TRM at The Howl!

TheRedMenace.com has always been about local community members stepping up and being a part of The Team! All are welcomed to join and today both "The 26" and "LoboChav" stepped up for Lobo fans at his past weekend's Lobo Howl!

TheRedMenace.com has always been about being a community website. One where anyone that desires to write about UNM is given the opportunity. While this is a couple of days old, it is still good to see that Mackenzie Bishop (one of the founders of Secton 26) has once again made his way to TheRedMenace.com to give us his thoughts on the upcoming 2009-10 Lobo basketball season this year's Lobo Howl and we also have "LoboChav" from the website making his debut on the front page!

First Mackenzie

After a very entertaining night at the Howl last night in Rio Rancho, one might ask what should we expect from the Lobos this year.


AJ Hardeman


 General Observations

-Youth: The team is going to be very young, and a work in process all year.  I can envision us going through some ups and downs throughout the season that normally result from growing pains and having key contributors adjusting to the speed and talent at the D-I level.  That said, while we're generally a very young team top to bottom, we do have some experience at certain key positions in the starting lineup and on the bench.

-Talent: there is no question this is the most talent we've had top to bottom in a long time.  Forget the days of Dave Bliss and Ritchie McKay when there was a sizable drop off after the top 6-8 guys on the team.  From P-Mac (who stole the show) to newcomers Matt Staff and Chad Adams there is a great deal of potential that will take the floor every night.

-Athleticism: every guy on the floor can run and seemed to be looking to get in transition after every basket or rebound.  Fenton and Adams add a great deal of athleticism to the bench, and Hobson is one of the most versatile talents we've had in sometime (think shorter Granger).

-Size: we may have to deal with one more year w/out interior size and height.  Our ability to defend and rebound on the interior may determine how far we go this year.

-Chemistry: I know this is an inexact science, but there was a noticeable vibe that emanated from everyone throughout the night.  Hobson adds some much needed swagger and confidence, Ro continues to be role model of effort and tenacity, and Nate Garth looks to have taken a leadership role in the offseason.  There weren't any noticeable factions or cliques as we've had in some years past, which is a great sign.  I hate to even have to mention something like chemistry, but as we've seen in the past it may not win you any games but it can certainly lose some.

 

Player comments

  • Ro, Sr. - his shot was off all night, and his interior touch looked a bit off...but I would imagine that was mostly due to early season rust.  His quick release was still there and he's added some muscle, which will help him contribute in the paint where we'll need it most.  Also of note, he worked in the post with his back to the basket more than we've seen in the past...I expect this to be something we see more often as Alford tries to leverage what size he does have.
  • Dairese, Jr. - he has a new haircut...I kid.  Really, his game is the same as it's always been, but expect him to be a bit more refined and improved over last year.  No big changes.
  • Hobson, Jr. - Wow...it would have been nice to have him the last two years...better late than never.  Darrington is as good as advertised, and was honestly more polished than I anticipated.  He is long and athletic, playing much bigger than his height implies.  He moves amazingly well without the ball as Matt Staff found him cutting to the basket for easy layups on several occasions.  He is amazingly versatile as well as he showed off a sweet looking jump shot, led a few fastbreaks, and was very active on the offensive glass.  His shot was off a bit, but again early season rust was likely a factor.  One other note worth making is his knack for the loose ball as he was seemingly involved in almost every play.  Hobson will be a huge addition to the team this year, and will be relied upon heavily in every facet of the game.
  • P-Mac, So. - is every bit of the stud we thought we would see last year.  Keep in mind, Phillip dominated the Howl last year too, but Friday night he looked different.  He was quick to pull the trigger and was confident in his jumper (for good reason, he lit up the scrimmage and won the 3 pt contest).  My only concern: we may live and die by his jumpshot this year.  When he's on, look out!  If he's off, points in the halfcourt may be hard to come by.
  • Garth, So. - exhibited floor leadership all night, leading the silver squad.  Showed his same vision and has improved his ability to penetrate and create open looks for his teammates.  While he won't blow you away with his speed or agility, he makes the right decision in almost every situation and will be a welcome calm hand at the till off the bench to spell Dairese.
  • Hardeman, So. - has really started to fill in physically, but still looked a tad slow.  He has added some post moves to the fadeaway jumper in the lane he had last year.  I was a little disappointed that his post game hasn't refined as much as I'd hoped...his drop step is mechanically right, but likely too slow to be effective against good post defenders.  He is a work in process, but should be worth the wait.
  • Brown, So. - DNP, and I will be excited to see how far he's come.  With Hardeman behind where I wish he were, we will need Brown to get back in coach's good graces and contributing on the floor as fast as possible.
  • Dennis, RS-Fr. - It will be interesting to see how much he contributes this year...it's clear he has the talent to be a big time guy off the bench, but we'll have to see how he responds to that role.  He dissapeared at times last night...but the potential is there.  Think instant offense off the bench for your sixth man, with more athleticism and defense than we had from Chad the past few years.
  • Fenton, Fr. - quickness, quickness, did I mention quickness?  Wow, this dude has some wheels and can penetrate off the dribble at will.  His biggest skill to develop will be decision making from the PG position as he took a few ill-advised 3s last night and left his feet to pass on a few occasions.  If he can figure that out, he will be a defense's worst nightmare and could open up our wings for some wide open shots.
  • Adams, Fr. - what a body this kid has...you can instantly see what the coaches were talking about.  I don't recall him taking a shot or being overly agressive, but he certainly has a D-I body and athleticism to serve as the foundation for a great career.  I see him as a project, and potential redshirt but look out if he can develop some offensive tools.
  • Staff, Fr. - my most pleasant surprise from last night.  He has an amazing feel for the game as a freshman, and showed off some amazing vision and passing touch in the interior.  I expect Matt to get some serious minutes this year, and could create a nice matchup problem for our opponents' inside players with his range, passing ability, and comfort on the outside.  He even did pretty well on the glass, but he'll need to continue to develop that skill to get significant playing time.

