New Mexico Men's Basketball Game Notes vs. Western New Mexico
Nov. 8, 2008 - 3:00 p.m. - The Pit - Albuquerque, N.M.
Radio: 770 KKOB
Online: Live audio available on www.GoLobos.com and www.770kkob.com
Live Stats: GameTracker available on www.GoLobos.com
The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team opens its exhibition season Saturday when its hosts Western New Mexico. Tipoff is 3:07 p.m., from the The Pit/Bob King Court in Albuquerque. The game will be televised live over KASY My50-TV in Albuquerque.
The 106th regular season of Lobo hoops gets underway Friday, Nov. 14 as UNM hosts Southeast Missouri State.
UNM VS. WESTERN NEW MEXICO
This is the second exhibition game between UNM and Western New Mexico. The Lobos won 98-42 on Nov. 2, 2006.
In regular-season games, UNM has a 19-2 lead in a series that started Feb. 13, 1915. The Mustangs won that initial meeting 39-13 in Silver City. WNMU’s other victory was 29-27 in Albuquerque on Feb. 11, 1931.
The Lobos have been playing exhibition games since the 1972-73 season. UNM has a 57-6 all-time record, 49-5 in The Pit. Last year, UNM whipped Eastern New Mexico 94-50 in front of 11,980 fans. Average attendance for 54 exhibition home games is 14,958.
UNM PREDICTED FOR 5TH-PLACE FINISH IN MOUNTAIN WEST
New Mexico was picked to finish fifth in the 2008-09 Mountain West Conference race during the league’s preseason media gathering in Denver on October 14. Voters were a combination of head coaches and media.
SEASON NO. 106
The University of New Mexico men’s basketball program begins its 106th season in 2008-09. The Lobos first laced up the hightops on Feb. 2, 1900, when they lost 8-6 to the Albuquerque Guards. While this season is actually the 110th anniversary of that inaugural year, UNM did not field a team for various reasons in 1900-01, 1903-04, 1917-18 and 1920-21.
The Lobos have been on the hardwoods continuously since the 1921-22 season and have compiled an all-time record of 1,288-1,006 (.561).
New Mexico was 418-495 (.458) from 1900-62, but has gone 870-511 (.630) over the past 46 seasons, an average of nearly 19 wins per year. The Lobos have made 28 trips to the postseason during that span, including 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and 17 showings in the NIT.
HEAD COACH STEVE ALFORD
Steve Alford, 43, begins his second season in charge of Lobo hoops and his 18th year as a collegiate head coach. He was named UNM’s 19th head coach on March 23, 2007.
Alford, who has never been an assistant coaching is his career, has a 332-192 (63%) career record in 17 seasons as a head coach. His teams have qualified for postseason play 12 times, produced 14 winning seasons and reached 21 wins on nine occasions.
Alford’s maiden voyage at New Mexico was something to behold:
• A 24-9 record, tying the school mark for wins during the regular season and a 9-win improvement from the previous year
• most wins by a New Mexico head coach in his rookie season
• 8-6 on the road after an 8-43 mark in five seasons before Alford arrived at UNM
• a +7 in conference victories, the 2nd-greatest jump of all-time
Prior to New Mexico, Alford spent eight seasons at the University of Iowa where he compiled a 152-106 record, including a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons and six postseason appearances. The Hawkeyes won two Big Ten Conference tournament titles (2001 and `06).
Prior to Iowa, Alford posted a 78-29 record in four seasons (1992-95) at NCAA Division III Manchester (Ind.) College and a four-year (1996-99) record of 78-48 at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). The Bears defeated Wisconsin and Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament before losing to top-ranked Duke in the regional semifinals. In 1997 Alford led the Bears to a 24-9 record (second in the Missouri Valley Conference) and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament.
Manchester advanced to the 1995 NCAA Division III championship game before suffering its first defeat in 32 games to place second in the nation. Alford was named Indiana Collegiate Conference coach of the year in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and his record was 74-13 over his final three seasons.
THREE-YEAR EXTENSION FOR ALFORD
University of New Mexico Vice-President for Athletics Paul Krebs announced March 31, 2008, that Steve Alford has agreed to three-year contract extension that will keep him on the Lobo sidelines through the 2015-16 season. Alford finished the first year of a six-year contract in 2008.
The Lobos return six lettermen, including four starters, from last year’s team that posted a 24-9 overall record and finished third in the MWC with an 11-5 mark in league play. UNM returns 51% of its scoring, 47% of its rebounding and 53% of its minutes from last year.
Returning starters include senior Daniel Faris, junior Roman Martinez and sophomores Dairese Gary and Jonathan Wills. Back for his senior season is Tony Danridge, who took a redshirt season last year after suffering a broken leg in October of 2007. Danridge has played in 95 career games and was a two-year starter from 2005-07. He averaged 12.5 points and 2.5 rebounds during the 2006-07 season.
Four of the team’s top-six scorers from last year are back. Although he started only 13 games last year, Toppert is the Lobos’ leading returning scorer. He averaged 10.3 ppg and finished 2nd in the nation in 3-point accuracy at 48%. Faris started all 33 games and averaged 9.2 points and 4.5 boards. Gary started 28 times as a true freshman point guard, averaging 7.8 points, a team-best 3.2 assists and 44 steals. Martinez logged 7 points a game and numerous floor burns in his 24 starts. Wills averaged 3.4 points in 32 games and 17 starts as a true freshman.
New Mexico’s biggest departure is J.R. Giddens, who was selected by the World Champion Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. Giddens was the co-MWC Player of the Year and an honorable mention All-American after averaging 16.3 points and a league-high 8.8 rebounds a game.
Despite playing on the perimeter, Giddens became the first guard to lead the MWC in rebounding. He was also the only player in the conference to rank in the top-10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, FG percentage, assists, steals and blocks.
Also not returning are junior post players Johnnie Harris (2.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg) and Monquel Pegues (1.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg).
2008-09 FRESHMAN CLASS LARGEST IN 24 YEARS
The five scholarship newcomers brought in by the Lobos coaching staff is UNM’s largest freshmen contingent in 24 years.
Back in 1984-85, head coach Gary Colson signed Bob Arnold, Shawn Brooks, Paul Lawson, Rob Loeffel and Randal Moos.
A look at UNM’s returning statistical leaders for the 2008-09 season (number in parentheses indicate overall ranking from last year’s team):
Scoring: Tony Danridge* 12.5
Chad Toppert 10.3 (2)
Field Goal Pct: Tony Danridge* 50.9%
Daniel Faris 50.6% (2)
Rebounding: Daniel Faris 4.5 (2)
3-point FG Pct: Chad Toppert 48% (1)
Assists: Dairese Gary 3.2 (1)
Free Throw Pct: Chad Toppert 79.2% (1)
Steals: Dairese Gary 4 (2)
* numbers from 2006-07
LOOKING AHEAD TO SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE
The Lobos open their regular season on Friday, Nov. 14 against Southeast Missouri State. The Redhawks finished last season 12-19 overall and 7-13 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Southeast Missouri State is located in Cape Girardeau.
UNM and Southeast Missouri are meeting for the first time. Steve Alford is 1-0 in his career against the Redhawks as Southwest Missouri won 67-56 on Dec. 19, 1998.
The Redhawks defeated Missouri Baptist 81-73 in an exhibition game last Saturday in Zac Roman’s debut as acting head coach. Kenard Moore had a game-high 23 points while Jajuan Maxwell registered a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Roman was named acting head coach on Oct. 16 by Southeast Missouri State interim athletics director Cindy Gannon. Roman was selected to serve while head men’s basketball coach Scott Edgar was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a hearing by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Southeast Missouri plays its second exhibition game Saturday against MacMurray.
The Redhawks’ head football coach is former New Mexico State head man Tony Samuel. Now in his third season at SEMO, Samuel is currently 3-6.
IMPRESSIVE SCHEDULE IN 2008-09
On paper and based on results from last year, UNM’s schedule looks to be one of the strongest in a long time. Of the Lobos’ 15 non-conference games, 13 are against opponents that had winning records last year, nine match-ups will be against 20-game winners, while two others won 19. Only two schools had losing records while eight advanced to postseason play.
Only two of UNM’s non-conference opponents were ranked outside of the top 150 RPI at the end of the 2007-08 season and eight were in the top 100.
Highlighting the early season slate are trips to Creighton, San Diego and Texas Tech, and the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico, where UNM will face Virginia Commonwealth and either Drake or Vanderbilt.
New Mexico has non-conference home games against Ole Miss, UTEP and Oral Roberts. The Lobos will also take on their in-state rival, New Mexico State, in a home-and-home series.
The Lobos will play six games away from The Pit for the first time since the 1987-88 season and just the second time since the building opened in 1966. It is the third year in a row the Lobos have gone on the road for at least five games in the non-conference season.
One of college basketball’s most famous and recognizable buildings, University Arena is the home of New Mexico basketball.
