Weir wants to see you

Sea­son tick­ets, fi­nally, on sale for Lobo hoops as ros­ter set­tles

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY GE­OFF GRAMMER JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

Coach wants at­ten­dance to get back into the top 25 as Lobo men’s bas­ket­ball tick­ets go on sale.

Paul Weir had hoped to cap­i­tal­ize on the mo­men­tum of his team’s late-sea­son surge — and that seven-game win­ning streak go­ing into the March 10 Moun­tain West tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game — that had fans start­ing to buzz again about Lobo bas­ket­ball.

He can fi­nally stop send­ing emails to his bosses, plead­ing with them to get sea­son tick­ets on sale for the 2018-19 sea­son, his se­cond as the head coach of the Lo­bos men’s bas­ket­ball team.

“Tick­ets are on sale. I had been wait­ing to do a press con­fer­ence un­til those were kind of of­fi­cial,” Weir said Tues­day at a wide-rang­ing, state-of-the­p­ro­gram press con­fer­ence that cov­ered sea­son tick­ets go­ing on sale, play­ers trans­fer­ring in, play­ers trans­fer­ring out, coach­ing con­tracts, sched­ul­ing and more.

But, as Weir made clear, sea­son-ticket sales are the theme of the off­sea­son and get­ting Lobo bas­ket­ball to be the com­mu­nity event it once was. The pro­gram’s av­er­age home at­ten­dance in Dream­style Arena this past sea­son of 10,883 still ranked 33rd in the na­tion out of 351 Di­vi­sion I pro­grams, but rel­a­tively im­pres­sive isn’t the same as the his­tor­i­cal stand­ing the Pit had over its first half cen­tury in ex­is­tence.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s re­ally im­por­tant to me and to our pro­gram,” Weir said. “We fell out of the Top 25 (in av­er­age home at­ten­dance) two years ago and then last year, as well. Noth­ing would make me more happy than to get our pro­gram back in the Top 25 in at­ten­dance. That’s ob­vi­ously driven by sea­sonticket hold­ers.”

Last year, they went on sale June 1. At the time, Weir said he had wished he could have been sell­ing them him­self at the time of his April 11 in­tro­duc­tory press con­fer­ence.

Ad­mit­tedly, Weir said he has prob­a­bly been over­step­ping the bound­aries of his job be­ing so in­sis­tent on putting tick­ets on sale sooner than UNM has tra­di­tion­ally done, even ex­press­ing frus­tra­tions last week at a gather­ing of the pro­gram’s 6th Man Club fundrais­ing group af­ter hav­ing been mak­ing the push in­ter­nally for weeks.

At last Fri­day’s Board of Re­gents meet­ing, pres­sure was put on ath­let­ics by those at the top.

Re­gent Mar­ron Lee made clear her de­sire to get the tick­ets on sale quickly. UNM Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent David Har­ris, when asked by Re­gent Pres­i­dent Rob Doughty if the hold up was from ath­let­ics or the tick­et­ing of­fice, said it was an ath­let­ics is­sue, but he hoped it would soon change un­der new ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed­die Nuñez.

“Ath­let­ics ac­tu­ally funds a num­ber of po­si­tions in our ticket of­fice and I think they co­or­di­nate to­gether, cer­tainly not as well as we ex­pect to in the fu­ture,” Har­ris said. “We’ve got to add, um, pas­sion (laughs) into our ticket-sell­ing pro­gram. It’s just lack­ing. I think Ed­die’s been talk­ing about this, I be­lieve, since the day he got here. It’s about time we re­sponded.”

Ticket prices were not raised, and the cheap­est seats in the house ex­panded by a few rows, ac­cord­ing to deputy ath­letic di­rec­tor Brad Hutchins.

Ticket in­for­ma­tion can be found on­line at UNMtick­ets.com or at the UNM Ticket of­fice.

SI­MONS OUT: While it hasn’t been a se­cret at all around UNM since the end of the sea­son, Weir for the first time on Tues­day an­nounced ju­nior shoot­ing guard Troy Si­mons is ex­pected to trans­fer out of the pro­gram, though he has not yet of­fi­cially found a new school to play at next sea­son. For that mat­ter, nei­ther have any of the three pre­vi­ously an­nounced Lobo trans­fers: Con­nor MacDougall, Chris McNeal and Jachai Sim­mons.

On Si­mons, Weir said: “We were qui­etly try­ing to find a way for him to get closer to home. That was a wish he im­pressed upon me when the sea­son ended — a wish we were try­ing to grant rel­a­tively qui­etly by con­tact­ing lo­cal schools in Pitts­burgh so he can be closer to his daugh­ter and his grand­mother . ... We’re still try­ing to fa­cil­i­tate that.”

ROS­TER MAKEUP: The Lo­bos are at the NCAA-al­lowed limit of 13 schol­ar­ship play­ers for the 2018-19 sea­son. And Weir is mostly happy with what he has.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about our ros­ter, par­tic­u­larly up front with the depth and size that we have. I think it’s go­ing to al­low us to play the way we want to play at both ends of the court,” Weir said. But what about at point guard? Weir said he’s ex­cited about ju­nior col­lege trans­fer Keith McGee, doesn’t want Ohio State trans­fer JaQuan Lyle to play much point guard, but he may have to, and the team will give an­other look at An­thony Mathis play­ing point guard min­utes.

BRAGG: UNM filed last week an ap­peal with the NCAA to make 6-10 for­ward Carl­ton Bragg el­i­gi­ble at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son. The for­mer Kansas Jay­hawk trans­ferred to Ari­zona State, where he left school dur­ing the fall se­mes­ter and en­rolled at UNM in Jan­uary. That would mean he wouldn’t be el­i­gi­ble un­til the end of this fall se­mes­ter (mid-De­cem­ber).

Weir said Bragg is on pace to grad­u­ate on time, and ASU has in­di­cated it would be sup­port­ive of the waiver.

COACH­ING STAFF: The Lo­bos as­sis­tant coach­ing staff has not yet been given con­tracts for next sea­son, but Weir said he hoped that would be done soon and that he ex­pects the en­tire staff to re­turn from this past sea­son.

SCHED­ULE: There will be at least 17 reg­u­lar sea­son home games, and Weir said he is still try­ing to get home­and-home series signed with re­gional teams. The pro­gram had one end this past sea­son with Ari­zona, will con­tinue an­other this com­ing sea­son with Colorado in the Pit, and is about to be­gin a new four-year series with UTEP.

ON NE­VADA: Weir said he doesn’t of­ten pay at­ten­tion in the off­sea­son to other team re­cruit­ing news, but can’t help but be in awe of the tal­ent Ne­vada has racked up re­cently. He said it’s Ne­vada and ev­ery­one else in the Moun­tain West right now, and it’s up to teams like UNM to try to close the gap.

GREG SOR­BER/JOUR­NAL

Se­cond-year Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico Lo­bos men’s bas­ket­ball coach Paul Weir talks Tues­day as sea­son tick­ets go on sale this week. Weir gave a gen­eral state of the pro­gram up­date, cov­er­ing top­ics like trans­fers, ticket sales, coach­ing staff con­tracts and sched­ul­ing.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/ JOUR­NAL

Lobo guard Troy Si­mons, right, de­fends UNLV’s Jo­van Moor­ing in Dream­style Arena on Feb. 25. Si­mons, who was at UNM one sea­son, is ex­pected to trans­fer to be closer to his Pitts­burgh home.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.