The UNM Lobos are down to just one vacancy on their expected 31-game schedule for the coming 2019-20 season.
The Mountain West Conference last month released the 18-game conference slate (nine home games, nine road games in league play) and the Journal has confirmed 12 of the 13 non-conference games.
Of the 12 non-conference games known, UNM will play eight at home, two at a neutral site and two true road games.
UNM will play either three or four games against teams that finished in the top 50 of last season’s final NET rankings – the annual home-and-away series with New Mexico State (46 NET) and against one or both of Auburn (13) and Wisconsin (20) in the Legends Classic.
The NET rankings started just last year. Based on another widely used rankings system – KenPom.com – the Lobos rarely schedule as many potentially high-ranked teams.
In the first two seasons under Paul Weir, the Lobos have played four KenPom Top 50 teams in the non-conference (average of 2.0 per season).
In Craig Neal’s four seasons, the Lobos played nine (2.3 per season).
In Steve Alford’s six seasons, the Lobos played eight (1.3 per season).
In Ritchie McKay’s four seasons, the Lobos played six (1.5 per season).
For the coming season, UNM recently added a home game against 2019 Big Sky champion and NCAA Tournament participant Montana (124 NET ranking).
Though some dates and times are still being determined, the home games the Journal has confirmed are (in no specific order): vs. NMSU, vs. Grand Canyon, vs. Cal State Northridge, vs. Houston Baptists, vs. UC Davis and two yet-to-be-determined home opponents that will be selected by the Legends Classic organizers.
The two road games so far are at traditional regional rivals NMSU and at UTEP.
The two neutral site games as part of the Nov. 25-26 Legends Classic event in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be against two of the following three teams: Auburn, Wisconsin and Richmond. Those matchups could be made public this week, as could the two Lobo home games which are technically part of the event, though the yet-to-be-determined teams cannot play in the main bracket of the Nov. 25-26 event in Brooklyn and have traditionally been low-major programs.
VISITORS: No, neither have eligibility left, but two of the best point guards to play in New Mexico over the past decade made stops in the Lobo basketball offices recently.
Friday, former Lobo point guard Dairese Gary, the former All-Mountain West first team point guard, was in town and visiting with Lobo coaches. On Tuesday it was former NMSU point guard Ian Baker who visited with the coaches, including UNM assistant and former Aggies player Brandon Mason and Weir, who was Baker’s former coach at NMSU.
— BRANDON MASON (@coach_bmase) July 9, 2019
Former @UNMLoboMBB player Dairese Gary hanging out with head coach Paul Weir.
Gary was named First-team All-MWC in 2010 and 2011 pic.twitter.com/8fLK2SQKla
— The Lobo Lair (@TheLoboLairFeed) July 5, 2019
Both had brief stints in the G-League – Gary played 11 games for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants in the 2012-13 season and Baker nine games for the South Bay Lakers in the 2017-18 season – before playing professionally overseas. Gary no longer plays while Baker most recently played in Poland.
ODDS AND ENDS: Several former Lobos have been busy over the past several weeks landing new gigs for the coming season. Among them:
• Joe Furstinger has signed to play with GTK Gliwice of the Polish Energa league, according to sportando.com.
• Xavier Adams has landed a spot as a graduate assistant coach at TCU under head coach Jamie Dixon and a pair of former Lobo assistant coaches, Ryan Miller and Duane Broussard.
• Alex Kirk will return to play for a third season for Alvark Tokyo after winning back to back championships as the team’s starting center.
NOT LOST IN TRANSLATION: Former La Cueva High star and UCLA graduate Bryce Alford, who will have a charity golf tournament and a basketball camp in Albuquerque later this month (BryceAlfordBasketballCamp.com) recently signed to play next season overseas with Medi Bayreuth of the German Bundesliga.
When clicking the “translate” button on the German-language article on www.Kurier.de announcing the signing, it appeared the writer had a pretty good idea of what the record-setting 3-point shooter at both La Cueva and UCLA can do on the court: “Looking at the statistics, it quickly becomes clear what Alford’s specialty is: the distance throw.”