Posted on: January 1, 2011 4:52 pm

2OT's at Dayton Lobos come up short

Lobos lose.  11-3.  Not bad, but a game that's not fun to lose.  Dayton is a tough place to play.  Similar environment to the Pit, and we know that's saying something.  Only 1 loss in the last 43 games.  Not bad at all.
One thing's for sure.  Kendall Williams, Lobo freshman, can play, but I'm not sure why he was handling the ball down the stretch.  Maybe senior guard, Dairese Gary was too tired.  (For good reasons)  In case you missed it, Kendall Williams had to miss the last freethrow on purpose and the Lobos had to get the rebound.  Well, he threw the ball against the front of the rim, ran back behind the 3-point line and nearly buried the 3-pointer.  Just a little short, but certainly online.  Problem is that there is some team chemistry missing.  Allowing something like 13 3-pointers by New Mexico wasn't only uncharacteristic, it was downright problematic.  Dairese Gary did a nice job all game long, and frankly so did everyone else on the Lobos, but there just wasn't enough team play for New Mexico.  After holding Dayton down below 30% shooting in the first half, they only managed a single-digit lead through most of it.  New Mexico was playing well, albeit tentative.  
Dayton's future NBA Wright was an athletic wunderkind.  His one put-back off a miss was a thing of beauty.  Frankly, these two teams reminded me a lot of each other.  Quick small guards.  Shooters.  Athletes.  Competent coaching.  Last New Years it was New Mexico by 2.  This year they lost by 3.  
New Mexico has now put themselves in the unenviable position of having to play very well throughout the Mountain West Conference, because Dayton will make the third decent team the Lobos faced, and they are..yes, 0-3.  Not a good sign for a team who wants to be a national power some day.  I like what I saw from New Mexico.  They showed character by not giving up and I think they are improving.  Gordon is a big man inside and he will be needed when they play San Diego State.  New Mexico has it in them, just wondering if they will put it together.  I'll stand behind Alford and the coaching staff.  Go Lobos!  
Category: NCAAB
Tags: lobos
Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:17 pm

Lobos win at Texas Tech by a hair

Hair of their chinny chin chin if we want to get all Three Little Pigs about the whole thing.  Heart attack city.  Road wins are critical for New Mexico because they've already lost their two biggest games on the road (stomped by Cal and beaten by Northern Iowa)  The win at Texas Tech will look good.  This is the first week since the beginning of the season that the Lobos didn't pick up any points in the polls.  Not a good sign for a team that has won back to back Mountain West Championships and ended the season last year #8 in the country.  In order to be selected in March, they're going to have to win some games OOC on the road or else their resume will be weak.  Too weak.  This isn't the same Texas Tech team the Lobos faced a year ago, but they were still pretty good.  Mike Singletary was still there and played well.  I find it interesting that Texas Tech aren't doing better this season, but they've struggled.  New Mexico is growing but still somehow struggling with putting it all together.  While it can be a good thing to play 9 or 10 players, the arrival of Drew Gordon seems to have made the Lobos' cylinder to miss a bit, but I still have high hopes.  He just looks like a ball player.  (Is that enough?).  I guess everyone should have predicted it, because Gordon is a talented player who expects lots from himself and seems to want to control the game, but just doesn't yet understand the system yet. Texas Tech took an early lead in the first half and kept a solid advantage until about 2 minutes left in the 1st half.  New Mexico started the 2nd half with a flurry of energy and came back from a 3-point deficit to taking a 5 point lead.  From then on, it was Texas Tech who had their backs against the wall.  Big freshman Alex Kirk had a good game-especially offensively.  Dairese Gary struggled again with turnovers, and failed to get his normal bunch from the line.  I did like the way Drew Gordon boxed out and finally found ways to get rebounds.  Also Phillip McDonald caught fire from beyond the arc and nearly put the game away by himself.  
The Good
Big defensive rebound at the end of the game.  Drew Gordon's rebounding.  Phillip McDonald's shooting.  Kendall Williams assists.  Dairese Gary's last 2 minutes of play (see "The Bad" for the ohter side of this coin.)  Alex Kirk's offense and presense changed Texas Tech's defensive plans.  The spirit of the Lobo team enabled them to comeback and not give up.  The Lobos outscored Texas Tech 34 to 27 in the second half)  Good use of timeouts by Alford down the stretch ensured they had the right play.    Lobos outrebounded the Red Raiders 33-22.  
The Bad
Dairese Gary wan't much of a factor in this game until the very end with a minute 18 left on the clock took it to the hole and two freethrows to ice it.  We all know he's a player, but he really needs to play a more complete game and concentrate before the closing minutes of the game.  He didn't look confident and threw the ball away more than he did anything else.  Drew Gordon in the first half seemed to do as many negative things regarding the flow of the game than positives.  Alex Kirk should be getting more than 2 rebounds and Cameron Bairstow was non-existent on the boards (and everywhere else too except for fouling).  Both these kids need to work on body position and blocking out.  That Kendall Williams doesn't have more 3-point shots designed for him.  he's the team's best shooter and yet nothing seems designed for him.  Perhaps it's just that he doesn't understand Alford's system yet.  Only shot 4 3-pointers in the first half.  Very tough to win a game with only that many attempts from outside.
The Ugly
28% shooting in the first half for the Lobos.  Yuck.  It was clear to me that this Lobo team was far superior in nearly every way to Texas Tech, yet they nearly lost the game.  
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 24, 2010 11:38 am

