You have to feel for University of New Mexico Athletics Director Eddie Nuñez, which is not to say you have to feel for The University of New Mexico athletics department.
When the mass exodus of the Lobo basketball roster began last spring, it seemed only logical that one of the players ready to yank the handle on the UNM ejection seat was Anthony Mathis.
A celebrated prep star out of Oregon, he had barely seen the light of day in his first two years as a Lobo in then-head coach Craig Neal’s system. He appeared in just 35 games without a single start as a freshman and sophomore, averaging just 2.4 points and 6.5 minutes — most of it garbage time — in the process.
It’s through the eyes of a 9-year-old that Paul Weir’s reputation as the kingpin of Lobo basketball begins to take shape.
One of more than 120 kids signed up to participate in Weir’s inaugural instructional camp held Saturday and Sunday at St. Michael’s High School, Henry Kaufman said Lobo fans are in for something good now that former coach Craig Neal has been sent packing.
“I like him,” Kaufman said. “I mean, just look at him.”
You can criticize Paul Krebs for a lot of things regarding the disfunctionalilty of The University of New Mexico athletic department, but he can do one thing right.
The former athletic director sure knows when it’s time to leave.
The mass exodus at The University of New Mexico now extends into players who have never even suited up for the Lobos.
Men’s basketball coach Paul Weir, who was hired one week ago Tuesday, announced that three members of former coach Craig Neal’s incoming recruiting class have asked for and been granted a release from their scholarship obligations. Recruits Chris Sodom, Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler and Mike Parks, Jr., can now pursue options with other schools.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico turned to its own backyard for a new men's basketball coach by selecting New Mexico State first-year coach Paul Weir to lead the Lobos.
Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs announced the selection Tuesday. Weir will be formally introduced during an afternoon news conference.
Weir set a school record with 28 wins with New Mexico State., leading the Aggies to a Western Athletic Conference tournament championship and an NCAA berth.
If there ever was a state teetering on the fiscal cliff and unable to buy out the contract of a top executive, it is New Mexico.
Yet once again, The University of New Mexico is on the hook to pay former men’s basketball coach Craig Neal $1 million in 24 monthly installments so the program can hire someone else. That money reimburses Neal for the remaining years on his contract — and he gets to keep it all, with no strings and no obligations, unless he gets another coaching job.
The clock is ticking, and the University of New Mexico men’s basketball fans are starting to sweat.
As the search for the program’s next head coach begins its second week, the relative silence the UNM athletic director Paul Krebs has operated under regarding potential candidates or possible hires has some in Loboland looking for any information about who might be the next top man to walk down The Pit ramp.
ALBUQUERQUE — In a literal sense, they are only separated by a few yards of asphalt.
In a figurative sense, they couldn’t be further apart.
On one side of Avenida Cesar Chavez stands the most famous building in New Mexico, The Pit. On the other is Isotopes Park, arguably one of its most endearing. In between lies a marketing and business chasm that is as wide as anything a local sports fan can imagine.
So much for that new hire.
University of New Mexico officials made it clear on Friday the search for the next head men’s basketball coach is not coming to an end, contrary to a report Thursday.
Realizing it’s still really early, the Vegas odds on who will win the Southeastern Conference this year are, surprise, Alabama at 5-7, LSU at 11-2, Auburn and Georgia at 7-1, Florida at 10-1, and Tennessee at 12-1. Just so you’ll know. I’d have to say, with the exception of Auburn, those are as close to realistic as I’ve seen anywhere. Of course, the preseason story of the year will be the Georgia quarterback battle between last year’s starter Jacob Eason and entering true freshman Jake Fromm.
ALBUQUERQUE — University of New Mexico fans waited all weekend to hear answers to questions regarding former head men’s basketball coach Craig Neal’s departure and the future of the school’s highest-profile athletic program.
ALBUQUERQUE — It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.
