Thursday night's banquet closed the chapter of the Ritchie Mckay era at the University of New Mexico. Some would say good riddance to the '06-'07 as the UNM under Coach Mckay suffered through an inconsistent season that ultimately led to the dismissal of Coach Mckay and his staff. And while coaching changes have occurred at UNM, the majority of this season's team will be in a Lobo uniform next season.
So I was glad that I was able to attend the banquet and celebrate the players. The players are the Lobos. The players are the team. Lobo fans for years have gone to The Pit to see great Lobo players make spectacular plays, and while this season may not have been filled with the victories or post season play that we all wanted, it was still time to look back and enjoy some of the best plays of the year.
Tonight's MC was none other than KRQE Sports guy Van Tate. The evening started with some nice words for the Lobo Club President we were served dinner and watched a video highlighting the past year's team.
As we all know there was change in the program as Coach Mckay was fired and Coach Steve Alford was hired by UNM and tonight Lobo fans were looking forward to hearing what Coach Alford had to say and of course the awards given to players that have thrilled us all season long. Coach Mckay and assist Brad Soucie were both hired by Liberty College so neither were in attendance. Still the former coaching staff was represented as Red Menace favorite Scott Didrickson and Duane Broussard were on hand to hand out awards to the players.
v Most Inspirational Teammate- Roman Martinez
v Leadership Award- Daniel Faris
v Most Improved- Chad Toppert
v Bob king MVP- Tony Danridge
With the handing out of awards The Ritchie Mckay era was closed at UNM and the Steve Alford era now begins as Coach Alford stepped up to the microphone, and just like press conference and other events Coach had a funny side to him.
Early in the night Van and a few others were talking about head bands and Alfred said if JR will not being wearing one next year if he does not get to class. Also if Daniel wants to get the leadership award next year he will need to lead by example and get a hair cut. One thing that caught my eye was when coach Alfred talking about why he come from Iowa to New Mexico and he game two simple words "step up", From the Big 10, take it for what is worth.
I figure if John Madden, Phil Simms, and Dick Vitale can do it, why the heck can't I? So here are Wes Henderson Red Menace Awards for the 2006-07 season. I've followed this team all year long through the good and the bad; the spectacular play and the horrible mistakes so here are my awards.
The Most Potential Award
The Red Menace Leadership Award
Wes Hender TRM will not be missed award
Aaron Johnson vertical leap!
Good moves inside just no springs I the feet, he will be missed good luck to Aaron!
The Pressure is on you Award
It has been stated in the three years that Tony has been here that he has all the talent in the world. He has all-American type talent. Problem has been that he has always deferred the rock to his teammates. With his senior year coming up and with a new coach and a new system is this the year that Tony realizes his potential? With that I asked Tony about what he needs to do this off-season. "Just getting on track, and try to get better so we can have a successful season." As far as Tony's thoughts on the new staff, "They (the Coaches) know the game, you can tell by the way thy break down everything they are just great coaches."
WesHender "Tough Man"
Daniel Faris (not looking so tough here :)
Faris on Coach Alford "I am really excited about the changes that are coming, he really knows the game. He (Alford) is going to get me personally better and the team better as a whole. I'm looking to put on another 10lbs. of solid muscle for the upcoming season.
The Red Menace Player of the Year
What a debate this one has been. You have the trio of guards in Tony Danridge, JR Giddens, and Darren Prentice. All 3 have brought some spectacular play all season. Whether it is Tony and JR's dunks, or Darren's continued growth as a player, and while they all had their ups this year, each suffered down time as well.
With that being said I had to look at the most consistent player of the year. The guy that was clutch whenever called upon. The guy that played above his head though not above the rim! J So with all that being said, the guy that we feel is the 2006-'07 Player of the year if not MVP is none other then Albuquerque's own Chad Toppert!
Chad Toppert with Wes Henderson
It wasn't all about numbers as Chad ended the season with a 9.5 points per game average with 83 boards and 23 assists. Chad brought the intangibles. He was the guy trying to hold the team together and trying to keep them in every game making the plays that had to be made. A 46% three point shooting percentage with 85 treys going in doesn't hurt either.
So what does Chad think about off-season workouts thus far. " It has real fun, we are working on individual development."
As far as Chad and where he fits in with the future. Well this should bring groans from MWC coaches that think Chad Toppert might go away. "Coach Alford will play me fairly similar to what I did with coach McKay."
That spells doom for many Lobo opponents next season.
In the end most people will forget the 2006-07 season and rightfully so, as a fan and someone that really likes these guys I hope that you don't forget about them or think bad about them! See you in The Pit 2007-08!
Tickets are on sale at golobos.com