ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The struggles continue for the Lobo men’s basketball team amid a tumultuous season with a losing record and players leaving the team. They’ve now decided not to play their upcoming series against longtime rival San Diego State. Longtime Lobo fans and local sports commentators alike said they have never seen a season like this one.
For the University of New Mexico basketball fans, Lobo basketball is a way of life. “We lived and died by basketball,” said Lobo fan Sharon. “We loved it.”
Sharon said she and her family have been huge Lobo basketball fans since the ’90s. “We never knew anything like the excitement in The Pit,” said Sharon. “We never left, and we got very involved in the basketball program.
She even said she was a fundraiser for the Lobo Club, but this season, she’s tuned out. “After the first five games, no,” Sharon said. “It was a real heartbreak.”
The Lobos have had a dismal season with a 5-11 record. Most of their wins have been against lower-division teams. They’ve only had one win in the conference which has put them dead last in the Mountain West rankings. “It is a huge bummer,” Lobo fan Andrew Person said.
The Lobos have had to deal with challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions in New Mexico, made the team relocate to Texas to play. “You can’t draw a crowd,” Sharon said. “You can’t increase that enthusiasm behind you. It is like taking the air out of a balloon.”
The team has chosen not to play this week’s conference series against rival San Diego State. “It is absolutely tragic,” Sharon said. “It is a loss, most of all for those kids that have been living their dream trying to get to this level of ball.”
J.J. Buck is the co-host of The Opening Drive on The Sports Animal and has covered the Lobos for a decade. He said the news even caught those in the sports world by surprise. “The news they were postponing the series and thus the rest of the season coming into question was shocking,” said Buck. “I think it caught everyone off guard in the fan base and those covering the team with all the uncertainty, but I think it highlights just how challenging this season is.”
Buck said Coach Paul Weir’s future with the program will be looked at. “Especially at a place like New Mexico with high expectations for their basketball program, the coach will be evaluated every year,” Buck said. “This is a difficult situation.”
“I don’t blame a coach for that,” Sharon said. “I don’t know how you keep a program together when you have to play away from The Pit which was the draw for most of those boys anyway.”
Sharon said she looks forward to the day the team can return home. Right now, the university pays Coach Paul Weir $825,000 a year. If he were fired after this season, UNM would owe him $700,000. He has two seasons left in his contract.