Welcome to the club
Sitting on 999 points entering Thursday’s game, Lobo senior Makuach Maluach didn’t waste much time joining that 1,000 point club once the ball was tipped.
Appropriate for the theme of the game, the 6-foot-5 wing hit the milestone bucket after first grabbing an offensive rebound (UNM had 32 of them) on the game’s opening possession leading to an easy layup for points 1,000 and 1,0001 to become the 35th player to score 1,000 points in a Lobos jersey.
— Lobo Basketball (@UNMLoboMBB) December 17, 2020
“It feels great,” Maluach said. “I mean, it gives me such joy knowing that I did it for such a program — for a program with such tradition and pride. It feels amazing.”
With his total of 15 points, Maluach now sits at 1,014 in his career, placing him at No. 31 all-time in UNM scoring, passing on Thursday fellow Australian recruit Hugh Greenwood (1,006), a pair of New Mexicans at 1,010 points (Alex Kirk of Los Alamos and Ron Becker of Roswell) and big man Rob Loeffel (1,011).
Next up? Ira Harge at 1,016.
Prior to the game, I tweeted a video (nothing fancy) of the UNM media guide and the entire list of former Lobos in the 1,000-point club.
So, @UNMLoboMBB senior Makuach Maluach is sitting on 999 career points and is set to become the 35th player to score 1,000 in a Lobos uniform.
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) December 17, 2020
Here is what I wrote after Thursday’s game — posted online Thursday evening and published in Friday’s Albuquerque Journal print edition:
He said it: Buy in edition
“At this point in the year, I’ve never had a team like this here at New Mexico as far as just a buy in, a team attitude, a cheering for my teammate, a chemistry, and an energy.
“And a lot has been made in my first year here, but the first 6- to 8-weeks of my first year here were not pretty. We were fighting a lot of things. And we’re not fighting a lot of things right now. We’re trying to teach kids how to play. We’re trying to get kids their first college experiences on the court. We’re trying to work through a lot of execution things on both sides of the ball. But we’re not having to worry about a team camaraderie, a good attitude. …
“To do that when you’re playing a lot of guys, and you’re juggling along starting rotations, and you’re trying to do the things we got to do, it’s not always easy. So I am very thankful to have the guys so far buying into how we want to play, because a lot of teams try and play this way. But it’s hard to find the players that are actually willing to do it.” –UNM coach Paul Weir
A number to know: 53.7
OK, so the competition has been a Division I team that is expected to finish near the bottom of Conference USA and two non-Division I teams that don’t exactly have much size.
But if a bigger team is supposed to dominate a smaller team on the boards, well then, the Lobos certainly did their job this week, especially on the offensive glass.
UNM in its first three games has an offensive rebound percentage of 53.7%.
First, a quick explainer. OR% is how many rebounds a team grabs off its own misses. The formula is this: offensive rebounds / (offensive rebounds + opponent’s defensive rebounds). That accounts for every missed shot — either the offensive team got the rebound, the defensive team got the rebound or the ball went out of bounds and a team rebound was recorded.
So, back to the 53.7%. Simply put, it’s just a ridiculously good number.
To put that in context, the national leader in OR% in the 2019-20 season, according to KenPon.com, was West Virginia at 40.1% and the national average was 28.0%, though that only accounts for DI vs. DI games, of which two of the Lobos three games have not been. But even just counting Sunday’s game with Rice, which is a Division I team, the Lobos were at 48.7%.
Again, sample size, but still impressive. Take a look (offensive rebounds / OR% / second chance points):
• vs. Rice: 19 / 48.7% / 14
• vs. Our Lady of the Lake: 14 / 48.3% / 15
• vs. LeTourneau: 32 / 60.4% / 34
• 3 game total: 65 / 53.7% / 63
UNM in three games — two vs. non-DI's, essentially mid-December exhibition games since they only started regular full team practices three weeks ago — has grabbed a ridiculously high 53.7% of available offensive rebounds.
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) December 18, 2020
There were two more double-doubles to add to the Lobos total for the season:
• Makuach Maluach: 15 points, 12 rebounds
• Bayron Matos: 16 points, 10 rebounds
• 2 – Makuach Maluach
• 1 – Bayron Matos
• 1 – Saquan Singleton
Rod Brown clip
I’ll write more about this Friday for something publishing this weekend on Rod Brown, but, well, he’s been pretty damn good.
Here’s a clip of the versatility he brings, picking up the opposing point guard at 3/4 quart (video starts about half court) and, despite being a 6-7 forward, stays in front of him on the possession and blocks his shot at the rim, which sets up a fast break and a layup for Brown at the other end.
The amount of energy he exerts in this sequence is crazy.
Just 2 and a half games, yes. But why is @RodBrown_RB5 already proving to be arguably the best player for the Lobos, certainly right there with Makuach Maluach?
