New Mexico opens the 2018-19 season on the road on Nov. 6 against CSUN. Isabel Gonzalez/The Lobo Lair
Isabel Gonzalez
@cisabelg

The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team began official practice on Sept. 28. Although the team did some workouts throughout the summer and the beginning of fall, there’s something different in the air.

“You can feel it a little bit more,” said head coach Paul Weir. “It’s kinda human nature to kinda smell like, ‘ok it’s basketball season now.’ “

The team is only allowed to work out four hours a week during offseason, and therefore the coach said he likes to schedule short frequent workouts. Once official practices begin, the Lobos are allowed to practice 20 hours a week.

Weir said the stuff the players do during practice is pretty similar to what they did during the offseason. However, the longer duration requires greater stamina and concentration. The biggest difference, the head coach said, is his own involvement with the team.

“In the summer and the fall I really allow our assistant coaches to do a lot of things on the court for their own development and also for them to kind of forge different layers to their relationships with the guys.” he said. “I think that’s important. I also have felt that a head coach kind of dominating 12 months a year can be a lot, even for the players.”

A day after the first official practice, JaQuan Lyle got a ruptured Achilles tendon, which pretty much took him out for the season. The Ohio State transfer had appeared in a few preseason watch lists and was expected to be a key piece for the Lobos. He sat out last season due to NCAA rules, which Weir said made the situation even more unfortunate as Lyle had already waited 12 months to finally play again.

Lyle’s attitude seems to be positive. He posted on his Instagram that he was currently in Indiana and that he has a new ride.

“Smiling through it all, no matter the situation,” read his caption.

Weir said people texted him after the news of the injury came out saying they felt bad for him and his team. However, the coach explained that in this situation, it would be selfish to feel sorry for himself because Lyle was the one dealing with the injury.

He said the team had a good, supportive attitude, and that he expects the Lobos to still succeed this year. Although Lyle is listed as a point guard, Weir avoided using him there, so that particular position won’t be an issue.

Another, much less serious, physical issue the Lobos were dealing with was Dane Kuiper’s back. As recent as last week, the senior was sitting out during practice. However, Weir insisted it was nothing serious, and Kuiper resting was just a precaution.

On Tuesday’s Practice Media Day, Kuiper’s back seemed to be doing just fine as he participated in the entire practice with the rest of the team. Perhaps his newly completed totem tattoo helped him heal faster.

While official practices have begun, this doesn’t mean that the coaching staff has stopped working on recruiting. Four-star target Terry Armstrong, class of 2019, has New Mexico as one of the top four schools he’s choosing from. Armstrong is scheduled to visit the Albuquerque Oct. 19-21. However, the UNM coaching staff went to see him on Oct. 2, per Jake Weingarten.

The Lobos officially start their season on Nov. 6 hitting the road to take on CSUN. Fans can watch the team in action earlier than that, during the Cherry & Silver event happening on Oct. 19.

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