It wasn’t something Paul Weir thought he’d see a season ago.
Corey Manigault, the New Mexico Lobos’ 6-foot-9 forward who started his college career in the ACC at Pitt, checked into Saturday night’s game against CSU-Northridge and had an instant impact.
No, it wasn’t Manigault’s quick offense against the Matadors that was a welcome sight. That’s almost become expected.
It was how the senior changed the flow of the defense.
“I thought his first half, when he subbed in, changed the game,” Weir said. “I thought when he came in, the game was going a little back and forth, and I think a lot of people saw the offense, but his defense in the first half was exceptional.”
Manigault ended up with a highly efficient 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting in just 15 minutes played. But he also was more vocal on the back line than at any point last season and was more than willing to defend aggressively (he had two steals) and contest shots, something that wasn’t as common last season.
“Just better communication,” Manigault said of the biggest stride he feels he’s made since last season on the defensive end of the court. “I’m a guy who usually just stays to himself. Just more talking on the court. Since I’m on the back line (I need to be) directing people.”
Of course, Manigault, already slender, has dropped eight pounds from last season and added more muscle, he feels. That doesn’t hurt the defense, either. But beyond his personal gains, he said the way the team practices is far more competitive, and thus beneficial, than it was last season.
“You wouldn’t even think we’re on the same team, the way we go at each other,” Manigault said.
Make no mistake, Manigault isn’t yet changing his reputation around the Mountain West into that of a stopper. He’s still identified on scouting reports first and foremost as a tough guy to guard in the post. But the hope of the Lobos’ coaching staff this season is that he continues to makes his presence felt on both ends of the floor.
“Everybody knows Corey’s an amazing offensive player,” Weir said. “Very gifted. One of the best low-post offensive players I’ve ever had. Getting him the ball down there, good things are usually going to happen. We just need him to help round us out with the defense and the rebounding so that he becomes more of a complete player.”
FAMILIAR FACE: Former Lobos basketball coach Gary Colson is expected to be honored during Wednesday’s game against Green Bay as a “Legend of the Game.”
For last week’s season opener, Kenny Thomas was recognized on-court during a media timeout. The program has already said former Lobo players Danny Granger and Michael Cooper are going to be honored at future games this season.
Colson coached the Lobos from 1980-1988, compiling a 146-106 record and making the NIT in each of his final five seasons as coach.
Colson has an overall coaching record of 563-385, having also coached at Valdosta State, Pepperdine and Fresno State.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Before the season started, new Nevada coach Steve Alford said senior point guard Lindsey Drew has been one of the best facilitators in the Mountain West for years. But his role this season was going to have be tweaked a bit. “I need him to score,” Alford said.
The message was received.
Drew, a 6-5 point guard from Encino, Calif., averaged 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in two games last week in Reno – a loss to Utah and a win over Loyola Marymount.
POLL POSITION: Utah State (2-0) remained No. 17 in Monday’s latest AP Top 25. The Aggies are the only Mountain West team ranked, but San Diego State (2-0) did receive two points after a blowout win over Texas Southern and a road win at BYU, who was without its best player (Yoeli Childs).
The Aztecs appeared on one ballot of the 65 AP voters: BYU beat writer Jeff Call of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.
ONE MORE ON MATHIS: Former Lobo Anthony Mathis on Saturday joined the ranks as a 1,000-point scorer in his college basketball career with a 30-point outburst for Oregon in a win over Boise State. He scored 980 of those points in a Lobos uniform, though just 86 of those points came prior to the 2017-18 season when Paul Weir was hired.