Emptying the notebook: Who are these guys? Lots of new Lobos - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the notebook: Who are these guys? Lots of new Lobos

The UNM Lobos stand during the National Anthem before Wednesday’s game in the Pit against Florida Atlantic. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Here are a few extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Wednesday’s 99-92 Lobos home win over Florida Atlantic:

Who are these guys?

It’s a good thing first-year Lobos coach Richard Pitino decided to put the names back on the UNM jerseys this season.

To say there’s some new faces on the roster is a bit of an understatement.

Wednesday’s starting lineup of Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr., Taryn Todd, Jay Allen-Tovar and Birima Seck marked the first time in UNM men’s basketball history that the opening night starting lineup didn’t contain a single returning player.

In fact, even the guys who are back from last season’s 6-win campaign that was played entirely outside the state of New Mexico, weren’t exactly a big part of Wednesday’s game.

Nine Lobos played Wednesday with only Javonte Johnson (7 points in 17 minutes off the bench) having played in a UNM uniform before, though never in the Pit.

UNM has five returning scholarship players and seven returning players overall from the 2020-21 season. Of those, one played (Johnson), three were suited up but did not get in the game (scholarship guard Jeremiah Francis and walk-ons Jordan Arroyo and Clay Patterson), one was a late scratch with a knee injury (Emmanual Kuac, who isn’t expected out long), and two more returning players were dressed but in street clothes at the end of the bench Wednesday (Saquan Singleton, who remains out indefinitely with a heart condition and Valdir Manuel, who remains on indefinite suspension while main campus administrators handle an unspecified disciplinary matter).

With so many new players on Wednesday, stats like this can be expected:

• 92 of UNM’s 99 points on Wednesday were scored by players making their Lobos debut.

Same for the coaches, where there’s a new head coach, of course, in Richard Pitino and three new assistant coaches: Isaac Chew, Eric Brown and Andy Hill.

The gamer

Here is the gamer I wrote Wednesday night in the Pit media room, giving some love to the Pit for its role in jumpstarting a 10-run midway through the second half that was part of a larger 26-8 run that had UNM up by 16 points at 95-79 with under 2:40 remaining in the game.

Good first impression

Jaelen House scoring 30 in his Lobo debut could be a record.

I say “could be” because, frankly, I don’t have quick access to research that stat and the UNM media relations crew didn’t know Wednesday night, either.

I do know it’s the most in the past decade or so at least, and my money is on it being one of maybe one or two such debuts in the program’s history.

I remember covering Elijah Brown going off for 31 in his second game as a Lobo on Nov. 15, 2015, at rival New Mexico State, which very well could be the UNM record for most points scored in the first road game as a Lobo, but that was the second game of that 2015-16 season (he had 16 points two days prior in a win over Texas Southern).

And Jaquan Lyle score 31 points in his third game as a Lobo against Green Bay on Nov. 13, 2019, but “just” a combined 27 points in his first two games that season.

The Basketball Reference website says House’s game marked the 19th time since the 2010-2011 season that a Lobo scored 30 or more points at any point of the season. Here are the numbers of times for each player on that list:

30 or more points since 2010-11

• 7 times: Elijah Brown
• 2 times: Alex Kirk
• 2 times: JaQuan Lyle
• 2 times: Tim Williams
• 1 time: Dairese Gary
• 1 time: Drew Gordon
• 1 time: Jaelen House (Wednesday)
• 1 time: Vance Jackson
• 1 time: Makuach Maluach
• 1 time: Kendall Williams

The Bigs debuts, too

Not too shabby (on offense anyway) Lobo debuts for big men Jay Allen-Tovar and Gethro Muscadin on Wednesday.

The Lobo bigs struggled defensively, with fouls and on the boards overall (more on that later), but these numbers are good for offense:

• Allen-Tover: 18 points on 7-14 shooting (He also had 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots)

• Muscadin: 18 points on 6-8 shooting (he had 2 points in 12 games for Kansas last season)

One more debut note

Richard Pitino is now 1-0 at the Lobos coach.

He’s now 8-2 in season openers:

• 0-1 at Florida International (2012-13)
• 7-1 at Minnesota (2013-14 to 2020-21)
• 1-0 at New Mexico (2021-22)

A number to know: 24 (good news version)

The Lobos scored 24 points off 17 Florida Atlantic turnovers on Wednesday night

Getting points in transition is going to be key for this team as their half court offense seemed less than effective at times on Wednesday.

Here’s a good example of the Lobos turning defense into offense with Jamal Mashburn Jr. coming up with a steal and a dunk in the second half.

No doubt a highlight reel play, but after that amazing dunk in Friday’s exhibition game against New Mexico Highlands, one that also came off a steal leading to a coast-to-coast dunk, this one Wednesday seemed almost boring.

“I was just trying to get the points,” Mashburn said. “I’m trying to get the win. Glad I got the steal. But, yeah, that exhibition dunk, that was probably one of my best plays in my career. I ain’t never done nothing like that, I’m gonna be honest. But I’m pretty athletic. I can get up there.”

And how many times has Mashburn watched his own highlight dunk from last week?

“I’ve probably watched it over 100 times,” Mashburn admitted.

A number to know: 17 (bad news version)

The Lobos also were out-rebounded by 17 (42-25) by Florida Atlantic. Included in that was 17 offensive boards for the Owls, who scored 19 second chance points.

Signing day…

So while Wednesday night about all the newcomers who are introducing themselves now to Lobo fans, earlier in the day it was all about three new Lobos who will be the new faces for the 2022-23 season.

The Lobos got National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s Early Signing Period from all three players who gave them verbal commitments for the 2022 recruiting class: guards Donovan Dent (6-2) from Corona, California, and Braden Appelhans (6-7) from Blue Springs, Missouri and forward Quinton Webb (6-6) from San Bernardino, California.

There are two seniors on this season’s 2021-22 Lobos roster — guard Saquan Singleton and forward Valdir Manuel. Both were listed juniors during last season’s 2020-21 campaign that the NCAA has already said won’t count against players eligibility due to the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought on the season. It remains unclear if Singleton or Manuel want to play at UNM next season or not, but either way, the days of looking at a roster and knowing where scholarships are going to come from for the following season are pretty much over.

Up next…

The Lobos’ next game is Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Boulder against the University of Colorado. The game air on the Pac 12 Network.

Announced attendance

The announced attendance for Wednesday’s game in the Pit was 8,553.

Here’s what that looks like:

Were does that rank?

There have been nine Mountain West Conference home games played so far — six Tuesday and three Wednesday. The announced home attendance for each MWC team so far:

• 11,729 – San Diego State (vs. UC Riverside)
• 8,553 – New Mexico (vs. Florida Atlantic)
• 7,457 – Boise State (vs. Utah Valley)
• 7,287 – Colorado State (vs. Oral Roberts)
• 7,103 – Nevada (vs. Eastern Washington)
• 6,554 – Utah State (vs. UC Davis)
• 4,962 – UNLV (vs. Gardner-Webb)
• 3,259 – Wyoming (vs. Detroit Mercy)
• 2,820 – Fresno State (vs. D-II Fresno Pacific)

Air Force (on the road) and San Jose State (at home) open their seasons Thursday.

Crying foul!

OK, so FAU shot 23 free throws and UNM shot 23 free throws. Some would say that’s enough to know the game was called pretty evenly, and in terms of Wednesday night’s game, I’d agree. Officiating wasn’t a problem.

That’s what you get with the A-team crew of David Hall, Eric Curry and Verne Harris. (OK, so I like those guys, but a couple may not be the most popular among Lobo hoops fans through the years).

Regardless of what you think of the crew, there are a couple of fouling matters I want to point out.

First, the good news for Lobo fans.

Jaelen House drawing 12 fouls is ridiculously good. KenPom.com shows the annual leader in fouls drawn per 40 minutes is usually in the 8.0 to 9.0 range each year (Seattle’s Charles Garcia had a crazy 10.4 per 40 minutes rate in 2010, but I don’t see another in double digits in the KenPom era dating back for player stats to 2004).

I asked Jaelen on Wednesday night if he just felt like the FAU defenders couldn’t guard him without getting their hands on him.

“I feel like it every time I get on the court,” House said.

Pitino said that while House is quick enough to get his shot off anytime he wants, he has to remember drawing fouls is not just a nice part of the game to fall back on, but one that helps the Lobos in a lot of other ways, too.

“He’s a unique player because he can get a shot off whenever he wants because he’s quick, and he can take tough shots,” Pitino saiid. “He needs to draw fouls. We were — middle of the first half there — jump shooting happy. … We’ve got to play in great space and get to their bench. We have to use that as an advantage.”

Pitino added, “Yes, a huge point of emphasis with House is you can get fouled whenever you want. You’ve got to get in there.”

Now the bad news on the fouls called Wednesday.

The three guys who played the “5” for the Lobos — Birima Seck (6-11), Gethro Muscadin (6-10) and Sebastian Forsling (7-0) — combined to commit 10 fouls in 36 minutes. They also grabbed just a combined five rebounds.