 

All in all, it was a great night that was well attended despite the location.  We will have to battle the inconsistency that results from youth and a lack of inside strength and depth, but we have reasons to be optimistic.  A comparable team might be the Villanova team from a few years back that started 4 wing/guard type players.  They were inconsistent at times, but when they were right they could beat anybody with their great d, outside shot, and ability to penetrate and create offense off the dribble.  I think we may stumble a bit early, especially on the road, but should bounce back late in the year and surprise some of the media in conference.  Patience will be necessary this year Lobo fans, but it will be worth it.

 

Prediction

Wins: UC-Irvine, Nichols St, La Tech, Miami-OH, NMSU, @SD, NAU, Creighton, @Oral Roberts, TTU, Dayton, UNLV, Utah, @AF, CSU, @TCU, SDSU, Wyo, AF, @CSU, TCU

Losses:  @NMSU, @Hawaii, Cal, TAMU, @SDSU, @Wyo, BYU, @Utah, @UNLV, @BYU

 

Record: 21-10 (10-6) tied for 3rd in MWC w/UNLV, behind BYU and SDSU

Home: 16-2

Road: 5-7

Neutral: 0-1

RPI: my WAG is the 45-55 range, depends on the strength of the MWC

Postseason: Bubble NCAA or deep NIT run

And now... "LoboChav"

Jamaal Fenton

The howl was a great venue, the three-hour ride from Northern New Mexico to the Star Center was well worth the trip. I"m excited about the prospects for both teams THIS year and in the coming years. On hand for the howl were Kirk, the Lady Lobo guard duo from Canyon, TX and another Lady Lobo commit.

 

After watching the scrimmage I would have to say that the freshmen group is very solid and shows a lot of potential both Athletically and basketball-smarts. I'm excited to see how well Staff, Fenton, Adams and Nelson will do with this coaching staff.

 

The freshmen:

Chad Adams---Long linear and oozing with athleticism, potential to be a huge asset defensively---does need work on his offensive game, but capable of finishing near the basket. With our wealth of talent on the guard spot could Red Shirt. The way the coaching staff develops players look to Chad to be outstanding in years to come. He just needs to be patient and work on his game. He has the god-given talent.

Jamal Fenton---Held up to Gary's physicality on defense, is lightning quick, had some great passes, and can hit the three. His persona exudes confidence. Had a few bad decisions, but (again) once this staff gets done with him, watch out. Can play right away.

Matt Staff---A tall 6'-9", looks to be the tallest player on the team. Staff has great court vision, passed the ball real well, very unselfish. Battled A.J. well on the post (remember he hasn't been taught the nuances of college post defense yet) and wasn't afraid to mix it up. Can hit the three-pointer and has a smooth shooting stroke. (I keep thinking Staff, A.J. and Brown will be vastly improved and experienced when Kirk joins up next year, then you add the guards. I better start saving for season tickets). Staff will contribute this year.

