Nov. 11, 2007
The University of New Mexico (1-0) opens its home season on the hardwood Monday, playing host to Eastern Washington (0-1). Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. Live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com.
The Steve Alford era of Lobo basketball began on a winning note last Friday with a 54-47 victory at Colorado. Eastern Washington fell to 10th-ranked Washington State 68-41 in its season opener last Friday.
Sponsors for Monday's game include Mesa Del Sol, Big I 107.9 and 104.7 The Edge.
Monday's contest tips off five home games for the Lobos in a span of just nine days. It's also the beginning of a six-game homestand that stretches through the end of the month.
ALFORD'S HOME DEBUT Monday marks the regular-season home 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 1-0 against Eastern Washington. His Iowa team knocked off the Eagles 70-54 in Iowa City on Dec. 5, 2003.
Alford is 309-183 (63%) in his 17th season 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 last Friday was 10,057. 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 HOME OPENERS
New Mexico is 75-25 in home openers and has won 42 of their last 46. The Lobos are 37-4 in home lid-lfiters in The Pit.
NEW MEXICO - EASTERN WASHINGTON SERIES
It's the fifth meeting between the Lobos and Eagles. UNM has a 4-0 lead with all games having been played in The Pit. The last meeting was Nov. 23, 1996, when New Mexico took a 69-53 victory in the championship game of the Lobo Classic. The Lobos also won 121-62 on Dec. 3, 1993, which is tied for the 11th-most points in school history. The 59-point margin of victory ranks as the 5th-largest overall, and it's No. 3 for games played in The Pit.
MORE ON EASTERN WASHINGTON
The Eagles from Cheney, Wash., play out of the Big Sky Conference. They finished 15-14 last year, including 8-8 in conference play. EWU returns just one starter in senior forward Kellen Williams, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds.
One key loss is Rodney Stuckey, who was a 1st-round selection by the Dteroit Pistons in the 2007 NBA Draft. The 15th overall pick, Stuckey is just the second EWU player taken in the Draft. He averaged 24.4 points in two seasons at Eastern Washington.
The Eagles' new head coach is Kirk Earlywine, who spent last year as an assistant at UNC Wilmington. He started his coaching career assisting Rick Majerus at Ball State (1988-89) and Utah (1990-93). This is Earlywine's second stint as a head coach. He spent the 1995-96 season at Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, N.C., compiling a 21-8 record. Earlywine was also an assistant at Central Michigan (1994-95), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1997-99) and Weber State (2000-06) under Joe Cravens
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 1,266-996 (.559). New Mexico was 421-497 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 845-499 (.628) over the past 44-plus 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.
This was the debut Steve Alford craved and Jeff Bzdelik feared.
Freshman Jonathan Wills scored 13 points and J.R. Giddens sank a backbreaking basket with 33 seconds left as New Mexico beat Colorado 54-47 Friday night in a matchup of coaches making their debuts with new teams after successful stints at other schools.
Colorado senior star Richard Roby, who averaged 17.3 points last season, was nearly shut out for the first time in his career. His only point came on a free throw with 1:16 remaining that pulled Colorado to 50-45.
Marcus Hall, who led the Buffs with 11 points, drove to the basket with a minute left to make it 50-47, but Giddens, who had just two points, set up in the left corner and calmly swished a jumper to seal it and quiet the Coors Events Center crowd.
The Buffs trailed by double digits most of the game but began their run on Xavier Silas' 3-pointer with 2:20 remaining that cut the Lobos' lead to 49-43.
The Lobos, who beat the Buffs 106-65 last season in Albuquerque, jumped out to an early lead and took a 30-19 cushion into the locker room after closing the first half on a 9-2 run that featured a 3-pointer and two free throws by Wills.
Roby, who ranks seventh on Colorado's all-time scoring list, was one of two Buffaloes starters shut out in the first half. The other was Hall.
Hall scored all of Colorado's nine points over the first 10:18 of the second half, but his teammates went cold and New Mexico maintained a double-digit lead. Hall then committed charges on back-to-back possessions, one of them wiping off a basket for the Buffs.
Chad Toppert added 11 points for the Lobos, who outshot the Buffs 44 percent to 34 percent.
COLORADO POSTGAME NOTES