Muscadin fouled out, Seck picked up two fouls in the first 1:26 of the game and sat the bench the rest of the half and Forsling had two fouls in under 4 minutes played.

As I’ll address in an article later this week, that is a major concern to Pitino and the Lobos.

Yes, but on the other hand…

If the Lobos score 1.286 points per possession all season, as they did on Wednesday, they’ll win a lot of games.

On the other hand, if the Lobos allow 1.227 points per possession all season, as they did on Wednesday, they’ll probably lose a lot of games.

Around the Mountain

There were six Mountain West games on Tuesday’s opening night of college basketball, three more on Wednesday night and two more to come on Thursday night.

• Boise State 76, Utah Valley 56
• UC Davis 72, Utah State 69
• Colorado State 109, Oral Roberts 80
• San Diego State 66, UC Riverside 53
• Nevada 91, Eastern Washington 76

• New Mexico 99, Florida Atlantic 92
• Wyoming 85, Detroit 47
• UNLV 64, Gardner-Webb 58


• Air Force at South Dakota, 12:30 p.m. MT
• CS-Fullerton at San Jose State, 8 p.m. MT

Mountain West Standings

OK, so two days into the college basketball season, these don’t mean a lot. In fact, for conference championship matters, they literally mean nothing as overall record doesn’t factor into the league title.

Nevertheless, here are the Mountain West Conference standings (overall then conference games) through games played Wednesday night:

1-0 | 0-0 Boise State
1-0 | 0-0 Colorado State
1-0 | 0-0 Fresno State
1-0 | 0-0 Nevada
1-0 | 0-0 New Mexico
1-0 | 0-0 San Diego State
1-0 | 0-0 UNLV
1-0 | 0-0 Wyoming
0-0 | 0-0 San Jose State
0-0 | 0-0 Air Force
0-1 | 0-0 Utah State

How ’bout them other Lobos?

Tuesday night, the UNM Lobo women’s team opened the 2021-22 season with a 71-54 win over Lamar in the Pit. Journal colleague Ken Sickenger was there and here was his write-up Tuesday night online and as published in Wednesday’s Albuquerque Journal print edition:

Plus/minus numbers

Here are the plus/minus numbers from Wednesday’s Lobos game against FAU with minutes played in parenthesis:

+13 KJ Jenkins (24:37)
+7 Birima Seck (9:35)
+4 Jay Allen-Tovar (33:29)
+4 Gethro Muscadin (22:24)
+4 Javonte Johnson (16:35)
+3 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (34:18)
+2 Jaelen House (37:24)
-1 Taryn Todd (17:47)
-1 Sebastian Forsling (3:51)

Line ’em up

Of the 15 lineup combinations that saw the court on Wednesday for UNM, here are some notable stats on them, albeit it in a small 1-game sample size.

• The starting lineup of House/Mashburn/Todd/Allen-Tovar/Seck played just 1:26 together — the first 1:26 of the game when Seck picked up two fouls and that group of five did not see the floor together again. They were outscored by 2.

• The lineup that saw the most floor time together was House/Mashburn/Todd/Allen-Tovar/Muscadin. That lineup played together for 8:46 in the game and while it scored a solid 1.4594 points per possession, it was also outscored by FAU 24-23.

• The lineup with the best results, outscoring FAU by 7 (13-6) in 3:51 on the floor together was House/Jenkins/Mashburn/Allen-Tovar/Seck

Stats and stats

Here’s a link to a picture of the postgame stat sheet from Wednesday: UNM 99, FAU 92

And here’s a link to the digital stats of the game: UNM 99, FAU 92


I wrote a game-day feature on K.J. Jenkins for Wednesday’s Journal, highlighting the unusual path he took from redshirting a a Division II school to playing at a junior college to now being one of three team captains for the Lobos. Wednesday, he had, by far, the team’s best +/- stats (the Lobos outscored FAU by 13 points in the time Jenkins was on the court).

Video: Postgame presser

Here is Richard Pitino talking to the media after Wednesday’s game. The background noise you hear is because UNM hasn’t yet been able to figure out how to turn off the air conditioner in the media room after games or for Pitino pressers this season. Seriously. It’s happened four times so far — twice after games and twice in other press conferences, and the air is right above the table he sits at.

Until next time

It was fun being back in the Pit for a regular season game after 620 days since the last one I covered. I know it was more enjoyable for those players and probably plenty of the fans, but from my spot on press row, I enjoyed the view and sounds of real basketball, in person once again.

Here’s to a lot more.

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