Loss against Northern Iowa 66-60

Dangit.  The bad news is that the Lobos fell short to a decent, but not great, Northern Iowa team.  To their credit, the Lobos mounted a rally at exactly the right time- with about 3 minutes left, they came back from 10 points down and came within 1 point with 1:26 to play.  For Lobo fans, them  was a really good sign.  
The Good
Kendall Williams is a great shooter and continues to impress.  Gary, although shooting poorly nearly brought the team back at the end scoring their final 8 points.  Hardeman played like we all know he is capable, ruling the boards and taking the ball to the hole.  Winning the battle of the boards convincingly was a great stat for the Lobos (33-22)- but tempered because UNI shot 45 % from the field.  Scored the final 9 points of the 1st half.  
The Bad
Lobos defense.  Lobos offense.  Lowest scoring total of the year.  Start of the game saw a 32-19 lead.  As good as Gary is, he took bad shots down the stretch.  When Williams was shooting as well as he was, Gary should have been looking for the assist rather than the impossible shot.  I'll blame Alford for overworking Dairese Gary who played all but 1 minute in the game.  Drew Gordon was trying to do too much without knowing the Alford system yet.  He disrupted the flow as much as he added.  3-point defense was something New Mexico had been pretty good at, but not in this game.  Often times, there wasn't even a hand in the shooter's face.  Phillip McDonald never showed up.  He must shoot 3's and get rebounds for New Mexico to be successful.
The Ugly
No real drives.  No fast breaks from the Lobos.  UNI completely shut down their transition offense just like California did at Berkeley.  Just when I thought New Mexico had learned its lesson, they reverted to a young team who looked lost.

This is a talented team with all the components, and the next couple of road games will show what they are made of.  If they lose all of them, they probably won't be dancing in March unless they all but run the tables in the Mountain West- which is...unlikely.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: lobos
Posted on: December 23, 2010 10:39 am

New Mexico on a roll

New Mexico chalked up its 8th consecutive victory against Colorado at the Las Vegas Invitational.  The Lobos need to be very proud of that accomplishment since it looked like maybe the end of the world happened at Cal when they were demolished in the 2nd half by that strange team at Berkeley.  For New Mexico, this was their best game yet.  6-3 Freshaman Kendall Williams has emerged as a leader on the court and a more than pleasant surprise.  He is the team's best shooter scoring 5-7 from the field and making 7-8 freethrows.  He may also be New Mexico's smartest player as his 11 Assists and 3 steals attest.  The Lobos had a great shooting night as they shot 61 percent from the field and hit a respectable 5 of 12 3-point attemps.  Freshman big man Alex Kirk made his presence inside known with 10 rebounds by the half.  Drew Gordon certainly shows sparks of greatness, but is out of basketball shape.  His 5 turnovers limited his playing time to only 20 minutes.  His presence on the court, however, changes the Lobos offense by making them much more relaxed and dangerous because of his mobility and court vision.  Philip McDonald showed his athletic ability several times in the game, but including an impressive flush and going 6-10 from the field was an obvious highlight.  Dairese Gary continued improving his ball control and tempo management as he posted 4 assists and only 2 turnovers in 33 minutes.  He put on his usual clinic of going to the line 10 times and hitting all 10.  He is now in the top 10 of players in the country at getting to the line- and that's a great sign for the future.  10 points and 7 rebounds from Tony Snell in only 15 minutes of play was impressive in anyone's book.  He has earned more playing time, and will likely get it. 

