November 4, 2003
The 101st season of men's basketball at the University of New Mexico gets underway on Saturday, November 8, when the Lobos host Team Ezybonds in an exhibition game. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. from The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. This is the first of two home exhibition games for the Lobos. UNM plays host to the EA Sports All-Stars on Sunday, November 16, before opening the regular season at home against San Francisco State on Saturday, November 22.
The Lobos have already played four exhibition games after taking a Canadian Tour last month. UNM went 4-0 on a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, defeating the University of Calgary, Trinity Western College, the Vancouver All-Stars and Simon Fraser. Because of the tour - which is allowed by the NCAA once every four years - UNM's first practice was September 27. The Lobos had 10 workouts before the trip, then resumed regularly-scheduled practices on October 21.
TICKETS - Season tickets are currently available at the athletics ticket office at The Pit. Single-game tickets are available online at golobos.com, or by calling 925-5858 or (800) 905-3315. Ticket outlets include the athletics ticket office at The Pit, the ticket office at the UNM Bookstore on main campus, and Raley's and Western Wearhouse locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho. Ticket office hours at The Pit are 8:30-5:00, Monday through Friday. Call (505) 925-5626 for more information.
ABOUT THE OPPONENT - Team Ezybonds is a collection of professional players from Australia. Basketball Travelers, Inc., is the organization that coordinates the travel and schedule for foreign touring teams, including groups from Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, and the Ukraine, Netherlands and Czech Republic.
There are two former U.S. collegiate players on the 10-man Team Ezybods' roster: Mike McShane, who played at Oregon and Montana State-Billings and Jamal Brown, who played at TCU. The head coach is Sean McShane. Team Ezybonds plays at Delaware Wednesday and Temple Thursday before coming to The Pit on Saturday. They will also visit Nicholls State, Texas A&M, Sam Houston State, Lamar and Western Kentucky.
UNM'S CANADIAN TOUR RECAP - Playing four games in three days, the Lobos captured four wins thanks to hot shooting. UNM hit 52% of its field goals, including a steamy 50.5% (46-91) from the 3-point line, which was positioned at the international distance of 20'6". That's an average of 11.5 treys a game. The free-throw line was not friendly as New Mexico converted only 62.3% (43-69).
Senior G Javin Tindall paced three Lobos in double figures by averaging 18.5 ppg. Tindall nailed 13 of 20 shots from beyond the arc, or 65%, and had 16 assists. Sophomore P David Chiotti averaged 15.8 ppg and a team-high 6.3 rebounds. He notched 18 points and a tour-high 15 boards in the win over the University of Calgary.
Sophomore G Jeff Hart came off the bench in all four games to average 13.8 ppg, canning 13 of 26 attempts from 3-point. Freshman F Justin Benson averaged 6.0 rebounds while freshman G Ryan Wall tallied a team-best 18 assists.
EXHIBITION HISTORY - The Lobos have been playing exhibition games since the 1972 season. UNM has a 42-5 all-time record, 41-5 in The Pit. Last year, UNM beat the EA Sports West All-Stars 97-86 and the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars 90-78. Average attendance for 41 home exhibition games is 15,505.
SEASON NO. 101 - The 2003-04 season is the 101st in school history. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Februar 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 105th 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 1,192-946 (.557). New Mexico was 418-495 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 774-451 (.632) over the past 41 seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year. The Lobos have made 26 trips to the postseason during that span, including 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 16 showings in the NIT.
HEAD COACH Ritchie McKay - Ritchie McKay begins his second season in charge of Lobo hoops and his eighth year as a collegiate head coach. He was named UNM's school's 18th head coach on March 28, 2002.
McKay had previous stops at Portland State (1996-98), Colorado State (1998-2000) and Oregon State (2000-02). He has a career record of 93-107, 10-18 at New Mexico. While at Mountain West Conference member Colorado State, McKay led the Rams to the NIT in 1999. McKay is the son of the late Joe McKay, who was a three-year letterman at guard for the Lobos from 1961-63.
PERSONNEL PICTURE - The Lobos return six lettermen, including four starters, from last year's team that finished 10-18, the school's first losing season in 20 years. The big loss is 6-4 shooting guard Ruben Douglas, who led the nation in scoring last year by averaging 28 points a game. Returning starters include senior guards Ryan Ashcraft and Javin Tindall, sophomore post David Chiotti and sophomore guard Mark Walters. Sophomores Jeff Hart and Mikal Monette are also back.
It will still be a young team as the only player with more than one year of experience at UNM is Ashcraft. New Mexico returns 41.6% of the scoring, 46% of the rebounding and 62% of the minutes played for the 2003-04 season.
Additional lettermen not returning are 6-6 forward Jamaal Williams and 6-11 post Chad Bell, both who elected to transfer at the end of last season. Williams is now at the University of Washington, Bell at the University of Nevada at Reno.
McKay and his staff welcome nine new faces to the team in 2003-04, two transfers from other NCAA Div. I institutions (Troy DeVries and Danny Granger), two junior college transfers (Alfred Neale and Collins Ferris) and five freshmen (Justin Benson, Lenny Miles, Sean Phaler, Ryan Wall and Kellen Walter).
2002-03 REVIEW - The Lobos completed their 100th season of basketball by bowing out of the Mountain West Conference Tournament in the first round. UNM fell to BYU 71-56, in a quarterfinal game.
A thin New Mexico squad finished 10-18 overall, its first losing record in 20 years and only the fourth losing campaign by a Lobo squad since 1962-63. It's the fewest wins and most losses for UNM since the 1979-80 team went 6-20.
The Lobos were picked to finish seventh in the MWC, and that's where they ended up with a 4-10 record. UNM has had three straight losing records in conference play, a string last seen between 1980-83.
New Mexico failed to complete in postseason (NCAA or NIT) for only the second time since 1983-84. The 1994-95 team did not qualify, finishing 15-15. Prior to 2002-03, UNM had advanced to postseason seven straight years and 18 times in the previous 19 seasons.
A first for the program is that a Lobo led the nation in scoring. Senior guard Ruben Douglas finished with a scoring average of 27.96, nipping Eastern Illinois' Henry Domercant by a single point. Domercant finished at 27.93 ppg.
The Lobos failed to win a road game for the first time since 1979-80 and for only the second time since 1960-61. New Mexico has lost 17 straight road games, it's longest skid since a 37-game drought between 1956-57 and 1959-60.
After sophomore Michael McCowan left the team on February 26, UNM played the last four games with just nine players, seven on scholarship plus two walk-ons.