The Alford Blog
May 12, 2009
The Lobos want to congratulate Danny Granger on receiving the NBA's Most Improved Player Award for 2008-09. Having played in the NBA for a few years - but not at Danny's level - this is a tremendous accomplishment and honor for a young man who has worked extremely hard to elevate his game that now ranks among the best in the league.
It's pretty good company when you finish fifth in the NBA in scoring behind guys named Wade, LeBron, Kobe and Nowitzki.
I thought Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird summed up Danny best when he said that '"I'm so proud of him on and off the court.'" Danny really is a special talent and a great ambassador for New Mexico and Lobo basketball.
We look forward to visiting with Danny this summer on his return to Albuquerque.
April 8, 2009
Tony made us proud. Watching Tony Danridge win the Slam Dunk Contest in Detroit a few days before the Final Four was something I'll always remember. I was fortunate to see the competition in person, but I think I speak for all Lobo fans who watched on ESPN that we were all gushing with pride for a special young man.
Overcoming the broken leg to help lead us to a conference championship then capping his Lobo career with the dunk title is a nice way to end your collegiate playing days. I couldn't be more happy for Tony, who exemplifies everything we want in a Lobo basketball player.
March 30, 2009
On behalf of the University of New Mexico men's basketball program, we want to thank Gov. Bill Richardson for his gracious invitation to recognize the 2008-09 Lobos Tuesday evening (March 31) in Santa Fe. What a great thrill for our players and staff in recognition for winning the MWC regular-season championship.
There is no doubt that Gov. Richardson plays a large part in the success we enjoy as a program. While it sure is neat to see him courtside for a lot of our games, I'm actually referring to the financial support he has provided for the Rudy Davalos Basketball Center, which is one of the top practice facilities in the nation, and to the renovation of The Pit.
Visiting the Governor's Mansion Tuesday in Santa Fe will be a special evening for all of us. I just hope we can make it an annual event.
March 2, 2009
We obviously are playing a special game with Utah on Tuesday, but it's also Senior Night for three special Lobos. I can't say enough about Tony Danridge, Daniel Faris and Chad Toppert. These guys were here before I became a Lobo and it was key to the early development of our program that they buy into our system and become the type of leaders we needed. They have developed into exactly the type of seniors a coach envisions.
In November, I'm not sure they knew how to lead, but they have developed into leaders. They do it in different ways. Daniel is a little more vocal and shows more emotion on the court. Daniel has really matured as a player. People didn't even know Daniel was on the scouting report as a freshman and now teams are double teaming him. Daniel has improved as much as maybe any player I've ever had.
Tony and Top are quiet, but it's hard to change a kid's personality and I'm not sure if changing a personality is what you want to do. Do I wish they'd talk a little more? Yeah. But Tony and Top have done such a good job of gaining the respect of their teammates that they don't need to talk. They talk and lead through their actions; in games, in practice, off the court, in the classroom.
These three seniors have been tremendous for us on the court, but Tony, Daniel and Top are tremendous individuals off the court. They will be missed by this program in all the ways you hope that your seniors eventually will be missed. I hope that Lobo fans fill The Pit on Tuesday to say goodbye to these special Lobos and help us with the Utes, too.
Feb. 19, 2009
I wanted to talk a little bit about my defensive philosophy and the use of a man-to-man defense as opposed to the zone. A lot of that philosophy goes back to playing for my dad and then coach Bobby Knight at Indiana. They believed in imposing your will defensively and I share that belief.
It's my background to be aggressive and to impose your will on a team and I think that's more difficult to do in a zone. A man-to-man defense is kind of a demeanor, an attitude, and it carries over into other parts of the game. There are times when a zone might be the right defense, but I'm just not a zone coach by nature.
Now, this isn't saying we don't use a zone. Every time we go into a game, zone is an option. You play a zone to change tempo. Sometimes you switch to a zone coming out of a timeout to mess with the opposing coach, who you think might be in his huddle designing a play to use against a man defense. Most coaches won't be doing both a man play and a zone play in a huddle, so you try to change things up at your end. Sometimes you use a zone for a short while to see if a team knows how to attack a zone.
Most zones defenses are, standing isn't the word, but in a zone you are responsible for an area and it's not as aggressive or as physical as a man-to-man. We've been really guarding well lately playing a man-to-man and it's been our forte all year. We zoned San Diego State a little bit at their place and it didn't work very well. They scored on every possession. I wish I could turn the clock back for our game against Texas Tech. I did a poor job there because we should have manned them from the get-go and not worried about the zone.
