Not long ago, UNM basketball was a force to be reckoned with. The Lobos found themselves in the NCAA tournament several times in the last decade. Fans filled The Pit, regularly ranking in the top 25 in Division 1 basketball attendance. College basketball in Albuquerque did not disappoint and appeared to be on the rise.
But over the last several years, the team has taken a turn. UNM failed to make the finals tournament the last three seasons. Then attendance went down. In the 2016-17 season, the Lobos hit rock bottom, finishing with a lackluster 17-14 record and losing four players—including their leading scorer, Elijah Brown.
New head coach, Paul Weir, hopes to change that.
Weir is only in his 2nd season as a college basketball coach. His first head coaching job came last year at New Mexico State when he led the Aggies to a 28-6 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance. And he didn’t come to Albuquerque alone. Coach Weir brought NMSU signee Jachai Simmons with him.
Simmons, who previously played junior college ball at Midland Junior College, is a long and athletic forward sure to dazzle fans with spectacular dunks. Simmons isn’t the only new face in a Lobos uniform. With only one starter, senior Sam Logwood, returning, Weir has revamped the team. His emphasis on speed and shooting should lead to a more exciting, high-powered offense.
In addition to the new talent, Weir is working to gain more fan interest through community outreach. Practices were private in prior years. Coach Weir, however, decided that the team should be more open with the public. The Lobos will hold three open practices before their first game at local high schools. These practices should build excitement and, hopefully, improve recruitment of young New Mexico athletes who are often lost to bigger schools.
Sam Logwood told reporters, “I think it’s exciting to get out in the community and show people we still care.”
According to Weir, their efforts are already bringing results. He says that admissions are up as they attempt to show the community their appreciation. A big crowd can make UNM a difficult opponent. Most analysts believe the Lobos will struggle in their first year with so many fresh faces. However, the team isn’t intimidated by negative predictions. Their looking forward to a winning season on the court and with their fans.
The UNM men’s basketball team will host their first game on November 11 against Northern New Mexico College.Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best original news.