New Mexico Lobos
Mountain West Conference (29-4, 14-2)
Big Wins: 12/2 California (86-78), 12/12 vs Texas A&M (84-81), 2/27 at BYU (83-81)
Bad Losses: 12/23 at Oral Roberts (66-75), 1/5 at SDSU (64-74), 1/9 UNLV (62-74)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2005, First Round loss to Villanova
Coach: Steve Alford (3-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
New Mexico does not shoot the ball particularly well overall, but they are a solid shooting team from beyond the arc. And some of that shooting comes from surprising places. Forward Roman Martinez is the team’s most prolific and consistent outside shooter. The 6-6 senior is also an effective scorer around the basket. His ability to spend time on the perimeter yet still grab some boards helps make the Lobos a quality rebounding team. The story is the same for 6-7 wing Darington Hobson. Hobson is not the shooter that Martinez is, but he is a great all-around player who leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists. That is not bad at all for a junior college transfer playing his first season at the Division I level.
The Lobos have some perimeter shooters too. Phillip McDonald is a 6-5 sophomore who is shooting nearly 40 percent from long range. Once he gains some more strength and starts using his size to attack the basket more often McDonald will be a dynamic scorer. Even the bench has a few outside shooting options in Nate Garth and Jamal Fenton.
Why They Can Disappoint:
While having a 6-5 shooting guard and a 6-7 small forward is nice, Martinez is only 6-6 and spends most of his time on the perimeter. A.J. Hardeman is the starting center and he is not a very imposing figure on the defensive end of the floor. He will block some shots, but the lack of size in the paint will be a big problem against some opponents. The answer could be Will Brown. At 6-9 and 235 pounds, Brown is the tallest and biggest player on the roster. While the sophomore is a capable rebounder and defender, he tends to get into foul trouble quite quickly.
Who To Watch:
Dairese Gary is the player who makes this team tick. He does not even lead the team in assists thanks to the versatility of Hobson, but there is no doubt who is the better ballhandler. Gary has about a two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio and it is his job to keep this team under control while they are running up and down the floor. Gary is also a fine scorer. The 6-1 junior does an amazing job getting to the basket and he will either finish himself, find a teammate or get fouled. Gary is not much of an outside shooter, but he is enough of a threat to force the opposition to guard him out to the arc and that is when he makes his move and gets to the rim.
Dairese Gary, Junior, Guard, 12.7 ppg, 3.9 apg
Phillip McDonald, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Darington Hobson, Junior, Guard, 16.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, 9.2 rpg
Roman Martinez, Senior, Forward, 13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.5 spg
A.J. Hardeman, Sophomore, Forward, 7.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Will Brown, Sophomore, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Jamal Fenton, Freshman, Guard, 3.6 ppg, 1.2 apg
Nate Garth, Sophomore, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 1.7 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.9 (35th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.8 (146, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.0 (150, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (111, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (31, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (39, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (234, 7)
Rebound Margin: 5.9 (21, 2)
Assists Per Game: 14.6 (61, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (22, 1)
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