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Snow is happy the road led back to UNM

Craig Snow walks the floor in the Pit during a preseason practice. Snow is in his second term on the UNM men’s basketball staff. ROBERTO E. ROSALES/JOURNAL

Maybe it was around the time Craig Snow and his Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament champion New Mexico Highlands Cowboys were rolling through a welcome home parade last March in Las Vegas, N.M., in rental minivans when it really started to sink in.

After a weeklong odyssey from New Mexico to Nevada to Utah to Colorado and back home with the scrappy Division II basketball team that had just qualified for the NCAA Tournament, Snow was thoroughly enjoying the payoff he was experiencing with his players after five years of coaching the Northern New Mexico team.

The man then with the dual title of NMHU men’s basketball coach and athletic director was coming to a realization. The ideal long-term situation wouldn’t be doing both jobs at once. So when what he calls “an ideal” opportunity to work with head coach Paul Weir and return to the University of New Mexico arose, he decided the daily interactions with players and impact on the lives of young people he could have as a coach was worth sticking with.

So, he returned to Albuquerque to focus on coaching again, and he’ll be courtside for the Lobos men’s Wednesday home game against Green Bay.

PODCAST: To hear an hourlong conversation with Craig Snow, listen to Episode 21 of the Talking Grammer podcast HERE.

Now, in his second stint on the staff of the UNM Lobos, this time as the special assistant to the head coach, Snow says his five years at NMHU have him more prepared to make an impact.

“It helped me from a humility standpoint,” Snow said of his experiences at NMHU. “Just from understanding how much impact we can have, and what we can’t and (understanding) the consistency and the work ethic that it takes to be successful. I think that’s really helped my approach the second time around.”

Snow’s duties at UNM are primarily focused on offense — helping get the most out of a roster Weir has said repeatedly is one of the most offensively gifted he’s been around.

“Me and Craig can sit, have a two- or three-hour meeting and dissect every part of it and that’s something he’s been looking at and studying and talking about,” said Weir. “… Then when we get to the team, I think we’re a lot further ahead. I think the same thing happens on the defensive side of the ball with Dan (McHale, the first year UNM assistant coach and former Eastern Kentucky head coach with a defensive background).

“Just allowing those two guys to really focus on certain areas as opposed to just kind of spreading it how we’ve done in the past, A, it suits them very well — Craig’s a brilliant offensive coach, I think Dan’s a brilliant defensive coach. But I also think it serves me and our program a lot better by just having experts in the field breaking us down.”

Snow’s path to UNM was a unique one. He was a starter at Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference from 1997-98 through the 2000-01 season. In that span, Steve Alford coached in the conference at Southwest Missouri State and had recruited Snow out of high school, former Lobo assistant Alan Huss was a four-year player at Creighton, and current Lobos assistant Jerome Robinson was a star at Bradley. Huss, Snow and Robinson all played the same four years in the MVC.

After what he calls a “cup of coffee” professional career overseas, Snow and his wife moved to Albuquerque, where he had hoped to go to law school. He didn’t immediately get accepted to UNM’s law school, so his basketball coaching career started at Bosque School. His wife ended up getting a Ph.D. from UNM and Snow’s been bit with the coaching bug ever since.

The past ties with Alford got him into the college game with UNM, where he was on staff for three NCAA Tournament teams from 2011-12 through the 2013-14 season.

“It’s been really cool, for me, to come back the second time because I feel like I’m just much more aware,” Snow said.

While Weir makes no secret of wanting to lean on the experiences of both Snow and McHale as former head coaches, Snow says it was Weir’s help as a friend in the business the past several years that finally guided Snow to the point where he figured out how to get his NMHU team to its NCAA Tournament level last season.

Now, he’s tasked with trying to return the favor at UNM and try to help Weir “maximize” the individual offensive skills this year’s roster has to get the program back to its NCAA Tournament level.

“If I’m a Lobo fan,” Snow said of this season, “I think there’s hope.”


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