The 2008-09 season marks the 43rd year of basketball in The Pit/Bob King Court, which was opened Dec. 1, 1966. UNM has an all-time mark of 598-142 (81%) in the building that resides 37 feet below street level. The Lobos have had a winning record in The Pit in 41 of their 42 years, including a school-record 41-game home winning streak from 1996-98. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Lobos are 62-10 (87%) at home.
What is even more impressive about UNM’s home court is that more than 11.5 million fans have flocked into the sunken edifice to see their beloved Lobos play basketball. The Lobos have averaged 15,559 fans the past 42 years, an amazing 95% of capacity.
PIT TO GET BIG-TIME MAKEOVER
Major renovations to The Pit are expected to start in April of 2009. The cost of the project is approximately $60 million. The University of New Mexico Board of Regents gave preliminary approval for a $20-25 million bond while the rest of the funding will come from the state and private sources. Gov. Bill Richardson pledged funding for Pit renovations in January of 2006.
The venerable arena opened Dec. 1, 1966. All renovations in the past 40 years have been limited to locker rooms and offices. The scope of work is expected to include the following:
• new entrances, ticket office and novelty store
• new men’s and women’s locker rooms and a team weight room
• expansion of the north, east and west concourses to allow for the construction of new rest rooms and concession stands
• construction of suites on the east and west sides of the mezzanine level
• connecting the Davalos Center to The Pit
• Alumni Lettermen’s Lounge
• possibility of adding a third floor to the north end of the arena
ALBUQUERQUE 1 OF 5 Finalists for Future mwc Championships
The Mountain West Conference future basketball championships site subcommittee recently announced finalist cities to host the 2011-13 men’s and women’s basketball championships. The five finalists are Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and San Diego. These cities will be moved forward in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process with an expected awarding of the future site to take place in June 2009. Denver (2004-06) and Las Vegas (1999-2003, 2008-10) have previously hosted the MWC Basketball Championships.
“The Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships is a signature event that highlights our student-athletes,” said Craig Thompson, MWC Commissioner. “We are pleased with all of the cities that showed interest in this event and the subcommittee is eager to begin reviewing the proposals from each finalist and move forward in the selection process.”
Sixteen cities, featuring twenty-seven different facilities, received the initial RFP on July 15, 2008. Final proposals and bid specs will be due in February 2009. After a thorough analysis and breakdown of each proposal, the Mountain West Conference subcommittee will convene to review the proposals and make a recommendation for the MWC Joint Council to review during its meeting in Phoenix in May 2009. The Joint Council decision will be forwarded to the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors for final approval during its June 2009 meeting. It is anticipated an announcement will be made at the completion of the Board of Directors meetings.
KASY My50-TV to televise SELECT GamES
Five non-conference games will air locally on KASY My50-TV this season, three home games and two road games: the exhibition game against Western New Mexico on Nov. 8, Grambling on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22 against Central Florida. The games against Grambling and Central Florida are a part of the Cancun Challenge played in The Pit.
My50-TV will also pick up the local broadcast of UNM’s games at San Diego on Dec. 10 and at Texas Tech on Dec. 20. The San Diego game will be produced by 4SD in San Diego, while the game with the Red Raiders is produced by the Texas Tech Television Network.
Scott Stiegler will provide play-by-play and former Lobo Hunter Greene will handle the color analysis for the Lobo men’s games played in The Pit.
New Mexico now has a total of 23 games that will televised this season, including five on My50-TV, 12 on The Mountain West Sports Network (The mtn.), three on Versus and three on CBS College Sports.
My50-TV can be found on channel 50 over the air, channel 12 on Comcast basic cable in the Albuquerque area, channel 50 on Direct TV and Dish Network, and channel 3 on Cable One, Rio Rancho.
NEW MEXICO IN POSTSEASON
The Lobos have made 28 postseason appearances - 11 NCAA and 17 NIT - and all have come in the past 45 seasons, since 1963-64. UNM has advanced to postseason play 20 times in the past 25 seasons, since 1983-84.
DEADEYE FROM LONG RANGE
The Lobos finished 2nd in the nation in 3-point accuracy in 2007-08 at 42.0%, converting 271 of 646 attempts. IUPUI was 1st at 42.3%.
UNM’s 3-point shooting is the 2nd-best in school history. The 1988-89 Lobos hold the record at 43.3%, however, that squad was just 157 of 362 from beyond the arc.
New Mexico’s six returning players combined to shoot 43.6% (164-376) from long range.
