Lobos go through dress rehearsal in Pit scrimmage vs. NAU - Albuquerque Journal

Lobos go through dress rehearsal in Pit scrimmage vs. NAU

Jaelen House, a transfer point guard from Arizona State, has been a vocal presence for the New Mexico Lobos during preseason practices. (Eddie Moore/Journal)
There’s a reason they’re done behind closed doors.

There are a lot of reasons, actually. But among the many reasons the NCAA allows for college basketball teams to hold closed-door scrimmages each preseason out from under the microscope of fans and media — as the UNM Lobos did Saturday in the Pit against Northern Arizona University — is to get real-time experience for players without the worry of over-analyzing every move and every statistic.

Coaches get film to study of their players going against somebody other than the teammates they’ve played against all summer and fall. And, yes, there’s plenty of value in that.

“It was definitely beneficial,” first-year Lobos coach Richard Pitino said Monday of the scrimmage, before noting several times the differences between real games with fans and what took place on Saturday.

“If I had my way, I’d play about five or six exhibition games versus different Division I teams, but college basketball doesn’t do that.”

In Albuquerque, no matter how many times a coach may warn against reading too much into these preseason scrimmages, one annual October tradition remains. Lobo fans will devour any morsel of news that comes out of practice about their team.

So when Pitino sat down with local media Monday, he was peppered with scrimmage questions, and it was clear he was pleased with what he and his coaching staff got out of Saturday’s matchup with the Lumberjacks.

Though the scrimmages can take on any format coaches agree to, Pitino said he wanted a regular gameday experience with referees, two 20-minute halves and a 15-minute halftime with his team going up and down the ramp to the locker room at halftime.

The only major alteration from a regular game, other than the absence of fans, was with fouls.

“You couldn’t foul out, which became prevalent as the second half went on and certain guys who would have been on the bench were on the court, probably for both teams,” Pitino said. “But (otherwise) I wanted to play a real game. I’ve always felt like it’s just the best indicator of everything.”

And as for those stats?

“We were encouraged by Jaelen House, who had 30 points in 21 minutes, which was great,” Pitino said. “I would say that if it was a real game, they might have done different things out of it. … But we made shots. (and) we didn’t really turn the ball over at an alarming rate.”

Here is some more meat on the bone for Lobo fans to sink their teeth into from the stat sheet the Journal reviewed from Saturday:

■ The Lobos beat Northern Arizona, 90-74.

■ UNM led 40-38 at halftime.

■ UNM led for 36 of the 40 minutes, and by as many as 20 in the second half.

■ The starting five was House, K.J. Jenkins, Jamal Mashburn Jr., Emmanuel Kuac and Gethro Muscadin.

■ The Lobos played all 11 available scholarship players with nine playing between 15 and 22 minutes.

■ House, the Arizona State transfer point guard, was 11-of-13 shooting (6-of-7 from 3-point range), plus added three assists and a steal.

■ Mashburn was the only other Lobo in double figures with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting in 26 minutes.

■ Muscadin had a game-high 9 rebounds.

■ The Lobos shot 50.7% from the field, 38.5% from 3-point range (10-of-26) and allowed the Lumberjacks to shoot 46.4% from the field and hit 5-of-17 (29.4%) of their 3s.

■ NAU took 27 free throws to UNM’s 14.

■ The Lobos out-rebounded NAU 38-34.

■ UNM had 14 assists and 12 turnovers. NAU had 13 assists and 18 turnovers.


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