Weir dismisses roster deficiencies, wants to ‘win right now’
ALBUQUERQUE — Paul Weir is rolling up his sleeves and putting in the work.
What he wants is like-minded people — players and fans alike — to do exactly the same.
Meeting with the local media for the first time since his introductory press conference on April 11, The University of New Mexico’s men’s basketball coach said he’s looking for the blue-collar fans to find their inner Lobo and bring some life back into a program that is clearly in a free fall.
More than half of last season’s team has either graduated or quit, leaving behind a patchwork roster that has no freshmen and just one sophomore.
“I’m just a regular guy so, you know, at the end of the day I really want our team to feel that way,” Weir said. “The city of Albuquerque is our team so we have to make sure we’re connected and resonating with them. This really isn’t just about the suite holders. This really isn’t just about the people that give a lot of money. We need them, I’m very thankful for that, but that’s not Albuquerque and that’s not UNM. We’ve got to make sure that our brand and our team resonates with those people. We’re blue collar, we’re going to work our butts off and we’re going to give every single thing we’ve got.”
Weir lost another player player Wednesday night when sophomore guard Aher Uguak announced he was leaving the team for another opportunity. The coach said he had set a deadline of June 5 for the players to decide whether or not they were wanted to be part of the program.
He has since softened that stance, saying it’s entirely possible more players may leave the team before the end of the summer. For now, he’s moving ahead with the players he has on hand and taking his time to let both his coaching staff and the players take whatever steps are necessary to reach the right decision.
“If anybody in our program either doesn’t necessarily like to work hard or wants to be selfish in some capacity, then eventually that’s going to be weeded out and I’d really prefer that to be sooner rather than later,” Weir said.
In other words, play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the one on the back. Weir would clearly rather win with players committed to his style of play than be in uniforms for the wrong reason.
It might leave the immediate future in doubt as the Lobos will feature a roster paper thin in the post and top-heavy with inexperienced upperclassmen. Weir just doesn’t want fans thinking he’s ready to throw in the towel.
“Me going out there and just saying ‘It’s a lost season, we’re just going to rebuild because we lost Tim Williams and Elijah Brown and everybody else,’ I just don’t think that’s going to sit well with anybody,” Weir said. “It’s not going to sit well with me, either.”
What remains is a team he’s still trying to feel out. Weir said he’s still trying to settle into his new life in Albuquerque, admitting that some things are quite a bit harder than he’d anticipated before coming here from New Mexico State.
That said, he’s not entirely lost on what he has to work with.
“I’m not the most optimistic guy every day but i am a little bullish on our roster,” he said. “I like how we’re built, I like our depth at guard, I like our ability to shoot the ball, I love our speed. We are a little light up front. I don’t think that’s anything we can hide. We may be a player or two short there.”
The only low post layers returning are senior Joe Furstinger and junior Connor MacDougall. As many as three scholarships could remain unfilled for next season’s roster since Weir isn’t willing to hand out free rides just for the sake of filling out a full allotment of players.
“I don’t want to rebuild,” he said. “I don’t want to reload, I don’t want to take two years. I want to win right now. Next year, I want to win that year.”