NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The UNM Lobos men’s basketball team will face UNLV Tuesday night without head coach Richard Pitino on the bench. Pitino is still recovering from COVID. “It’s weird. You know, there’s unique symptoms,” said Pitino. “I’ll be fine. I think I am more beat up emotionally because I can’t be around my team.” It will be the second game missed by Pitino.
The Lobos lost without him against Utah State in overtime last Saturday. Playing on the road at UNLV will not be any easier. “You don’t have the fans. It’s a little bit different, travel wise, without your head coach there,” said Pitino. “I’m not trying to claim I’m John Wooden by any means, but when you have this voice that’s the prevalent voice for so much of what you’re doing and then that’s taken away, it’s hard.”
Lobos assistant Eric Brown will fill in for Pitino once again, as he faces his old team. Brown was once an assistant at UNLV.
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In other sports news, the Mountain announced six rescheduled men’s and women’s basketball games that were postponed due to COVID-19 issues. One is the Lobo women’s game against San Jose State, originally scheduled for Dec. 28. That game will be now be played on Jan. 24 in Albuquerque.
Lobo women’s basketball standout Jaedyn De La Cerda was named Mountain West Player of the Week. De La Cerda averaged just under 20 points per game during a week that saw the Lobos go 3-0 in conference play. The Lobos had victories over UNLV, Utah State and San Diego State. The Lobos are 13-4 overall and 4-0 in league play. They are at Wyoming Thursday.
A former Lobo softball player has made history as the first woman hired to manage a minor league baseball team. Rachel Balkovec was selected to become the next manager of low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons. Balkovec has been in professional baseball the last 10 years. She was a catcher for the Lobos in 2007 and 2008.
Joey Noble finished fourth in tackles for losses with just under 19 in his senior season at New Mexico. The talented defensive end is at home in Lakewood, California, getting ready for the NFL. Noble is hoping to hear his name called during the NFL Draft schedule for April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada.