Nov. 20, 2007
Gunning for it's first 6-0 start in nine years, the University of New Mexico (5-0) looks to continue its winning ways Wednesday evening when Hawai'i visits The Pit for the first time since 1999. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. The game will be televised live on The Mtn., plus live audio is available via All Access at golobos.com. This will be the Lobos' fifth game in the 10 days.
New Mexico is 5-0 for the second straight season after dispatching Presbyterian, St. Bonaventure and Loyola Marymount in the Basketball Travelers Invitational in Albuquerque over the weekend. UNM's last 6-0 start was 1998-99 when Dave Bliss' nationally-ranked Lobos began 8-0.
The best beginning for a Steve Alford-coached team is 10-0 by Southwest Missouri State in 1996-97. His 2003-04 Iowa squad started 6-0.
Hawai'i is 1-2 after an 84-55 romp over Alcorn State Sunday in Honolulu. The Rainbow Warriors lost two close games to open the season, 73-72 to future UNM opponent San Diego, and 79-77 to Illinois last Friday.
It should be an interesting match-up as New Mexico is somewhat vertically challenged, sometimes using five guards on the floor. In contrast, the average height of Hawai'i's starters is 6-7 with the shortest being 6-5. Four of the Rainbow Warriors' starters are seniors.
In a rare non-conference home-and-home series, the Lobos will face Hawai'i at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu on Dec. 27.
GAME SPONSORS/BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS NIGHT
Wednesday's game is sponsored by 92.3 KRST and the Bernalillo County DWI Program. The Bernalillo County DWI Program's mission is to educate people NOT to drive and drive. During their game sponsorship, they will be handing out literature and making announcements to fans about drinking responsibly and remind fans never to drink and drive. This is part of the County's Substance Abuse Program's educational outreach.
Additionally, it will be Big Brothers Big Sisters Night at Lobo Basketball. Coach Alford has invited the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico to a practice where they will get a chance to meet the team and staff and take photos. The group will be recognized before the game. BBBS will be also on the concourse to discuss the services they offer and how people can get involved with the organization.
The first 3,000 fans will receive a 2007-08 men's basketball team photo upon entering the arena. This year's schedule is on the back.
SPECIAL FOOTBALL-BASKETBALL TICKET PROMOTION
All fans who attend this Saturday's UNLV football game 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 and must be redeemed at the ticket office at The Pit while supplies last. The offer is not valid for men's basketball games against Texas Tech (Dec. 15) or New Mexico State (Dec. 19).
Alford is 313-183 (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. Alford is facing Hawai'i for the first time in his head coaching career.
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 SURPASS 10,000
Season tickets climbed above 10,000 for the first time since the 2003-04 season when UNM sold 10,598. The final count is 10,082. UNM sold at least 10,000 season tickets for 30 consecutive seasons between 1974-75 and 2003-04.
UNM VS. HAWAI'I
Long-time rivals in the Western Athletic Conference, New Mexico and Hawai'i hook up for the 56th time since the first meeting on Feb. 5, 1965.
UNM has a 38-17 lead overall, including 22-2 in Albuquerque and 20-2 in The Pit. UH's lone wins here were 56-55 on Jan. 31, 1981, and 71-70 on March 4, 1989. The latter denied the Lobos a share of the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title in head coach Dave Bliss' first season at UNM. Hawai'i's Terry Houston tossed in a short jumper that sophomore Luc Longley apparently got a finger on, but it went in anyway for the deflating loss.
This is the first time these two teams have met since splitting a pair of games in the 1998-99 season, which was the final year UNM was a member of the Western Athletic Conference.
UNM and UH were both members of the WAC from 1980-99 and the Lobos held a 25-13 lead in the series over that span.
MORE ON THE RAINBOW WARRIORS
Picked to finish 6th in the WAC, Hawai'i was 18-13 last year and 8-8 in the league, tying for 5th place. Three starters return, including 6-5 senior guard Bobby Nash, who just happens to be the son of first-year head coach Bob Nash. The younger Nash is off to a hot start, averaging 22.3 points to lead the WAC after three games on 10 of 20 shooting from 3-point. He is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.7 a game.
Colorado State transfer Stephen Verwers has started the first three games. He's averaging 7 points and 4.7 boards.
Hawai'i alum Bob Nash takes over the head coaching reins after spending the previous 20 years as an assistant to long-time boss Riley Wallace. Nash has been involved with Hawai'i basketball as a player or coach for 28 years.
NEW NAMES AND FACES GREET THE LOBOS
In what has to be a first in the history of Lobo basketball, UNM will play 17 games in 2007-08 against 11 teams that have first-year head coaches. Of course, Nerw Mexico also has a new coach in Steve Alford. The list:
Jeff Bzdelik - Colorado
Kirk Earlywine - Eastern Washington
Mark Schmidt - St. Bonaventure
Bob Nash - Hawaii*
Roger Reid - Southern Utah
Marvin Menzies - New Mexico State*
Bill Grier - San Diego*
Heath Schroyer - Wyoming
Jeff Reynolds - Air Force
Jim Boylen - Utah*
Tim Miles - Colorado State
*1st head coaching position
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.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT RECAP
J.R. Giddens scored 21 points and reserve Darren Prentice had 19, leading New Mexico to an 86-58 win over Loyola Marymount on Sunday in the final game of the Basketball Travelers Invitational.
Roman Martinez scored a career-high 11 points as the Lobos survived a tough three-day stretch. After breezing past Presbyterian and St. Bonaventure, New Mexico dispatched the Lions, too, but this one was a grind.
Loyola Marymount trimmed a 43-27 halftime deficit to 48-42 early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Quentin Turner and to 52-45 with 12:16 remaining after another 3-pointer by Jon Ziri.
Chad Toppert and Martinez each answered with 3-pointers as New Mexico found the energy for a 10-1 burst that put the Lobos ahead 62-46 with 9:51 remaining, but it wasn't always pretty.
There were missed putbacks, 21 turnovers and several Lobos slogged toward the bench when they came out of the game.
In fact, first-year coach Steve Alford buried his face in his hands midway through the second half after point guard Jamaal Smith was called for carrying the ball. But the Lobos held on, reaching 5-0 for the second straight year.
Jon Ziri led Loyola Marymount with 19 points and 10 rebounds while freshman Orlando Johnson scored 17. The Lions were tired, too, as evidenced by their 24 turnovers and 5-of-18 free throw shooting.
The Lobos came out sluggish, shooting 2-of-9 and 0-for-3 on 3-pointers through the first 8 minutes. But then Prentice came off the bench and hit two 3-pointers as part of a 16-3 run that featured some defense, as the Lions went scoreless for a 5 1/2 -minute stretch.
The 3's kept coming for New Mexico, which got two each from Martinez and freshman Jonathan Wills and another by Toppert. By halftime, the Lobos led 43-27, shooting 11-of-16 and 8-of-11 from 3-point range in the final 12 minutes of the half.
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT POSTGAME NOTES
IT'S A FIRST FOR LOBO HOOPS
For the first time since the 3-point shot was introduced into college basketball before the 1986-87 season, UNM has canned at least 13 3-pointers iin three straight games. The historic feat came during the Basketball Travelers Invitational when the Lobos were 13 of 28 against Presbyterian, 13 of 28 against St. Bonaventure and 13 of 26 against Loyola Marymount. That's a 47.6% clip for the 3-game tournament.
MORE ON THE 3s
The Lobos are among the nation's early leaders in 3-point shooting. They are averaging 10.6 a game and 47.3% from beyond the arc to lead the Mountain West Conference in both categories.
3s AND COUNTING
UNM has made a 3-point basket in 553 straight games, the 12th-longest active streak in NCAA Div. I hoops. UNLV is 1st at more than 650 games. The last time UNM failed to connect from long range was Jan. 3, 1991, missing on 8 attempts against Colorado State in The Pit.
EVERYONE PLAYS AND CONTRIBUTES
All 10 Lobos have played in every game this season, and all 10 are averaging between 16 and 24.2 minutes a game. With five games in the books, you could say there have been a total of 50 opportunities to score: 5 games x 10 players. Amazingly, only two times has a Lobo not gotten into the scoring column this season and that came in the opener at Colorado when Johnnie Harris and Dairese Gary failed to score.
It's the same with rebounding. Just twice has a Lobo failed to get a carom, Gary against Colorado and Darren Prentice iin the St. Bonaventure game.
And, since everyone plays the Lobo bench has made huge contributions. The reserves contributed 49 points in the 86-58 win over Loyola Marymount, including 19 of the first 23 and 26 of 43 in the first half.
UNM's reserves have scored 46% (185 of 401) of the points and pulled down 47% of the individual rebounds this season. Additionally, the bench is averaging seven 3s a game. UNM is averaging 10.6 as a team. Chad Toppert, Darren Prentice, Roman Martinez and Dairese Gary have combined to convert 47.2% (35-74).
The 28 assists in the 92-57 win over Eastern Washington is UNM's highest total in 10 years, since it had 32 in a 112-61 victory over Holy Cross on Dec. 29, 1997.