May 9, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Credit or debit? In assessing the Mountain West 2012-13 Men’s Golf Awards, University of New Mexico coach chooses the latter.
Millican was much more willing to talk about senior James Erkenbeck’s recognition as MW Player of the Year, as the conference announced Thursday, than he was his own award as MW Coach of the Year.
In those cases, Millican was more than willing to give credit where credit was due.
“James being named the Player of the Year and four guys making all-conference, that’s what means a lot to me,” Millican said. “To have four of the 10 all-conference members come from UNM is an awesome accomplishment.”
In fact, Millican’s only comment about his own award was that he owed debt of gratitude to his team.
“The other award, that’s just because the guys had such a great year,” he said. “I don’t even know why they have that award.”
This is the third time in Millican’s 12 years that he’s had to wonder about the award. The Lobo coach also earned MWC Coach of the Year Honors in 2003 and 2005.
Erkenbeck becomes the eighth Lobo to capture conference Player of the Year honors and the first since Steve Saunders in 2009.
The San Diego native also talked about his honor being more of a team accomplishment. UNM won four tournaments in 2012-13, including the Mountain West Championship last weekend in Tucson, and is currently ranked No. 5 in the country.
Overall, UNM finished first or second in eight of the 12 events it entered this season.
“I think some of it had to do with what the team accomplished this year,” he said. “My teammates played great all season.”
Erkenbeck admitted winning Player of the Year was on his mind since he was a freshman in 2008.
“I remember my freshman year, we went to (former Lobo and current PGA Tour professional) Charlie Beljan’s house in Tempe, (Ariz.),” Erkenbeck said. “He had a Mountain West Freshman of the Year plaque and a Player of the Year plaque. I wanted to win Freshman of the Year but didn’t accomplish that, so I’ve had my mind set on Player of the Year and was fortunate enough to finally get that.”
The Lobos placed three players on the All-Mountain West Team in 2011-12 (Catlin, Erkenbeck and Perez), and that tied a school record set in 1990 (Kent Jones, Tim Herron and current Lobo assistant Brian Kortan) and equaled in 1991 (Herron, Kortan and Bob Richardson).
Erkenbeck currently is the No. 17-ranked collegian by Golfweek.com. Green, whose All-MW honor is the first of his career, is No. 36. Perez is ranked 73rd, and Catlin is No. 74.
Erkenbeck, however, said UNM hasn’t had much of a chance to reflect on its accomplishments this season.
“I think we’re all a little uptight about getting through finals week,” he said. “I think once we get through that, we’ll feel good about focusing on regionals.
UNM is the top seed in the NCAA Columbus Regional, which takes place next Thursday-May 18 in Columbus, Ohio. The top five teams in the 13-team field will advance to the NCAA Championship from May 28-June 2 in Alpharetta, Ga.
The Lobos finished sixth in the 13-team NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga., last season, missing the top five by one stroke.