Oct. 14, 2003
The 2003-04 University of New Mexico men's basketball season gets underway early as the Lobos will spend fall break in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian Exhibition Tour will have UNM playing four games in three days, including quite possibly the program's first doubleheader on Saturday.
The Lobos depart on Wednesday and will stay in Portland that night. They will practice at Nike World Headquarters Thursday morning before heading to Vancouver later that day.
UNM will meet the University of Calgary on the campus of Simon Fraser University Thursday evening at 9 p.m. Mountain Time. Trinity Western University will be the opponent on Friday, also at 9. Saturday's busy slate has UNM playing the Vancouver All-Stars at 1 p.m., followed by a nightcap against Simon Fraser at 8 p.m. There will be no radio or television coverage of the games. Recaps will be available at www.golobos.com immediately after each game.
New Mexico returns home Sunday and will begin its regular practice schedule next week. The Lobos play a pair of home exhibition games in November before opening the season Nov. 22 against San Francisco State.
The NCAA allows a foreign tour once every four years. A school is permitted 10 practices before the trip. UNM started practice on Sept. 27. All current eligible student-athletes are allowed to participate, which means Danny Granger and Troy DeVries - both mid-season transfers a year ago - will not make the trip. Granger and DeVries will not be eligible until late December. Also, sophomore Mark Walters will travel but not play as he continues to rehabilitate a torn ACL suffered last May. That means head coach Ritchie McKay will have 10 players available for the tour.
FOREIGN TRIP HISTORY - According to school records, UNM has not taken a trip abroad since the summer of 1974. The University of New Mexico represented the United States at the World University Games in Israel and came home with the championship trophy. Former Lobo Bob Toppert was named the MVP after scoring 102 points in the five-game tournament.
Norm Ellenberger's New Mexico team surpassed 100 points in each game on the way to the title. UNM beat Australia 109-80, the Netherlands 119-81, Belgium 108-68, Switzerland 106-76 and the host Israelis 104-84 in the tourney final. On the trip home the Lobos lost in overtime to the Israel National Team, but rebounded to win games in San Remo, Italy and Nice, France.
The Lobos did play an exhibition game against the Army Redlanders in Honolulu on Jan. 17, 1973. That was on the front end of games at the University of Hawaii on Jan. 19-20.
ABOUT THE OPPONENTS - The three universities the Lobos will play have already hosted games, including some NCAA Div. I-A institutions. Thumbnails on the three schools:
University of Calgary: Located in Calgary, Alberta...nickname is the Dinos.
Trinity Western: Located in Langley, B.C...lost to Oral Roberts 109-95 Monday...will play Creighton next Monday...TWU beat the University College of the Cariboo Sun De- mons 96-84 last Saturday
Simon Fraser: Located in Burnaby, B.C...New Mexico has a 5-0 lead against Simon Fraser as the two schools played games in The Pit between 1993-99...the Clan barely lost to SMU last Friday, 79-77 in overtime as Pasha Bains scored 33 points...Scott Clark is in his ninth season as head coach...the Clan is just 2-38 against NCAA Div. I competition...Creighton visits SFU on Oct. 24...until 1997-98, SFU used to be the lone Canadian school that competed in a U.S. conference...the Clan was an NAIA member, playing in the Pac West Conference
New Mexico vs. Simon Fraser (all games played in The Pit) Nov. 21, 1993 UNM 101, Simon Fraser 57; Nov. 17, 1995 UNM 81, Simon Fraser 67; Nov. 18, 1996 UNM 107, Simon Fraser 54; Nov. 20, 1998 UNM 86, Simon Fraser 73; Nov. 6, 1999 UNM 85, Simon Fraser 64
SEASON NO. 101 - The 2003-04 season is the 101st 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 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).
TRYING TO REVERSE A TREND - After going 10-18 last season, UNM looks to avoid consecutive losing seasons for what would be only the second time in more than 40 years. New Mexico was 6-20 in 1979-80 and 11-15 in 1980-81. The Lobos have only had four losing campaigns since Bob King arrived in Albuquerque before the 1962-63 season.
UNM has had three straight sub-.500 seasons in Mountain West Conference play, finishing 6-8 in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 and 4-10 last season. New Mexico had previously not had a losing record in league games since 1983. The Lobos have not had four straight losing seasons in conference play since 1980-83.
THE PIT - The 2003-04 season marks the 38th year of basketball in The Pit/Bob King Court, which was completed in December of 1966. UNM has an all-time mark of 522-128 (80%) in the building that resides 37 feet below street level. The Lobos have had a winning record in The Pit in 36 of their 37 years as tenants and tore off a school-record 41-game home winning streak from 1996-98. Since the beginning of the 1995-96 season, the Lobos are 123-26 (83%) at home.
POSTSEASON PERENNIALS - UNM has advanced to postseason play seven of the past eight years and 18 times in the last 20 seasons, dating to 1983-84. The Lobos participated in the NIT from 2000-02, advancing to the second round in 2000 and the quarterfinals in 2001. The Lobos have also made seven NCAA Tournament appearances since 1991, including a school-record four straight from 1996-99, moving to the second round each time.
Before a first-round exit in the NIT in 2002, UNM had been one of just eight schools in the nation to win at least one postseason game (NCAA or NIT) from 1996-2001: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford and New Mexico.
NCAA TOURNAMENT RETURNS - UNM will again play host to NCAA Tournament games when the 2004 women's championship comes to The Pit. The Lobos will host first- and second-round games March 20 and 22. New Mexico is in a stretch where it will host NCAA competition for five consecutive years. The NCAA Men's First and Second Rounds were here in 2002 followed by the Women's First and Second Rounds and the Midwest Regional a season ago. UNM also hosts the Men's West Regional in 2005 and the Women's West Regional in 2006.
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 Feb. 26, UNM played the last four games with just nine players, seven on scholarship plus two walk-ons.