Emptying the Notebook: How's House after Montana State? - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: How’s House after Montana State?

Jaelen House ankle injury
UNM’s Jaelen House grimaces after spraining an ankle during a scramble for a loose ball near mid court Saturday afternoon in the Pit against Montana State. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Here are some extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats and other odds & ends I emptied out of the old notebook after Saturday’s 81-78 Lobos win over Montana State in the Pit:

Hobbled House

Nobody expected the Lobos to be a one-man show entering this season, and even as Jaelen House had a remarkable start to the season through UNM’s first three games, he was hardly going at it alone.

In fact, entering Saturday’s game with Montana State, five Lobos were averaging double-figure scoring and sophomore guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. was scoring 17.3 points per game.

But it’s hard to ignore what House was doing through three games:

• 23.3 points/game
• 5.7 assists/game
• 4.0 steals/game
• 7 made 3s
• 15-20 FTs
35.6 minutes/game
(all team highs)

So, with a crazy good start to the season like that, not only was early foul trouble and then an ankle injury with 7:33 left in the game on Saturday a concern for more than a few Lobo fans, it should be concerning for awhile moving forward. Assuming it is just an ankle sprain, that could still linger awhile and the Lobos have a tournament in Las Vegas, Nev., coming up in which two of the three other teams are potential Top 50 teams this season in Alabama-Birmingham and San Francisco.

So, what do we know about House’s ankle injury?

First off, here are some pics from the Journal’s Roberto E. Rosales after House was fighting for a loose ball when it seemed to get landed on by a Montana State player. House immediately grabbed the ankle and waved for someone to check in for him. Then he tried hopping off the court and was eventually helped up the Pit ramp with trainers, only to return later.

Said his coach Richard Pitino: “Sprained ankle — I think sprained ankle. He said to me towards the end there, ‘If you need me, I can go back in.’ But he didn’t look great. So we’ll see tomorrow (Sunday), but I’m hopeful just a sprain.”

The gamer

Here’s the gamer I filed Saturday evening after the Lobos’ 81-78 win:

A number to know: 1

The Lobos outrebounded Montana State 33-32, a margin of plus-1.

That 1 was a huge number for the Lobos considering they entered Saturday’s game being outrebounded by 43 through three games:

• -17 — Nov. 10 vs. Florida Atlantic
• -20 — Nov. 13 at Colorado
• -6 — Nov. 15 vs. Grambling State
• +1 — Nov. 20 vs. Montana State

So I asked Pitino if he’d ever been so happy with a plus-1 rebounding margin.

“We ran six sprints — 22s we like to call them — last game after because we were minus-6 (in rebounding vs. Grambling State),” Pitino said. “And I said, ‘Very simple. If you keep doing this, we’re just gonna keep running. It’s just embarrassing.’

“So, yeah. That’s why we won the game. I truly believe it. It’s not a play we ran. It’s not a pick and roll coverage. None of that. It’s because we finally rebounded the ball.”

So if minus-6 means the team owes the coach six sprints, does plus-1 mean the coaching staff owes the players a sprint?

“Absolutely,” Pitino said. “I’d be happy to do it. We’ll do a lot for a win. And for outrebounding.”

Rebounding margins alone aren’t the only way to determine a “win” on the boards. The offensive rebounding percentage a team has is the percent of their own missed shots they rebound and retain possession.

According to KenPom.com, entering Saturday’s game the Lobos ranked 343rd out of 358 Division I teams in opponent’s offensive rebounding rate, allowing opponents to grab 41.8% of their missed shots (the national average is 28.7%). The Bobcats ranked 74th in offensive rebound rate.

UNM held the Bobcats to just eight offensive rebounds, which MSU turned into just six second-chance points.

Bobcats OREB% this season
• 32.4% — Nov. 9 at Colorado
• 30.8% — Nov. 14 vs. (NAIA) Rocky Mountain
• 34.2% — Nov. 17 at South Dakota State
• 25.8% — Saturday at UNM

Moving on

Senior forward Valdir Manuel has decided to move on from the University of New Mexico.
The 6-foot-10 forward who played 20 games for UNM last season but hasn’t played with the Lobos this season has formally entered his name into the transfer portal, indicating his formal intent to leave UNM and giving coaches across the country the green light to recruit him.