We zone on in-bounds plays and we'll mix it up now and then, but it probably will be ninety-ten (90 percent man, 10 percent zone) for us. That's just who we are and that's also who I am."
Feb. 9, 2009
I wanted to take time to congratulate Tony Danridge and Danny Granger on some recent honors they received. Tony is our conference Player of The Week and Danny made the NBA All-Star team.
Tony's award was a tremendous honor for him, the program, his teammates and it was well-deserved. Tony is a great Lobo. He is a big-time person, a terrific individual. He's always in the practice facility shooting, working on his game. He has the respect of all the coaches, all the players and all the managers. He is a tireless worker and a tremendous teammate. When success comes to people like that, it makes it even more special.
Tony is a quiet leader for us and we're not trying to change his character. But I like the Tony in the second half against UNLV (24 points) being a little more selfish than the Tony we saw in the first half. That's what Tony has to do for us. We're not going to beat anyone in this league with him taking one shot, like he did in the first half. He took this team and put it on his shoulders in the second half against UNLV. There are going to be games, and times during games, where we need him to do that.
And there is nobody who deserved a coach's choice to be put on the NBA All-Star team more than Danny Granger. A big-time congratulation from us to him. It's a well-deserved honor and it's great to see an ex-Lobo in an All-Star game. Not too many people get to play in an NBA All-Star game, so when you see a Lobo in there, it makes it extra special. Last year Danny was incredible and so far this year he has been phenomenal. We have sent him some Lobo gear and we're pushing him to wear that stuff at the All-Star game.
Danny has been a great ex-Lobo for us. He comes back in the summer and spends time with the guys and as good a player as he is, he's a better person. It's special to have our guys around someone as quality as Danny Granger.
Jan. 21, 2009
This is our first big road trip of the season as far as the league goes and it's a tough swing basketball wise, but the guys also will be missing the first week of school. If there was a chance for us not to miss classes, we would have broke the trip up and not stayed on the road the whole time. But if we came back (after Wednesday at SDSU), we'd miss Thursday's classes anyway. Then we'd have to leave Friday by noon (for TCU), so we would have practiced Friday morning and would have missed Friday, too.
We're looking at missing two (sessions) of each class the kids have. They are going to have to do a good job making things up. It's probably tougher on the freshmen because it's the first time for them on a long road swing, but it's hard on everybody. I'm not happy with missing four days of class, but that's how the schedule hit.
From the basketball standpoint, it's fine because we're together and it keeps things consistent, but it's difficult to miss a full week of class. We'll have our academic adviser with us and he'll have them organized and in study halls. The support is there. It's just not the same as being in class.
Jan 13, 2009
The winter break is one of my favorite times as a basketball coach. From Dec. 16 until the day after Martin Luther King Day, it's strictly basketball. We figure out their meal schedules and make sure they are getting the proper fluids and there is some weight lifting, but after that it's almost 100 percent basketball.
This is an important time to improve. We have a lot more time in the film room with them. We have a lot more time in individual workouts. Guys like Curtis Dennis, who is a redshirt, and Kem Nweke (knee surgery), get a lot more attention and time on the court.
It's about this time of the year where coaches get upset because of what their team lacks or because of mistakes being made during games. Players might be upset with how they think they are playing or if they are playing enough. So, it's a great time for coaches and players to work on things they can carry into the rest of the season and hopefully change things for the better.
It's really important to us to identify weaknesses and also to get the guys to work hard at getting better. You can't put this stuff off until the summer. We have the time to do individual work now and this is a pivotal time to set up how we play in February and March. They don't have a lot of free time during this stretch. It's pretty much basketball and it's a fun time because they won't have the stress of academics on them until the third week in January.
Jan. 8, 2009
First off, Happy New Year. We're excited about three more months of basketball and December was an important month for us to improve as a team and as individuals. I was very pleased with the progress we made. It was a good month for us. Our non-league schedule was tougher this year and we are younger and more inexperienced. We started 3-4 and finished 9-6. We showed a lot of growth and maturity.
I thought getting UTEP and finishing 10-5 in non-league would have been outstanding for us. Of course, we would have loved to get UTEP, but UTEP was a tough match for us just because of their size. We don't have that kind of size yet. I thought the guys really responded well to recover from 3-4 and I'm pleased with their effort. We won some tight games and I was happy with our growth. We played really well against UNLV on the road and now we get to turn our attention and our focus back on league play.
That starts again with Air Force on Saturday and we're excited about it. The tickets are $10 and we're hoping that we have a great crowd because we really appreciate and need The Pit to be behind us.