New Mexico Basketball: Coaching Search Yields Three Candidates

New Mexico Basketball: Coaching Search Yields Three Candidates

Mountain West Basketball

New Mexico Basketball: Coaching Search Yields Three Candidates


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New Mexico Basketball: Coaching Search Yields Three Candidates

Three names service as lead candidates for New Mexico Vacancy.

Contact/Follow @HardwoodTalk & @MWCwire

The Lobo basketball coaching search should end in Chicago, with three names surfaced so far and a big decision looming.

Dr. Paul Weir coached his last game as the New Mexico basketball head coach this past week. As the Lobos exited the Mountain West Conference Tournament early this year, in a 85-77 first round loss to Fresno State.

Now we put our ears to the ground, or eyes towards the Albuquerque Journal’s Geoff Grammer’s Twitter timeline for the latest on New Mexico’s coaching search.

Since the announcement was made on February 26th, and since folks like me took to Twitter and took part in the speculation of who could dawn the Cherry Blazer next. A couple key details about the timeline of the decision and candidates involved have surfaced, let’s examine.

UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez has spoken about his desire make the right decision in a timely manner. After speaking with Grammer this past week, we now know Nunez hopes to have his man by the start of games this week in Indianapolis.

“What that means is – I can’t say Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, but my hope is it will be in that (next week) time frame,” Nuñez told the Journal in Las Vegas.

Less than 24-hours later some more news came about, as Eddie Nuñez and deputy AD David Williams met in Chicago to meet with two candidates in person. With one more candidate expected to be interviewed, the Journal independently confirmed the following three-man list on Saturday.

Richard Pitino (38, Minnesota), Kyle Keller (53, Stephen F. Austin), Tim Miles (54, Media Analyst, last stop Nebraska). Pitino and Keller are certainly new names to the conversation. But both hires have plenty of potential along with Miles who most folks felt was the frontrunner for the job since it was announced late last month.

Pitino made two NCAA Tournament appearances and has brought a NIT championship to the Barn in Minnesota. But a 14-15 record this past season, has his future in Minneapolis in doubt.

Keller has a 104-46 record coaching the Lumberjacks, and went 16-5 (12-3) this season. Though a postseason ban this season in Nacogdoches, after the NCAA found errors in how players in football, men’s basketball and baseball were certified eligible at the school. Keller’s name has now come up for a New Mexico job that would certainly be a step up in salary and competition, but with huge potential for both parties.

Miles rebuilt the Colorado State program before taking the Rams to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011-12 before earning the Nebraska job. In Lincoln he went 116-114 in seven seasons,  including one NCAA Tournament appearance and two NITs.

Any of the three candidates could certainly thrive in Albuquerque. But, Eddie Nuñez knows the decision, no matter how quickly made, needs to work. With the goal of competing in an ever evolving Mountain West and return to the NCAA Tournament in mind, any name above may do the job.

“I know I’m never going to please everybody, but I’m going to do everything I can to find someone who’s going to represent this program, lead this program with dignity with class,”

But, this is certainly a decision Nuñez and Williams or whoever it comes down to can’t get wrong. Stay tuned folks.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.


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