Grammer answers his mailbag: Should Lobo basketball tweak its starting lineup? - Albuquerque Journal

Grammer answers his mailbag: Should Lobo basketball tweak its starting lineup?

New Mexico guard Donovan Dent (2) drives past Nevada guard Jarod Lucas (2) during the second half of the Lobos’ loss to Nevada on Monday in Reno, Nevada. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)

With a hat tip to Nevada Sports Net’s Chris Murray, who has been doing a regular, and quite successful, Monday Mailbag feature for years, let’s get started in this neck of the woods with what hopefully will be a regular reader mailbag feature of our own.

It’s not anchored for now to a specific day of the week, nor to a specific topic. Fire away with whatever you’d like to ask and I’ll try to get to as many as I can. I’ll mostly take the questions through Twitter (@GeoffGrammer), but for now also can take them via email at

Here we go.

QUESTION: What do you think of moving House to the starting 2 guard and inserting Dent into the starting lineup? Javonte moves to the bench and Mash to the 3.

ANSWER: That would not be a good move for the Lobos (18-3, No. 25 nationally) for a few reasons.

First, let’s look at what the stats tell us, then I’ll try to offer my thoughts on why it doesn’t work.

The starting lineup of Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn, Jr., Javonte Johnson, Josiah Allick and Morris Udeze has played in 20 of UNM’s 21 games and over 251 minutes and 44 seconds outscored opponents by plus-73 (3.65 per game).

Swap just Donovan Dent for Johnson and there have been 15 games that lineup has appeared for 79 minutes, 1 second and plus-33 (2.2 per game).

Better per game for the usual starters, though better per minute for the Dent lineup. But that simply isn’t a large enough of a sample size over the course of the entire season for me to think you just toss out the chemistry built all summer, fall and season in practices with the usual starters.

But it’s more than just a mere “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” sort of answer.

The reality for this Lobos team is it’s not very big. And Javonte Johnson at 6-foot-6 with plenty of strength for the wing position, is simply too valuable not to have on the court to start games most nights for defensive purposes, even if his offense hasn’t always been very good. And while Dent has put together some tremendous highlight reel plays – on offense and defense – the defense and matchup flexibility Johnson provides without a fraction of the notoriety or attention has been a plus for the Lobos more than he’s given credit for.

Starting a lineup of House (6-feet), Mashburn (6-2) and Dent (6-2) really puts UNM in a vulnerable position, though in situations it can be great.

I see Dent getting more minute, but not starting over Johnson.

• • •

Q: Any chance of any remaining eligibility for House, Allick, and Udeze for next year?

A: Morris Udeze is the only player on the Lobos roster without eligibility for next season. The extra season of eligibility due to COVID-19 allows all other Lobos to come back if they so choose.

The one to watch is House, who has been open to pursuing the next chapter – a professional career. But I expect all primary rotation players other than Udeze and possibly House to be a Lobo next season.

• • •

Q: Have you heard a good pep band version of La Bamba in your years of attending basketball games?

A: No. And I can’t think of anything more disappointing than that.

• • • 

Q: At the height of their powers could you rank the MWC basketball arenas, based on how tough the environment is?

A: Some of those arenas have not been at their best in some time. But at their best, the toughest environments in the Mountain West:

• The Pit (UNM)
• Viejas Arena (San Diego State)
• Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (Utah State)
• Moby Arena (Colorado State)
• Arena Auditorium (Wyoming)
• Lawlor Events Center (Nevada)
• Thomas & Mack Center (UNLV)
• ExtraMile Arena (Boise State)
• Clune Arena (Air Force)
• SaveMart Center (Fresno State)
• Provident Credit Union Event Center (SJSU)

• • •

Q: How many MWC teams end up in the NCAA Tournament and NIT?

A: I’m going with four in the NCAA Tournament, one in the NIT, which would be great for the league in what has been a tremendous season so far.

Now, will they finally win some games in the Big Dance?

UP NEXT: Air Force at No. 25 New Mexico, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 770 AM/96.3 FM

Home » Sports » Grammer answers his mailbag: Should Lobo basketball tweak its starting lineup?

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