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Emptying the notebook: Simons, Logwood were symbolic presence after game

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Here are some odds and ends from UNM’s 83-68 win over Utah State in Friday night’s Mountain West semifinal round that didn’t make it into the print edition of the Journal:

The two he brought

In January, who would have bet that sitting next to UNM head coach Paul Weir after a victorious Mountain West Tournament quarterfinal game answering reporters questions would be Troy Simons and Sam Logwood, the duo who, for various reasons, missed a chunk of time in January.

It was as unlikely a victory dais as one could have pictured just a couple months ago when both were not playing with their teammates.

The two had great games, ones worthy in their own right of making them good choices to talk with reporters as Simons had a team-high 17 points and Logwood had 16 points and 7 rebounds.

But, to open his postgame talk, Weir explained his decision to bring them to answer reporter’s questions was “symbolic.”

“I picked these two guys to come up here on purpose because they both have been through a lot this year, with me and with themselves,” Weir said. “And they’re kind of symbolic of our team. And we never gave up. And Sam never quite gave up on me, and I never quite gave up on Sam. And Troy never quite gave up on me and I never gave up on Troy. And our team at the end of the day, even though we were 3 and 8 or whatever it was, never quite gave up on itself. … We’ve come a long way and we’ll keep fighting. I’m really thankful for these guys for sticking with our team. And I’m really happy to coach this basketball team.”

Game story

Here was the game story filed on a very tight deadline without quotes.

Sports and politics

You win in the semifinals and I guess everyone’s a Lobo. Gov. Susana Martinez and new UNM President Garnett Stokes were posing for pictures at the South Point Hotel & Casino, the Lobos’ team hotel, after Friday night’s Lobo win.

Still running

As I wrote in yesterday’s “Emptying the Notebook” column, Weir made his guys run sprints Friday morning for every offensive rebound they gave up. That doesn’t change today just because they have a championship game to play.

But when they first were told Friday they’d be running, Logwood wasn’t exactly sure his coach was being serious.

“No, I didn’t, until he told us to get on the line and we started running,” Logwood said.

He added, “I mean, I didn’t personally want to do it, but like Coach Weir, he’s hard-core, so nothing is going to change no matter, rain, sleet, snow, championship game tomorrow, it doesn’t really matter, we’re going to stick to the course. We’ve just got to grind through it. And we just got it done.”

Weir tried to explain his rationale on the sprints, even in a tournament format.

“I think as a coach you’re challenged with those things every single day,” Weir said. “I think as a leader of an organization you are what you tolerate, whatever those things may be. If we have a rule that you have to tuck your shirt in and there’s one day someone doesn’t tuck their shirt in, are you going to always hold people accountable every single time? And that’s something I’ve tried to stick to. No matter the time, no matter how serious the consequences may be, playing six players at Utah State, whatever it happens to be, our principles are our principles, and we have to stick through them no matter when that happens to be. So, yeah, we had to do it.”

Logwood said it’s sort of all about the team’s seasoning mantra, of Believe or Leave.

“I just think that little phrase is deeper than basketball,” Logwood said. “I think that phrase is more towards like just us growing as men. We’ve got to believe in what we’re in or not do it. Because if you’re not fully, wholehearted into something, it’s not going to work. You’re not going to be happy. And I think that’s something I’ve learned, if you’re not all the way into something you’re not going to have fun, you’re just going to make yourself miserable.”

Is that a Weir Wolf in the stands?

Ah, yes. The things you see in the Mountain West Tournament semifinals.

So, about that Chris Murray guy

Some people might not want a head coach paying attention to social media. In fact, I think it’s safe to say there were an awful lot of Lobo fans who had that opinion in recent years.

But Paul Weir is walking on water right now and can do no wrong. So when he latched on to Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Chris Murray’s Thursday night tweet about the real league title game would be held Friday at 6 p.m. PT (that was the time of the San Diego State/Nevada semifinal game), Lobo fans loved it.

And in Friday night’s postgame press conference, even before questions began, he let loose a comment about Murray’s perceived slight.

“Chris Murray might not think there’s a game tomorrow night, but we do,” Weir said. “We’re excited to be here. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. We’ve battled back from a lot, and that’s America. And if Chris Murray doesn’t want to believe in that, that’s fine, but we’re really looking forward to just giving it everything we’ve got tomorrow night. We’ve come a long way and we’ll keep fighting.”

Chris, who was in the media work room just about 100 feet from Weir at the time, enjoyed the moment and insisted he does, in fact, believe in America.

As for me…

I may not have angered Paul Weir as much as Murray, but he clearly wasn’t happy with me showing up late to the press conference and wasn’t a fan of some of my questions, based on his expression here:

I kid. I kid. Paul was in good spirits and giving me a hard time, but he knew I was writing a story past the Journal’s normal deadline and that was why I was late to the presser.

But, it still made for this interesting exchange when I asked him about Simons and Logwood being there with him when he addressed it earlier.

After I asked about it, his answer, via the good folks at ASAP Sports, who transcribe the press conferences, was this (I left their spelling of my name as they had it):

WEIR: “If you showed up on time, Jeff, you know what I mean, my opening statement would have reflected that.”

That came after he first gave a hard time about showing up late.

WEIR: “If you’re not here at a certain time, you can’t ask questions.”

Final stat sheet

Sorry about not having the traditional tweet pic of the final stat sheet. Again, I was on deadline and not really in Twitter mode after the game.

So, here is a link to the .pdf of the final stat sheet: UNM 83, Utah State 68

Were the Aggies running on empty?

Some UNM fans felt the Aggies, especially at halftime, were running on empty due to the Lobos high-pressure style on both ends of the floor.

Said Utah State guard Sam Merrill of his team’s handling of the Lobo pressure:

“Yeah, they play that pressure defense. And it started with one turnover and then we just got sped up. And that’s exactly what they want you to do and that’s what you can’t do. And then once you get sped up and have a couple of turnovers it all turns mental. And that was our issue. We had probably four or five turnovers in a row that had nothing to do really with their pressure, but we were so sped up and so flustered mentally that we fell apart for that stretch. And we got in more of an attack mode later, but that stretch was too much to overcome.”

Mountain West scores/schedule

There were two semifinal games played Friday night:
• No. 5 San Diego State 90, No. 1 Nevada 73
• No. 3 New Mexico 83, No. 7 Utah State 68

Saturday – MWC Tournament Championship
• No. 5 SDSU vs. No. 3 UNM, 3 p.m. PT/4 p.m. MT, CBS Sports

Meanwhile, in the MWC women’s championship…

The No. 1 seed Boise State Broncos beat No. 7 Nevada in the women’s championship on Friday afternoon, and their NCAA Tournament ticket was punched thanks to a buzzer beater in what was a tie game when the final shot went up at the end of regulation.

Meanwhile, at the Orleans (Part 1)…

The NMSU women’s basketball team lost Friday in the WAC semifinals.

Meanwhile, at the Orleans (Part 2)…

But the Aggies men’s team won and will again be playing for a WAC title on Saturday night.

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses went 1-1 on Friday, as did the coin from my daughter’s piggy bank. That means I am now 5-3-1 in the MWC Tournament and 60-44-4 if also counting regular season MWC games. My daughter’s lucky coin flip is 3-5-1 in the tourney and still an astounding 64-40-4 against the spread on the season.

Until next time…

I’ll be back in a few hours. And so will around 10,000 more people.