For many fans of The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, it probably felt a little more like Christmas. Or a birthday. Or a visit from the Easter Bunny.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After four years as head coach and 10 overall with New Mexico, Craig Neal and the Lobos have parted ways.
"He's a good man and a winning coach, but the time has come to move Lobo Basketball in a new direction," athletic director Paul Krebs said in a statement late Friday from the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.
He said a search for a successor begins immediately.
It’s time for Paul Krebs and The University of New Mexico to break out their cost-benefit analysis spreadsheet.
With the transfer of a fourth scholarship player, the departure of a walk-on and the graduation of two seniors from the men’s basketball program, the Lobos lost almost half of their 2016-17 roster in the span of two weeks. This can’t be explained away by simply saying this is a playing-time issue or a personality issue between a few bitter players and head coach Craig Neal.
Another day, another domino.
For the third time in a week, University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Craig Neal had to say goodbye to one of his players. On Monday it was junior shooting guard Sam Logwood who announced he would no longer be a Lobo, doing so on his Twitter account about half an hour before UNM issued a press release mentioning the transaction.
The waters have begun to swirl inside the fishbowl that is The University of New Mexico men’s basketball program.
Head coach Craig Neal announced Monday that two players would be leaving the team to seek opportunities elsewhere, including the program’s most visible face in shooting guard Elijah Brown.
- The Santa Fe New MexicanNew assistant coach Snow says ‘every move is a risk’July 10, 2019
- Albuquerque JournalSigning day surprise: NCAA grants Lobo Anthony Mathis another seasonApril 19, 2019
- The Santa Fe New MexicanTime for Davie to say goodbyeNovember 28, 2018
- The Santa Fe New MexicanIt’s OK to feel good about Weir, LobosMay 20, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE — The Road Warriors are home, but is that a good thing?
Conventional wisdom says The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team playing in The Pit spells trouble for opposing teams. Convention, though, is taking a vacation in Mountain West Conference play.
Has a silver lining suddenly emerged from such a dark cloud?
When The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team lost Tim Williams a day before Tuesday’s 80-77 Mountain West Conference win over UNLV in Las Vegas, Nev., it appeared to be another gut punch in a series of them for the program.
ALBUQUERQUE — Oh boy, February is looming.
For the Lobo basketball team that’s bad news. Really bad.
The University of New Mexico has had back to back horrendous Februaries, going 3-13 down the stretch the last two seasons. The Lobos are trying to avoid the trifecta starting Wednesday at UNLV, a team they’ve lost three of the last four meetings.
Lobos playing rematch with Nevada — just don’t call it revenge
The night of Jan. 7 is one of those that will forever be etched in the memory of Lobo basketball fans.
Up 25 points with 11 minutes to go against Nevada in a nationally televised game, cruising along to a lopsided victory that would be part of an overall picture that included a possible conference title and a return to postseason play.
He’s the son of an NBA coach and the star of a college basketball team that needs him now more than ever.
What’s more, he’s being asked to serve as a mentor and elder statesman on a team whose future is bright with a talented but unsculpted freshman and sophomore class.
Neal says Lobo playerslack of focus, intensity in second half; UNM faces Colorado State
The wheels haven’t officially come off for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, but it seems as though all that separates it from redemption and a total breakdown is one deep pothole.
Losers of three straight after a surprising upset of preseason Mountain West Conference favorite San Diego State, the Lobos head out on the road Saturday looking to turn things around. They visit Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo., hoping to find an answer everything going wrong.
ALBUQUERQUE — The sinking ship that is the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team just took on even more water Tuesday night in an ugly, uninspired 71-66 loss to UNLV in The Pit.
It was UNM’s third straight loss and second in a row at home, this one coming just three days after one of the most improbable, devastating setbacks in school history when the Lobos blew a 25-point lead with 11 minutes to go in an overtime stunner against Nevada.
