New Mexico 2009 NIT Tournament Preview
New Mexico Lobos - Mountain West (21-11, 12-4)
Seed: #3 - Creighton Bracket
Big Wins: 1/17 BYU (81-62), 2/21 San Diego State (75-49), 3/3 Utah (77-71)
Bad Losses: 11/22 UCF (71-72), 11/30 vs Drake (62-68), 12/20 at Texas Tech (78-86)
Coach: Steve Alford
Probable New Mexico Starters:
Dairese Gary, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 ppg, 4.0 apg
Phillip McDonald, Freshman, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Tony Danridge, Senior, Guard, 15.2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 4.1 rpg
Roman Martinez, Junior, Forward, 10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Daniel Faris, Senior, Forward, 11.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Key New Mexico Roleplayers:
Will Brown, Freshman, Forward, 1.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Nate Garth, Freshman, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 3.2 apg
A.J. Hardeman, Freshman, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Chad Toppert, Senior, Guard, 10.7 ppg, 1.2 apg
Jonathan Wills, Sophomore, Guard, 2.3 ppg, 1.0 apg
Why The Lobos Can Surprise:
New Mexico has battled their way through a tough Mountain West Conference with a decent showing due to their ability to share the ball and take smart shots. The Lobos have two very effective three-point shooters in Chad Toppert and Roman Martinez. Toppert hits 2.4 long balls per game and Martinez adds two more. The most impressive thing is that they both shoot over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
It is in large part the play of Dairese Gary, Nate Garth and Tony Danridge that set up open looks for Toppert and Martinez. Gary is the starting point guard and he has done an amazing job taking care of the ball. In fact, during a three game stretch in conference play he did not commit a single turnover. When Gary is playing like that, UNM will get a ton of opportunities to score. Even when Gary needs a break the Lobos have a quality back-up in freshman Garth. Even in limited playing time Garth averaged 3.2 assists per game during the regular season.
Why The Lobos Can Disappoint:
Coach Steve Alford has a lot of depth to work with, since ten players average at least nine minutes per game, but this team has seven guys who see a bulk of those minutes. The problem is just about everybody will get into foul trouble at one point or another. If New Mexico is forced to go ten deep instead of seven because of foul trouble, there will be a drop off in production. The other issue with the Lobos is their three-point field-goal defense. The opposition shoots 35.5 percent from beyond the arc and that is pretty good for an entire team. The Lobos can give up points in a hurry and even a big lead might not be as safe as it appears.
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Who To Watch:
Toppert and Martinez will do plenty of scoring from the perimeter, yet Danridge and Daniel Faris are the top two scorers on the team. Danridge, a 6-5 wing, can score from anywhere on the floor. His outside shooting is not that great, but he will at least keep the opposition honest with his jump shot. Danridge does most of his damage around the basket and he is always a threat to take a defender off the dribble. Faris is a savvy interior scorer who frees up space for the rest of the team by hanging out in the paint. On the other side of the floor, the 6-9 senior has developed into a solid shot blocker and a strong rebounder.
New Mexico By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.9 (74th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (110, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.5 (54, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (47, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (80, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.1 (24, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.7 (137, 7)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (87, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.6 (36, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 2.3 (56, 3)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to UAB
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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