3s AND COUNTING
UNM has made a 3-pointer in 581 straight games, the 11th-longest active streak in NCAA Div. I. UNLV is 1st at more than 700 games. The last time UNM failed to connect from long range was Jan. 3, 1991, missing on 8 attempts against Colorado State in The Pit.
The Lobos had sellout crowds of 18,018 in their final two home games of the 2007-08 season against BYU and UNLV. The last time UNM had back-to-back sellouts was for Arizona and New Mexico State in November/December of 1996. The last time for consecutive sellouts in conference games was 1994 when Lobo fans bought every ticket for six straight games.
Average attendance for 18 home games in 2007-08 was 14,361, an increase of 1,508 per game over the previous year’s average of 12,853. It’s the Lobos’ highest average attendance in five years, since 14,679 in 2003-04.
TOPPERT NO. 1 FROM 3
Chad Toppert enters his senior year as UNM’s most accurate 3-point shooter. He has made 45.66% (184-403) of his career attempts. His 184 treys rank 6th all-time at UNM, which is 101 short of Clayton Shields career mark of 285. Toppert has drilled 85 long shots each of the past two seasons.
In 2007-08, Toppert was 1st in the league and 2nd in the nation in 3-point accuracy (48.0%). and 3rd in the MWC in 3s per game (2.58 a game).
• Since 2003-04, New Mexico is 82-7 when it shoots better than its opponent...the record is 118-11 since 2000-01
• The Lobos have won 21 straight games when allowing less than 60 points, and they are 42-2 since 2004-05
• Since 2004-05, the Lobos are 70-14 when they lead at halftime...10 of the losses came during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons
DOUGLAS, GRANGER NAMED TO MWC’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY TEAM
Former Lobos Ruben Douglas and Danny Granger were named Oct. 13 to the Mountain West Conference 10th anniversary team, as selected by a combined panel of media, institutional and conference personnel and on-line fan poll. In order to be eligible for consideration, candidates must have been an all-Mountain West first team selection at least once in their careers.
Douglas enjoyed one of the most prolific offensive seasons in school history in 2002-03, becoming the first Lobo to lead the nation in scoring at 27.96 ppg. He was chosen Mountain West Conference Player of the Year following his senior season. Douglas has played professionally on the international level since leaving UNM.
Granger led UNM to the 2005 MWC Tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament. He was named MVP of the MWC tournament and was a 3rd team All-American by Basketball Times. In 2004-05, Granger was the only player in the NCAA to average 18.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 2 assists, and he became the first player in school history to record 60 assists, blocks and steals in a season.
Granger is in his fourth season with the Indiana Pacers of the NBA.
2008-09 SEASON OUTLOOK
The buzz surrounding the University of New Mexico men’s basketball program has returned and it is getting louder and louder as the calendar nears the start of the 2008-09 season. The reason? The injection of excitement and success new Lobo head coach Steve Alford and his staff shot into the arm of a proud program in their first season in Albuquerque.
Alford arrived on campus on March 23, 2007, and in just over a year, his accomplishments at UNM have been historical. With essentially the same players as the previous year, except for a starting freshman point guard in Dairese Gary, Alford’s first Lobo team finished 24-9, tying the school mark for wins during the regular season. He also set a school record for most victories by a New Mexico head coach in his rookie season.
Fans were excited about the news of Alford’s arrival, but they did not expect the fifth-largest improvement (15 wins in 2006-07 to 24 in 2007-08) in school history. Alford and the Lobos also erased three long and hated losing streaks in 2007-08. The Lobos won 99-92 in double overtime at Wyoming, ending a 10-game skid to the Cowboys in Laramie. UNM had lost seven in a row at Air Force before grounding the Falcons at Clune Arena. Three days later, an unsightly 18-game drought came to a halt in Salt Lake City as New Mexico pulled off a 72-71 victory over Utah, giving the Lobos their first win against the Utes at the Huntsman Center since 1989.
It was not just the fact that the Lobos were winning, but also that they were winning on the road. After going 8-43 in true road games in five seasons (2003-07) before Alford was hired, UNM went 8-6 in 2007-08 to equal a school record. UNM finished the season with four straight conference road wins for the first time since 1998.
Defense also returned to the floor as New Mexico held opponents to just 41.0% shooting, the fourth lowest by a Lobo team in the past 43 years. Opponents averaged only 62.7 points a game, the second stingiest since 1983-84.
All of this translated into making a seat at The Pit for a New Mexico men’s basketball game THE TICKET in town for the first time in many years. The Lobos averaged 14,361 fans a game last season, the highest mark at The Pit in four years. UNM sold out the last two games of the regular season against BYU and UNLV, halting a six-year decline in attendance at The Pit.
The success New Mexico enjoyed in coach Alford’s first season has the fans and onlookers wondering what is in store for year two. Despite losing three talented seniors - J.R. Giddens, Darren Prentice and Jamaal Smith - New Mexico returns four of its top six scorers and four starters. Also returning is fifth-year senior Tony Danridge, who was second on the team in scoring in 2006-07 but missed all of last year with a broken leg he suffered just before the start of practice. Mix that group of experienced lettermen with what has been ranked as one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and Alford has all of college basketball taking notice on the upcoming edition of the Lobos.
“We were very pleased with what we accomplished in year one,” stated Alford. “The fan support at The Pit was a tremendous part of our success, but the student-athletes should also get credit for their hard work. They bought into our system and now they all know what is expected from them on and off the court. We still have work to do, but we are definitely moving in the right direction towards making Lobo Basketball one of the top programs in the nation.”
New Mexico will have three experienced seniors on the roster, including Danridge, Chad Toppert and Daniel Faris. Both Danridge and Toppert have an opportunity to top the 1,000-point mark in their final year as Lobos. Danridge averaged 12.5 ppg as a junior two seasons ago when he earned 3rd team All-MWC honors. As bad as Danridge’s injury was, fans were glad to hear that it was his left leg and not his “bionic” right leg that has powered him to numerous national highlight-reel dunks over the previous three seasons.
Toppert comes into his senior season as the school’s all-time leader in the 3-point FG%, hitting 45.7% of his attempts from behind the arc. He has been ranked in the top-10 nationally each of the last two seasons, including No. 2 last year when he made 48.0% of his threes. For the second year in a row, Faris is the only returning post player with Division I experience. He had a strong junior campaign, averaging 9.2 ppg and 4.5 rpg, while shooting 50.6% from the floor.
The lone junior on the squad is Roman Martinez, who wears the tag as UNM’s Everything Man. The crafty wing played in all 33 games, starting the last 24. Martinez averaged seven points, four boards and two assists per game while hitting 42% from behind the arc and leading the team in floor burns.
The Lobos return a pair of sophomore guards in Dairese Gary and Jonathan Wills. Gary made a tremendous impact as a freshman point guard, leading the team in assists with 3.18 per game. He also averaged 7.8 points after earning the starting spot five games into the season. He was just the fifth Lobo freshman to record over 100 assists in a season and his 105 were the most by any Lobo since Marlon Parmer had 182 in 2001.
Wills started 17 games, including the final 11, while averaging 3.4 ppg. Redshirt freshman Kem Nweke spent last season training with the Lobos but did not play. A 6-10 center, Nweke will add much needed size to the UNM frontcourt.
Alford and his staff will be able to mix in five highly-touted newcomers, and a walk-on from Albuquerque, with a solid nucleus of returning players. The Lobos’ 2008-09 recruiting class was ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation by ESPN.com. Making up the group are: Will Brown, a 6-9 forward from Dallas, Texas; Curtis Dennis, a 6-5 guard/forward from the Bronx, N.Y.; Nate Garth, a 6-2 point guard from Sacramento, Calif.; A.J. Hardeman, a 6-8 forward from Del Valle, Texas; Chris Johansen, a 6-4 guard from Albuquerque; and Phillip McDonald, a 6-5 shooting guard from Cypress, Texas.
“This is a very exciting class,” stated Alford. “I appreciate the work the staff has put into it. To get five kids with Texas ties - a very important state for us to recruit - is an excellent accomplishment for our program. The caliber of both the student and the player we are getting keeps Lobo basketball moving in a positive direction. I couldn’t be more excited about this recruiting class.”
McDonald (shooting guard), Brown (power forward) and Garth (point guard) were all named the top signee in the Mountain West Conference at their respective position by Rivals.com. Hardeman is a highly touted forward from the Dallas, Texas, area who will provide size and athleticism in the Lobo intertior. Dennis spent last year guiding Findlay College in Las Vegas, Nev., to the prep school national championship game. Johansen won three straight New Mexico 4A state titles with Albuquerque’s St. Pius High School.
Alford has raised the expectations of Lobo fans with the immediate success he orchestrated in his first season in Albuquerque. Fans will be flocking to The Pit again in 2008-09 to see what Alford and Co. have planned for an encore in year two. Regardless of the outcome, New Mexico basketball is back on the rise and headed towards being one of the top programs in the MWC and all of college basketball.
2007-08 SEASON RECAP
The University of New Mexico’s 105th season of basketball ended March 19 with a tough 68-66 loss at Cal in the 1st round of the MasterCard NIT. Despite falling in its last two games, the Lobos had a remarkable turnaround under rookie head coach Steve Alford, posting a 24-9 overall record. That was a 9-win improvement from the previous season.
What happened during the 2007-08 season had to have been difficult for even the most optimistic Lobo fan to imagine.
Alford inherited four returning starters from a somewhat unpredictable bunch that finished 15-17 in 2006-07, just the program’s 2nd losing season in the past 24 years. Picked to finish 5th in the MWC, New Mexico was 4-12 in the Mountain West, tying TCU for last place. The Lobos lost 12 conference games for the first time since 1959, and were 2-12 away from The Pit, 1-10 in true road games.
On Oct. 4, 2007, one of the team’s returning starters - senior wing Tony Danridge - broke his leg and would miss the 2007-08 season. The steady Danridge was a three-year starter who averaged 12.5 points as a junior and was expected to be a tremendous complement to J.R. Giddens on the perimeter.
With essentially the same players as last year, except for starting freshman point guard Dairese Gary, Alford’s first Lobo team finished 24-9, tying the school mark for wins during the regular season and a 9-win improvement from a year ago. UNM won 8 road games, tying a program record and equaling the entire total for the previous five seasons (8-43).
Picked to finish 4th in the MWC, the Lobos went from worst to 3rd by closing the conference season with 8 wins in 9 games. The Lobos produced their most league wins (11-5) in nine years as a member of the Mountain West Conference. The 11 conference victories are the most by UNM in 10 years, since getting 11 in the Western Athletic Conference in 1998.
New Mexico and Air Force were the only two teams in the MWC to finish higher that what was predicted in the preseason poll. The poll said 4th for UNM, but it finished 3rd. Air Force was 5th after the poll said 8th.
The final 25 games, only one starter from the previous year - Giddens - was in the starting lineup. Giddens was unworldly and the consummate teammate in his final collegiate season. Gary was a steadying influence at the point. Heady sophomore Roman Martinez probably made more non-box score plays than anyone on the team while junior post Daniel Faris stepped up when UNM needed him the most. Two returning starters - senior guards Darren Prentice and Jamaal Smith along with 3-pointer marksman Chad Toppert - averaged more than 26 points off the bench.
Even Alford was mildly shocked at the response from his team and the slightly unexpected results from a season that turned into a wonderful ride.
RECORD-SETTING SEASON FOR ALFORD
Steve Alford set a school record for most wins by a New Mexico head coach in his rookie season. Dave Bliss was 22-11 in 1988-89.
UNM TIES RECORD FOR REGULAR-SEASON VICTORIES
The 24 victories ties for the most by a New Mexico team during the regular season. Norm Ellenberger’s 1977-78 Lobos were 24-3 heading into the NCAA Tournament while Dave Bliss’ 1995-96 team was 24-4 going into the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
LOBOS TIE RECORD FOR ROAD GAME WINS
After going 8-43 in true road games - played on the opponents’ home floor - the previous five seasons (2003-07), UNM went 8-6 in 2007-08, tying a school record set three other times: 8-4 in 1972-73, 8-2 in 1977-78 and 8-3 in 1995-96. UNM finished the season with 4 straight conference road triumphs for the first time since a 5-game run in 1998.
The MWC record for road wins is eight as well set by UNLV in 2006-07, Air Force in 2003-04, and equaled by BYU this season.
ROAD STREAKS SNAPPED
Three long losing streaks were broken in 2007-08. On Jan. 5, the Lobos won 99-92 in double overtime at Wyoming, ending a 10-game losing skid to the Cowboys in Laramie.
UNM had lost 7 in a row at Air Force before grounding the Falcons 68-51 on Feb. 20. Three days later, an unsightly 18-game drought came to a halt in Salt Lake City as New Mexico pulled off a 72-71 victory over Utah. It was the Lobos’ first win against the Utes at the Huntsman Center since 1989.
HISTORIC IMPROVEMENT MADE
New Mexico was a +9 in wins from the 2006-07 season. That figure ranks as the 5th-biggest improvement in school history. It took New Mexico only 20 games to surpass last year’s victory total (15-17) and UNM nearly tripled last year’s wins in conference play (4-12). The list of most improved Lobo teams:
+13 15 in 1994-95 28 in 1995-96
+12 14 in 2003-04 26 in 2004-05
+10 6 in 1961-62 16 in 1962-63
+10 14 in 1982-83 24 in 1983-84
+9 15 in 2006-07 24 in 2007-08
The Lobos were a +7 in conference games in 2007-08, which is the 2nd-greatest jump of all-time and an argument could be made it’s the best ever.
During World War II - when schedules were abbreviated - UNM fashioned a 3-0 record in the Border Conference in 1944 with all three wins coming against Texas Tech. The Lobos jumped to 12-0 in 1945 for an improvement of +9.
AND THE STATS SHOWED IMPROVEMENT...ON DEFENSE
FG% Reb. TO Scor.
All Games Overall Road 3pt% Def. Mgn. Mgn. Def.
2006-07 15-17 1-10 37.5 46.6 -1.6 +1.7 73.3
2007-08 24-9 8-6 42.0 41.0 +2.5 +4.0 62.7
FG% Reb. TO Scor.
MWC Overall Road 3pt% Def. Mgn. Mgn. Def.
2006-07 4-12 1-7 38.9 49.4 -4.5 +2.3 76.0
2007-08 11-5 5-3 43.0 41.8 +0.6 +5.6 63.6
UNM held opponents to just 41.0% shooting from the floor in 2007-08. That’s the 4th-lowest surrendered by a Lobo team in the past 43 years. Opponents averaged 62.7 points a game, the 2nd-lowest since 1983-84.
AN UNBELIEVABLE SEASON FOR J.R. GIDDENS
A 1st-round draft choice of the World Champion Boston Celtics last summer, senior J.R. Giddens had a remarkable season in 2007-08.
All Games Rank MWC Games Rank
Scoring 16.3 4th 18.3 1st
Rebounds 8.8 1st 8.3 1st
FG Pct. 51.6 4th 52.9 3rd
Assists 3.12 9th 3.38 7th
Blocks 1.18 3rd 1.31 t-3rd
Steals 1.42 t-7th 1.5 6th
• The perimeter-oriented Giddens was the first guard to lead the MWC in rebounding...he and Andrew Bogut (a 7-footer) are the only two players in the 9-year history of the league to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding in MWC games
• In 2008, Giddens posted single-game highs in the league for scoring (36 vs. Wyoming), rebounds (15 vs. UNLV) and steals (6 vs. Wyoming)
• The honors for J.R:
-Co-MWC Player of the Year
-District VIII Player of the Year by the USBWA
-MWC Player of the Year by ESPN.com
-1st team all-district by the NABC
-Associated Press honorable mention All-America
• Despite ranking 8th in the league in minutes played at 32.2, Giddens was the only player in the MWC who ranked in the top-10 in the MWC in scoring, rebounding, FG pct., assists, steals and blocks
• Giddens is the only Lobo to ever reach 500 points, 250 rebounds, 100 assists, 40 steals and 30 blocks in a season
• Giddens was named MWC Player of the Week a record 5 times in 2007-08
LOSSES HARD TO SWALLOW
New Mexico’s last three losses came by a combined total of 5 points: 70-69 in OT to BYU, 82-80 in overtime to Utah in the MWC Championship and 68-66 at Cal in the 1st round of the NIT. UNM had a chance to tie or win each of the three games in the final seconds, but couldn’t get a shot to fall.
PROTECTING THE BALL
The Lobos finished 1st in the MWC with a turnover margin of +5.6 in MWC games. They had 10 or fewer turnovers 16 times, and it happened 11 times in 16 MWC games. UNM averaged just 10.5 turnovers in MWC play, and 8.9 in the last 9 games.
In all games, the Lobos led the MWC in scoring (74.1 ppg), scoring margin (+11.4), 3-point FGs (8.21 pg) and 3-point percentage (42.0%).
In MWC games only, New Mexico led the league in scoring (72.9 ppg), scoring margin (+9.4), 3-point FGs made (8.5), 3-point FG pct. (43.0%), turnover margin (+5.63) and assist/turnover ratio (1.54).
UNM REACHES 20 WINS AGAIN
New Mexico won 20 games in a season for the 21st time. All have occurred since the 1963-64 season. Steve Alford got his 9th 20-win campaign in 16 full seasons as a head coach.
DOMINANT IN THE PIT
New Mexico was 16-2 at home, winning by an average margin of 20.2 points. The blemishes were a 72-67 loss to San Diego State, a game the Lobos led 24-10 in the first half and 33-25 at halftime, and 70-69 in overtime to BYU.