Kevin Nelson---A walk-on,not as athletic as his counterparts, but worked his tail off and that is the type of person that makes your team better. He can be counted on to provide the BYU look at scrimmages (just joking). Actually has a lot of potential talent on a very talented squad.

 

The transfer:

Darington Hobson: At 6'-7", he looks to have a 7' wingspan, but he appears to be the four-star athlete he was projected to be. Had a lot of fun out there, but so did everyone there. Can rebound well, has a great stroke from outside and finishes well above the rim. He scored 21 quiet points---I didn't think he had scored but around 12 points. The best surprise was his passing ability, had some great no-look passes and always looked for McDonald. Defense was adequate, but has the potential to be a lock-down defender with that wingspan and the athleticism.

 

The Red-shirt:

Curtis Dennis---Looked very comfortable out there, moved well on defense, elevates well on his jump shots and has a smooth stroke. Seems to be a consummate team player looks for the open man and isn't afraid to mix it up. Quick athletic players often look slow when in reality they are just smooth and Curtis is smooth. The Staff will have a lot of options this year.

 

The Bigs:

Will Brown---Looked a little bigger than last year, but of course he didn't play due to problems in the classroom. I'm assuming that he missed some classes or is not taking school serious. I know he missed not being out there and when something is taken away that you love---its tough. I expect to see him busting his gluteus maximus to be back on the court. I he improved as much as A.J., I think our bigs can do well as a committee of three against the leagues big men. Anyway coach can rotate three 6'9" players. I say all are 6'-9" as A.J. looks as tall as Will when they stand next to each other and I wouldn't be surprised if Staff is 6'10". Offensively is where we'll need help inside and I think we'll be adequate.

A.J. "Clinton" Hardeman---The first thing I noticed was that the quiet freshman is not so introverted and had fun out there. Secondly, he looked like he worked on his upper body strength and it showed. He finished well near the basket when he attacked it. Struggled a little with some mechanical looking moves laterally into the paint. If he perfects the moves, he'll be tough to defend. His little turnaround jumper is effective and he rebounds well. The paint seemed clogged when he tried some inside moves, but that is expected with newcomers in the mix and no practice, I'm sure he'll look better when he is in a game-like situation with everyone in the proper "space".

 

The guards:

Dairese Gary---Looks like an NFL fullback running the offense, but runs it effectively. He initiated Fenton with his physicality and looked good attacking the basket. Looked to be content passing the ball and running the offense and giving the new guys a chance to show thier stuff. Still has a nice stroke, but will need to be perfect from the free throw line as he still can draw the foul going to the hoop. Should be one of several guards on the squad with a wealth of experience.

Philip McDonald---Confidence and experienced is what Phillip looked like at the howl. Never too high, never too low and just played hard. He won't pass up an open look and that is what we expect from a shooter, but Phillip can distribute the ball well, rebounds well and looks to be a better defender than last year. His shot just looks better this year, maybe it's the confidence or the knowledge that the team will be looking to him for more scoring.

Nat Garth---We had a good 1-2 punch from the point position last year and this year, It'll be a dog-fight for minutes from this position as Fenton is added to the mix. Garth, nonchalantly ran the offense and looked s-m-o-o-t-h with some great passes, good defense and a nice stroke. His confidence appears to be UP and I expect all our returning players to play like veterans.

Roman Martinez---Ro looks like he spend time in the weight room and looks physically bigger, but has not lost any speed. He is still a very heady player and is always in the right spot at the right time. Like Garth and Gary, he seemed content to let the new guys strut their stuff and like his veteran teammates he looks ready to the practice grind that will make or break this team.

 

Overview:

The team is very quick and very athletic, we have the shooters, ball-handlers, passers, defenders, and an adequate trio to defend the post. I feel we can finish anywhere in the top four in conference, but will be solid in late February and March. With a solid 6th man at the PIT, every game is a possible win. I can't help looking at next year when almost the entire team returns with the addition of Kirk and Snell and ???? However, I'm still amazed at the progress that individual players make when playing for Alford and Neal, and the rest of the staff. When they put it together THIS team THIS year can very, very good.

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