Emptying the Notebook: UNM loses to Penn, 75-65 - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: UNM loses to Penn, 75-65

Here are some extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats, videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook that didn’t make it into print after Saturday’s 75-65 Penn win over the UNM Lobos in Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit:

That technical foul call

Paul Weir wasn’t exactly apologetic (I know, he usually is after losses) about the technical foul he earned with 1:53 left in the first half.

Weir stormed all the way across Bob King Court to give referee Randy Heimerman an earful about a block call on Anthony Mathis that Weir, and just about all of the announced Dreamstyle Arena crowd, thought should have been a charge.

Weir will likely be getting a Christmas card from the Mountain West offices in the next few days reprimanding him for his actions. And to be very clear, he most certainly could have, and arguably should have, been ejected from the game for how far onto the court he walked and the scene he caused.

The only think likely keeping him in the game was apparently the realization from Heimerman that the call probably the wrong one.

Regardless, Weir said the technical was about his realization that every possession of the game is critical for the Lobos right now, even one in the first half. And he hoped his players would have embraced the same feeling.

They didn’t.

Here is his answer to a postgame question about the technical in its entirety:

“At the end of the day, we don’t have a margin for error. We just don’t. Our team does not go into games playing on this large cushion. So, every possession really matters. I’m trying to implore that amongst our team that every single thing out there matters and I, obviously inherently feel that anyways.

“When you see a play like that and you see what you see, you understand the importance of it. And it may seem trivial at the time to some, but those are very important plays. When you miss things, those things matter to us. When you have a one possession game lost to New Mexico State, when you have a one possession game lost to Colorado, when you’re in these games that are just single kind of possessions and you go back and look at the film and think, gosh, those hurt. They really, really hurt.

“In the moment, I’m feeling that hurt because I know what this means later on down the game. Obviously not the kind of behavior I intend to do. Not something I’m proud of. But the value in that moment of watching what I’m watching, it obviously got the best of me.”

If nothing else…

If nothing else, the technical, and more specifically Roberto Rosales’ pictures I tweeted during the game moments after the incident, did light a fire under some of you on Twitter:

A number to know: 1.01

The Lobos defense held Penn to 1.01 points per possession on Saturday. For a Quakers team that ranks 13th in the nation in effective field goal percentage and averages 79.3 points per game this season, the Lobos defense was, for a change, impressive on Saturday.

In fact, that is the fourth consecutive opponent the Lobos have held under that team’s season scoring average, though UNM is just 1-3 in those games.

The Lobo defense was far more effective on Penn than was defending National Champion Villanova on Dec. 11 or even a top-50 ranked Miami team on Dec. 4.

Here are the points per possession for the Quakers in their past four games:

• Saturday vs. UNM: 1.01
• Dec. 11 vs. Villanova: 1.20
• Dec. 8 vs. La Salle: 1.14
• Dec. 4 vs. Miami (Fla.): 1.39

The gamer…

Here was the game story filed from the Pit on Saturday and published in the Sunday Journal:

Penn sends skidding Lobos to another defeat

Gone again

Senior guard Dane Kuiper was out for the second consecutive game on Saturday with knee tendinitis. His return date to the team is unknown, Weir said.

Plus/minus stats…

Here are Saturday’s plus/minus stats for the Lobos with minutes played in parenthesis:

+8 Drue Drinnon (11:40)
-3 Vladimir Pinchuk (15:01)
-3 Karim Ezzeddine (17:27)
-5 Makuach Maluach (20:53)
-8 Carlton Bragg (27:11)
-8 Anthony Mathis (33:43)
-8 Vance Jackson (33:57)
-10 Corey Manigault (23:33)
-13 Keith McGee (16:35)

So, what about Drinnon?

As I often state, plus/minus stats can be as misleading as any stat in small sample sizes. But that doesn’t mean they’re always misleading.

If just 11 minutes, 40 seconds of one Lobo being on the court was 11 points better than when any other Lobo was on the court on Saturday, and if Weir said UNM needs more minutes from guards as Kuiper is out injured and Mathis was sick and nursing a foot injury, then why wouldn’t freshman Drue Drinnon (plus-8 on the +/- stat line) not get more playing time?

Weir acknowledged that it was a valid question, then explained that the season-long plus/minus numbers for the team are pretty clear. The younger, least experienced guys, Drinnon included, are the ones at the bottom of that list for the season, meaning overall its when they are in the that the team has struggled the most.

But that doesn’t mean that isn’t changing.

And now, for the first of two @RealWeeklyHowl tweets in this column…

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Nev.

The New Mexico State Aggies are usually pretty dominant in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., where the annual WAC Tournament is played.

Not so much on Saturday as they were upset by the Drake Bulldogs, 66-63, in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Classic.

The Aggies now play Washington State in the consolation round of the tournament, a Pac-12 team the Aggies already beat once this season in Las Cruces on Dec. 1, 69-63.

Around the Mountain

There was a busy slate of Mountain West hoops games on Saturday. Here’s a look:

• No. 6 Nevada 68, Akron 62
• No. 4 Michigan 71, Air Force 50
• SDSU 90, BYU 81
• BoiSt 83, Pacific 71
• Penn 75, UNM 65
• UNLV 73, Hawaii 59
• Long Beach State 64, Colorado State 61
• Fresno State 93, UT-Martin 53
• UTEP 76, Wyoming 65

Meanwhile, in Tempe…

No. 18 Arizona State toppled No. 1 Kansas on Saturday in Tempe. While you can go the Kevin Bacon route to find connections from just about any game in the country to the UNM Lobos, this game had a couple easy ones.

