NCAA BASKETBALL

Neal, The Ideal Candidate?

March 30th, 2013 at 5:59 pm by under Latest Posts, Sports

As Lobos former head coach Steve Alford heads west, all of the speculation is who will fill his cherry sport coat next season? UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs named Lobos Associate Head Coach Craig Neal, Interim Head Coach…for now.

Although Coach Neal has no head coaching experience at the collegiate level, you have to look at what he’s done for the program as a whole. Neal is a part of a staff that won 4 regular season titles, and 2 mountain west tournament titles running the offensive side of the ball. In the past 5 seasons, the Lobos offense finished in the top 3 in scoring offense.

As the defense-savvy Alford has departed, it’s critical for Neal to stick around for recruiting and the development of talent the Lobos have returning for another run to a possible Sweet 16 berth. Coach Alford continuously endorsed Neal (age 49) as being ready for a head coaching position, while current players Cameron Bairstow & Alex Kirk voiced their consideration to play under Neal.

It’s a no-brainer considering what he’s done for the program as an assistant as well as associate head coach having all 5 starters returning as well as a recruiting class that Neal can convince to stay, may prove to be an easy segue into his first season as a Head Coach. Sometimes you just need someone to take a chance, maybe this is Neal’s shot he’s been waiting for.


Alford leaves for UCLA

March 30th, 2013 at 2:32 pm by under Sports

Steve Alford is trading in his University of New Mexico Lobo red blazer for Bruin blue and UCLA.

The six-year Lobo coach said it was a hard decision.

Days ago Alford agreed to a new 10-year extension with New Mexico. He said, at the time of his agreement, he planned on staying at UNM for a long time.

UCLA came calling a few days ago. Alford said he had to go to the place he calls, “the pinnacle of basketball.”

He might not be alone.

Seven-foot center Alex Kirk made it sound as if he was game for a transfer to join coach Alford if Lobos now-interim coach Craig Neal does not get the job on a permanent basis.

There is always a possibility that some players will ask for a release to transfer when a coach changes jobs. It is probably too early to tell how that will go.

Alford will take his basketball playing sons Kory and Bryce with him. Bryce Alford just enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons turned in by a New Mexico high school player, averaging 38 points per game.

UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs said he was disappointed but understood the business.

Alford leaves the Lobos program in better shape than he found it. During his six seasons, Alford made the Lobos road tough and league champion regulars. The Lobos won four Mountain West titles and also a pair of conference tournament titles.  He also enjoyed the support of a fan base that would follow him anywhere.

He leaves for a storied program at UCLA. While the Lobo faithful always talked about just getting to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, UCLA will expect a national title. That is the challenge that awaits Alford.

There is also a seven-year $18.2 million deal that will pay him $2.6 million a year. Throw in a $200,000 signing bonus and the lure of the house that John Wooden built and you have all of the factors that made Steve Alford go from being a Lobo to a Bruin.

He will be officially introduced as UCLA’s head basketball coach at a press conference Tuesday.

More from KRQE.comLobo Coach Alford jumps to UCLA


Happy Trails To You! Until We Meet Again!

March 21st, 2013 at 5:07 pm by under Latest Posts, Sports

I woke up this morning feeling like a kid again. For every basketball fan, the NCAA Tournament feels like Christmas Day. Number one seeds are like the family members who give you the same thing every year- in this case, 2nd round wins. Then, we all have that crazy aunt or uncle who gives us a present that is completely random. In this case, it’s the upset. My upset of the day was 14-seed Davidson beating 3-seed Marquette. The Wildcats had the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 so picking Davidson to topple Marquette just felt right. However, instead of bringing joy, Marquette won and I get a fat lump of coal. The Golden Eagles outscored the Wildcats 11-5 to end the game thus the 3-seed moves on in the big dance. D’oh! This, is what Christmas in March feels like. I ALMOST got new golf clubs, instead I received a velour sweater-vest.