Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
With Steve Alford chaser greener pastures at UCLA, the New Mexico Lobos turn to assistant coach Craig Neal to take over the program. With four starters returning, the Lobos are the favorite to repeat as Mountain West Conference champs.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS
Last Season: 1st, 13-3 in MWC, 29-6 overall
Predicted MWC Finish: 1st
Projected Depth Chart
C: Alex Kirk (Jr)/Obij Aget (Fr)
PF: Cameron Bairstow (Sr)/Nick Banyard (So)/Tim Myles (Fr)
G/F: Deshawn Delaney (Jr)/Merv Lindsay (So)/Devon Williams (Fr)
G: Hugh Greenwood (Jr)/Cleveland Thomas (So)/Arthur Edwards (So)
PG: Kendall Williams (Sr)/Cullen Neal (Fr)
Gone: SF-Tony Snell, PG-Jamal Fenton, F-Chad Adams, PG-Demetrius Walker (transfer-Grand Canyon)
Neal has the luxury of relying on a veteran backcourt in Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood. The guard duo is interchangeable in that each can run the point or play off the ball since they both shoot the three ball fairly well. Williams is the better athlete and distributor of the two as he enters the season seventh all-time in Lobos history in assists so he will spend more time creating offense while Greenwood rebounds really well for his position.
Junior college transfer Deshawn Delaney and Kansas transfer Merv Lindsay share the responsibility of replacing Tony Snell at the three. Delaney is a two-time JUCO All-American and capable scorer. Lindsay was barely used during his freshman season with the Jayhawks but is a long, athletic wing who brings versatility to the floor much like Snell did.
Up-front, New Mexico returns the physical duo of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. After missing the 2011-12 season, Kirk was a huge weapon for the Lobos since he can bang down low but also step out on the perimeter and knock down outside shots. He also adds a defensive presence in the middle. Bairstow capitalized on increased playing time last year, eventually earning a spot in the starting five. Due to his physicality, he will see some minutes at center as well when Kirk needs a rest.
While there is a lot to like with the starting five, the bench is a huge question mark since seldom used Cleveland Thomas and Nick Banyard are the only reserves who saw any PT a year ago. The coach’s son, Cullen Neal should immediately be a factor off the bench and is another versatile guard. Redshirt freshman Devon Williams, JUCO transfer Arthur Edwards, and freshmen Obij Aget and Tim Myles will all compete for minutes as well.
Until the bench figures itself out, the New Mexico Lobos need their four returning starters to play heavy minutes and lead the charge. As the rotation begins to take shape, UNM has the talent to repeat in the MWC.
Player to Watch: Kendall Williams
The four year starter has quickly climbed up the record books at New Mexico. He can do a little bit of everything on the floor which is why he should win his second straight MWC Player of the Year award and hear his name called in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/21 vs. UAB (Charleston Classic)
11/22 vs. UMass/Nebraska (Charleston Classic)
11/23 vs. Davidson/Clemson/Temple/Georgia (Charleston Classic)
12/4 at New Mexico State
12/7 vs. Cincinnati
12/14 vs. Kansas (in Kansas City)
12/21 vs. Marquette (in Las Vegas)
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#29 St. John’s
#33 Boise State
#36 St. Louis
#37 La Salle
#38 San Diego State
#40 Arizona State
#44 Iowa State
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks