Marin shines again at PG after returning to bench » Albuquerque Journal | #schoolshooting

Lobo freshman point guard Isaiah Marin has been up and down this season. Wednesday coming off the bench at Dixie State he was up again, scoring 13 points and hitting both of UNM’s 3-pointers in the game. (File photo Courtesy UNM Athletics)

Here are a few extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets or whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after the 72-63 Lobos win on Wednesday over Dixie State in St. George, Utah:

Marin’s turn to shine

Look, I know I just wrote less than a week ago that it appeared the Lobos had hope at the point guard position.

And while I still believe that, I think Wednesday made me see that it is still very much a work in progress. And the past few games makes the Lobos MVP appear to be whoever actually doesn’t get the start at point guard.

After a bad shooting start to the season, Jeremiah Francis, whose value was never as a scorer, moved to the bench last week for two games. And in stepped freshman Isaiah Marin, whose value is all about being a scorer, though he’s limited elsewhere.


The decision resulted in Marin going 0-for-9 shooting as a starter with four turnovers and eight fouls committed in just 33 minutes played, fouling out in 17 minutes on Jan. 8. And Francis, of course, had two of his best games as a Lobo when he came off the bench vs. Utah State, scoring 8.0 points per game (remember, UNM scored just 45 and 46 points in the series) with

So it was no surprise that Francis started again on Wednesday and Marin was back on the bench.

What wasn’t a welcome sight for Lobo coaches was that the result of the switch back was Francis back in a slump (0-8 shooting/0-6 from 3).

What was a welcome sight was Marin’s offense came back from a reserve spot with 13 points and hitting both of UNM’s 3 pointers, though he did foul out again and foul trouble limited him to just 15 minutes played.

• Here, Marin drives, gets the bucket and draws a foul:

• Here is Marin’s second 3-pointer, which gave the Lobos a 12-0 run (it grew to 14-0) in the second half:

Clearly, knowing what they’ll get from game to game from their point guards isn’t something Lobo coaches can really do at this point.

So, I asked Paul Weir how hard it makes things on the staff when it appears the best player on the Lobos roster might be the moving target of whoever doesn’t actually start at point guard.

“You obviously don’t want it that way,” Weir said. “You know, we flipped it (the starting roles) because I thought Jeremiah was playing pretty well and maybe it was too much for Isaiah (to start). Now, you flip it back and you get (what Wednesday night’s stats showed). So, it’s just something we got to keep working through kind of find the right sweet spot for each of those guys are just really our team in general, and what’s going to put our team in the best position to win.”

Getting both going at the same time would be huge for the Lobos, not just now, but for years to come since both are so young.

One is a sophomore who hasn’t played many minutes in the past three years. Yes, three years as Francis missed his junior and senior seasons of high school with an injury and didn’t play regular minutes at North Carolina last season.

The other is a freshman who is obviously offensively gifted on a team that simply has to have that threat on the court more, but he has work to do elsewhere.

“Obviously, Isaiah was awesome,” Weir said of Wednesday’s game, adding it was things the stat sheet doesn’t show that impressed most. “You know the big thing with Isaiah since he’s got here has been his defense and just his physicality. He’s a finesse player. That’s what makes him such a good offensive player, but it poses some limitations on his defense, and I thought that he had a great stretch in the second half — if you saw him, he was standing there with his hands wide out and playing defense exactly how we asked him to, as opposed to reaching and just doing things that young kids do. And that to me was the most encouraging thing.

“He’s very offensively gifted, which we need.”

The gamer…

Here’s a link to the gamer filed Wednesday night for online and in print in Thursday’s Journal:

McGee opts out

By now, most know (and the gamer linked above discusses, too), that Lobos senior guard Keith McGee has opted out of the remainder of this season.

For this Emptying the Notebook column, I’ll just post three things: His statement, his Tweet and a link to the full article published Wednesday afternoon online about it with far more information:

• McGee’s statement:

“Due to COVID-19 I have decided to opt out of this season. What our team has experienced this year has had a major impact on my mental and physical well being. My health and safety is more important than the game I love right now. To my teammates and coaches, you guys have been a great support system. Thank you Lobo nation for all the amazing memories these last 3 years. This place will always be in my heart and I will forever call the Pit home. Go Lobos! – Keith McGee”

• McGee’s Tweet:

• The Journal’s story from Wednesday:

Just a minute

Lobo fans have a couple consistent complaints about Paul Weir … and Craig Neal before him … and, yes, even Steve Alford (to a lesser extent) before him … and so on, and so on, and so on.

Why didn’t ___________ play more?

Why does he keep pulling players out of the game so often?

Paul Weir played a minimum of 11 players in each of UNM’s first nine games this season. He even used 15 or 16 players in five — FIVE! — games.

That’s a lot for a college basketball game and it does tend to lead to a lot of shorter stretches on the court for players who sometimes struggle to find a rhythm.

Also inn the first nine games, only three players were ever on the court 30 minutes: Jeremiah Francis played 30 minutes at Rice on Dec. 13, Saquan Singleton played 30 minutes against Nevada on Jan. 2 and Makuach Maluach played 35 minutes in that same Nevada game on Jan. 2.

Wednesday, however, Weir finally shortened the bench and played only nine guys, three of which hit the 30 minute mark: Saquan Singleton 36 minutes, Rod Brown 33 minutes and Makuach Maluach 30 minutes.

Former starter Emmanuel Kuac didn’t get in the game, which I was asked about four times on social media. I don’t know anything other than it appears he was a healthy DNP (did not play), coaches decision. I’ll update if/when I hear more.

But I’ll also add that Weir, nor any coach, can simultaneously give every player more minutes like fans often want while also seeing to it he shortens the bench so players on the floor can play longer.

It’s official

The officiating crew for Wednesday night’s game was Mike Reed, Shawn Lehigh and Crystal Hogan.

Mike Reed and Shawn Lehigh are Mountain West regulars who have done plenty of Lobo games through the years.

Crystal Hogan, meanwhile, very well could be the first female to officiate a Lobo men’s basketball game. I’ve covered the team since the end of the Alford era and Ryan Berryman, an Associated AD at UNM who was a longtime manager for the team and then director of operations told me Wednesday night via a text message that in his seven years with the team he doesn’t recall there being one.

Do I know for sure a female has never officiated a Lobos men’s game? No. But I know it’s very rare for a female to even be calling men’s games at the Division I level and as the years go back, it was even more rare. Last year, Hogan was the only woman officiating at all in Division I men’s basketball (there is one more this season, and there was at least one female official who worked an NCAA Tournament game in 2002, per the NY Times article linked below).

Here’s a great read on Crystal from JohnBranch of the New York Times from just last month:


For the first time this season, the Lobos played in front of fans.

There was an announced crowd of 771 inside Burns Arena at Dixie State University on Wednesday. Per the contract between the two teams, DSU was to cap attendance at a 25% maximum and make tickets available only to “season ticket holders, boosters and students only.”

Tickets will not be made available for the two games UNM hosts San Jose State in Burns Arena on Jan. 21 and 23.

Why Dixie?

I covered a little bit of the details as to why the Lobos threw together what seemed like a last-minute game at Dixie State in a column I wrote on Monday (published in print on Tuesday).

The quick run down of the contract terms and benefits for the Lobos playing the game:

• They needed a change of scenery from the Lubbock hotel they had been staying in for most of the past seven weeks,
• They get practice time at Burns Arena over the next 10 days or so, something that is sort of a big deal for a team relocated out of state and can now bus the under 2-hour drive to nearby Las Vegas, Nev., for the weekend’s UNLV series,
• And they get an arena to “host” next week’s two-game Mountain West series with San Jose State in Utah.

And there was more to it than all that, too, as Paul Weir explained below after the game:

Score by quarters

Since I made a note of it in the preview article, I will update here the score by “quarters” from Wednesday’s game.

First off, my usual gripe about men’s college basketball being the last place in the sport with two halves, not four quarters like literally every other level of the game (youth, high school, professional, men’s or women’s, international games, etc.).

Assuming the men’s college game had quarters (each 10-minute interval), here’s what the Lobos scoring differential was in its six-game losing streak to open Mountain West play:

• 1st quarter: 12.5 – 18.2 (minus-5.7)
• 2nd quarter: 12.2 – 22.7 (minus-10.5)
• 3rd quarter: 15.0-17.7 (minus-2.7)
• 4th quarter: 14.3-21.0 (minus-6.7)

And here’s what the score by quarters looked like in Wednesday’s game:

• 1st quarter: 10 – 13 (minus-3)
• 2nd quarter: 17 – 13 (plus-4)
• 3rd quarter: 20 – 7 (plus-13)
• 4th quarter: 25 – 30 (minus-5)

Makuach watch

I’ll be awhile before he gets to climb another spot on the UNM career scoring list, so let’s make sure to update the latest name Makuahc Maluach passed with his 12 points scored on Wednesday in what was career game No. 109:

• No. 26 – Philip McDonald, 2008-2012 (1,146 points)
• No. 27 – David Chiotti, 2002-2006 (1,145 points)
• No. 28 – Makuach Maluach, 2017-present (1,095 points)
• No. 29 – Ike Williams, 1990-1993 (1,086 points)

They weren’t all easy buckets for Maluach on Wednesday as he was just 5-of-12 shooting, but he still was one of three Lobos to score in double figures because of efforts like this:

Block party

Maybe they learned a thing or two playing Neemias Queta and Utah State last week in Lubbock.

