Nov. 23, 2010
Lobo Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Wednesday: 7 p.m., Northwood at Lobos - University Arena
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Is it possible to have a bah-humbug Thanksgiving? Maybe get a lump of coal on your plate, or maybe lukewarm hot dog, instead of turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie?
Steve Alford isn't yet ready to turn into a November Ebenezer Scrooge, but the UNM coach's young Lobos surely learned after their 89-64 thumping at UC Berkeley that their coach is a happier guy after a win.
And maybe a better host, too.
Wednesday night's run in The Pit with the Northwood Timberwolves might result in feast or famine for the Lobos when they show up Thursday at Alford's house expecting to see a bountiful Thanksgiving feed.
"There might be no spread at all, if things don't go well Wednesday," said Alford, jokingly. "If things don't go well Wednesday, then Thanksgiving changes a little bit. Their holiday is always dependent on how well they play before the holiday."
If you want to play along with Alford's theory/threat, then most likely there will be a lot of fat-bellied Lobos pushing away from the Alford Thanksgiving table on Thursday.
The Northwood `Wolves, a Division II opponent, look prime to be carved up by Lobos. You aren't really supposed to feel sorry for Lobo opponents, but maybe with the holiday seasons approaching, it's OK to show a little pity toward Northwood.
The Timberwolves should be running into a pack of ravenous Lobos looking to unwrap a team as sort of an early Christmas gift - or maybe as payback - for coach Alford.
The Lobos took a half off Saturday at UC Berkeley and were mangled. Alford called it a "beat down" - a perfect phrase for what the Lobos did, and didn't do, for at least 20 minutes in Berkeley. The Golden Bears ran out of a two-point halftime lead into a convincing 25-point win.
That's why you have to feel a bit sorry for Northwood. They should be running into a Lobo buzz saw. A buzz saw that wants to eat good on Thursday by chewing up Timberwolves on Wednesday.
"Our young guys don't have a real familiarity with what we are trying to do (on offense)," said Alford. "We are trying to get familiar with our offense and why we are doing things offensively."
The Lobos' offensive end was half of the problem at Cal. The other half of the problem came on the defensive end. The Lobos had their problems as poor offense led to poor defense and vice versa.
There are several reasons things should chance on Wednesday.
Northridge has lost to Missouri-St. Louis, Illinois Springfield, Wright State and Wisconsin-Parkside. The Timberwolves beat Rochester. They play in a league that features Tiffin, Ashland and Ferris State.
This goes down as a potential feel-good win for the Lobos; a chance to regroup from the Berkeley pounding and work things out for next week's schedule that features San Diego in The Pit and road games to Southern Illinois and at New Mexico State.
"This week has to be big on conditioning, mental toughness, getting our offense to execute better, getting tougher defensively," said Alford.
"(Cal) was our first road trip for a lot of these guys and I have no idea why it was, but it was monotone. There was no enthusiasm, no intensity and no concentration at either end. I'm discouraged in the way we got beat at Cal."
Northwood is led by 6-foot-3 Bobby Lewis, who averages 16.4 points and 5.8 boards. He'll likely get some face time from UNM's Dairese Gary. Andrew VanDierenDonck, a 6-6 wing, averages 11.8 points. An interesting matchup could be UNM's 5-9 Jamal Fenton on Northwood's 5-8 Cameron Joyce, who averages 9.4 points.
The Lobos have leaned on Gary with his 14.3 scoring average and his 4.7 assists per game. Freshman Kendall Williams scores as a 11.3 clip and Fenton checks in with a 10.3 average. Freshman Alex Kirk has been solid inside with a 7.3 scoring average and a 7.0 board average. Curtis Dennis scores at a 7.0 clip.
The Lobos had problems at Cal, but this also is a young team that had two-fifths of its projected starters on the bench at Berkeley. McDonald was out with an elbow injury, and 6-9 Drew Gordon, a UCLA transfer, is not eligible until Dec. 19.
McDonald should be full-go on Wednesday, but a few other Lobos probably need to work on getting fired up for Northwood.
Hey, there's a lot at stake in this game and a coach to keep happy. So, maybe a few Lobos should ask themselves this biting question:
"You want pumpkin pie or not?