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Lobo hoops notebook: Neal’s haircut attracts attention

The cut heard ’round Lobo land got some attention outside of Albuquerque as well.

The Sporting News, Yahoo! Sports and NBC Sports were among the non-local media outlets to post photos and write stories over the weekend about University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Craig Neal having his shaggy long gray hair clipped in front of 7,200 fans at Friday night’s Lobo Howl. The coach, who donated the hair to Locks of Love, grew his hair out to help draw attention to senior guard Hugh Greenwood’s new Pink Pack cancer fundraiser.

Closer to home, UNM’s athletic department said it received uncommonly high traffic for a single Facebook post when it published a three-picture photo album of the hair cut, leading to 1,230 “Likes” and 39,568 impressions, according to assistant sports information director Matt Ensor.

Among the praise for Neal’s public gesture in the 46 comments to the post was one from Dawn Witiuk, a math teacher at La Cueva High School, who told the Journal on Monday she was more than happy to share the comment again here:

“I’ve been fighting breast cancer since 2009 and I’m about to lose my hair for the third time,” Witiuk wrote on Facebook. “I appreciate so much your generous donations!”

HEARING HUNTER: Though it had been in the works for several weeks, the ink on the contract finally dried and UNM’s Lobo Sports Properties officially announced on Monday that former Lobos star Hunter Greene will be on the call this season as a radio analyst during men’s basketball games for 770 AM .

Greene, the only UNM player to post 1,500 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals from 1983-1988, will replace former UNM assistant coach and six-year analyst Scott Didrickson, who is moving with his family back to his hometown in Washington.

Greene, who Lobo Sports Properties General Manager Kyle James called “the obvious choice,” joins play-by-play announcer Robert Portnoy. The former Lobo has called UNM games on television when broadcast locally in recent seasons.

“This is my school and this is my team,” Greene said in a statement released by UNM. “I can’t wait to start working, learning and having fun with the voice of the Lobos, Robert Portnoy.”

Didrickson will get a swan song on the islands, however. With Portnoy already committed to a Lobo football broadcast and due to a prior commitment for Greene, Didrickson will call games at the ESPN Puerto Rico Tipoff from Nov. 20-23.

SEASON TICKET UPDATE: Through Monday morning, UNM reported it had sold 10,943 season tickets for the upcoming men’s basketball season. It sold 11,617 last year and will continue selling them through the Nov. 14 regular season opener against Idaho State.

TIME TO MAKE THE DOUGHNUTS: While Neal was in the Midwest catching up with old Lobos, the rest of his coaching was on early morning breakfast duty at the UNM ticket office Monday. Assistant coaches passed out several dozen doughnuts to the more than 100 students who lined up there to get their allotment of student tickets for the first three games in November (two exhibition games and the regular season opener).

SINGLE GAME TICKETS: Single game tickets for men’s games in the Pit begin online Saturday and in person at the UNM ticket office Monday.

LOBO LINKS: Geoff Grammer’s blog | Schedule/Results | Roster

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