Those are the two last schools attended by current Lobo forward Carlton Bragg, who played two years at Kansas before enrolling, but then leaving Arizona State a year ago.

Also, ASU got 13 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday from senior forward Zylan Cheatham, a one time top recruiting target of the Lobos (some may remember all those papers with the letter “Z” on them thousands of fans held up during the Lobo Howl in 2014).

Cheatham opted instead to sign with the San Diego State Aztecs, where he redshirted them played two seasons before transferring to Arizona State. Now, he’s a starter and doing big things for Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils.

Also, Kansas got a block and a pair of rebounds off the bench from Mitch Lightfoot, who one-upped Cheatham and actually verbally committed to Craig Neal and the Lobos a few years back before decommiting and accepting a scholarship from Kansas instead.

Power of the transitive property…

Since Arizona State beat No. 1 Kansas, that means…

Announced attendance

The announced attendance for Saturday’s game in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit: 10,874.

Among those in attendance is recovering sports media member/former Mountain West honk/Penn Quaker fan/author Andy Glockner, who is well known, particularly on social media, by college basketball fans, including many Lobo fans.

Glockner made the drive down with a friend from his home in Colorado to get his first experience in the Pit. His thoughts?

He said it

“We’re 5-6 right now. It’s not the end of the world, even though it seems like it to me, honestly. Everyone in the locker room is feels like it’s the end of the world. But I feel like we can learn a lot from this. I truly think we can still turn it around and have an amazing season that these fans deserve.” — Lobo senior Anthony Mathis

He said it, part II

“That will definitely be the last time I eat Chipotle.” — Mathis, who was sick all night Friday, all day Saturday and was still not certain he’d play on Saturday afternoon until about an hour before tip-off.

The Lobos offense has gone cold of late. There’s no denying that. And Mathis, or more specifically opponent keying on Mathis, has been a big part of the team’s struggles.

But Saturday, Mathis was again the man keeping the Lobos in it early when nobody elsecould seem to score.

After falling behind 19-4, the Lobos used a 25-7 scoring run over about seven and half minutes of the first half to take a 29-26 lead, the team’s largest of the game.

In that run, Mathis scored the first 10 points (a pair of free throws at the 12:05 mark, 3-pointers at 10:35 and 9:52, and a bucket with 8:56 left in the half). He later hit another 3-pointer (he had three in the game) with 6:11 left in the half.

And for the second appearance of @RealWeeklyHowl in this column…

That was it, though for Mathis scoring in the game. His 13 points all came in a six minute span in the first half and his shooting numbers in the game (4-of-13 overall) just added to a rough patch since tha huge first half in the Dec. 1 win at Bradley.

In Mathis’ past six games as teams have thrown the kitchen sink at him, he is shooting 22-of-66 from the field (33.3 percent) and 16-of-50 (32.0 percent) from 3-point range.

Photo gallery

Journal photographer Roberto Rosales’ photos from Saturday’s game are incredible.

When Roberto shoots Lobo games I cover, he and I work to get images posted to Twitter throughout the game as he sends them directly from courtside to my phone on press row and I get them up as quick as I can on social media.

While the four-pack of Weir technical foul photos I tweeted got an awful lot of attention, all of Roberto’s pics both tweeted and in the Journal’s photo gallery are worth the look. Here is a link to the gallery of his picks: Photo gallery of UNM vs Penn men’s basketball

Meanwhile, Roberto thinks he may be a jinx on the Lobos this season.

Another number to know: 43.5

The Lobos shot 43.5 percent from the free throw lone on Saturday, hitting 10-of-23 attempts.

That is the second worst free throw shooting performance the Lobos have had in the Paul Weir era (UNM shot 6-of-16 for 37.5 percent in a road loss at Colorado on Dec. 6, 2017).

UNM started Saturday’s game 0-for-6 from the charity stripe and then in the final 3:22 of the game, missed the front end of two 1-and-1 free throw attempts while in the bonus, which effectively are the same as turnovers when the other team rebounds the ball, as Penn did on both those late game instances.

The Lobos ranked 15th in the country last season in free throw percentage against Division I opponents at 77.4 percent.

This season, the Lobos are almost 10 points lower at 67.8 percent, which ranks 232nd in the nation among 353 DI programs (yes, there are actually 121 teams worse than what the Lobos have been at the free throw line so far this season).

Postgame press conference video

Here is UNM Lobos head coach Paul Weir along with junior forward Carlton Bragg and Anthony Mathis talking to reporters after Saturday’s loss in the Pit to Penn, as posted to the Journal’s Facebook page:

Final stat sheet

Here’s the final stat sheet from Saturday’s Lobos loss:

Up next

Up next for the Lobos is a non-Division I game that does count on the record (yes, it’s something every team in the Mountain West pretty much has done most seasons over the past decade).

On Dec. 30 in Hobbs, at Ralph Tasker Arena, the Lobos will play NAIA University of the Southwest at 2 p.m. The game win NOT be televised or available via an online stream.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
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