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Emptying the Notebook: Christmas quarantine and bus to Lubbock for Lobos

The Lobo basketball team during a game last week in Rice. The Lobos will now head back to Texas, where they’ve relocated this season to practice and play. (Courtesy photo)

Here are some notes, quotes, stats, videos, analysis, odds & ends and whatever else I managed to empty out of the old notebook after Wednesday night’s 89-52 Lobos loss to the Boise State Broncos in Boise, Idaho:

Get back on that bus

At the top of my game story Wednesday night, I used a small piece of a minute-long Paul Weir answer to a question about where his team goes from here — figuratively and literally.

“We weren’t ready for this kind of a game,” was a part of his answer that I used in the game recap that, largely, focused on the game itself.

But the rest of that answer, and in his postgame Zoom conference with media he actually touched on this a couple times, is worth listening to. It serves as a reminder that what the team is going through, aside from the bad losses this week, isn’t exactly fun, easy or conducive to playing great basketball.

There wasn’t a comfortable charter flight home to Albuquerque on Wednesday night with a relaxing Christmas gathering for the players waiting. The team gets a couple commercial flights back to Albuquerque where a travel quarantine is waiting for them for out-of-state travel. Then, sometime this weekend of early next week, it’s back on a bus to drive six hours east to Lubbock, Texas, where they are allowed to practice, as long as it’s around the schedule of the teams at the two schools they are renting gym time to practice this season.

None of that changes how bad the games were, but context showing there’s more than just the game we all watched isn’t a bad thing.

Long story short, I wanted to share the audio of Weir’s answer to what’s next for his team, which you can here in the tweet below:

Wednesday’s game in one clip

It took 30 seconds of CBS Sports Network video here to sum up Wednesday night’s game much quicker than anything I could write.

For the Lobos, freshman point guard Nolan Dorsey dribbling the ball up court and has the ball poked away by his teammate, sophomore Logan Padgett, who accidentally ran into him from behind.

That was one of 18 turnovers for the Lobos and the result? It led to a fast break dunk by Derrick Alston, who had four dunks in the game that were each more impressive than the last adding to his 22 points.

The gamer…

So, while I just said that clip above sums up the game (mistakes by UNM, amazing stuff from Derrick Alston), I did actually write more about it. Here is the gamer posted online after Wednesday’s Lobo loss and in Thursday’s Albuquerque Journal print edition:

‘Twas the game before Christmas

In the Mountain West era (starting in the 1999-2000 season), the Lobos are now 9-13 in the game scheduled immediately before Christmas, and the losses have often been rather brutal:

• 2009: 12-0 and nationally-ranked Lobos team lost at Oral Roberts
• 2010: 10-1 Lobos lost to Northern Iowa
• 2012: Kendall Williams’ alarm clock not going off led to his being taken out of the starting lineup and another 12-0, nationally-ranked Lobos team loses, this time in the Pit to Nate Wolters and South Dakota State
• 2015: Lobos lost by 30 points to BYU in the Diamondhead Classic in Hawaii (and for good measure also lost on Christmas morning in that event by 23 points to a Washington State team that went 9-22 that season)
• 2016: 31-point loss at Arizona
• 2018: Loss to Penn clinched rare losing record in non-conference games in the Pit
• 2020: 37-point loss at Boise State

Here are all the results on the dreaded game before Christmas in the Mountain West era:

Dec. 23, 2020: L, 89-52 — Boise State
Dec. 22, 2019: W, 107-88 — Houston Baptist
Dec. 22, 2018: L, 75-65 — Penn
Dec. 22, 2017: W, 87-78 — Prairie View A&M
Dec. 20, 2016: L, 77-46 — Arizona
Dec. 23, 2015: L, 96-66 — BYU*
Dec. 23, 2014: L, 68-65 — Grand Canyon
Dec. 23, 2013: W, 80-68 — Grand Canyon
Dec. 22, 2012: L, 70-65 — South Dakota State
Dec. 22, 2011: W, 87-62 — UMKC
Dec. 23, 2010: L, 66-60 — Northern Iowa
Dec. 23, 2009: L, 75-66 — Oral Roberts
Dec. 23, 2008: W, 76-62 — New Mexico State
Dec. 23, 2007: W, 62-32 — Weber State
Dec. 23, 2006: L, 72-56 — Kansas State
Dec. 22, 2005: L, 63-56 — San Diego
Dec. 22, 2004: L, 81-64 — Wake Forest
Dec. 22, 2003: W, 65-49 — New Mexico State
Dec. 21, 2002: L, 69-57 — Southern Utah
Dec. 22, 2001: W, 83-69 — UNC Greensboro
Dec. 23, 2000: W, 69-62 — Mercer
Dec. 23, 1999: L, 63-60 — New Mexico State
*In 2015, UNM also played on Christmas day and lose 82-59 to Washington State.

Too soon?

Look, Boise State senior Derrick Alston Jr., was the preseason Mountain West Player of the Year selection for a reason. He’s pretty good at this basketball thing.

And his performance is worth revisiting.

Alston’s stat line Wednesday:
• 22 points
• 6-6 2-point FGs
• 3-3 3-point FGs
• 1-1 FTs
• 4 rebounds
• 6 assists

One bad stat? He wasn’t a very good liar after the game. Of his perfect 9-of-9 shooting performance from the field, Derrick said: “My teammates were just finding me in the right spots.”

