The team without size and experience getting ready for arguably its toughest game of the season had two very familiar faces at practice on Thursday.
University of New Mexico senior forwards Sam Logwood, the Lobos’ 6-foot-8 leading scorer and rebounder who a week ago asked for a leave from the team for unspecified reasons, and 6-foot-9 Connor MacDougall, who hasn’t played a game this season while rehabbing from an Oct. 27 ankle sprain and bone bruise, were not only at the team’s practice Thursday, but both were full participants.
But, as promising as that may sound for the 3-9 Lobos prepping for Saturday’s home game against No. 23 Arizona, the reality is neither has been given the full green light to play.
“I think when Sam left, it was a mutual decision between the two of us,” Lobos head coach Paul Weir said on Thursday, seven days after he announced at a press conference that Logwood and he had decided the senior would take a “personal leave” from the team.
“I think at the point at which Sam returns, it will be a mutual decision between the two of us and that is not official by any means.”
In that press conference, Weir said Logwood was going through some things and that his “frustrations with different things in life and in basketball had just kind of reached a point where our conversations had started to progress about what’s really best for Sam.”
Multiple team sources with direct contact to Logwood told the Journal the senior was not happy, though they did not specify what that meant, and he agreed that leaving the team, for however long it lasted, was best.
Logwood did not practice for and missed Saturday’s rivalry loss to New Mexico State and, on Monday, posted on his Instagram page a picture of himself with the message, “They wanna see me fold And I will never sell my soul. #imback”
Weir again emphasized on Thursday that Logwood is not yet back on the team, by the coach’s definition, even though he has practiced twice.
In a Twitter exchange during Thursday’s practice, a Journal reporter told a follower Logwood left the team because he “was unhappy. Didn’t want to be on team anymore. Has changed his mind.”
After practice — when UNM denied the Journal’s request to interview Logwood — he took to Twitter and wrote “False” in response to the Journal’s tweet. That was later followed by senior Joe Furstinger tweeting “Fake news… get better sources.”
The Journal asked both on Twitter what part of the exchange is inaccurate and requested to interview both for their sides of the story. There was no UNM response as of late Thursday.
Asked earlier in the day if the team wanted Logwood back, Weir said, “I think really, right now, that’s between me and Sam. Each player has their own journey in life and with our team. And right now, when Sam made the decision to take some time, it was something I was fully supportive of. And whenever or if ever Sam rejoins our team officially, it will be that same decision.”
As for MacDougall, he said he was cleared just this week to resume full practice. (He had been cleared in recent weeks to resume partial workouts.) He said it’s been difficult to watch his teammates play while he’s been injured and hopes to play Saturday, though that is not a certainty.
“This week, I was told by Corey (DeBarbrie, the team’s athletic trainer) that I could give it a go and see how I feel, and if anything started to hurt or was telling me no, then just pull out,” said MacDougall. “But I haven’t had that feeling, so I’ve just been trying to go as hard as I can.”
He later added, “It’s come a long way. I feel pretty good out there.”
MacDougall said he initially thought the injury would heal quicker but then, after researching it, realized that wouldn’t be the case. As a senior, he needed to make sure he was fully healed before playing his first game because once he did, he couldn’t apply for a medical redshirt.
He said he thinks the team is coming together and, “I think we’ll be stronger for conference.”
Weir said when MacDougall is ready, he must play regular minutes. The team needs size anyway, and 6-10 freshman Vladimir Pinchuk has been sick and missed practice this week.