsters like Kentucky last year under the capable senior leadership of Gary.  Early signs were good.  The 8-game win streak ending with the win against Colorado looked like the Lobos were back on track to give do the unlikely for the 3rd consecutive year.  The fact is that this year is what it should have always been.   <hr style="margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; color: #ffffff; background-color: #ffffff; border-top-style: none; border-right-style: none; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-left-style: none; border-width: 1px; border-color: #d9d8d8;" /> The great news is that coach Steve Alford is a winner.  He hates to lose and his basketball ability is probably going nuts as he watches the younsters flounder around.  The other great news is that the Lobos have some superb talent, but we need it all to make a team.  Negedu and Fenton, while not being critical, are part of the puzzle.  With the addition of Drew Gordon, the team has lost its way.  It is forcing a talented, but very immature Kendall Williams try to do too much.  Same with Phillip McDonald.  The team lacks a spiritual leader since Roman left.  This is the team that New Mexico should be.  Somewhere in the middle of the pack.  If I'm right, the team will find its way in about a month and will be ready to compete in the conference tourney.  They might even win it.  They could win the NIT.  Until then we're going to go through tough times as this team finds itself and improves.  They are going to have to listen to the coaches and everyone needs to contribute.  Shooters are going to need to shoot and players are going to have to learn to let the game come to them.  They need to give maximum effort instead of half-stepping for most of the game.  I have confidence that they will improve, but this is a work in progress and this team is no match for the Aztecs or BYU.  We'll see how they play at UNLV.  All they need to do is to keep it close and we'll see how they deal with a battle.  I'm there no matter what.  One huge difference from past years is that Alford and his coaching staff will find a way to win.  Fran and coach McKay had no right to wear the mantle of coach.  Big mistake hiring those two.  In 2011, we're still in good shape, but must understand that this isn't the year that we're going to win the regular season title.  GO LOBOS!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 19, 2011 10:12 pm

Loss to Utah by 10 OMG

O.K.  So, I can understand that a seriously talented San Diego State comes into the Pit and slam dunks the Lobos, but losing to Wyoming and now Utah- whether at home or on the road...not good.  What a difference one year makes.  You know, at first I thought losing Darrington Hobson would be the real loss, but the more I watch them, I am thinking their real loss was Roman Martinez.  He was the senior who collected his team whenever they fell apart during games last year.  He was always classy and would even pick up the opponents who had fallen to the floor.  Roman had the fire in his belly that just doesn't exist on this year's squad.  We all know New Mexico has plenty of talent and their size is significantly better than the last two years.  This is how I see it.  New Mexico can have a great year really in only one way- they need to win the conference tournament.  They can do it, but it will take improvement in nearly every aspect of their playing.  I thought the biggest issue was probably permeter defense and their own inability to shoot the long ball.  They did fine inside as they rebounded and scored in the paint.  I want to apologize for all those fans who maintained that New Mexico was not good this year.  They were right.  Good news is that there is still time to put it together.  We will now see how good a coach is Steve Alford.  Good luck.  You're going to need it.  The Lobos have our unending support, but this is a tough turn of events.  
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 15, 2011 10:39 pm

San Diego wins at the Pit

San Diego came into the Pit the same way as they did last year.  Ready to play.  D.J. Gay had the hot hand from beyond the arc, again.  Kawhi Leonard was a man playing amongst boys and the Lobos had no answer- no big run at the end.  The Aztecs kept 9-14 points between them and the Lobos.  It was never really close in the second half after the end of the 1st half D.J. Gay sent a harbinger of things to come with a 3/4 court shot that hit nothing but net as time expired.  The frontcourt of the Aztecs dominated.  The Lobos looked lost and nearly half-hearted through much of the game.  Not out of control, but just flat.  No defensive energy through most of the game.  The Aztecs killed the Lobos from 3-point land.  Killed them.  Amazing that the Lobo coaching staff didn't seem equipped to change up defensive schemes to deal with D.J. Gay shooting the lights out from outside.  It was reminiscent of the game at Dayton and to some extent, Northern Iowa.  San Diego State deserved every bit of their #6 ranking.  Drew Gordon played very well, and along with Dairese Gary was the only bright spot.  The youngsters looked...well, young.
The possibilities of an at-large berth in the Big Dance are now slim unless New Mexico wins at San Diego State- which is...unlikely.  The Lobos are just too young and are still trying to find the right mix, and the season is more than half over.  Next weeks' road trip to Utah and UNLV will not be easy, but will show the character of this team and will demand a sweep if they are to have any chance of playing in the post season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:45 am

