Lobos look to start season on a high note

New Mexico will look to open the 2018-19 season with a victory on the road as the Lobos take on CSUN on Tuesday. Isabel Gonzalez/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

New Mexico at CSUN
Nov. 6, 2018 – 8 p.m. MT
TV: CSUN Sports Network
Head coach Paul Weir said he wants the 2018-19 season to have a better start than the previous one. The Lobos will get a chance to start on a high note as they open on the road with a game against CSUN on Tuesday night.
The Lobos lead the series with the Matadors 5-0. The last time they faced each other was in 2016, with UNM picking up a 105-89 victory. This result doesn’t guarantee anything however, as Weir described CSUN as a new, young team under first-year head coach Mark Gottfried. Gottfried will be looking to improve the program’s last season overall record of 6-24.
“Basically a brand new team with a brand new coach. Trying to learn as much about things they’ve done in the past, players that are currently there, maybe where they came from and what they can and can’t do,” Weir said. “We are putting together the best game plan we can to hopefully come out with a victory on the road.”
The Matadors have already been on the court twice this fall. They went 2-0 in their exhibitions games, both played in Northridge, Calif. The first win came on Oct. 25 against Antelope Valley with a score of 88-77. On Nov. 1, the Matadors left less of a cushion, but still managed to beat Cal State LA 89-87.
Last season, the Lobos’ first win on the road didn’t come until January 17 with an 85-81 result over the UNLV Rebels. Weir was not thrilled it took that long.
“It was obviously a really long haul of road games throughout November, December and January,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to hopefully go on the road and start our season off the way we would like.”
Prior to the 2017-18 season, the Lobos were picked to finish ninth in the conference. However, they proved those predictions wrong and ended the regular season in third place, then made it all the way to the Mountain West Tournament Championship game. The Lobos’ overall record was 19-15 with a 13-4 record in Albuquerque. Their struggles showed on the road with a 4-8 record.
Click here for 2017-18 season statistics
”I’m glad the season turned. I’m glad we finished the season on a high note, but that doesn’t erase how we were in November and December,” Weir said. “We can’t have the same November and December if we’re trying to build this program in order to be what we want it to be, which is to be nationally prominent.”
Tuesday will be the first time this fall that the Lobos step on the court in front of fans. New Mexico only has one exhibition scheduled this season and it won’t happen until Nov. 10 against Northern New Mexico. The only time the cherry and silver team has gotten to face another opponent was on Oct. 27 with a close scrimmage against NAU.
Weir’s said he liked what he saw from his offense, but the defense left a lot to be desired. A week before, the coach had talked about how his team was working on improving halfcourt defense.
New Mexico is entering Tuesday with a few uncertainties. Weir is still not sure when point guard Drue Drinnon will return to practice due to an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Dane Kuiper has gone back to full practice but his shoulder injury still causes him some pain. The NCAA has not given an answer as to whether or not Cartlon Bragg will be eligible to play right away.
Although the team gets evaluated during every practice, Weir admitted that the first real game of the season will tell him a lot about where the team is at the moment, as well as give the Lobos a chance to start out strong.
As of Monday morning, ESPN’s matchup predictor has UNM as a favorite to win this game with an 84 percent chance.