Lobo men’s basketball team is mighty big, but oh-so-soft

By Lee Roy Lucero

Enchantment Sports

Staff Writer

I hate writing these types of columns. It is no fun seeing a team implode. But actually, watching the University of New Mexico basketball team the past few weeks, I don’t think there is enough energy or fire power to explode or implode.

I’m not going to bore you with my superior coaching knowledge as I watched the past two games on a 1.5 inch by 3” cell phone screen, haven’t been to a practice, and honestly — like many Lobo fans — haven’t been to the Pit in quite a long time. Tuesday night’s attendance was announced at 9,944.

However, I don’t need a big screen or even a seat on press row to see that this has to be one of the softest Lobo basketball teams to ever grace or disgrace the Pit floor.

I’ve seen more resistance from a Dairy Queen soft-serve ice cream cone left on July afternoon sidewalk than the Lobos show on the court.

How can you have a front line with guys like 6-foot-11 Vlad Pinchuk, 6-8 Karim Ezzeddine, 6-9 Corey Manigault, 6-9 Vance Jackson and the recently added 6-10 Carlton Bragg, and constantly be outrebounded and allergic to the rim?

The current cumulative stats show New Mexico being outrebounded by their opponents — all smaller thus far — by a 386-345 margin. I’m willing to say part of the issue is that UNM plays a 3-point offense that has missed shots going long, so even if the bigs have boxed-out and have a strong position, the ball sails over their heads into the waiting hands of an opposing guard.

However, this team doesn’t box-out well either. They are soft and are pushed around quite a bit, both offensively and defensively as opponents have pulled down 120 offensive rebounds on UNM this

What about offensively? This team should be dynamic and powerful! Last month I commented on one of Mark Smith’s posts that this team plays so small. The few times UNM actually posts a big man low, the big fella is fading, flipping the ball, trying a baby hook, or putting a marshmallow-style shot that is swatted back in his face!

Nobody attacks! Nobody owns the rim! Nobody uses their size to body their
defender to the rim! Instead they bring the ball down low where tiny little guards slap the ball away. Lobo guards and wings aren’t penetrating towards the rim either.

UNM’s offense is finesse, it’s cute. It’s pretty … pretty ugly. I don’t know if there is a stat kept, but if there were UNM might just lead the nation in missed layups.

Well the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem, and coach Paul Weir addressed the non-finishing issue speaking to the media after Tuesday night’s 65-74 loss to North Texas.

“Fundamentally that’s on me as a coach for not being able to teach us how to finish layups,” Weir said.

Why yes, coach it is on you. So now it’s time to correct this horrific issue.

Lee Roy Lucero is an Albuquerque native, former editor of The Red Menace website and a staff writer with Enchantment Sports. For tips or story ideas, particularly about high school sports, contact Lee Roy Lucero at enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com

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