Mark Smith of the Albuquerque Journal covers New Mexico men’s basketball. He answered five questions I had for him on Saturday’s game with Wyoming:
The Lobos have won four straight and have looked good doing so. Are they playing their best basketball of the season and what in particular have they done well during this winning streak? They are certainly playing their best ball of the season. The guard play has been flat-out terrific, which obviously helps the inside game. The thing that makes the Lobos so potent is the depth at guard. It’s tough for the opposition to focus on any one, two or three of the sharp-shooters they have.
Guard Hugh Greenwood didn’t play in the first game at Wyoming with an ankle injury, how different/better is New Mexico with him in the lineup? He is the most true point guard they have, and the offense runs smoother with him on the floor. He is also a strong rebounder and solid defensive player. But the team doesn’t miss a beat when Jamal Fenton comes in at point, and even gives them a different, more uptempo look.
If you had to pick a mid-conference season MVP for the Lobos, who would it be and why? Tough question. Tony Snell started out on fire, but it would have to be Kendall Williams. He has really picked it up in conference play and is the team leader.
If you were a coach scouting New Mexico, what are biggest keys in slowing a this team down with a squad that has three guys averaging between 12 and 13 points and four other players averaging between six and seven points per game? Stick a big body on Drew Gordon inside and only slide another guy towards him when he gets the ball on the low-post, where he is turnover prone. Otherwise just cover him one-on-one, especially when he’s more than 10 feet from the hoop. Just don’t leave the shooters alone. If Gordon or A.J. Hardeman kick it out, you’re likely giving up a 3.
What do the Cowboys have to do to have a chance at pulling off the upset at the Pit Saturday? They have to find a way to keep the crowd out of it. Because Wyoming likes to slow down the tempo and play tough defense, that will help. The Pokes have to be patient and reduce the number of possessions – easier said than done – and not give up the big run early or it could be another blowout.