Lobos host Iona for first home game of the season

The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team hosts Iona for the Lobos’ first official home game of the 2018-19 season. Scott Forman/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

New Mexico vs. Iona
Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit
Nov. 13, 7 pm
Mountain West Network
The Lobos are hosting the Iona Gaels on Tuesday night for New Mexico’s first official home game of the 2018-19 season. Both teams enter the night with a 1-0 record and their own questions to answer.
New Mexico’s first game this season resulted in an 87-84 victory at CSUN thanks to a game-winning shot from beyond the arc by senior Anthony Mathis. Last Saturday, the team hosted Northern New Mexico for an exhibition and walked out on the right side of a 115-66 result.
Freshman point guard Drue Drinnon, who had suffered an ankle injury, is likely to play for the first time as a Lobo this week. Drinnon is one of three players that UNM head coach Paul Weir had been rotating in the point guard position during the offseason. But although Drinnon’s possible return could affect the offense, New Mexico’s defense is what needs the most help.

Weir was not happy with the defensive performance his team showed during the CSUN game. He wasn’t thrilled with what he saw during the first half of the NNMC exhibition either, but the second half of that game showed some promise. There’s still work to be done, and Iona will be a good test for the Lobos.
Iona was the 2018 MAAC Champion (third straight title) and made an appearance in the NCAA tournament. But Iona’s accomplishments from last season don’t mean this season is going to start out smoothly.
The Gaels had to enter this season without senior Roland Griffin, who played 33 games (10 as a starter) during the 2017-18 season, and averaged 11.2 points per game. Late in October, news broke out that Griffin had been kicked off the team for punching an assistant coach. USA Today article here.
The 6’7″ forward is still listed on the roster in the Gaels website. This roster has 12 players in total but it’s not only Griffin who is not available. Isaiah Ross is a transfer and has to sit out this year. That means head coach Tim Cluess has 10 players available.
Iona opened the season at home with a 72-68 victory over Albany. The Gaels had a slow start and were trailing 26-30 by halftime with a field goal percentage of 37.04. They improved this to 50 percent in the second half, but the maroon & gold offense still showed some struggle, including a three minute period in which Albany held them scoreless. Iona had four players finishing in double figures, led by junior guard/forward E.J. Crawford with 14 points.