Emptying the Notebook: A forgetful trip to Las Vegas - Albuquerque Journal

Emptying the Notebook: A forgetful trip to Las Vegas

Orleans Arena
The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 26, 2021. (Geoff Grammer/Albuquerque Journal)
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Here are a few extra notes, quotes, tweets, stats and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Friday’s 73-58 Lobos loss to Towson in the Las Vegas Invitational:

(This will be a bit of an abbreviated ETN since that 5:30 a.m. wake up call to fly home from Las Vegas is coming way to fast for my liking)

Rebounding? Still an issue

So, it seems the Lobos still can’t rebound very well.

And as bad as any officiating might have been on Friday (unlike Lobo fans, I actually don’t think UNM is on the wrong end of officiating very often, but I do think Friday’s game was really bad officiating), that wasn’t the reason the Lobos lost to Towson.

Not by a long shot.

“The refs didn’t cause us to get outrebounded by 14,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said. “I do know that. That’s on us. As coaches we have to do a better job there.”

UNM has now played 7 games in the 2021-22 season. Here’s a look at that rebounding margin in each of those seven games heading into back-to-back games with in-state rival New Mexico State (Tuesday and on Dec. 6):

• -14: Friday, loss to Towson
• -14: Thursday, loss to UAB
• +9: Monday, win over D-II WNMU
• +1: Nov. 20, win over Montana St.
• -6: Nov. 15, win over Grambling St.
• -20: Nov. 13, loss to Colorado
• -17: Nov. 10, win over Florida Atlantic

TOTAL: UNM is getting outrebounded this season 280-219, a difference of 8.7 boards per game.

The gamer

Here is the gamer I filed Friday night from the Orleans…

House, KJ and Kuac

Three injury related updates for the Lobos.

EMMANUEL KUAC
First, Emmanuel Kuac. The 6-foot-7 returning forward who missed the first six games of the season with a knee injury played for the first time on Friday.

While it remains unclear to me where his minutes will come from, he was active and somewhat productive in his brief 3 minute, 52 second debut vs. Towson. His lone rebound was an offensive board in the first half that led to a Jaelen House 3-pointer — 3 of UNM’s 6 second chance points in the first half.

K.J. JENKINS

Jenkins didn’t play Friday after playing just 3:43 on Thursday against UAB. The 6-2 guard hurt his ankle in a Wednesday practice in Las Vegas and just hasn’t been the same since.

Said Pitino of the team’s best outside shooter when asked if he’ll play Tuesday at New Mexico State: “I hope so. I don’t know. Yesterday (Thursday’s game against UAB) he didn’t look good out there. Today we felt like if there’s any chance for him on Tuesday (against the Aggies), we’ve got to hold him out. We miss him for sure.”

JAELEN HOUSE

Jaelen House played big minutes in both games this week in Las Vegas — 36 in each — after spraining his ankle last Saturday in the win over Montana State and then skipping the Monday win over Division II Western New Mexico.

While his minutes were fine, his play really wasn’t. It’s unclear how much of that has to do with his still not 100% ankle, how much is opposing teams having a handful of games worth of film on him now or how much is just mental fatigue after what had been a remarkably good start to his Lobos career over the first several games.

House’s stat lines in Las Vegas:

• vs. UAB: 12 points, 4-15 shooting (2-6 3FG), 5 assists, 7 turnovers, no steals
• vs. Towson: 8 points, 2-8 shooting (2-6 3FG), 4 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal

Said Pitino on Friday night when asked what had House’s game looking just a bit off: “He came off a bad night (Thursday). He hasn’t been able to practice. Maybe he’s a little overwhelmed right now. A little break will be good for him and then have some terrific practices leading up to New Mexico State.”

Meanwhile, in the title game

UAB rallied and had a shot at a game-winner in the Friday night Las Vegas Invitational title game, but fell to San Francisco, 63-61.

And, for the record, the best record in the entire country doesn’t belong to the undefeated Duke Blue Devils, who had a rather big win in Las Vegas on Friday as well. Nope. The most wins in all of Division I basketball belong to the 8-0 Dons of USF.

Crying foul

The foul count wasn’t close in Friday’s Lobos loss to Towson. That doesn’t mean all the calls were wrong, but it isn’t often you see the Lobos on the short end of a 21-13 foul differential or of a 23-13 free throw attempt differential.

All three previous coaches — Paul Weir, Craig Neal and Steve Alford — were coaches whose teams regularly won the battle of the whistles with Alford regularly saying his goal was to make more free throws than the opposing team took.

Even after Friday’s loss, the Lobos have taken more free throws (144) than have their opponents (142).

But the foul situation isn’t just about the free throws. It affects game flow — both with the start and stop aspect the stoppages bring but also with player rotations when a player gets into quick foul trouble.

That was the case Friday with UNM center Gethro Mucadin who not only got in early foul trouble, but clearly couldn’t hide his frustration and emotional responses to the fouls very well at all.

“Gethro, for sure, it just consumed him,” Pitino said.

Muscadin, UNM’s starter entered the game averaging 11.2 points and 5.7 rebounds, finished the Towson loss with 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting, zero rebounds, 5 fouls and 2 turnovers.

He and Jay Allen-Tovar both, again, were noticeably reacting to calls and moments that didn’t go their way, something Pitino was quite upset about after the team’s Nov. 13 loss at Colorado.

“We’re going on the road. Rivalry game,” Pitino said. “You have to be able to guard. You have to be able to move past whatever goes wrong. We’re not there yet.”

He said what?