UNM beats Colorado State 68-61

New Mexico learned one lesson- shoot freethrows.  20-25 from the line.  They also out-rebounded Colorado State by 17!  Impressive.  The Rams certainly didn't lay down and play dead.  They kept a tenacious will until the end.  It seems that as good as the Lobos were playing, Colorado State expected to win the game.  At the Pit that just wasn't going to happen after an embarrassing loss at cellar-dweller Wyoming.  New Mexico lived instead of dying with Phillip McDonald shooting 18 shots from the field and hitting half of them.  His 3 near the end of the game was perhaps the back-breaker.  He tied his career-best 27 point and added 5 big rebounds and two assists.  The other standout players were Drew Gordon with a double-double- 16 rebounds and 15 points.; and fab freshman Kendall Williams with 6 assists, and 4-6 from the field and 10 points.  No doubt New Mexico needed this win on many levels.  First, all eyes and brains have to be on the #6 team in the nation- the San Diego Aztecs visiting the Pit on Saturday.  Since New Mexico failed most of its attempts at beating good competition so far this season, the game against San Diego could be just the ticket to breathe life back into the Lobos' chances for being selected in the post season for the NCAA tourney.  As a matter of fact, it's a must-win for the Lobos.  The good news is that New Mexico has the size in the frontcourt with Alex Kirk, Drew Gordon, and A. J. Hardeman- absolutely necessary to have a chance against the Aztecs' bigs who sport one of the best front courts in the country.  Dairese Gary didn't show up tonight except to handle the ball and unfortunately turn the ball over 3 times and barely nip the questionable stat with 4 important assists.  But zero points.  0-5 and an odd zero times going to the freethrow line.  He's going to need to show up to stay with D.J. Gay and the backcourt.  
Everyone on New Mexico's team is going to have to produce and be ready on Saturday to pull the upset.  They will need to control turnovers and continue working the boards.  They shot a decent 42% from the field and an excellent 80% from the line.  There's no doubt New Mexico can play with San Diego State, let's just hope the Aztec team that barely squeaked by San Fransisco shows up rather than the one who beat UNLV tonight.  GO LOBOS!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 8, 2011 9:33 pm

Lobos mess around at Wyoming and lose

Wyoming has been an injuried plagued team this year.  They have struggled.  Except tonight against the Lobos.  Actually, in the 2nd half, Wyoming didn't do much and looked pretty bad overall.  The Lobos looked almost as bad, but didn't have that eternal element that is more important than all others...luck.  Last second shot goes in with one-one-hundredths of a second after two offensive rebounds by the Cowboys-no blocking out.  Lobos standing around watching themselves lose.  The Cowboys led from the last prayer 3-pointer at the end of th 1st half as the buzzer sounded through nearly the entire 2nd half until inside a minute to go as Dairese Gary did his typical flail and went to the line and hit 1 of 2.  Who would have known that Wyoming would hit both last second shots to finish both halves with a miracle shot?  
The Lobos finally started playing ball with about 10 minutes left in the game and clamping down on defense and getting better shots.  I have never seen a more half-hearted, poorly executed game-plan by the Lobos than this one.  It was even worse than at Cal, because at Cal, at least the opponent was beating the Lobos.  This time it was the Lobos beating the Lobos.  No flow.  No interior defense against a one-dimensional team- as in they have one interior player.  New Mexico is arguably the most talented and biggest team inside, and couldn't handle one guy inside in the 2nd half.  In the 1st half, they couldn't play defense at all letting the worst team in the conference shoot nearly 70%.  
I guess the coaching staff forgot all about Kirk.  You know, the freshman who scored 31 point in his last game?  I saw zero designed plays for him.  It looked like pick-up basketball for all but about 5 minutes of the game.  He had to scrounge around and get what he could...and it wasn't much.  Perhaps I should be giving New Mexico credit for coming back and nearly winning the game, but I won't.  A loss against the worst team in the Mountain West does not bode will for a Lobo team that should be getting better.  If they are going to stay in away games, they will need to find that energy that flickered for a moment.   Otherwise, they will finish 5th in the Mountain West- just as the experts picked them at the beginning of the year.  And that's a shame, because they have the talent and coaching win 3 in a row.  Right now that looks doubtful.  
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 6, 2011 10:37 am

31 Point show from freshman Alex Kirk, NM native

O.K.  now we're talkin'.  102 points for the Lobos.  The other team, 62 points.  A 40-point win before entering conference play.  Very nice.

I always believed that Alex Kirk would be a fine player.  I even predicted he'd be the freshman of the year in the MWC, and early signs were promising, but the sleeping giant awoke last night.  Poor Cal State Bakersfield picked the wrong night to visit the vaunted Pit and they ran into the Mountain of Los Alamos, Alex Kirk.  A one-man wrecking crew that couldn't be either stopped or slowed or affected as he shot 11-13 from the field including 2-3 from beyond the arc and 7-8 from the freethrow line and 6 rebounds.  The guards kept feeding him and he ate up the poor Bakersfield.  Alex Kirk, who played at Los Alamos H.S, in the northern New Mexico mountains was an exciting addition to the Lobos, mostly because of his abilities.  But there was that thing about his size.  He's a big 6'11" with a wing-span of well over 7 feet.  He can shoot from anywhere on the court and has a knack for finding the ball.  But last night?  Whatever he ate, whatever he did during the day, he needs to repeat exactly for the remainder of the season and he will have lots of choices and the Lobos will have been the team to beat the Mountain West.  Who knows?  Maybe in the NCAA tournament.  Now before I get all crazy, it's important to say that the competition was relatively small and predictably they didn't match up very well at all with the size of New Mexico inside.  With that being said, it was still very impressive. 
It should scare the crap out of the rest of the Mountain West who really have no idea who to fear on the Lobos as they have seemed thin and deep and a bit disorganized thusfar-although they still boast a nice 11-3 win/loss record.  Obviously, senior Dairese Gary is a known quantity, but still might not be the best guard in the league.  The scary thing is with the addition of transfer Drew Gordon from UCLA, a big man in his own right with plenty of basketball skills- and Negedu- the other transfer from Tennessee; if you add Alex Kirk to the mix and returning starter A.J. Hardeman- the Mountain West really doesn't have anyone who can really match up with the Lobos- even San Diego State.  What a difference a year makes.  Although Kirk had a career night at the Pit, he wasn't the only bright spot.  Dairese Gary tallied 15 points, 5 assists, and are you ready for this?  Zero turnovers.  Gary has been stuggling since day one this season with turning the ball over, and when he doesn't give the ball to the other team, he is a force to be reckoned with and Cal State couldn't reckon.  Freshman talent Kendall WIlliams dished 10 assists and had 4 steals.  I bet you can guess who these guys were feeding.  Also, Drew Gordon had 14 points and 11 boards...oh, yeah, and 3 blocked shots.  It looked like a game of men vs. boys.  The Lobos shot 57% from the floor and 18-24 from the freethrow line.  A very tough team to beat with stats like that. 

I just went from a Lobo fan to a confident Lobo fan in just one game.  Hint:  Keep feeding Kirk.  He's your man.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Lobos
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