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Ex-Lobo Aide in Louisville's Corner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s Lobo Louie — and Lobo-Louisville.

The latter, however, won’t be rooting for the New Mexico men’s basketball team today — and will be doing all he can to keep UNM from winning sits NCAA Tournament game against Louisville.

Assistant coach Wyking Jones has gone from Lobo-to-Louisville. He served under Steve Alford the past two years at New Mexico, and is an assistant for Rick Pitino this season with the Cardinals.

Advantage Pitino?


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“Well, he can’t hurt us,” Pitino said. “He recruited some of the players, knows the guys, knows their personalities of when they could get down or when they could be up. But we’re going to probably watch over 20 games on tape … so we’re going to have a good feel for them in an abbreviated point. But he gives us things, a feel we wouldn’t normally get.”

Jones declined to do interviews with the Albuquerque media this week.

REMEMBER WHEN? The Cardinals handed UNM one of its most heartbreaking losses in its history, winning 64-63 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1997.

While Lobo fans remember the game well, it’s doubtful many Cardinal fans — who have seen their program get to 17 Sweet 16s, eight Final Fours and win two NCAA titles — recall much about that game 15 years ago. Much less the players. But the question still was asked Friday:

“Are you aware of any of the past history, 1996-97 season, New Mexico was playing you guys for a chance to go to the Sweet 16? New Mexico missed a layup the last second and lost 64-63. Are you guys aware of that?”

Louisville sophomore guard Russ Smith, 5 years old that season, said “Wow, to be for real, that’s probably — that’s past my history. I had no idea. I started watching college basketball when I was a senior in high school. That’s definitely new to me.”

I’M FINE, THANKS: The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers fired coach Nate McMillan this week, and Pitino and Alford were asked about what they thought of the area and if they would be interested in the job.

Both coaches started their responses with a laugh.

“Yeah, I really want the job,” Pitino, who had a 192-220 record as an NBA coach, said in jest. “I’d really like to get out here, The (cold, wet) weather has just knocked me over and I would really like to start losing again.”

Alford said, “That one came out of left field. I’ve just been watching tape on Louisville, I didn’t even know anything had even happened with the Trail Blazers.”
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal