Lobos making some (bad) history
It’s bad. It’s really bad. The University of New Mexico’s forgettable men’s basketball season is challenging the history books for one of the worst in a generation.
For the record, we’re not talking about wins and losses. At three games south of the .500 mark entering the home stretch of the regular season, the Lobos have the opportunity to at least break even with a favorable schedule that includes two games against bottom feeder San Jose State and one apiece against Wyoming and Air Force.
What we’re dealing with is the way the Lobos are losing. Nine of their 13 setbacks have been by double digits and four have been by at least 20. They’re getting blown out. The worst of the worst reads like this: Drilled by 35 at New Mexico State on Dec. 4, by 25 in Los Angeles by Saint Mary’s three days later, by 20 on the road at San Diego State on Jan. 15, and then Saturday’s loss at Nevada — a game that could have (and probably should have) been so much worse.
The Wolf Pack led 25-4 just 10 minutes into the game and hovered around the 30-ish-point mark the rest of the way.
The last time UNM lost that many games by at least 20 in a single season?
Not shockingly, it was the Lobogate team of 1979-80. Coach Charlie Harrison’s ragtag roster of walk-ons and never-was recruits finished 6-20, losing 14 of their last 17 games but they remained oddly competitive most of the way. They had losses of 20 points
at UTEP and Wyoming, by 21 at nationally ranked BYU and by 34 at home to Utah State.
The heyday of Dave Bliss’ years at UNM saw several blowout losses while the Lobos were nationally ranked in the 1990s, including back-to-back losses of a combined 52 points to TCU and BYU when beloved guard Royce Olney went down with a knee injury against the Horned Frogs.
With a minimum of eight games left this season, coach Paul Weir’s Lobos could conceivably extend the misery to generational proportions. Not since the 1961-62 season has UNM lost at least five games by 20-plus, and that particular season is regarded as the turning point in Lobo basketball history. That club finished 6-20 and had seven losses of at least 22 points, but it marked the final season of thencoach Bob Sweeney’s tenure and the introduction of UNM’s basketball Godfather, Bob King.
King took over the following season and the rest, they say, is the modern age of Lobos hoops. The Pit opened just four years later and competitive basketball has largely been around to stay ever since.
Until now, it seems.
Could the Capital boys basketball team’s run of 17 straight state tournament appearances be coming to an end? At 2-4 in District 5-5A play and tied for last place with Albuquerque Sandia, the Jaguars have a tall task to play their way into the postseason. Barring a four-game winning streak to end the regular season, their best bet to keep the streak alive is to win the district tournament.
It is a truly remarkable performance — only Hope Christian and Hobbs have longer runs — that crossed over two playoff systems. Capital started the streak in 2002, back when only two teams from each big-school district advanced past the district tournament. Since 2006, the tournament expanded to 16 teams, and the Jaguars kept right on advancing.
During that time, Capital won a state title (2004) and finished second four times (2005, 2007, 2016, 2017). It also came perilously close to missing out on the state tournament in 2014 and 2015, when it made it as the 15th and 16th seeds, respectively. The Jaguars almost became the first No. 16 seed to win in the opening round, when it lost 46-43 to Las Cruces Centennial.
Speaking of the Jaguars, their 36-game winning streak from 2003-05 is missing from the state’s record books. The way to rectify it is for the school to submit the appropriate documentation to the New Mexico Activities Association, but that hasn’t happened over the past 14 years.
The mark would be the sixthlongest in state history and the fourth-best in the 21st Century. The longest winning streak belongs to Hobbs, which won 53 in a row from 1965-67. It also holds the second longest (49, from 1979-1982).
The Pecos boys could, by all accounts, win a third state title a month from now in Albuquerque. For a school that went half a century between titles, the idea of a three-peat is almost too much to comprehend.
At 19-3 overall through this past weekend, the Panthers are doing it with offense. Their 74.8 points per game is the highest of any team in Class 1A, 2A, 3A or 4A. It is, however eclipsed by 5A powers Hobbs (79.4), Rio Rancho Cleveland (77.3), Roswell (76.7) and Rio Rancho (76.1).
None of them comes anywhere close to the state record, held by the state champion Hobbs boys in 1969-70 when they averaged a mind-numbing 119 points a game in an era well before the 3-point line was even considered.
Santiago Garcia, a 2017 graduate of McCurdy, signed a letter of intent to play football at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., on Thursday. Garcia played for the Bobcats from 2014-16, and played tight end and linebacker.
Santa Fe High won its first district wrestling title in eight years after beating Capital 69-6 in the final District 5-5A dual of the season. The Demons went 5-0 in district duals, and did it without 132-pounder Isaac Beltran, who was suspended by the New Mexico Activities Association in late January after hitting a wrestler during the Joe Vivian Classic on Jan. 18.
Against the Jaguars, Santa Fe High lost only one match — at 220 pounds as Julian Sanchez pinned Deonte Tenorio for Capital’s lone points of the match. The district individual championships, which will determine the qualifiers for the state wrestling tournament on Feb. 22 and 23, and are set for Saturday at Albuquerque Manzano.
Coach Paul Weir’s Lobos aren’t just losing, they’re often getting blown out by double digits, including four games they’ve lost by at least 20.