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Weir’s Lobos look to narrow focus in tourney week

Now is the time to focus. Not the time to worry about postseason accolades, or snubs, when there are still games to play.

That’s the message of UNM Lobos head coach Paul Weir had for his team Sunday when the media’s All-Mountain West awards came out and in advance of the coaches All-Mountain West awards being released today from Las Vegas, Nev.

“These all-conference teams are going to come out,” Weir said about the message he gave his team regarding the postseason awards — one of which, Lobo fans might tell you, snubbed him on Sunday as the league’s coach of the year. “Who cares? If you’re on them, that’s awesome. If you’re not, it doesn’t matter. Don’t get extra upset because Geoff was player of the year and you weren’t. Or this guy did this and that guy did that. We just need to go focus on Thursday night at 8:30 (p.m. when the Lobos play in the conference tournament quarterfinals). We don’t have time for anything else.”

Luckily for journalists everywhere, six months ago Weir helped keep the industry afloat buying up copies of preseason magazines that picked his program 11th (Athlon Sports) or 10th (Lindy’s) and printing out copies of October’s preseason media poll that predicted the Lobos would be the 9th best team in the 11-team Mountain West.

Weir believed that then, they were the perfect motivation for his team needing the chip on their shoulder. Now, he feels his team has evolved past such things.

“The media accolades that came out (Sunday), that was the same media that picked us 9th (in October),” Weir said. “So, they were wrong then, they could just as easily be wrong now. At the time when those things came out (in the preseason), they were all over our locker room. They were things I talked about. Athlon picked us 11th out of 11. We knew all the names of the writers and where they picked us. And I still know that. They’re sitting on my door.

“But I don’t know if our team right now needs that (motivation). I haven’t felt that’s organically where this team has gone. We’ve become much more of a team where we just focus on us and let’s tune out those other things because those things might have got us to 3-8 (to start the season). That might have been me being a bad coach putting us in a place that we shouldn’t have been in. We need to be above it.”

ROSTER UPDATE: Freshman Makuach Maluach has a bruised hand that he played with against Fresno State. X-rays were negative, Weir said and he’ll play this week.

Junior win Jachai Simmons likely won’t.

“Jachai Simmons and us are still kind of working through some things that are mostly off-court related,” Weir said of Simmons, whose father passed away in February. The 6-7 junior has played just sporadic minutes in three of the nine games since. “His availability is probably still to be determined, both short term and long term. I wish I could give more on that. He’s kind of had a rough go here of late and some things are just bigger than basketball.”

WELL WISHES: Weir loves this time of year for basketball fans and wished all teams around the state well for tournaments coming up — even that team he used to coach.

“I do want to wish a lot of people well here before their tournaments get going. We obviously have the high school state championships here (in Dreamstyle Arena). A lot of young boys and girls going out and I want to wish them all well and hopefully it’s as safe and successful as possible.

“And, also, our brothers and sisters down to the south at New Mexico State, their men’s and women’s programs, I want to wish them really well. I know that’s a unique topic to go into, and I don’t really want to get into too much, but I do wish them all well.”