New Mexico is back to .500 after taking down the Wyoming Cowboys 83-53 on Saturday. With this result, the Lobos are now 9-9 overall and 3-3 in the Mountain West conference. The Cowboys dropped to 4-14 overall and 0-5 in the conference.
As of Friday, junior forward Karim Ezzeddine was no longer on the New Mexico men’s basketball roster. In the morning, the school made the official announcement that Ezzeddine was withdrawing from classes and wanted to pursue a professional career overseas.
During Thursday’s press conference, UNM head coach Paul Weir said he was talking to Ezzeddine and that there would be an official announcement coming up soon. This was related to the events that had happened during Tuesday’s game at San Diego State. Ezzeddine left to the locker room a couple minutes before the game was over, after only registering three minutes of play that night. He was not at practice on Thursday.
During his time at UNM, Ezzeddine averaged 17 minutes per game, 4.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
Watching Shai McGruder–whether in practice or a game—I keep getting the feeling in the back of my mind that the gym is too small to contain her. She will get a rebound under the basket at one end of the floor, pass it to a guard, and then beat everyone down court to the offensive basket. She will dive on the floor to try and make a steal, and a few moments later sky upwards to effortlessly scrape the rim. The Lobo roster this season is filled with a lot of athletic players, but Shai is arguably the most physically talented post the team has had in a long time.
As with many freshmen, big numbers in HS (25+ points and 9+ rebound per game her senior season) do not always translate into immediate playing time. In the first six games this season she averaged about six minutes and two points per game, the bulk of that in one game vs Texas Southern.. But as the speed has become more focused in the team structure, the time on court has grown quickly. In the next six games that increased to twelve minutes a game, with scoring and rebounding numbers increasing substantially. Among the bench players she is also second on the team in steals and blocks.
But the most notable thing Shai contributes to each game when she get in, is energy. Something exciting is always going to happen, and more often it has been good than bad for the Lobos. This has earned her her most minutes in the most recent two games, 19 against Air Force (9 points, 9 rebounds, two blocks, 2 steals), and 18 at Nevada (9 points 4 rebounds, 2 steals).
The following interview was done before Christmas break, but a few personal issues (on my part) delayed that until now.