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Weir: It’s time to give a shot to younger Lobos

Javonte Johnson (13) is one of several young players who coach Paul Weir suggests can get an extended opportunity moving forward for the struggling New Mexico Lobos (3-6), who play Wednesday at Dixie State in St. George, Utah. (UNM photo)

They left Lubbock in the dust.

If the change of scenery won’t do the trick, a change in lineup is next.

While one could argue the Lobos (3-6, 0-6 Mountain West) are still getting used to each other with 12 new players on the roster, they have more than enough players who have plenty of college games under their belt – either at UNM, other Division I programs or at the junior college level.

And, as the team heads to St. George, Utah, on Wednesday night to play a quickly scheduled, rare January non-conference game against Dixie State University, coach Paul Weir said it might be time for a youth movement.

“I like all these veterans that we have, but the results are the results,” Weir said after Friday’s 82-46 loss to Utah State in Lubbock. “So, it’s time to give somebody else a shot, to see if they can change the result, and that means Nolan (Dorsey, a freshman). That means Javonte (Johnson, a freshman). That means Isaiah (Marin, a freshman who started the past two games). That means Byron (Matos, a freshman who has started seven games).”

It’s hard to argue the coaching staff hasn’t given everyone a good look so far. Through nine games, 17 Lobos have played and no scholarship player is under 50 minutes (more than a full game).

Weir isn’t giving up on his veterans, but said he told everyone there’s no more waiting on anyone to get comfortable playing in what, simply put, is going to remain an uncomfortable season.

“What we’re asking you to do,” Weir said he explained to his players, “maybe you just can’t do it. Maybe this is just too much. And if that’s the case, then you need to kind of come forward and we need the guys that can fight through this thing. Play for us the rest of the way. … It’s time to figure out who can finish the season, and who can’t.”

SCORE BY QUARTERS: Men’s college basketball remains the last place in the sport holding on to the notion of playing two halves of basketball instead of four quarters.

And considering the Lobos are being outscored 25.5 point per league game, it should come as no surprise UNM is being outscored in all four “quarters” – tracking the scoring at every 10-minute interval – of the game.

But the second “quarter’ – from the 10-minute mark of the first half until halftime – has proven to be by far the most damaging for UNM with MWC opponents outscoring the Lobos 136-73 (10.5 points per game).

For comparison, UNM is being outscored by just 2.7 points (106-90) in the third “quarter” of games – the period immediately after halftime when, one would assume, adjustments were made.

The average score by “quarter” in UNM’s Mountain West games so far this season (six games):

  •  1st quarter: 12.5-18.2 (minus-5.7)
  •  2nd quarter: 12.2-22.7 (minus-10.5)
  • 3rd quarter: 15.0-17.7 (minus-2.7)
  • 4th quarter: 14.3-21.0 (minus-6.7)

That said, in UNM’s latest outing – the 82-46 loss to Utah State that saw the Aggies jump out to a 16-2 lead (and 20-8 lead in the first “quarter”) – was something that Weir called “alarming” and hoped to find an answer to before the Dixie State game.

“I think if you kind of look at all our games so far, we’ve started both halves relatively well. We’ve executed well, particularly defensively to start games. This was the first game this season that we just came out very flat and not anywhere near the type of energy you need defensively against the teams in this conference. It was disappointing.”

Weir started the second half of the game with four freshmen on the floor, and the Lobos were even – 13-13 – in the third “quarter” against the Aggies.

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