Handicap Parking update: If ADA spaces are full, there will be an overflow lot available in the Baseball South Lot with free golf-cart shuttles available to Pit’s Southeast entrance before and after the game. The drop-off lane on East side of The Pit is still available.
New Mexico Lobos Mountain West Basketball – In The Pit
Who/When: 6:07 p.m. (MT), Saturday – San Jose State (6-15, 0-8) at New Mexico (16-4, 7-1)
On The Air: TV - ROOT (DISH 414, Direct 683, Comcast 261); 770-AM KKOB
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Statistics, LoboTV, Quotes
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.
The Craig Neal Lobos return from the road better, but they also return from the road different. In a way, it’s a new-look Lobo team not because of what they have added, but because of what they have missed.
Alex Kirk did not play in UNM’s wins at Colorado State and at Utah State and Coach Neal had to do some juggling, some coaching “by feel.” He gave 7-foot-1 Obij Aget more minutes in crunch time. He also leaned on a four-guard lineup built around the slashing inside attacks of Cameron Bairstow.
Neal pretty much liked what he saw.
Because he saw critical road wins against teams that are tough to beat at home.
Because he saw another way to twist his potent New Mexico team into, well, a more potent New Mexico team. He saw a different way to attack and a different way to defend. Not necessarily better. Different.
“I think we’ll be able to play a lot of different ways and cause a lot of different problems for other teams,” said the first-year Lobo coach, who has done what no other Lobo coach before him has done – start league play at 5-0 on the road.
“I think we’ll play some four-guard even when Alex gets back. We have some good guards to put out there.”
The four-guard attack was impressive on the MW road because players played within themselves, and played within their roles – and made shots while not forgetting to defend.
Neal probably will do pretty much the same “by feel” thing Saturday when San Jose State, 0-8 in the MW wars, tries to do the unexpected by beating New Mexico in the comfort zone called The Pit. “I’m just going into the game trying to see if my team can get better,” said Neal.
Kirk, nursing a leg injury, is day-to-day for active duty, but you can’t help but figure UNM would love to rest their 7-footer for at least one more game. Did we mention San Jose State is 0-8?
Of course there is a problem that comes with that 0-8 league mark. It suggests the obvious: that the Spartans are struggling in their first season in the Mountain. But if you don’t take the Spartans seriously, they could gun you down.
The Lobos beat San Jose State 69-65 in San Jose, Calif., in a game that won’t go down as UNM’s best of the year. “We didn’t play with a lot of energy that first game,” said Neal. “Hopefully, we’ll play with a lot more energy.”
The Spartans did a decent job on Bairstow and Kirk in California. That duo combined for 24 points and 12 rebounds. San Jose State gave up 31 points to Kendall Williams and Deshawn Delaney and let UNM shoot 27 free throws. UNM only made 15 freebies. The Spartans dodged a bullet there, especially considering they only shot nine free throws.
Still, New Mexico won.
San Jose State’s Jaleel Williams went 6-of-10 from 3-point range vs. UNM, but Neal says one area he has stressed is 3-point defense, especially 3-point defense in transition. That’s not an unusual problem. When players fall back on defense, they fall back on defense and it’s instinctual to protect the paint and the rim. It’s a natural reaction.
The Spartans look for – and need – treys out of transition. “They shot 32 threes against us last time we played them,” said Neal. San Jose State is a team that attacks from the perimeter. The Spartans are a team that probably needs to attack more off the dribble drive.
There are only two teams in the 11-team Mountain West that have shot fewer free throws than San Jose State. UNM has shot 151 more freebies.
The Lobos are led in scoring by Bairstow with a 20.4 average and Kendall Williams at 18.0. They are playing at All-MW and even All-American levels. They are difficult to defend because they are versatile with the ball. The 6-9 Bairstow can hit the 15-footer or finish with a power drive. Williams can score from 30 feet in.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a guard in this league do what Kendall Williams is doing,” said Neal. That cat that I have right now is guarding the best (guard) on the other team. He is handling the ball a lot. He’s making free throws. He’s making plays. He’s leading.
“He is doing things that I envisioned him doing his senior year, but he is doing it at a high level that he doesn’t’ get any credit for. He’s is playing at an unbelievable level.”
The Lobos return from the road playing at a high level. The Pit – and Coach Neal -- will have a simple demand on Saturday: do it again.
New Mexico Lobos 2013-14 Season Roster
|Hometown (Prev School)|
|1||Cleveland Thomas||G||6-3||195||So.||1L||Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville Magnet HS)|
|2||Chris Perez||G||6-0||190||Sr.||SQ||Corona, Calif. (Centennial HS)|
|3||Hugh Greenwood||G||6-3||205||Jr.||2L||Hobart, Australia (Australian Institute of Sport)|
|5||Arthur Edwards||G||6-6||205||So.||JC||Temple Hills, Md. (National Christian Academy)|
|10||Kendall Williams||G||6-4||180||Sr.||3L||Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Los Osos)|
|11||Obij Aget||C||7-1||225||Fr.||HS||La Porte, Ind. (La Lumiere HS)|
|12||Devon Williams||F/G||6-7||205||RFr.||RS||Dallas, Texas (Woodrow Wilson HS)|
|13||Cullen Neal||G||6-4||180||Fr.||HS||Albuquerque, N.M. (Eldorado HS)|
|22||Merv Lindsay||F||6-7||205||RSo.||TR||Moreno Valley, Calif. (Canyon Springs HS)|
|23||Nick Banyard||F||6-8||205||So.||1L||Flower Mound, Texas (Marcus HS)|
|24||Tim Myles||F||6-6||225||Fr.||HS||Etiwanda, Calif. (Etiwanda HS)|
|33||Deshawn Delaney||G||6-5||190||Jr.||JC||Chicago, Ill (Vincennes JC) (Carver Military)|
|41||Cameron Bairstow||F||6-9||250||Sr.||3L||Brisbane, Australia (Australian Institute of Sport)|
|53||Alex Kirk||C||7-0||245||RJr.||2L||Los Alamos, N.M. (Los Alamos)|