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Emptying the Notebook: Lobos beat CSU-Northridge, move to 2-0

Lobos senior guard JaQuan Lyle defends against Cal. State University-Northridge during Saturday’s game in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Here are some extra notes, stats, some news, a few videos and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 97-70 UNM Lobos win over Cal. State University-Northridge in Dreamstyle Arena – the Pit:

Welcome back, good bye?

UNM sophomore Drue Drinnon was back in a Lobos polo shirt and on the bench on Saturday night, cheering with the team.

He had been gone since Oct. 28 — the day after the team returned from scrimmaging against No. 15 Oregon. He was, Paul Weir told the media that week, back home in Georgia with his family and the coach said he didn’t know “when or if” Drinnon would return to the team.

Well, he was back in the Pit on Saturday, and especially based on the fact he was in Lobo gear and on the bench cheering, it seemed as if he had an interest in rejoining the team.

UNM and Weir did not address the matter after the game with the print media, but on his postgame radio show, Weir said he had not yet had a chance to sit down and talk with Drinnon about his future since he got back to Albuquerque, but told him he was more than welcome to join the team for the game.

After the game, the website VerbalCommits.com tweeted that Drinnon has already made his future plans known to UNM and has entered the transfer portal.

Drinnon, a four-star recruit out of high school, was third on the team’s depth chart at point guard after the Oregon scrimmage behind J.J. Caldwell and JaQuan Lyle. Since his absence, the Lobos moved Zane Martin to the third point guard role (he is a shooting guard most of the game).

We’ll update more from Drinnon and UNM if/when either talk on Sunday about his status.

As for the logistics of what would happen for a transfer, barring NCAA approval of a hardship waiver, Drinnon would have to sit out a full academic year before being eligible to player wherever he may transfer at the end of the current semester. He would be eligible to play at his new school after the first semester of next season is concluded in the 2020-21 season.

That said, I am not speculating on any potential hardship waiver requests he might apply for with the NCAA.

Not much rust

JaQuan Lyle continued to look the part of a very special player for the Lobos on Saturday night, scoring a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds, five assists and four drawn fouls. Not bad, though the six turnovers were an issue.

He didn’t try to blame those on the rust of having sat out the past two and a half years between college games.

“They had great hands,” Lyle said. “I don’t know if it was film or that was the defensive intensity they have, or what. But they got hands on a lot of my passes. Just a lot of dribble plays. Kudos to them. They just had great defense.”

As for now having back-to-back strong games for the Lobos after sitting out 2017-18 as a transfer from Ohio State and then the 2018-19 season due to tearing his Achilles, Lyle said he’s got work to do, but again told his reporters he’s just a very lucky person just to be playing.

“I’ve got a long way to go,” Lyle said. “I’m just committed to getting better every day no matter how my body’s feeling. No matter what it is, I’m just willing to get better every day. I’m just happy to have the game back in my life, so that’s the biggest thing.”

The gamer

Here is the game story I filed from the Pit’s media room after Saturday night’s game…

Speaking of Zane…

Zane Martin, who average nearly 20-points a game as a shooting guard at Towson in 2017-18 before transferring to UNM, is still clearly at his best in that role. But, as Drinnon has left the team, Martin had to start getting minutes as a third string point guard.

The results through just two games? He can still score (he’s scored 13 points in each game while averaging 22 minutes played). And the assist-to-turnover ratio, which is big for point guards, appears as though it will be a work in progress.

Game 1 vs. ENMU: 0 assists, 6 turnovers
Game 1 vs. CSUN: 5 assists, 1 turnover

Meanwhile, in Oregon

There were two rather noteworthy things going on in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday night, at least as it relates to Lobo basketball.

One was a fellow Mountain West team (Boise State) getting one of those rare nonconference opportunities against a nationally-ranked power conference team in No. 15 Oregon).

Yeah, that didn’t go well. The Ducks slapped Boise State around in a 106-75 Oregon win.

As for that other noteworthy part, the Ducks have a guy some Lobo fans may remember. Former UNM Lobo shooting guard Anthony Mathis had himself a night, going off for a career-high 30 points with a career-high nine made 3-pointers (his highs at UNM were 25 points and seven made 3s).

Around the Mountain

There were six hoops games around the Mountain West on Saturday, with one huge road win for San Diego State at BYU, even if the Cougars were without their best player in Yoeli Childs.

Based on the NET rankings the NCAA now uses, SDSU’s win could be at season’s end a Quadrant 1 win, given for road wins over teams ranked in the top 75.

That’s the MWC’s best win of the season so far.

• San Diego State 76, BYU 71
• New Mexico 97, CSU-Northridge 71
• Kansas State 60, UNLV 56 (OT)
• No. 15 Oregon 106, Boise State 75
• Air Force 78, Texas State 71
• Nevada 72, Loyola Marymount 67

Which reminds me…

Former Lobo head coach Steve Alford won his first game as the head coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack.

He said it

CSUN was without its best player, last year’s Big West Player of the Year in 6-foot-7 forward Lamine Diane, for Saturday’s game against the Lobos and in last Tuesday’s opener at Oregon State. Why?

“Academics. We’re hoping to get him back soon but we don’t know yet.” — CSUN head coach Mark Gottfried on status of sophomore Lamine Diane

He said it, Part 2

“We’re all going to have our ups and downs. Somedays, it might be him. It might be the opposite way around. But that’s my boy. Even if I’m not having a good day, he’ll make me smile.” — UNM Lobo forward Corey Manigault on teammate Keith McGee picking him up after a couple bad plays

Points per possession

The days of judging defenses by the opposing team’s score without looking at the number of possessions in a game are over.

Now, it’s all about points per possession, and the general rule of thumb is 1 point per possession is barometer to judge things by. Holding a team below 1.0 points per possession is the goal of a lot of defenses.

UNM on Saturday night held CSUN to 0.93 points per possession and held Division II Eastern New Mexico to 0.84 on Wednesday.

Small sample size, yes. But based on UNM’s defense the past two seasons (ranked 204 and 202 out of 353 Division I teams), Lobo fans will take any good news on the defensive side of the ball.

In Paul Weir’s first season as coach of the Lobos, the team had back-to-back games holding an opponent below 1.0 ppp three times. In the 2018-19 season, there was only one such instance, though it was a three game streak (NAIA College of the Southwest 0.61, Air Force 0.84 and Nevada 0.81) from Dec. 30 through Jan. 5.

Hall of Famers

Several new UNM Letterman’s Association Hall of Famers were honored on Bob King Court at halftime on Saturday.

Attendance

The announced attendance on Saturday night: 10,335

Ou back in Abq

Sorry I didn’t get a better picture from my media row seat with my iPad, but here you go…

Albuquerque Menaul School graduate Michael Ou, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward for CSUN, fouled out with 9:49 left in the game. He finished with no points and one rebound in 6:43 played.

Box Score

Here’s a tweet of the final box score from Saturday’s game:

And for those who want a link to the stats on UNM’s website, HERE you go.

Plus/minus time

Here’s the always popular plus/minus breakdown for the Lobos from Saturday’s game:

+28 J.J. Caldwell
+20 Makuach Maluach
+19 JaQuan Lyle
+14 Carlton Bragg
+14 Vance Jackson
+13 Corey Manigault
+12 Tavian Percy
+11 Keith McGee
+4 Zane Martin
0 Emmanuel Kuac
0 Kurt Wegscheider
0 Jordan Arroyo
0 Clay Patterson

Post game presser

Here is the video I took of the post game press conference, including coach Paul Weir and Lobo players JaQuan Lyle and Corey Manigault, as posted to the Albuquerque Journal’s Facebook page:

KenPom update

There isn’t much reason to look at the KenPom.com rankings after just one week of the season.

So, let’s take a look at the KenPom.com rankings after just one week of the season.

Here are the Mountain West rankings (out of 353 Division I teams) through Saturday night’s games on KenPom.com with the preseason ranking and movement since the preseason to the right of the team:

• 60 – Utah State (preseason 68; change +8)
• 80 – San Diego State (preseason 97; change +17)
• 82 – New Mexico (preseason 91; change +9)
• 103 – Fresno State (preseason 106; change +3)
• 105 – Nevada (preseason 98; change -7)
• 109 – Boise State (preseason 101; change -8)
• 154 – UNLV (preseason 164; change +10)
• 164 – Colorado State (preseason 159; change -5)
• 196 – Air Force (preseason 171; change -25)
• 275 – Wyoming (preseason 283; change +8)
• 314 – San Jose State (preseason 332; change +18)

Up next…

Wednesday: Green Bay at UNM, 7 p.m., 770 AM/94.5 FM, TheMW.com/watch

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