COLORADO SPRINGS — First-year New Mexico basketball coach Craig Neal on Tuesday got asked the same question at least a dozen times, the first day of the Mountain West Conference media days event.
“What’s different now that you’re the head coach?”
While Neal typically smiled and answered, “mostly paperwork,” maybe the more telling answer was actually there in front of the reporters. Throughout his daylong media blitz, Neal was fidgeting with a bandage on his right hand.
One change as head coach of the Lobos is that Neal, for the first time in six years, is using a whistle at practice. Under former head coach Steve Alford, the yell was the preferred attention-grabber in practice. Whistles were never part of the equation.
Now, maybe Neal knows why.
It turns out that at Monday’s practice in Albuquerque, Neal tried passing a ball to a player only to get his right hand snagged on the whistle that hung around his neck, actually cutting his right hand open.
“I guess that’s one of the changes I should have mentioned,” Neal joked. “The dang whistles.”
NOTE: Neal was one of six Mountain West coaches who took part in Tuesday’s media conference, with the league’s other five teams taking part in multiple media sessions Wednesday in Colorado Springs, home of the league offices.