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Greenwood is back to his former self

Sure, everyone saw the long blond hair, pink ribbon tattoo on the right hand and usual cherry and silver Lobo jersey, but the guy wearing No. 3 in the Pit on Nov. 30 wasn’t Hugh Greenwood.

Greenwood, rear, passes the ball as he gets trapped by New Mexico State's Daniel Mullings in last week's game. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Greenwood, rear, passes the ball as he gets trapped by New Mexico State’s Daniel Mullings in last week’s game. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

That guy – the one who went 0-for-11 from the field, missed six 3-point attempts, didn’t get to the free-throw line and finished with zero points, one rebound and two turnovers in a 66-54 loss to USC – was somebody University of New Mexico fans hadn’t seen before from the four-year starting guard from Australia.

“I’ve never seen him play a 34-minute game and not have more than one rebound,” UNM coach Craig Neal said. “That’s just not him.”

In fact, that was somebody even Greenwood himself says he had a hard time recognizing.

“I can’t even remember the last time I let that happen,” Greenwood said. “It was disappointing, definitely. I promised myself I wouldn’t let that happen again.

“That was the biggest thing. After the game, I didn’t really care about my stats. I felt like I let the team down by not finding other ways to win. … I felt like I let my family down not playing as hard as I usually would.”

Finding other ways to win – other than scoring, that is – had been Greenwood’s calling card in his first three seasons in Albuquerque. The 6-foot-3 guard was a stat-stuffing machine. Never expected to be a primary scorer, he was tasked with playing tough defense and finding a way to make life easier on the stars around him.

Despite being a shooting guard playing in international competition for Australia – he once scored 26 points in the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championships against a Team USA squad full of several current NBA players – Greenwood embraced the challenge of expanding his game at UNM. He averaged in those first three seasons 6.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and just 1.1 turnovers. He’s also the only player to be 9-0 in Mountain West Tournament history and the Lobos have gone 84-23 since he arrived on campus.

But this season, Greenwood has had much more on his plate than ever before with the Lobos (5-3).

The senior is the undisputed leader and locker-room mentor of a roster full of new faces. While trying to finish his degree work and play for the Lobos, he also created and launched the Pink Pack fundraiser through the UNM Foundation to raise money and awareness for breast cancer in honor of his mother, Andree, who is fighting the disease.

And then there’s on the court, where Greenwood was tasked with being a scorer alongside fellow senior Deshawn Delaney and sophomore point guard Cullen Neal. When Delaney struggled early and Neal went down in the third game of the season with a high ankle sprain that could ultimately cost him the entire season, Greenwood broke out of his comfort zone.

In the three games after Neal’s injury, Greenwood shot 6 of 37 (16.2 percent) from the field, 2 of 20 (10 percent) from 3-point range, grabbed just 2.7 rebounds per game and committed nine turnovers.

Simply put, he was forcing bad shots instead of making the sound basketball decisions he is known for around the league.

“You call it a shooting slump,” Greenwood said, “but it was more of shot selection, really.”

Lobo senior guard Hugh Greenwood (3), the team’s leader, goes up for a shot against New Mexico State during their game Dec. 3. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Lobo senior guard Hugh Greenwood (3), the team’s leader, goes up for a shot against New Mexico State during their game Dec. 3. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The USC game was the final straw – Greenwood’s realization that to grow into the player he needs to be as a senior, he couldn’t abandon what he was as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

“I think I was putting too much pressure on myself with Cullen out – too much pressure trying to score,” Greenwood said. “I was disappointed in the USC game that I let my shots affect me. I didn’t do things I would normally do – rebounds, assists, all that kind of stuff. That’s been the emphasis, the priority, and now scoring is just going to come naturally.”

In the two games since the USC loss – a home win over rival New Mexico State and a road win over Valparaiso – Greenwood got involved in other ways before the offense started going. The result: He averaged 9.0 points in those wins, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 3.0 steals.

Greenwood was back to putting up Greenwood-like stats.

“The last couple games, as Coach has told me to do, just let it come to me,” Greenwood said. “That’s what I’ve done. I’m still not shooting where I want to shoot it, but I’m putting myself in better positions to score.”

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

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