Sports Desk: UNM men’s basketball needs to improve moving forward

FOX New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –Lobo Men’s Basketball suffered a 77-69 loss on Sunday inside The Pit. UTEP proved to be a very big challenge for this young Lobo team, and some sloppy play at times didn’t help the Lobos.


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“Obviously we have a longer way to go than we probably realize with, just with everything. We have just got to learn from this, continue to embrace the daily process of getting better, being coached, being more disciplined,” said UNM Head Basketball Coach Richard Pitino.

UNM had a sluggish second half, with three technical fouls. UTEP also racked up 24 points off of 16 UNM turnovers. UNM still has some growing to do before conference play starts, which is three games away but Coach Pitino did like the play from multiple guys down the stretch including Javonte Johnson.

Johnson never quit in this game and finished with a team-high of 16 points and also pulled down 19 rebounds. “That’s what Lobo Basketball needs to look like. He fought until the end,” said Pitino.

“We just have to work on our toughness, also our discipline too and just not worry about too much in the past, just stay in the moment,” said Javonte Johnson.

UNM now holds a 6-5 record and will host SMU next Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Lobo women are also coming off of a loss on Sunday, as they lost to Arizona on the road, 77-60. Freshman, Paula Reus stood out in this loss though, as she finished with a team-high of 15 points. The 8-4 Lobos will now move on to host UTEP on Sunday at 6 p.m.

Sticking with hoops, former UNM Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach Brandon Mason is now taking his knowledge of the game and applying it to the youth of New Mexico. Mason has started the Albuquerque Basketball Club (ABC). The club is a basketball program that takes its teams to some of the nation’s toughest tournaments. Mason hopes to coach up a lot of local talent but mainly looks to get these players exposure from some of the best college programs in the country.

“Just taking these trips and playing against the number one team in the country, playing against the number seven team in the country. Win or lose the opportunity of competing at a higher level and also sitting in front of a Washington State, St. Johns, Mizzou, like all these high-level schools PAC 12, Mountain West. It’s just good to see something come out of it. So, that’s a good thing for our New Mexico kids,” said Mason.

Two players at ABC currently have Division I offers, and Mason hopes to see even more kids get college offers by the end of this season. Now, players aren’t able to play at their high school while competing with ABC but for players like Marcus Wilson, playing for ABC provides him the best opportunity to succeed. “You are surrounding yourself with a group of guys that have the drive, that have the passion for the sport. Like, some schools the kids don’t have the drive and over here we start something we are going to finish it. So, that’s what I like about this group of guys is that when we start something we are going to finish it and they are all in it,” said Wilson.

Wilson has already received multiple D-I offers including one from Washington State, and he along with this team is focused on getting exposure. This team will be playing in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week at the Tark Classic, which will house 300 teams from across the country. “It’s huge, it’s new to New Mexico. It’s really big though like everywhere we go it’s those teams and people recognize and know who these guys are. This is a big step, and I know it’s new, so that’s the scary part I would say, but the kids that want this opportunity we are here to give it to them,” said ABC Head Coach Michael Nanez.

This team will play four games in Las Vegas, starting on Wednesday and will finish on Saturday.

Finishing on the gridiron, the NMMI Broncos Football Team is gearing up to play Iowa Western in this year’s Junior College National Championship. #2 NMMI will play #1 Iowa Western on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, and while it will be a tough challenge this team has some momentum coming in.

NMMI got to the championship game after winning in their semifinal game 49-30, and the Broncos showcased their offense that racked up 655 total yards, including over 390 yards rushing and five TD’s from their running back Anthony Grant. “That’s the thing that people don’t know, we have a lot of playmakers on offense. It starts with our quarterback, running back, but most importantly our offensive line, because those guys you know, if you don’t have a solid group up front Diego wouldn’t be able to have time to throw the ball and also Grant wouldn’t be able to find the holes. It works its way out to Malik Phillips, Zavier Walker, and Jaylin Smith, you know we have playmakers on offense,” said NMMI Head Football Coach Kurt Taufa’asau.

NMMI will play Iowa Western on Friday at 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

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