News of his entering the transfer portal was first reported by the Ari Rosenfeld and later confirmed by the Journal.

Manuel was suspended indefinitely from the team in the fall after an unspecified incident that occurred last spring was referred to UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity and has been under review for at least a couple months now by the university’s Title IX Coordinator — outside the jurisdiction of the athletics department.

Both UNM coach Richard Pitino and athletic director Eddie Nuñez have deferred commenting on the matter, referring questions to main campus, who will not comment on pending Title IX matters.

There is no record of any report or indication the matter was ever investigated as a criminal matter, according to both court records checks and inquiries to campus and local police agencies by the Journal.

Manuel, who was not on the team’s bench for Saturday’s game against Montana State, was the third-leading scorer last season for the Lobos, averaging 7.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 20 games, including six starts.

Before coming to UNM, the once highly-rated recruit from Angola played for two seasons at Harcum (Junior) College in Pennsylvania and has been committed at different times to five difference major Division I programs.

He said in an interview last season: “My reputation, everybody knows when they see my name, ‘Oh, this kid committed to (a lot of) schools, but people (do) not understand I committed to (a lot of) schools because I was just trying to play college basketball. And I didn’t have the people who had the best interest in me around me. I was feeling like people was benefiting off me – they were making me do stuff that wasn’t really me doing. So it was very hard and I couldn’t say nothing because I was a kid and my parents, nobody was here.”

Per new NCAA transfer rules, Manuel should have two seasons of playing eligibility remaining and would be eligible to play immediately next season for another DI program.

Another number to know: 22 (soon to be 20)

Here’s a list of the most games played by a UNM Lobo without ever playing a game in New Mexico:
1. 22 – Saquan Singleton*
t2. 20 – Rod Brown
t2. 20 – Valdir Manuel
t2. 20 – Bayron Matos
*Expected to play this season

Obviously this is a list created by the wildly unusual circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and state restrictions in place in New Mexico. With news Saturday of Manuel’s transfer, it looks like he will soon be in a three-way tie atop this list, assuming Singleton does in fact return to the court soon.

On that note, Singleton was recently cleared by doctors to resume practice with the Lobos after a heart abnormality was detected in the fall after a case of COVID-19. Here’s the story that published in Friday’s Journal and posted online Thursday night:

Suit yourself

For the first time this season, the Lobo coaching staff wore suits for Saturday’s game.

While suits used to be the norm on the bench of college basketball games, coaches now have much more leeway to make their own call about what to wear.

I never miss an opportunity to get down to the bottom of the big stories around Lobo basketball, so I was sure to ask Richard Pitino the hard-hitting questions about the return of the suits:

OK, now for a side rant here…

I’ve never understood the need for coaches to wear suits to a basketball game. People assume it’s the right thing because they’ve seen it for so long, but what sense does it make in that setting?

A basketball game is in an arena full of screaming fans with foam fingers, nachos and face paint with people in mascot outfits running around and cheerleaders with pom poms trying to get people to jump and scream more. The most interaction the coach — the only guy in the building wearing a suit other than the TV analyst — has with other people in the game is usually with either a group of sweat-drenched players in shorts and tank tops or some old men running around with striped shirts and a whistle around their neck.

What about all that ever screamed: “Suits are the way to go here!”

It may just be that I’m bitter since, as a guy without a neck, I don’t exactly enjoy having to suit up and wear a tie.

Like I said, suit yourself. OK, rant over.


The announced attendance for Saturday’s game in the Pit: 9,084

That is the largest announced crowd of the season for UNM in just three games.

Here’s a run down of the announced attendance figures for the Lobos’ four games this season:

• 9,084 (Saturday vs. Montana State)
• 8,553 (Nov. 10 vs. Florida Atlantic)
• 8,010 (Nov. 15 vs. Grambling State)

• 7,115 (Nov. 13 at Colorado)

OK, K.J.

He only hit about 1,000 of them last season in junior college, so it was just a matter of time before K.J. Jenkins had a game like Saturday from beyond the arc.

