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Lobo basketball: Wounded Neal fights through grueling media day session

COLORADO SPRINGS — First-year New Mexico bas­ket­ball coach Craig Neal on Tuesday got asked the same question at least a dozen times, the first day of the Mountain West Conference media days event.

“What’s different now that you’re the head coach?”

While Neal typically smiled and answered, “mostly pa­per­work,” maybe the more telling answer was actually there in front of the re­porters. Through­out his day­long media blitz, Neal was fid­get­ing with a bandage on his right hand.

One change as head coach of the Lobos is that Neal, for the first time in six years, is us­ing a whistle at practice. Under for­mer head coach Steve Al­ford, the yell was the preferred attention-grabber in practice. Whistles were never part of the equation.

Now, maybe Neal knows why.


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It turns out that at Monday’s practice in Albuquerque, Neal tried pass­ing a ball to a player only to get his right hand snagged on the whistle that hung around his neck, actually cut­ting his right hand open.

“I guess that’s one of the changes I should have mentioned,” Neal joked. “The dang whistles.”

NOTE: Neal was one of six Mountain West coaches who took part in Tuesday’s media conference, with the league’s other five teams taking part in multiple media sessions Wednes­day in Colorado Springs, home of the league offices.