That’s what he should say. But here, I offer you four examples below of “shots” that had very little to do with his teammates “finding” him in the right spot and everything to do with him just being that good and having that kind of night.

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Example 4:

Up next

The Lobos next game is Dec. 31 where UNM “hosts” Nevada at Division II Lubbock Christian University. That game will be televised on FS1.

Although fans are allowed in some sporting events in Texas, fans will not be allowed in UNM’s games at LCU.

Defense, into offense

In Wednesday’s Journal, I wrote what I thought would be a key for this team — this week and this season — scoring in transition.

It didn’t happen much on Wednesday. Boise State had 21 fast break points to 1 for the Lobos (a free throw off a foul drawn). Fast break points aren’t the exact same thing as getting out in transition as you can push tempo and then back it up, but you get the point.

That said, here’s a great example in the second half of UNM turning defense into a bucket in transition. Emmanuel Kuac gets the block at one end to start a fast break and then gets an open 3 at the other end (the only made 3 for the Lobos).

Runs, runs, runs…

UNM had only one scoring run of 5-0 or better all game Wednesday. Boise State had five.

Significant scoring runs by New Mexico:
• 5-0
(UNM led 5-2 with 17:10 left in 1st half and not another “run” of more than 4-0)

Significant scoring runs by Boise State:
• 10-0
• 12-0
• 12-2
• 8-0
• 7-0

Player notes

• Keith McGee did not play (they could have used his shooting) due to an ankle injury
• Jordan Arroyo played for the first time this season
• Five walk-ons played for the Lobos
• UNM played 16 players for the third game this season

Meanwhile, in Logan…

Sean Bairstow, the younger brother of former Lobo great Cameron Bairstow, had 11 points in Utah State’s blowing win over San Jose State, 85-52.

Around the Mountain

There were two games around the Mountain West on Wednesday with no others coming until Monday:

• Utah State 85, San Jose State 52
• Boise State 89, New Mexico 52

So, about those two game series…

Three 2-game series have been played so far in the Mountain West this season. And while I still believe there will be a lot of splits with the loser of Game 1 playing much better in Game 2, that wasn’t the case Wednesday as both UNM and SJSU got blown out in both games.

• 3 series played
• 1 split

Meanwhile, in Phoenix…

WAC rivals New Mexico State and Grand Canyon University on Wednesday made official something that’s been in the works for some time. NMSU, relocated to Phoenix this season, will actually play its “home” games at GCU.


Here are Wednesday’s plus/minus stats for the Lobos with minutes played in parenthesis:

+2 Isaiah Marin (3:06)
0 Clay Patterson (2:16)
-1 Jordan Arroyo (2:29)
-1 Eloy Medina (00:47)
-2 Daniel Headdings (1:08)
-7 Logan Padgett (9:38)
-12 Rod Brown (21:25)
-15 Valdir Manuel (9:16)
-15 Jeremiah Francis (20:47)
-15 Nolan Dorsey (13:57)
-16 Kurt Wegscheider (19:05)
-17 Bayron Matos (23:26)
-18 Javonte Johnson (13:38)
-21 Emmanuel Kuac (13:32)
-23 Makuach Maluach (24:13)
-24 Saquan Singleton (21:17)

Stat sheets

Here’s a link to the digital version of the states from Wednesday’s game: Boise State 89, New Mexico 52

And here’s a link to a .pdf version of the more classic looking stat sheet: Boise State 89, New Mexico 52

Not pretty: KenPom edition

According to, Wednesday’s game had several statistics rank among the worst for the Lobos in the KenPom era (data tracked for all games since the 2001-02 season).

• 11.1% (1-of-9) — tied for 7th worst in the KenPom era
• THE WORST: The Lobos have twice shot 0.0% in the KenPom era, both under head coach Craig Neal. One was an 0-for-7 showing in a 67-61 home loss to New Mexico State on Dec. 17, 2013 (Paul Weir was the associated head coach on that Aggies team). The other was an 0-for-10 showing in an 82-59 loss to Washington State in Hawaii on Dec. 25, 2015.

• 34.3% (17-45 2s, 1-9 3s) — 7th worst in the KenPom era
• THE WORST: UNM had an EFG% of 27.7 in a 77-46 loss at Arizona on Dec. 20, 2016, under head coach Craig Neal.

• 73.6 — 10th worst in the KenPom era
• THE WORST: The Lobos infamous 55-34 loss at San Diego State on Jan. 26, 2013, under head coach Steve Alford featured a one-game offensive efficiency of 56.2, which is more than 10 points lower than even the second worst in the KenPom era for the Lobos. It was a historically awful offensive game for the Lobos, and that was a team with Tony Snell, Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk, Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood that won the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament championships that season.

Grammer’s Guesses

So much for thinking underdogs in Game 2s of these 2-game Mountain West series would be a good play. I’m bad at this.

The Guesses went 0-2 and I’m now 1-5 on the season.

My daughter’s #TeamCoin coin flip picks went 1-1 on Wednesday and she’s now 5-1 on the season.

So, she’s grounded.

Merry Christmas.

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