New Mexico Is Third In The Mountain West At 5-3
Paul Weir has led New Mexico to a hot start in conference play
New Mexico hosts Colorado State on Saturday
“We’re not satisfied at all,” said Anthony Mathis after helping lead New Mexico to an unexpected win over San Diego State.
The quote by the New Mexico junior guard is a microcosm of the upstart New Mexico Lobos.
Using a 13-2 run in the final minutes, New Mexico completed a dramatic comeback win over the Mountain West heavyweight Saturday afternoon. Paul Weir’s squad has now won four of its last five games to crash the top three in the conference standings. Thanks to the recent stretch, New Mexico has also risen 53 spots in KenPom over the past four weeks.
None of this was anticipated. New Mexico isn’t afraid of anyone now.
In fact, the Lobos genuinely expect to beat the conference’s best teams.
As a refresher, this is the same program that fired its head coach last spring, watched seven of its top ten scorers from last season’s team either graduate or transfer, was picked to finish ninth in the Mountain West, and has played the last five games without its two-highest usage offensive players, both of which are upperclassmen.
This team was supposed to be bad.
Preseason comparisons between this year’s New Mexico team and last year’s UNLV team – the worst in Runnin’ Rebels program history – were nothing short of obvious.
Both teams are generally considered traditional Mountain West powers that faded into mediocrity before firing head coaches. Both teams hired former New Mexico State head coaches. Both teams had almost entirely new rosters for their first-year coaches.
The only difference is that Paul Weir’s Lobos have been a pleasant surprise in their first season of the new era.
Joe Furstinger has gone from the team’s three-year scapegoat to its double-double producer (six such performances since mid-December). Anthony Mathis has blossomed into one of the league’s most explosive three-point shooters (4th in makes, 2nd in percentage). Grad transfer Antino Jackson is comfortable guiding the team in the clutch, making key plays with the ball in the final minute of victories over UNLV and San Diego State en route to the league’s player of the week honors.
Even without Sam Logwood and Troy Simons in recent weeks, New Mexico has been as good as ever. It’s a testament to Paul Weir’s ability to push his players to their fullest potential. Most would agree New Mexico possesses one of the league’s least talented rosters, but it hasn’t prevented the Lobos from flexing their muscles in an improved Mountain West.
Just wait until New Mexico stockpiles its roster with the league’s top players.
Hint: it’s not long from now.