When the final chapter is written on Craig Neal’s tenure as the basketball coach at The University of New Mexico, Saturday night’s historic choke job against Nevada in The Pit will go down as one of the defining moments of a man whose time on the South Campus was pockmarked by unfulfilled expectations.
It’s easy to take the temperature of The University of New Mexico men’s basketball program based solely on the mood of head coach Craig Neal.
During Friday’s press conference with the media in The Pit, the Lobos’ front man was not exactly folksy. He frequently rebutted questions with a tone that suggested he was nearing the end of his patience.
Just before the Lobos flew out of town for Sunday’s game at San Diego State, University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Craig Neal sent a group text to his players lauding them for their demeanor and focus.
His players rewarded his encouraging words with a surprising win over the preseason Mountain West Conference favorites at Viejas Arena.
Dane Kuiper was little more than a spectator the last time The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team headed out on the road for the dreaded San Diego State-Utah State road swing last year.
All they wanted for Christmas was a little break from the chaos.
What they got was another dose of drama in the form of the loaded weapon that is social media.
The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team, still reeling from a blowout loss at Arizona in its final nonconference tuneup five days before Christmas, returns to the floor Wednesday night for its Mountain West Conference opener against Fresno State.
Comanche leads balanced No. 18 Arizona to rout of Lobos
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — No. 18 Arizona passed its final nonconference test with flying colors.
Chance Comanche scored a career-high 14 points and the Wildcats had five players reach double figures in a 77-46 rout of New Mexico on Tuesday night.
Freshman Rawle Alkins scored 13 points and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds as Arizona dominated the boards 49-30. Lauri Markkanen also scored 13 points for the Wildcats (11-2) in their final tuneup before beginning Pac-12 play next week.
New Mexico defense stifles Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 83-43 win
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Tim Williams scored 19 points and the New Mexico defense held Arkansas-Bluff off the scoreboard for most of the first half as the Lobos rolled to an 83-43 win on Saturday night.
The Golden Lions (1-11) missed their first 13 shots and New Mexico (7-4) forced nine turnovers to grab a 16-0 before Arkansas-Pine Bluff's first bucket by Trent Steen at the 8:34 mark. He finished with 11 points before fouling out with seven minutes remaining.
UNM basketball: Lobos should face easy test in Arkansas-Pine Bluff
ALBUQUERQUE — The coach who claims it’s not his responsibility to coach motivation or energy has spent the last week defending his stance.
On Saturday, he finally gets a chance at a distraction after The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team ends a weeklong hiatus for final exams and hosts lightweight Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-10) in The Pit.
Lobo fans have seen this movie before and the plot is still just as messy as they remember it.
Beaten soundly in a road loss to downstate rival New Mexico State last weekend, The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team became the talk of Albuquerque for all the wrong reasons immediately after the game.
A streak is on the line Saturday night in Las Cruces.
It has been nearly a decade since New Mexico State men’s basketball has beaten The University of New Mexico in the Pan American Center. Not since the Aggies beat the Lobos on Dec. 4, 2007 — former head coach Steve Alford’s first season with UNM — have they actually gotten the best of their upstate rivals on the parquet floor in Las Cruces.
Brown’s drills jumper in final seconds, N. Mexico beats UTEP
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Elijah Brown's 17-foot jumper with 5.8 seconds left helped stave off a remarkable UTEP comeback and give New Mexico a 78-77 victory on Wednesday night.
With 30 seconds left, Deon Barrett's seventh 3-pointer of the second half with 30 seconds left broke a 74-74 tie. But Dominic Artis missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 18.7 points remaining and Brown pushed the ball quickly up the floor for the game winner.
It’s rivalry week for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team.
Two of the Lobos’ oldest rivals are on the schedule as UTEP visits The Pit on Wednesday before UNM heads down Interstate 25 to face New Mexico State in Las Cruces on Saturday.
Whether they’re justified or not, the comparisons that link current Lobo big man Joe Furstinger to former Lobo great Cameron Bairstow are inevitable.
