The mid-May checklist for Richard Pitino and the UNM Lobo men’s basketball team for the 2022-23 season looks like this:
Recruiting: check (but anything can change over the summer)
Roster: check (see above)
Staff: check (one recent video coordinator change listed below)
Schedule: TBD (but close)
The Lobos plan to play a 31-game schedule this coming season with the customary 18-game, unbalanced Mountain West schedule (nine at home, nine on the road) and 13 nonconference games that appear to be pretty loaded with home games. That’s for a program, knock on wood, that hopes for its first non-COVID restricted season in the Pit since 2019-20. (UNM did not play a home game in 2020-21 and had mask and vaccination mandates to enter the arena this past season.)
So how close is the team to announcing that nonconference schedule – the start of which may still be 171 days away but is always a hot topic for the Lobo fan base?
“Close, yes,” said Pitino. “We’re working on completing the MTE (UNM will host a multi-team exempt tournament in the Pit). And one more game, but we’re close. So hopefully, next week or two … or three.”
Of the 13 nonconference games the Lobos will play, here is what we know as of mid-May based on contracts signed (dates known listed in parentheses):
• 3 games: Home tournament (Nov. 25-27 in the Pit). The event is not yet formally named, and one of three opposing teams is expected to be Northern Colorado.
• 2 games: Rivalry series with New Mexico State (Nov. 19 in the Pit, Dec. 3 in the Pan Am Center).
• 1 game: at SMU (date TBD) – the latter half of a home-and-home series that started this past season in the Pit.
• 4 home games: vs. Iona (Dec. 18), UT-San Antonio (Dec. 10), Prairie View A&M (TBD) and South Alabama (TBD).
• 3 games: TBD, although at least one will be a home game against one of the state’s non-Division I programs.
The Lobos also have agreed to play one exhibition game – Oct. 29 in the Pit against CSU Pueblo, an NCAA Division II program from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
CHECK THE VIDEO: Robert Edwards, after two years as video coordinator for Lobo basketball, will be moving on to take a staff position with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Roos basketball team, which is now being coached by longtime New Mexico State and then UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies.
Edwards did video for a season at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and worked under Eric Musselman at Nevada for two seasons.
The Journal has learned the Lobos plan to hire as Edwards’ replacement Daniel Walters, who for the past two seasons has held the same video coordinator position at the University of South Alabama.
MAKUACH WATCH: Former Lobo Makuach Maluach this past week signed a free-agent deal to play next season with Melbourne United in his home country of Australia’s top-tier professional basketball league, the NBL.
Maluach played professionally this past season in Finland and more recently with the NBL1 league’s Darwin Salties.
Melbourne, after posting the best record in the NBL this past regular season, lost in the semifinals to a Tasmania Jackjumpers squad led in scoring by former Wyoming Cowboy guard Josh Adams (16.6 points per game). The best-known player on United this past season, and future Maluach teammate, is nine-year NBA veteran Matthew Dellavedova.
Former Lobo and Chicago Bulls forward Cameron Bairstow’s Adelaide 36ers went 10-18 this past season in the NBL and did not qualify for the playoffs. Bairstow averaged 11.4 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds.
THAT’S THE TICKET: All-session passes for the July 18-21 The Basketball Tournament, or TBT, regional in the Pit are on sale at GoLobos.com/tickets. Single-game tickets are not yet on sale for the eight-team event that will feature a UNM alumni team (The Enchantment) and an NMSU alumni team (The Panamaniacs) in the field, which is part of a larger 64-team, winner-take-all $1 million tournament bracket.
The Pit will host four games July 18, two games July 20 and a regional title game July 21 ahead of TBT’s eight-team quarterfinals later in the month. All games will be broadcast or streamed on the ESPN family of networks.