Alford Says Event Is a Celebration
The regular season is still a month away, but it’s already time to celebrate for New Mexico basketball fans.
For the first time in three years, the Lobo Howl returns to the Pit tonight. The event signifies the NCAA’s officially allotted start of practice.
The Lobos are allowed to practice today, but men’s coach Steve Alford says they won’t until taking the court for tonight’s scrimmage. The players had Wednesday and Thursday off, so Alford said they will all be “fresh and ready to go” this evening.
“It’s an exciting deal for us,” says Alford, whose team is predicted to win the Mountain West Conference this season. “With the new electronics and everything else in the Pit, it’s a big deal. It’s a celebration about the start of season.”
The Pit doors open at 6 p.m., with fans getting to select a seat for season tickets. The UNM women’s team takes the floor at 7 p.m., followed by the Lobo men at 8 p.m.
The event concludes at 9 p.m. and players and coaches will be available for autographs throughout the evening. Admission is free.
Because of the Pit renovation during the last couple of years, the Howl was held at the Santa Ana Star Center in 2009 and was not held last year.
“I’ve sensed a good feeling in community,” Alford says. “That’s what so great about this community, is the passion for basketball. Now, with the poll having come out, I think there will be extra enthusiasm.”
The poll ranked the Lobos No. 1 with UNLV No. 2 in the eight-team Mountain West Conference.
New women’s head coach Yvonne Sanchez will introduce her Lobos at 7 p.m., followed by a scrimmage. The women, picked fourth in the preseason poll, will also have a shooting contest.
The Lobo men will have introductions at 8 p.m., “which will be really neat, because we’ll use the video screens like Monday Night Football,” Alford says.
The men’s team will have an intrasquad scrimmage, followed by a slam-dunk exhibition.
Alford will be interviewed earlier in the day by Andy Katz for ESPNU’s Midnight Madness special, and KKOB-AM and KNML-AM will broadcast live from the Pit throughout the day.
Alford said he expects all of his players, with the exception of 6-foot-11 sophomore post Alex Kirk, to participate in the scrimmage. Kirk recently had back surgery and his status is questionable this season.
Fans will get a chance to see a number of new Lobos, including highly touted freshman guards Dominique Dunning and Hugh Greenwood, sophomore transfer Demetrius Walker – a transfer from Arizona State – and Alford’s son, Kory, a walk-on from La Cueva.
“The kids get excited about the start of practice, because it gets to be a grind with individual workouts during the offseason,” Alford says. “The next couple of weeks of practice will get to be a grind, as well, but right now this gives the guys something to get excited about. Between this and the (No. 1) preseason ranking, it’s a time to get excited.”
RECRUIT VISIT: Winston Shepard, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Nev., is slated to make an official recruiting visit to Albuquerque this weekend, and plans to be at the Howl.
“I’m really anxious to see how the fans react to me,” Shepard told the Journal.
This will be Shepard’s first official recruiting trip. He says he also plans to take them at UNLV, San Diego State, Oklahoma State and UTEP. He says he doesn’t plan to sign a national letter of intent until the spring signing period, after this season.
TodayLobo Howl: Pit doors open 6 p.m.UNM women: Scrimmage, shooting contest, 7-8 p.m.UNM men: Scrimmage, slam-dunk event, 8-9 p.m.Admission: freeSarah Halasz returns for the UNM women D3
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal