ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tuesday’s announcement that Richard Pitino will replace Paul Weir as head men’s basketball coach at the University of New Mexico was welcome news for Lobo fans who say it’s time for a new beginning. Fans said they are hoping Pitino can bring people back to The Pit.
It is a fresh start for Lobo basketball. “I am very excited,” UNM staff member Kevin Enright said. “Coach Pitino looks like he is going to be a fresh presence for our athletics department. It was probably time for fresh blood for the program. We haven’t had a lot of success recently, and the fan base wants to be able to root for our program. Wins help get that done.”
After a rocky season under Paul Weir who was let go as head coach last month, fans said Tuesday that it is time for new leadership. “I hope they are able to unify the team together and win more games,” UNM student Julio Chavez said. “I hope they bring back the old glory that UNM used to have, especially UNM basketball teams.”
This is the seventh year in a row that the Lobos have not made the NCAA tournament. Fans hope Pitino, who led his team at Minnesota to the tournament twice during his eight seasons there, will do the same here. “I am very hopeful,” Enright said. “I think it is definitely a possibility in maybe two or three years at the most. If he got there next year, we would obviously love it as a community, but I think he has a little bit of a grace period to get his feet under him and to recruit.”
Fans said they are most excited about potentially returning to The Pit next season with a brand new head coach, making the start of a new era for UNM basketball. “It feels like the normalcy is returning, and hopefully this will be a new start for UNM to restart and refresh the basketball team,” Chavez said.