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Five on Lobos bench have been college head coaches

Scott Padgett, left, and Ralph Davis, right, have each been college head coaches and filled the two Lobo men’s basketball assistant vacancies this offseason. The staff now has five current (Paul Weir) or former college-level head coaches. (Padgett photo courtesy UNM Athletics; Davis photo Journal file)

The buck stops with Paul Weir.

That hasn’t changed.

But the fourth-year Lobo men’s basketball head coach certainly has no shortage of people on his staff who have been in his shoes – and who, he hopes, can help him on his quest to getting the program back into regular title contention in the Mountain West.

With the offseason hiring of Scott Padgett and this week’s promotion of Ralph Davis to assistant coach, the Lobos bench now boasts five men who have been college head coaches, though none is older than 44.

And each of them, they say and Weir insists he welcomes, get to have their input and lend their experience to the process.

“I think with me, we talked about it in the (hiring) process. If you want a ‘yes’ guy, I’m not the guy,” said Padgett, who was hired as a Lobos assistant this summer after six seasons as head coach at Samford. “I’m gonna always give my opinion.

“Then ultimately, it’s coach’s decision whether to accept the advice or the plan or whatever down the line. It’s his choice to accept that or not. But I’m the same guy that you could shoot me down 50 times, I’m still going to give you my opinion. I think that’s what assistant’s job is to do is to bring things to the table – different viewpoints.”

Weir is embarking on his fourth season as UNM’s head coach and had one season as head coach at New Mexico State.

Dan McHale enters his second season as a Lobos assistant after being a Division I head coach at Eastern Kentucky for three seasons from 2015-18.

Padgett, the former national champion at Kentucky and ex-NBA player who will have a big role in helping develop Lobo big men, has the most college head coaching experience on the staff. He was at Samford from 2014 through this March.

Davis, the one person on staff with junior college experience, was once head

coach at New Mexico Military Institute before spending the previous two seasons at UNM as video coordinator and last season as director of basketball operations.

And special assistant to the head coach Craig Snow led NCAA Division II New Mexico Highlands to a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title and NCAA tournament appearance before his return last year to UNM.

They’ve all sat in that hot seat at the end of the bench that gets the praise and blame for wins and losses. And those personal experiences, the hope for UNM is, will play a part in finding a common message as a staff this season.

“I feel good about the opportunities and the abilities to go ahead and speak my mind and contribute,” Davis said. “That’s something that even prior to getting moved up here (to assistant coach), early in the summertime (I saw) with coach McHale, coach Snow, now coach Padgett. Even guys in the past, they’ve always been very open, receptive to suggestions and comments, and even criticisms.”

In fact, while Davis is grateful for the promotion and understands the expectations that come with it, he doesn’t actually see it as a position that has a whole lot more or less say than before.

“I don’t think of it as a super huge step as far as that goes,” Davis said. “They’ve always allowed me to speak my mind, and continue to contribute to the program.”

NEW ROLE: So, then, what would Davis describe as his new role with the title change from operations director to assistant coach as he replaces Brandon Mason, who was in charge of the program’s primary recruiting efforts?

“I would go ahead and say, whatever is necessary, which is very similar to my role as a video coordinator and director of basketball operations – whatever is necessary. One of the things in this process of getting promoted that I was very open about was, still doing the small things, which I think got me here.”

NEW HOME: Why New Mexico for Padgett, who once played at hotbed Kentucky?

“I’ve spent 10 years at places that don’t love basketball like I do,” Padgett said. “And they’re not bad places, but they don’t love basketball like I do. I wanted to be at a place where they really, really care about basketball.”

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