Colorado (Big 12) came into the game playing pretty well (shooting nearly 50 percent from the field coming in the game), and didn't shoot too bad (26-58:  47%), but couldn't stop New Mexico from shooting 61 % from the field and 42% from beyond the arc.  Colorado never led nor did they really challenge New Mexico.  Probably the best all-around performance by New Mexico this year.  They finally look like a top 25 team.  Hopefully the improvement continues.  Next University of Northern Iowa.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 18, 2010 8:55 am

Longwood not enough to stop Lobos

Although the beginning of the Longwood visit to the Pit looked ominous to the Lobo faithful, in the end the talent and size of New Mexico took over.  Kendall Williams asserted himself yet again by proving he can score and rebound.  Point Guard Dairese Gary did a nice job and the team is now blocking out and figuring out how to keep up defensive pressure on the ball which leads to easy points.  The next game against the Citadel promises to be another blowout, but I hope the Lobos are focusing on building, and integrating Drew Gordon into the game in the next game so they are ready to play at the Las Vegas Classic against Colorado and either a surging Indiana or a capable Northern Iowa.  The Lobos are doing everything anyone can ask at this point in the season, they are improving.  The will just need to be reminded that conference play will be a whole lot more difficult than anything they'll face against Texas Tech or even Dayton.  UNLV, San Diego State, BYU, Colorado State, and even Air Force will be ready to play.  
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 5, 2010 6:39 am

Battle in Las Cruces

I don't care what anyone says, one of the best rivalries in college basketball is in The Land of Enchantment.  New Mexico travelled to Las Cruces in the first of two meetings between the Aggies of New Mexico State and the Lobos of New Mexico.  New Mexico came into the game playing pretty well with a 5-1 win/loss mark and State was in trouble having only won 2 games of their 5.  
From the tip-off it was obvious about the outcome.  The Lobos were going to win the game going away because they had much better shooters and had several ball handlers, right?  Well, not quite.  Although New Mexico did go up by 17 point not to far into the game taking advantage of terrible shot selection and execution by the Aggies, New Mexico State came roaring back and cut the lead to only 2 points near the end of the 1st half.  The crowd was going nuts.  In Las Cruces, they look forward to two things, #1.  the new Green Chile crop and #2.  beating the Lobos in basketball.  It certainly looked promising.  State certainly beat the Lobos on the glass.  (14 boards for just Tyone Watson).  Billenwater put up nearly as many shots as the entire Lobo team-o.k., I'm exagerating, but he did shoot 29 field goals (making only 8), but ended up with a more than respectable 32 points.  Unfortunately, that kind of shooting percentage won't win games...but it nearly did.  19% from beyond the arc by State was probably the difference, because just one more trey would have resulted in a victory.   In contrast, New Mexico shooting 9-24 surely was a major contributor to the Lobo win.
Report on the Lobos:
The Good
50% shooting from the field- Great shot selection.  Dairese Gary showed that he is truly one of the best in the country at getting to the line as he scored eleven of his 14 tries and ended with 19 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals.  10 rebounds, 18 points 2 blocks and a steal by Phillip McDonald was a sign that perhaps the most promising player on the Lobos team seemed to wake up and finally take up the slack of the Darrington Hobson, last year's triple-double monster.  His three 3's in OT were the key to the Lobo victory.  Emmanuel Negedu brings another level of intensity to the game that is somehow lacking in the rest of the team at this point.  His 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in 23 minutes of play was a fine performance.  Kendall Williams is a great freshman and if the Lobos draw up more plays for him to launch the long ball, it's going to be a long day for their adversaries.  Not only is a great shooter, but he understands the game and adding 4 assists, 6 rebounds, a blocked shot and 2 steals are fantastic signs for this young man's future and the future of the team too.  8 blocks by Lobos were good signs of denying the easy buckets.
The Bad
Jamal Fenton may have been sick, but playing only 7 minutes after such a great game at Southern Illinois was odd.  He was a non-factor.  Although A.J. Hardeman shot 4-5 from the field, at his size and build he should be posting double digit  figures in the rebounds department instead of only 1 board.  The Lobos were beaten on the boards by less athletic and smaller players- allowing 25 offensive rebounds by NM St was a big problem.  They need do some blocking out drills.  (45-40)  

The Ugly   
20 turnovers was ridiculous, even though they were pressured.  That is a guarantee that you will keep your opponent in the game, regardless of the good things you may be doing otherwise.  