LOBO BULLET NOTES
• New Mexico was 21-1 when holding opponents to less than 70 points...the only loss was the final one of the season when UNM lost 68-66 at Cal
• UNM has won 21 straight games when holding opponents to less than 60 points
• New Mexico was 11-1 when J.R. Giddens and Chad Toppert reached double figures in scoring, but 13-8 when they didn’t
• New Mexico set a school record by playing 5 overtime games...UNM went 3-2
GARY IMPRESSIVE IN ROOKIE SEASON
Dairese Gary established himself as one of the top freshman point guards in school history. He started 27 games, the most by a UNM freshman point guard since John Robinson II started 30 in 1998-99. Dishing 105 assists, Gary is just the 5th Lobo freshman to record 100 in a season, joining Phil Smith (176 in 1980-81), David Gibson (113 in 1994-95), Robinson II (162 in 1998-99) and Marlon Parmer (115 in 1999-2000). Gary also had 44 steals, second-most ever by a UNM freshman. Phil Smith had 47 in 1980-81. Gary was the only freshman in the MWC who ranked in the top-10 in assists (8th) and steals (10th).
FRESHMEN GET PLAYING TIME
The Lobos had two true freshmen in the starting lineup in Dairese Gary and Jonathan Wills. Gary started 28 games, Wills 17, which is the first time in program history that a pair of true freshmen started at least 17 games in a season.
The last time UNM frosh - true and redshirt - had more starts was in 2002-03 when David Chiotti (20), Jeff Hart (5), Mikal Monette (2) and Mark Walters (20) combined for 47.
And, since everyone played the Lobo bench made huge contributions. UNM’s reserves scored 36.1% (884 of 2,446) of the points and pulled down 32.9% (333 of 1,013) of the individual rebounds. Those were averages of 26.8 points and 10.1 rebounds.
A Lobo came off the bench to score in double figures 31 times: Jamaal Smith (11), Chad Toppert (10), Darren Prentice (8) and Roman Martinez (2).
3-POINT RECORD FALLS
The Lobos’ 81.8% (9-11) accuracy from 3-point against Texas Tech is a school record and it tied the Mountain West Conference record (San Diego State - Dec. 15, 2006). The previous UNM record was 72.2% (13-18) vs. San Francisco State in 2003.
When the Lobos beat Wyoming 99-92 in double overtime on Jan. 5, they staged the largest second-half comeback in a road game in school history. UNM trailed 48-32 at halftime. It ranks as the 5th largest deficit overcome regardless of location. New Mexico’s largest comeback was Jan. 15, 1993, at Hawai’i when it rallied from 20 points (31-11) to win 61-58.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
The Lobos began the New Year in style by doing something it had never done before: prevailing in consecutive overtime games, and on the road no less.
UNM squeaked past a fired-up UTEP squad 86-85 in overtime on Jan. 2. That was followed by a grind-it-out 99-92 double-overtime victory at Wyoming on Jan. 5, the Lobos’ first win over the Cowboys at the Arena-Auditorium since 1995. New Mexico trailed Wyoming 48-32 at halftime, so it marked the largest second-half comeback on the road in school history.
SUPERLATIVES IN O-T WIN AT UTEP
The Lobos established some new standards in the 86-85 OT win over UTEP on Jan. 2, 2008:
• J.R. Giddens’ 19 rebounds were the most by a UTEP opponent since Nevada’s Richard Stirgus collected 19 boards in Reno on Jan. 27, 2001...Giddens’ 19 rebounds were also a Haskins Center record by an opposing player
• The Lobos’ 52 free throw attempts were the most by a Miner foe since Missouri shot 55 on Dec. 8, 1973 in Columbia...the 52 free throw attempts were a Haskins Center record, and the 37 free throws made were a Haskins Center opponent record
• UNM’s 56 rebounds were a Haskins Center opponent record, and the most boards by a UTEP opponent since Washington also collected 56 in a preseason NIT game in Denver on Nov. 22, 1985
BIG-TIME DEFENSE AGAINST WEBER STATE
New Mexico side-swiped Weber State 62-32 at home on Dec. 23. The 32 points ties for the fewest by a Lobo opponent in The Pit, which opened in December of 1966. UNM beat BYU 74-32 on Feb. 3, 1997.
It also ties for the fewest points allowed by a Steve Alford-coached team during his 17-year coaching career. On March 12, 1999, Alford’s Southwest Missouri State squad beat Wisconsin 43-32 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte N.C.
It was 34-12 UNM at halftime. The 12 points are the fewest by a UNM opponent in the first half since Dec. 29, 1972, when the Lobos had a 40-9 halftime lead over Dartmouth.
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