EDITOR’S NOTE: The Journal is featuring a reader mailbag column with staff writer Geoff Grammer answering your questions, mostly related to University of New Mexico men’s basketball. He solicits questions each week on Twitter (@GeoffGrammer) and answers select questions in both the print edition and here.
I had about 40 questions this week, some in email, some in direct messages and the vast majority as replies on Twitter, which I have incorporated below. Keep ’em coming!
why don't the lobos sell the turquoise jerseys?
— Discourager (checkmark) (@supersloth) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Why don’t the Lobos sell the turquoise jerseys?
GG: The turquoise jerseys the Lobos wore last week against Air Force (seen at top of this page) were quite the hit among fans on social media.
And the simple answer: They’re coming. When, exactly? I don’t know, but I am under the impression there could be generic number options and options that could be associated with Names, Image and Likeness (NIL) money with a specific player’s number and name on the jersey as well.
That used to be a no-no with the NCAA not allowing the sale of specific player jerseys, but after being forced by lawmakers to embrace a world where players get to make money off their own names, image and likeness and not just the universities they play for, the door is open for player-specific jersey sales.
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When all is said and done how many teams do you think the MW gets into the NCAA tournament?
— Thomas Sholan (@Thomassholan) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: How many teams do you think the (Mountain West) gets into the NCAA tournament?
GG: I’m still in the camp of four teams from the Mountain West getting into the NCAA Tournament and one into the NIT.
Which ones? I’m not sure, but none of those top five teams in the NET top 40 as of Saturday have yet guaranteed they’re in or guaranteed they’re out.
That means there are a lot of important games in this league that are yet to come.
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Do you think the league would better off skipping a conference tourney so they are fresh for the Big Dance? It’s such a grind for 4 days.
— Joel, Prince of Petty 👑🐴 (@Jaywhy17) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Do you think the league would better off skipping a conference tourney so they are fresh for the Big Dance? It’s such a grind for four days.
GG: No. Getting 1-2 more quality game opportunities might be the difference for some Mountain West teams getting in the NCAA Tournament.
They need the tournament. It makes money (CBS Sports Network airs the quarterfinals and semifinals and CBS has the title game). Fans love it. Players love it. Almost every coach in the league wants to play it. It helps teams’ national profiles. It is the postseason culmination for the majority of the league’s teams and what fans look forward to all season.
It would also be a PR nightmare to be the only conference to not play a league tourney and say it’s because you want the rest.
Fortunately, I don’t know of many coaches actually interested in this in the league.
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Who are the recruits already signed for next year?
— Lobo (@davec260) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Who are the recruits already signed for next year?
GG: The quick answer is, as featured in Saturday’s Journal, 6-foot-8 power forward Jadyn Toppin of Faith Family Academy in Oak Cliff, Texas. That’s the lone recruit signed so far.
With the transfer portal not just being a piece of the recruiting puzzle now for all teams, but the most vital piece, you can count on just about every school keeping scholarships – likely even most of them – available until spring.
The days of fully signed classes in November are not only over, they are a detriment. There are still some prep stars you better go lock up before someone else does (the Lobos would point to both Toppin and, last year, guard Donovan Dent), but mostly teams probably should wait for the season to happen before determining with certainty what holes they have and what needs they should address – some of which they never even realized back in November.
It doesn’t hurt in UNM’s case that transfers like Morris Udeze and Josiah Allick stepped in and have played such key roles. Same with Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn, Jr., over the past two seasons. Other transfers see that, and it helps UNM look like a very attractive transfer destination.
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Wondering if you could recommend any movies to watch on the plane when I fly down to the Pit Tuesday?
— Fake Matt Mumme (@FakeCoachMumme) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Wondering if you could recommend any movies to watch on the plane when I fly down to the Pit Tuesday?
GG: This is the only time I may ever say this: I do not recommend “La Bamba.”
Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say it isn’t the best of in-flight viewing options.
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Was the decision to redshirt Webb due to a perceived logjam at the position? Having never seen him play, I don’t know his actually preparedness or lack there of for D1 basketball but we seem real thin in that 3/SF spot. Javonte played well last night though!
— Aaron Romero (@CoachAR30) February 3, 2023
QUESTION: Was the decision to redshirt (Quinton) Webb due to a perceived logjam at the position?
GG: The Lobos are technically thin at the traditional “3” or small forward spot, but they also want minutes for Dent and K.J. Jenkins off the bench. So if starter Javonte Johnson plays 25 minutes, and Dent and Jenkins need some of those extra 15, I don’t think this year was a great opportunity for big minutes for Webb, who was just age 17 well into the fall semester.
Also, freshmen are back on the traditional eligibility clock of getting five years to play four (not like all Webb’s older teammates who get to play five seasons due to the extra COVID years) and the redshirt was probably the best call for him.
UNM coach Richard Pitino said on Dec. 3 in Episode 55 of the Talking Grammer podcast: “I’ve never redshirted a player my 10 years of being a head coach. I’ll only redshirt a guy if I’m very excited about their future, and that’s what I am with Quinton.”
And I’ll throw this in, too. I asked an assistant how Quinton was coming along just two weeks ago and it sounds like he’s had a fantastic year. I look forward to seeing how that translated next season for him with the Lobos.
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Would you try mangoes on pizza
— B-L-M, Anthony is a bully (@advancedstats23) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Would you try mangoes on pizza?
GG: I’m on Team Pineapple for pizza, so why not at least try mango? I’m on board.
And green chile never hurts a slice of pizza.
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Do you think the lobos should consider doing a two for one home and home with a big time program to get them to the pit in an upcoming season?
— Eh, does this work? (@_does_this_work) February 2, 2023
QUESTION: Do you think the Lobos should consider doing a two-for-one, home-and-home with a big-time program to get them to the Pit in an upcoming season?
GG: Not really. But even if I did, the reality for several years now is that “big-time programs” simply aren’t interested in playing true road games against teams like UNM anymore.
There is no value for a Duke or a Kentucky to come to the Pit. Even with a two-for-one deal, they aren’t selling out their buildings any more with UNM in town than with a Southeast Directional Tech State University program. And they play enough quality opponents in neutral court tournaments or in their required league games that they don’t need a quality midmajor to help their NCAA Tournament status.
Scroll through the schedules of pretty much every power conference team and you’ll see the days of true road games in the nonconference are almost gone with the exceptions of the contractually-obligated, made-for-TV conference challenges (i.e. ACC-Big Ten Challenge).
But I do think UNM better get back into a better November neutral court tournament next season.