OK, for a break in the hoops action, and with the in-state rivalry with New Mexico State coming up on Tuesday, I figure now would be a good time to show the UNM Lobo video highlight of the day from Friday.

During the first half of the football team’s loss to Utah State in Albuquerque, the referee made what is about the 5,000th UNM/NMSU mistake of the season — such a regular occurrence many of us around New Mexico now keep tabs of them on social media using the #UNMSU hashtag.

The announced crowd at Friday’s football game in Albuquerque I’m told as more than 11,000. I am also told that the butts in seats number was significantly lower. If so, then it’s actually even more impressive to hear the amount of boos referee Cal McNeill earned when the “New Mexico State” mixup occurred.

As for McNeill, good on him for the very rare referee admission — on an open mic — of, “My bad.”

The new lows…

A look at some of the new offensive lows that came from Friday’s Lobo loss:

Lowest FG% for a game

• 32.3% – Friday, loss to Towson
• 41.9% – Nov. 13, loss at Colorado
• 45.6% – Nov. 15, win over Grambling State

Lowest FG% for a half

• 30.0% – 2nd half vs. Towson on Friday
• 34.4% – 1st half vs. Towson on Friday
• 38.2% – 1st half vs. Grambling State on Nov. 15
(no other half this season has seen the Lobos held under 40%)

Points

• 58 – Friday, loss to Towson
• 73 – Thursday, loss to UAB
• 76 – Nov. 13, loss at Colorado

Free throw attempts

• 13 – Friday, loss to Towson
• 16 – Monday, win over WNMU
• 16 – Nov. 15, win over Grambling State
(no other game has seen the Lobos shoot fewer than 22 free throws)

But at least the Lobos weren’t alone in the offensive struggles…

Nobody can shoot

Luckily for the Mountain West on Friday, there was an NAIA team on the schedule.

And luckily for the Lobos, their season low point total and their season-worst shooting performance wasn’t even the worst, or second worst, of the night in the league.

Here’s a look at the points scored and FG% for the four Mountain West teams that played on Friday:

THE GOOD
• Wyoming 108 points/53.5% shooting
(vs. NAIA Hastings College)

FORGET BAD, HERE’S THE UGLY
• New Mexico 58 points/32.3% shooting
(vs. Towson)

• San Diego State 43 points/32.1% shooting
(vs. No. 24 USC)

• Boise State 39 points/22.4% shooting
(vs. CSU-Bakersfield)

Around the Mountain

There were six games around the Mountain West on Thursday and Friday and

THURSDAY
• UAB 86, New Mexico 73
• San Diego State 73, Georgetown 56

FRIDAY
• Wyoming 108, (NAIA) Hasting College 59
• Towson 73, New Mexico 58
• CSU-Bakersfield 46, Boise State 39
• No. 24 USC 58, San Diego State 43

SATURDAY
• Northern Colorado at Colorado State, noon MT
• Idaho State at Air Force, 2 MT
• No. 2 UCLA at UNLV, 3 MT
• UT Arlington at Utah State, 7 MT

Mountain West standings

Here are the records for Mountain West teams through games played Friday night:

6-0 Colorado State
5-0 Fresno State
5-0 Wyoming
5-1 Air Force
4-1 Utah State
4-2 San Diego State
4-2 UNLV
4-3 New Mexico
3-3 Boise State
3-4 Nevada
2-3 San Jose State

Meanwhile, out in Texas…

It wasn’t a very good day for the UNM Lobo women’s basketball team, either. UNM had just 37 points through three quarters before erupting for 32 in the fourth quarter alone.

But it was too little, far too late, in a 71-66 loss to Stephen F. Austin in Katy, Texas, in the Van Chancellor Classic.

Plus/minus

Here are the plus/minus numbers for the Lobos from Thursday vs. UAB and from Friday vs. Towson with minutes played in parenthesis:

THURSDAY VS. UAB
+11 Jay Allen-Tovar (13:37)
+4 Birima Seck (6:30)
+3 Saquan Singleton (18:00)
+1 K.J. Jenkins (3:43)
-10 Jaelen House (35:59)
-16 Taryn Todd (26:16)
-17 Javonte Johnson (33:30)
-17 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (36:02)
-24 Gethro Muscadin (26:23)

FRIDAY VS. TOWSON
-4 Emmanuel Kuac (3:52)
-4 Saquan Singleton (17:05)
-4 Jay Allen-Tovar (29:48)
-6 Taryn Todd (31:17)
-6 Javonte Johnson (25:52)
-7 Birima Seck (7:20)
-11 Gethro Muscadin (10:12)
-15 Jamal Mashburn Jr. (38:40)
-18 Jaelen House (35:54)

Presser with Pitino (and Mashburn)

Here is the postgame interview I had with both UNM Lobo coach Richard Pitino but also sophomore guard Jamal Mashburn Jr.:

Stats and stats

For those who like the more traditional looking stat sheet, here you go: Towson 73, New Mexico 58

And for a digital version, here you go: Towson 73, New Mexico 58

Welcome back Dickie V!

Dick Vitale, ESPN’s 82-year-old college hoops broadcaster who was diagnosed recently with cancer made his return to calling games this week.

While Friday’s Dayton/Kansas game wasn’t his first game back, it was the one where his passion for the game shined through most.

Here’s Dickie V’s call of the Dayton buzzer beater to knock off Kansas.

Up next

Tuesday: UNM at NMSU, Pan Am Center (Las Cruces)

It’ll be Chris Jans vs. Richard Pitino, Part 1

Until next time…

Until next time, Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., …

Home » Sports » College » Emptying the Notebook: A forgetful trip to Las Vegas


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