Superficially speaking, the reasons are obvious. Both came to The University of New Mexico with size (6-foot-9) and limited athletic skill sets. Bairstow couldn’t even dunk the ball when he got here and each player seemed to be too clumsy for his own body.
Banged-up Lobos will try to keep it simple on the road vs. Illinois State
Craig Neal likes to remind people that he’s not a doctor, but he sure tries to play one when he visits webMD.
Lately he’s had plenty of reasons to go surfing while learning about various medical maladies. This week it has been particularly busy as The University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach has seen three starting players spend ample time in the training room.
One of the many takeaways from last season for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team is the fact that the team’s depth was never fully developed.
That’s why Lobos head coach Craig Neal is committing to a shift in his way of doing things. Rather than trying to make everyone happy by giving players requisite minutes off the bench, he’s turning to a select number to provide the kind of energy he feels the team needs.
ALBUQUERQUE — Staying within the team bubble and not depending on talent alone is the secret to getting off the bench for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team.
Joe Furstinger knows this. It’s why, when finally called upon after not getting single second of action in UNM’s first two games, he remained a viable option for head coach Craig Neal when the situation called for it in the last game against New Mexico State.
New Mexico rallies to beat New Mexico State 72-59
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico forward Tim Williams had 20 points and Elijah Brown scored a season-high 19 points with eight rebounds as the Lobos pulled away late Friday to beat downstate rival New Mexico State 72-59.
New Mexico (3-0) forced 20 turnovers, turning them into 20 points, and gave it up only three times in the second half. The Lobos rallied from 30-29 halftime deficit after the Aggies finished the first half with a 13-6 run.
Williams sends New Mexico past Houston Baptist 95-79
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Tim Williams scored a career-high 31 points and had 11 rebounds in New Mexico's 95-79 defeat of Houston Baptist on Monday night.
Williams hit all but one of his 11 shots from the field and went 11-for-12 from the line while collecting his second double-double of the season for New Mexico (2-0). New Mexico outrebounded the Huskies 38-24.
"I thought Tim Williams was terrific," New Mexico coach Craig Neal said.
ALBUQUERQUE — As first impressions go, it couldn’t have gone much worse.
Fortunately for the Lobos there was a second chance to make good on it.
Stumbling through a sloppy first half in which it trailed Idaho State for the final 14 minutes, 30 seconds of Friday night’s season opener in The Pit, The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team hardly looked like a much-hyped team, as advertised.
Lobos basketball team opens season Friday against Idaho State
ALBUQUERQUE — Year 1 of the Craig Neal era came with all the hype and bloated expectations one would expect with The University of New Mexico men’s basketball program.
Year 2 was the commencement of a massive overhaul and the struggles that predictably came with them.
Year 3 was rife with drama and failed promises, shortfalls that started the grumbling of Neal’s job security and the overall health of the Lobo program.
New Mexico pushing to contend again in Mountain West
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Even though four starters are back, this will be a new-look New Mexico team since the coach's son has left the program to finish his career at Ole Miss.
An often tumultuous relationship between point guard Cullen Neal and the fans in the town where he grew up led to his departure and leaves the Lobos minus one returning starter.
"Cullen doesn't play for me," coach Craig Neal said in responding to a question about his son. "You have to go to Ole Miss press conferences."
ALBUQUERQUE — They’re undefeated, optimistic and still having fun.
The time has come, however, to put all of that to the test as the college basketball season for The University of New Mexico men’s team is about to start anew.
The Lobos open their two-game preseason schedule Wednesday night in The Pit against Western New Mexico. Another game follows on Friday against Eastern New Mexico before the regular season tips off Nov. 11 against Idaho State.
ALBUQUERQUE — What used to be a highly anticipated open house held before five-figure crowds at midnight is now little more than an excuse to open The Pit’s doors and let people poke around for a couple hours.
And this year, unlike past seasons, the Lobo Howl was far less form and substantially more function.