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Lobos Travel to Colorado for Season Opener
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/06/2007
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 6, 2007

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    The University of New Mexico lifts the lid on its 105th season Friday when it visits the University of Colorado in Boulder. Tipoff is 7 p.m. from the Coors Events Center on the CU campus. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.

    New Mexico is opening a season with a true road game for the first time since Dec. 1, 1979, when - you guessed it - it met Colorado in Boulder. The Buffs won 78-66. The Lobos also began the 1975-76 campaign at CU, and UNM came out on top 78-75.

    The Lobos open their home season Monday against Eastern Washington.

    There is no television coverage for Friday's game, but Colorado will provide live video streaming as part of the BuffsTV subscription package. The pay-per-view fee is $9.95 per month. For more information visit www.CUBuffs.com.

    UNM opened play last Friday with a 94-50 exhibition victory over Eastern New Mexico.

    CU dropped Brock University 70-56 last Thursday in an exhibition in Boulder. Senior guard Richard Roby scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Colorado hosts Regis Tuesday in its final exhibition.

    ALFORD'S NEW MEXICO DEBUT
    Friday marks the Lobo debut of Steve Alford, who was named UNM's 19th head coach on March 23, 2007. He spent the past eight seasons as the head coach at the University of Iowa.

    Alford is facing Colorado for the first time in his head coaching career.

    Alford has a 308-183 (63%) career record in 16 seasons as a collegiate head coach. His teams have qualified for postseason play 11 times, produced 13 winning seasons and reached 20 wins on eight occasions.

    In eight seasons at Iowa, Alford compiled a 152-106 record with a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons, and six postseason appearances. The Hawkeyes won two Big Ten Conference tournament titles (2001 and `06). Iowa was 17-14 in 2006-07. It was 9-7 in the Big Ten, tied with NCAA teams Illinois and Purdue for fourth place.

    Prior to Iowa, Alford posted a 78-29 record in four seasons (1992-95) at NCAA Division III Manchester (Ind.) College and a four-year (1996-99) record of 78-48 at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). The Bears defeated Wisconsin and Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament before losing to top-ranked Duke in the regional semifinals. In 1997 Alford led the Bears to a 24-9 record (second in the Missouri Valley Conference) and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament.

    SEASON TICKETS CLIMBING
    Season tickets have climbed above 10,000 for the first time since the 2003-04 season when UNM sold 10,598. The count as of Monday afternoon was 10,029. Season tickets are available through Friday, Nov. 16. UNM sold at least 10,000 season tickets for 30 consecutive seasons between 1974-75 and 2003-04.

    SPECIAL FOOTBALL-BASKETBALL TICKET PROMOTION
    All fans who attend the UNLV football game on Nov. 24 will receive a coupon for a free ticket to a Lobo men's or women's basketball game in December. Coupons will be distributed upon entrance to the football stadium. The offer is not valid for men's basketball games against Texas Tech (Dec. 15) or New Mexico State (Dec. 19).

    NEW MEXICO IN SEASON/HOME OPENERS
    New Mexico is 75-29 in season openers, but 39-6 since the 1962-63 season. The Lobos, are 75-25 in home openers and have won 42 of their last 46.

    The last time UNM opened the season on the road was three neutral games in the 1986 Silversword Invitational in Kahalui, Maui.

    SEASON NO. 105
    The 2007-08 season is the 105th in school history. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Feb. 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 106th anniversary of that inaugural year, UNM did not field a team for various reasons in 1900-01, 1903-04, 1917-18 and 1920-21.

    The Lobos have been on the hardwoods continuously since the 1921-22 season and have compiled an all-time record of 1,265-996 (.559). New Mexico was 421-497 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 844-499 (.628) over the past 44 seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year. The Lobos have made 27 trips to the postseason during that span, including 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 16 showings in the NIT.

    DANRIDGE OUT UNTIL JANUARY
    Lobo senior Tony Danridge suffered a broken left fibula during a game with teammates on Oct. 4. He had surgery on Oct. 8 and is expected to miss three months. Danridge, a 6-5 senior from San Bernardino, Calif., posted 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season and was named 3rd team All-MWC. He is the only Lobo to play in all 95 games over the past three seasons, not missing a game to this point in his Lobo career. He does have a redshirt year available.

    UNM PREDICTED FOR 4TH-PLACE FINISH IN MOUNTAIN WEST
    New Mexico was picked to finish fourth in the 2007-08 Mountain West Conference race during the league's preseason media gathering in Denver on October 17. Voters were a combination of head coaches and media.

    NEW MEXICO - COLORADO SERIES
    Despite the close proximity of the two schools, UNM and New Mexico meet for just the 12th time since the first game in 1926. CU has a 6-5 advantage, however, the Lobos rolled over the Buffaloes last year in The Pit, 106-65. The 41-point margin is New Mexico's largest ever against a Big 12 opponent. J.R. Giddens scored 25 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Daniel Faris scored a career-best 14 points and added 8 boards in 20 minutes.

    The Buffs won the first four games of the series between 1926-58. The Lobos followed with four straight victories from 1970-76.

    Colorado has a 4-2 lead in games played in Boulder. The last contest there was Dec. 1, 1979, an 86-78 CU victory.

    MORE ON CU
    Colorado, picked to finish last in the Big 12 in 2007-08, was 7-20 last year, 3-13 in the Big 12. The Buffaloes return four starters from a year ago, led by standout senior guard Richard Roby, who is the son of former Lobo Paul Roby (1978-79) and the half brother of NBA star Kenyon Martin. Richard Roby averaged 17.3 points a game last year. He scored 12 points in last year's game against UNM, but was 4 of 16 from the floor, including 1 of 9 from 3-point.

    CU's new head coach, Jeff Bzdelik, is no stranger to Lobo basketball, having faced UNM the past two seasons when he was at Air Force. Bzdelik went 3-1 against New Mexico, 2-0 at the Academy and 1-1 in Albuquerque.

    Also on Bzdelik's staff is former Wyoming head coach Steve McClain.

    UNM - CU LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE
    J.R. Giddens scored a career high 25 points and New Mexico got a huge first half lift from its bench in a 106-65 win. Giddens shook off a slow start and dissected the Buffaloes' defense with his quickness, slashing moves to the basket and outside jumper that repeatedly found the hoop.

    New Mexico took its first lead at 15-14 on a pair of free throws by Jeffrey Henfield with 11:46 left in the first half. UNM's reserves, who scored 25 points in the first half, and some solid free throw shooting, carried the Lobos' offense until Giddens found his stroke.

    The Lobos hit their first 13 free throws and reserves Daniel Faris, Chad Toppert and Ryan Kersten provided much of the offense in the first 20 minutes. Toppert hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, Faris scored 8 points and Kersten 6. Toppert's back-to-back 3s gave the Lobos a 36-25 lead with 5:02 left in the first half. Faris, the sophomore backup center, finished with career highs of 14 points and 8 rebounds.

    New Mexico led 47-34 at halftime and broke it open from there as the Lobos shot 67 percent in the second half. Giddens was the catalyst. He scored on a jumper in the lane, then came up with a steal and dunk that pushed the lead to 62-39 with 12:55 left. Giddens hit 11 of 19 shots and along with Faris and Aaron Johnson led the Lobos to a 51-35 edge in rebounding. Giddens had 9 rebounds and Johnson 11.

    POSTGAME NOTES FROM LAST YEAR'S COLORADO GAME

  • In an unconscious stretch, the Lobos nailed 11 consecutive shots in the second half, and it wasn't a lay-up drill...eight players contributed, getting 27 points from the 11 baskets over a span of 6 minutes and 7 seconds...five of the buckets were 3-pointers from four different players

  • New Mexico's 106 points is the most ever against a team from the Big 12 Conference...it's also the biggest win in school history over a Big 12 team...the previous highs in both categories was a 102-65 win at Texas Tech in 1973

  • UNM scored over 100 points for the 81st time and the first time in 2 years...it's the most points for the Lobos in a regulation game since a 107-49 win over Western New Mexico 2003...the Lobos are 72-1 all-time in The Pit when reaching the century mark

  • In the first half UNM's five reserves scored 25 points on 8-14 FGs, 3-6 3s and had just 2 turnovers in 41 minutes...that compared to the starters' 22 points on 7-22 FGs, 1-6 3s and 6 turnovers in 59 minutes...the 8-man bench finished with 56 points, making 20 of 31 FGs, 7 of 14 shots from 3-point, 9 of 12 FTs, plus 19 rebounds, 15 assists and 6 steals in 95 minutes of action

  • J.R. Giddens scored a career-high 25 points...his previous best was 24 against Iowa State as a freshman at Kansas...Giddens' first points did not come until the 11:19 mark of the first half

  • Sophomore center Daniel Faris posted career-highs of 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 20 minutes played

    EASTERN NEW MEXICO EXHIBITION RECAP
    The Lobos dismantled Eastern New Mexico 94-50 last Friday at The Pit. UNM had six players score in double figures, including a team-high 15 points by junior post Daniel Faris. New Mexico opened exhibition play under new head coach Steve Alford and played in front of 11,980 fans. It was the largest crowd for an exhibition game in three years.

    UNM jumped out to an early 19-4 lead and never looked back. The Lobos largest first half lead was 39-17 at the 5:10 mark. Freshman Jonathan Wills shined in his first collegiate action, scoring his entire 11 points in the first half. UNM entered halftime with a 45-30 advantage.

    The Lobos continued to apply pressure defensively in the second half, holding the Greyhounds to only 20 points. UNM connected on 16-of-28 shots from the field in the second period and shot 47% (10-21) from 3-point range.

    Junior Chad Toppert led the Lobos with 10 rebounds and finished with six points. Faris was 4-of-5 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

    ENMU was held to 25.9 percent shooting and was led by senior Justin Redman-Trotter's game-high 19 points.

    The Lobos outrebounded the Greyhounds 56-31 and every UNM player managed to log at least 12 minutes in the game.

    PERSONNEL PICTURE
    The Lobos return eight lettermen, including four starters, from last year's team that posted a 15-17 overall record and finished tied for eighth in the MWC with a 4-12 mark. UNM returns more than 77% of its scoring, 67% of its rebounding and 71% of its minutes.

    Returning starters include seniors J.R. Giddens, Tony Danridge, Darren Prentice and Jamaal Smith. Giddens led the team in scoring at 15.8 ppg while Danridge was second on the team at 12.5 ppg. Prentice led the squad with 101 assists while Smith was tops from the FT line at 82.5%. Danridge was a 3rd team All-MWC selection while Giddens and Prentice were both honorable mention honorees.

    New Mexico lost just two seniors in Aaron Johnson and Kellen Walter. Johnson led the team in rebounding, grabbing 7.3 rpg while scoring 6.3 ppg. Walter was the only four-year player on the team, averaging 2.0 ppg as a senior.

    Junior Jeffrey Henfield (2.2 ppg), sophomore Ryan Kersten (5.5 ppg) and freshmen Sean Imadiyi (1.1 ppg), David Kanyinda (1.5 ppg) and Derek Oestreicher (redshirt in 2006-07) all decided to leave the program following the season.

    Other returning players include senior Blake Harden, juniors Chad Toppert and Daniel Faris and sophomore Roman Martinez. Harden rejoins the Lobos after a one-year absence from the program. He was enrolled in school but not on the team in 2006-07. Toppert was No. 9 in the nation in 3-pt. FG% at 43.8%. He was also third on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg. Faris started 10 games as a sophomore, averaging 4.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg.

    Alford and his staff will welcome five new faces to the team in 2007-08, two junior college transfers (Johnnie Harris and Monquel Pegues) and three freshmen (Dairese Gary, Kem Nweke and Jonathan Wills).

    PIT TO GET BIG-TIME MAKEOVER
    Major renovations to The Pit could start in the summer of 2008. The cost of the project could range from $50-60 million. The University of New Mexico Board of Regents recently gave preliminary approval for a $20-25 million bond. The rest of the funding will come from the state and private sources. Gov. Bill Richardson pledged funding for Pit renovations in January of 2006. The venerable arena opened Dec. 1, 1966. All renovations in the past 40 years have been limited to locker rooms and offices.

    Although specific details have yet to be finalized, the scope of work is expected to include the following:

  • new entrances, ticket office and novelty store
  • new men's and women's locker rooms
  • expanding the north, east and west concourses to allow for the construction of new restrooms and concession stands
  • building suites on the mezzanine level of the east and west sides
  • connecting the Davalos Center to The Pit
  • possibility of adding a third floor to the north end of the arena for a restaurant
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