Overall, the victory showed tenacity and character for the Lobos and we shall see what happens at the Pit next week for their second match-up.  They could use a friendly crowd after that nasty environment.  Perhaps they grew and matured a bit.  In many ways, I think they did.  The bigs are starting to look like they're comfortable out there.  Nice win.  GO LOBOS!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 1, 2010 11:55 pm

New Mexico beats Southern Illinois with defense

The good2nd half play was excellent.  Defense is certainly coming around in the last two games.  Someone must be reading my blog, because ever since I mentioned they need to keep up defensive pressure for an entire game and not let up, they have solved the issue with two exceptional efforts back to back.  shot 57% from the 3 point line New Mexico beats Southern Illinois 74-59.  Dairese Gary led the team in a way that 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists don't justify.  He played a solid game and continued his tough play and showed his prowess for getting to the freethrow line scoring 5 of 6 from the line.  Recent Tennessee transfer Emmanuel Negedu matched Gary's output from the line and had 8 rebounds playing only 9 minutes.  Kendall Williams shot 2-2 from the 3-point line and had 4 assists.  Jamal Fenton continued to improve by creating great energy on both ends of the court.  .   Phillip McDonald made his presence felt with 9 rebounds and ended the game with 11 points.  No technical fouls with such a young team is an achievement worth noting.  The badCameron Bairstow, Australian, played 20 minutes yet hardly added to the game with only 2 shots (only 1 went in), 2 rebounds, no assists or blocks.  3-9 shooting by Jamal Fenton is not good enough, especially when he went only 1 for 4 from beyond the arc.  6'11" center and Los Alamos New Mexico native played 15 minutes, had no blocks and only 2 rebounds.  He'll need to improve on both counts.  He lacked agressive play throughout the contest.  Lobos rebounding is still not where it should be.  They need to practice blocking out drills and following shots.The uglyThe crowd (if that's what you want to call it)  Boy, only 4 thousand is all they can attract.  My high school attracted more.  Southern Illinois shot 27.3% from the field for the game.Kendal Brown-Surles of SI played an exceptional game with 10 points, 8 assists, a steal and 5 rebounds shooting 2-4 from the 3-pt line. 
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 28, 2010 6:19 pm

Good defense on San Diego good sign

I see some very good signs after the 75-46 drubbing of visiting San Diego in the Pit.  It was a great effort for all 40 minutes of the basketball game by New Mexico.  They looked focused and played fine team basketball from the tip-off to the buzzer.  It was the first time this season they played an entire game with uninterrupted focus.  

Jamal Fenton did a nice job hitting the 3-point shot as he went 4-7.  He's so darned quick that he can certainly get open.  Until now, I just wasn't sure that he could consistently hit the long ball.  His defensive energy was there and the Lobos can really use that.  New Mexico's team defense was there too.  Although they were down early, New Mexico regrouped and went on a tear shutting down San Diego to only 5 points in over 12 minutes.  New Mexico kept the defensive pressure up and never let the Tereros back in the game.  That's what I'm talkin' about.  

Phillip McDonald coming back is a great boost.  Boy, they sure could have used him in that California game!  A.J. Hardeman reminds me so much of Kevin Garnett with his body and style-even his energy.  Hopefully he can harness that inner talent and continue to improve.  I certainly believe that he can.

The big difference in the game was the big guys inside moving and finding the ball then distributing it to the open man.  Bairstow, Kirk, and Negedu are real space fillers inside and that is a nice contrast from last year.  The inside out plays along with good shot selection shows me that the youngsters from New Mexico are listening to their coaching staff.  Defensive pressure and no giving up.  Those were the two things that they needed to work on.  Well that was quick.  Nice job.


Category: NCAAB
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