The 6-2 guard hit 4-of-5 3-pointers against Montana State and 5-of-7 free throws for a Division I career-high 17 points to go along with three assists, no turnovers and three fouls.

He also drew a game-high six fouls, including this one that gave him a 4-point play and put the Lobos up 51-53 with 13:31 remaining.

Up next…

Monday, the Lobos host Division II Western New Mexico University at 7 p.m. in the Pit.

With a win, the Lobos will open the season 4-1, which has been their most common record through five games in the Mountain West era (since the 1999-2000 season).

Lobos records through five games in previous 22 seasons:

• 5-0: 4 times
• 4-1: 9 times
• 3-2: 6 times
• 2-3: 3 times
• 1-4: 0 times
• 0-5: 0 times

UNM is 18-3 all time vs. WNMU, but the last time the two played a regular season game was in 2004.

Meanwhile, in Houston…

It got ugly on Saturday for the UNM Lobo women’s basketball team, losing on the road to Houston 89-60.

Colleague Ken Sickenger’s write up for the Journal is right here:

Around the Mountain

It’s been a busy few days for Mountain West hoops. Starting with Friday’s games, here’s a look at the past two days of games and what’s coming Sunday:

• No. 4 Michigan 74, UNLV 61
• Boise State 82, Temple 62
• Utah State 85, New Mexico State 62
• Colorado State 66, Bradley 60

• Air Force 72, Holy Cross 53
• New Mexico 81, Montana State 78
• No 8 Texas 79, San Jose State 45
• San Diego State 68, UT-Arlington 62

• Boise State vs. Ole Miss, 11 a.m. MT (Charleston Classic)
• Air Force vs. Bethune-Cookman, 12:30 p.m. MT (Sunshine Slam)
• Utah State vs. Oklahoma, 1 p.m. MT (Myrtle Beach Invitational)
• Colorado State vs. Creighton, 3:45 p.m. MT (Paradise Jam)
• UNLV vs. Wichita State, 10 p.m. MT (Roman Main Event)

Mountain West standings

Here are the records for Mountain West hoops through Saturday’s games:
4-0 Colorado State
3-0 Fresno State
3-0 Wyoming
3-1 Air Force
3-1 New Mexico
3-1 San Diego State
3-1 UNLV
3-1 Utah State
2-2 Boise State
1-3 Nevada
1-3 San Jose State

National Anthem

I didn’t catch her name, but a student from Albuquerque Academy crushed the National Anthem on Saturday, as did a couple dozen students from the ASL Academy (Albuquerque Sign Language Academy)…

Line ’em up

Pitino really shortened the bench on Saturday with just six players playing more than 10 minutes in the game. Two lineups in particular got the bulk of the minutes and production:

• LINE UP 1: KJ Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Taryn Todd/Javonte Johnson/Gethro Muscadin
> Time: 15:01
> Score: 39-36 (plus-3)

• LINE UP 2: Jaelen House/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Taryn Todd/Javonte Johnson/Gethro Muscadin
> Time: 12:03
> Score: 17-17 (even)

And the lineup that was worst on Saturday, at least in terms of point differential (and was the third most minutes of any group):

• LINEUP 3: KJ Jenkins/Jamal Mashburn Jr./Taryn Todd/Jay Allen-Tovar/Birima Seck
> Time: 4:47
> Score: 7-12 (minus-5)

Video: Presser with Pitino

Here’s the postgame media session Richard Pitino had with reporters after Saturday’s game:


Here are the plus/minus stats from Saturday’s game with minutes played in parenthesis:

+5 Javonte Johnson (33:43)
+5 Jaelen House (17:57)
+3 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (36:37)
+3 Gethro Muscadin (30:41)
+2 K.J. Jenkins (27:03)
+1 Jeremiah Francis (2:54)
0 Jay Allen-Tovar (9:19)
-2 Taryn Todd (35:29)
-2 Birima Seck (6:17)

Stats and stats

Here’s a link to a picture of the postgame stat sheet: UNM 81, MSU 78

And here’s a link to a digital version of the stats: UNM 81, MSU 78

One more for the road…

Congratulations to the UNM Lobos women’s cross country team for finishing third in Saturday’s NCAA Championships in Tallahassee, Florida …

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