He's a 4 picking up the opposing PG at half court, staying in front, gets a block, runs floor and scores at other end. pic.twitter.com/V6RmOxrLkh
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) December 17, 2020
But what about those 3s?
The Yellow Jackets hit 11 3-pointers, but that was on 44 tries (25.0%). If teams shoot 25% from 3-point range all season, the Lobos will fair quite well.
But it’s the 3s at the other end of the court the Lobos should be concerned about, and the reason why I asked Weir before they even boarded the plain for their first game if this team has enough shooting to be competitive in the Mountain West.
On Thursday, the Lobos went 2-of-12 from behind the arc, but they started the game 0-for-10 from 3-point line. The first made 3 was by freshman Isaiah Marin with just 1:19 left in the game and then Logan Padgett, assistant coach Scott Padgett’s son, added another with 32 seconds left on the clock.
But 3s were clearly not even a part of UNM’s main game plan. The starters only attempted two 3s (0-1 by Saquan Singleton and 0-1 by Valdir Manuel). The other 10 attempts were from reserves, including Keith McGee, considered the Lobos’ best 3-point shooter entering the season, going 0-for-3.
Up next for the UNM Lobos is the Mountain West Conference opener at Boise State on Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on FS1.
Meanwhile, in Laramie…
Five players scored in double figures for Wyoming in an 82-78 win over Omaha as the Cowboys wrapped up non-conference play with a shiny 6-1 record in coach Jeff Linder’s debut season.
Got the 🤠🏀 W!
— Wyoming Cowboy Basketball (@wyo_mbb) December 18, 2020
Next up for Wyoming: Fresno State on Jan. 2 in the Mountain West opener for both schools.
Around the Mountain
There were two Mountain West teams in action on Thursday and four more on Friday, including the first conference game of the season, assuming it gets played (three other scheduled MWC series have already been postponed).
• New Mexico 90, (Division III) LeTourneau 58
• Wyoming 82, Omaha 78
• BYU at No. 18 San Diego State, 3 p.m. MT
• Santa Clara vs. San Jose State, 7 p.m. MT
• Air Force at Nevada, 8 p.m. MT
• Fresno Pacific at Fresno State, 5 p.m. MT
• Colorado State at Saint Mary’s, 6 p.m. MT
Meanwhile, in Arkansas…
The UNM women’s basketball team also improved to 3-0 on Thursday with a 120-66 road win over Arkansas Pine Bluff.
The best two words to write: Lobos win!
— Lobo Women's Basketball (@UNMLoboWBB) December 17, 2020
Here is Journal colleague Ken Sickenger’s write up on the UNM women’s game:
If the sample size for rebounding is way too small to determine much, I’ll say the same is true, for now, for the Lobos free throw shooting.
Here’s how the Lobos’ shooting from the charity stripe has looked this week in Houston:
• vs. Rice: 10-of-13 (76.9%)
• vs. Our Lady of the Lake: 14-of-23 (60.9%)
• vs. LeTourneau: 12-of-24 (50.0%)
• Total: 36-of-60 (60.0%)
Here’s a clip to watch a replay of the Lobos’ Thursday win over LeTourneau, courtesy of Rice University:
Here are Thursday’s plus/minus numbers for the Lobos with minutes played in parenthesis:
+26 Makuach Maluach (20:33)
+24 Valdir Manuel (15:06)
+20 Jeremiah Francis (13:23)
+14 Rod Brown (18:15)
+13 Clay Patterson (6:28)
+12 Saquan Singleton (19:46)
+12 Emmanuel Kuac (15:16)
+12 Kurt Wegscheider (14:32)
+9 Logan Padgett (8:37)
+8 Bayron Matos (19:09)
+7 Nolan Dorsey (10:06)
+3 Javonte Johnson (9:53)
+3 Eloy Medina (2:01)
+2 Iaiah Marin (10:48)
-1 Daniel Headdings (3:13)
-4 Keith McGee (12:54)
Former Lobo Damien Jefferson had himself a day on Thursday.
In a road game at Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John’s University in New York, the 6-foot-5 senior flirted with a triple double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in the Blue Jays 94-76 win over the Red Storm.
“We’re not where we are a year ago, we’re not where we are today, without him. He puts his fingerprints all over the game.”
— Jaden Daly (@DalyDoseOfHoops) December 18, 2020
Here is a link to the digital version of Thursday’s game stats: UNM 90, LU 58
And if you’re interested in a more traditional looking stat sheet, here you go — a .pdf version is right HERE.
With Mountain West games starting Friday, I’ll start the annual tradition of embarrassing myself vs. my no 11-year-old daughter.
Here’s how it works:
• I use my superior knowledge and expertise to pick games against the point spread.
• She flips a coin.
• We all have a good time when I lose.
For now, I’ll finish with linking one of my favorite columns I’ve been able to write for the Albuquerque Journal, which was on this very subject of my daughter beating me at picking games: