It is hard to believe that it was just four months ago that Lobo fans were stunned when their Lobo hoops team disintegrated in the "Cancun Challenge" going 1-4 including a horrific loss to the University of Central Florida in The Pit.
Some fans started believing their team was finished as there was no senior leadership on display, the entire team looked in disarray and on radio some so-called fans were questioning whether the Lobos really were better off with Coach Steve Alford at the helm. Ha- ye' of little faith!
fans didn't freak out though, and obviously neither did
Coach Alford and his team. As they came back from Mejico and quietly
rebuild and piece their season going 7-2 to close out their
season including a sweep of the New Mexico State Aggies. Granted the
were tough losses (Texas Tech and UTEP) especially the UTEP loss as it
home and the Lobos looked like the "Cancun Lobos".
Steve Alford signs a Championship Banner
MWC play started with the Lobos holding home court (UNM ends up 7-0 in The Pit) and losing a pair of really close games vs. SDSU and UNLV… Still you could see this team was competitive, worked hard, and that defense was quickly becoming a trademark of this team. That defense served them well, although not in victory as they came up short against Utah by 2 points… It looked like the Lobos were headed to a middle of the pack finish…
2/07/09- after a victory over Wyoming the UNLV Runnin' Rebs were coming to town and something explosive was about to happen! Tony Danridge became the Tony D. that most Lobo fans knew he could be! Tony Danridge in this writer's opinion earned himself the MWC Player of the Year as he rattled off 8 straight double-digit point totals including finishing the season with back-to-back career high games vs. Utah and Wyoming (29).
TD wasn't the only hero during that time as the Lobos played Colorado St. in Ft. Collins. Most fans felt this game was in the bag… Someone should have told Colorado St. that as they gave the Lobos everything they could handle with :09 seconds left the Rams had a 5 point lead when the most unbelievable sequence of events went down. Chad Toppert hit a 3 point shot, when Roman Martinez stole the ball from CSU. Chad took another 3 point shot that was blocked with a mere :03 left on the clock Daniel Faris catches the blocked shot, contorts his body and somehow throws the ball into the hoop for the tie and eventual miracle victory with conference leading Utah coming into The Pit.
The magical night was there as Lobo fans sold it out. This was for the championship, senior night, and the last game before luxury boxes were added to The Pit. The last chance that 18+ could will their Lobos to victory… it was loud! It was crazy and the game had the atmosphere that Lobo fans and players dream of… Throw in the victory and conference lead and Lobomania was back!
Still the Lobos had to go to the Double A in Laramie and beat the Cowboys to be named conference champs (something never accomplished by UNM in the MWC) and this game ended as many Lobo games ended with the Lobos playing tough defense, scrapping for everything, and a last second shot by Wyoming… That didn't fall!
Wes Henderson, many members of The Red Menace and
Section 26 went out to airport to greet their "conquering Lobos" and
congratulate them on their first ever MWC championship.
Here are some photos and audio interview
with your Lobos I hope you enjoy!
Click here to listen to Tony D.
photos courtesy of TheRedMenace.com 's own Mike "The Anonymous One"