Is 'run and stun' wearing out the Lobos? - Albuquerque Journal

Is ‘run and stun’ wearing out the Lobos?

They aren’t going to scrap it four games in.

While that much-hyped “run and stun” style of play — full-court pressure, lots of 3-pointers and wearing out opponents — the UNM Lobos basketball team vowed would be its identity under first-year head coach Paul Weir has looked rather pedestrian the past two games, it’s not going away.

Nor does the UNM coaching staff or players believe it should. It’s how they’ve recruited players — both for the current and future rosters — and it’s pretty much all they’ve practiced so far. It’s what they believe in.

It is, for better or worse, this team’s identity.

But is it physically sustainable? After all, to play that style every night, not just once in a while like the opponents face, Lobo practices often look more like a cross between football with all the physicality and track with all the running.

It can take its toll on the Lobos every bit as much as it is intended to take its toll on the opposition.

“Our energy was pretty bad the past two games,” junior guard Chris McNeal said after Tuesday’s 104-96 home loss to Tennessee Tech.

Asked if the poor Tuesday performance had anything to do with a lingering effect of last week’s bad rivalry loss at New Mexico State, McNeal, who had 29 points and played a game-high 34 minutes on Tuesday, doubled down on the energy issue.

“I don’t know if it’s lingering,” McNeal said, “but I do know this is the second game in a row where we didn’t have enough energy to play the way we wanted to play. … If we had energy the past two games, we’d be 4-0.”

That said, McNeal insisted the practices should continue to be intense, and several other Lobos agreed.

Weir has maintained that the past two games might have been mentally taxing, but not physically so.

But with just 11 scholarship players available and one of those (senior Connor MacDougall) out with an injury, it puts pressure on the team to stay healthy and avoid foul trouble. Two Lobos fouled out Tuesday, one had four fouls and one player was benched for a half.

Weir says he would have tried a similar high-paced, physically demanding approach a season ago in Las Cruces as NMSU’s coach, but decided early on he just didn’t have the bodies.

“Last year at New Mexico State, if we didn’t have all those injuries, I think it would have been a very similar style of play,” Weir said last week. “Unfortunately, it was just a team that got smashed with injuries, and season-ending ones to a lot of guys … that would have supplied the team with the depth we needed to play that way.”

The style is geared at wearing teams down late in games.

In two wins, UNM outscored opponents Northern New Mexico and Omaha by a combined 78-32 in the “fourth quarter,” or final 10 minutes of the game.

In its two losses at NMSU and vs. Tennessee Tech, UNM was outscored in the final 10 minutes by a combined 65-41.

TURNOVERS: Both teams UNM beat had turnover rates (turnovers divided by total of offensive possessions) higher than 30 percent (32.7 percent for NNMC, 30.6 percent for Omaha). Both teams UNM lost to had turnover percentages under 21 percent (20.3 percent for NMSU, 19.8 percent for TTU).

As for the Lobos, Tuesday’s 10 second-half turnovers, many on lazy or just bad passes, bothered Weir as much as anything so far this season.

“That’s on me as a coach,” Weir said. “We haven’t spent enough time obviously on their individual skill development. It was awful. It looks like we don’t coach and it was embarrassing, to be honest with you. So that’s something we’re going to have to make drastic changes to.”


New Mexico vs. TCU

5 p.m., Emerald Coast Classic, Niceville, Fla., CBSSN, 610 AM

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