ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Fans say news of UNM Basketball Coach Steve Alford leaving came out of nowhere, many not even thinking it was possible after hearing about the 10-year contract he signed with UNM.
Alford announced Saturday he is going to coach at UCLA instead.
No matter who we talked to, the reaction was the same.
"I was pretty surprised actually," James Sorrells says.
"I was kind of more shocked than anything," says UNM freshman, Christopher King.
"It is just a shock! I don't know what to say," says longtime Lobo fan, Janice Garrett.
The timing could not be worse for morale.
Coming off the Mountain West title win, Lobo fans were hyped up and hopeful the team would make it to the Sweet 16 in this year's NCAA tournament.
Instead they suffered a shocking loss to Harvard, and now the loss of the coach that many fans say helped make UNM's basketball program what it is Saturday.
"I think most of UNM's success over the last few years has had a lot to do with Alford," UNM freshman, Ryan Lotz says. "He brought a lot of confidence back to the team that they lost, and he did a really good job recruiting."
Fans say they are worried about players leaving and following Coach Alford, which could depend upon who might take over as coach.
"I would like to see [Craig Neal] step up as head coach," Lotz says. "If he doesn't, I have a dim outlook on how the team is going to respond to Alford leaving."
"I think they'll be able to get it together," says Justin Lotz. "He was a great coach, but Lobos have a lot of talent and they will probably get good players coming up soon."
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