The Lobos racked up 11 blocked shots on Wednesday, one off of the program record that has been reached five times in program history. Interestingly enough, three of the five times the Lobos have blocked 12 shots in a game, they’ve lost.

• Nov. 22, 2013: L, 81-65 vs. Massachusetts (Charleston Classic)
• Jan. 17, 2000: L, 85-73 vs. UNLV
• March 23, 1992: W, 79-71 vs. Washington State (NIT)
• Dec. 23, 1987: W, 108-84 vs. Rider
• Feb. 25, 1977: L, 88-80 vs. BYU

• Wednesday: W, 72-63 at Dixie State
• Dec. 15, 2012: W, 73-58 vs. New Mexico State
• Jan. 7, 2012: W, 85-57 vs. North Dakota
• Dec. 15, 1990: L, 72-64 at New Mexico State
• Feb. 22, 1989: W, 100-67 vs. Eastern New Mexico
• Jan. 26, 1978: W, 95-82 vs. BYU

Up next…

Saturday: UNM at UNLV, 2:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. MT, CBS Sports Network, 770 AM/96.3 FM

Meanwhile, in Laramie…

Another night, another blowout victory for the Boise State Broncos who, while continuing so far to feed on the bottom half of the Mountain West standings, also continue to destroy the bottom half of the Mountain West standings.

Wednesday, it was by 20 points on a tough trip to Laramie in a game six Broncos reached double figure scoring.

Boise State’s depth continues to make Leon Rice’s team look not only like a Mountain West title contender, but dare I say the favorite at this point?

The Lobos will miss the Laradise experience this season. Which is too bad because that means they miss that fun postgame bus ride back to Denver on nights like this that my Idaho Press buddy B.J. Raines posted video of on Wednesday night as he left the Arena Auditorium:

Around the Mountain

There were two games involving Mountain West teams on Wednesday and two more coming on Thursday…

• Boise State 90, Wyoming 70
• New Mexico 72, Dixie State 63

• Utah State at San Diego State
• Colorado State vs. San Jose State (at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix)

Mountain West standings

Though the Lobos played on Wednesday, it was a non-conference game so their record here remains unchanged.

Here are the Mountain West standings through Wednesday’s games:

8-0 Boise State
6-0 Utah State
5-1 Colorado State
3-1 San Diego State
3-3 Nevada
3-3 Fresno State
1-3 Wyoming
1-5 Air Force
0-2 UNLV
0-6 New Mexico
0-6 San Jose State

Whatever happened to this guy?

Quick change of pace here.

In this week’s Talking Grammer podcast (Episode 34), I caught up with former NMSU Aggie basketball star and former UNM Lobo assistant coach Brandon Mason trying to figure out what he’s been up to since resigning in August.

Has he been watching the Lobos, many of whom he recruited to Albuquerque? What’s next for him with basketball in the state? And how’s that Lobo alumni team coming along for this summer’s TBT (The Basketball Tournament)?

The podcast can be heard on the following links:

• SoundCloud
• iTunes
• Spotify

Or give a listen here to the embedded SoundCloud player here:

Or, to hear any of the 34 episodes of the Talking Grammer podcast, click below:

Plus/minus stats

Here are the always popular plus/minus stats from Wednesday’s game in St. George, Utah, with minutes played in parenthesis:

+15 Isaiah Marin (14:58)
+14 Rod Brown (33:46)
+13 Valdir Manuel (24:07)
+11 Saquan Singleton (35:41)
+9 Javonte Johnson (17:35)
-2 Jeremiah Francis (20:24)
-4 Bayron Matos (15:53)
-4 Makuach Maluach (29:57)
-7 Nolan Dorsey (7:39)

Busting out the turquoise

They needed a change.

They went with the turquoise unis for the first time this season.

A number to know: 41.5

The Lobos had a 41.5 offensive rebound rate on Wednesday, meaning the grabbed 41.5% of the available missed shots on their end of the court.

The national average is 28.0.

And, not surprisingly, they’re back in the win column as a result.

The Lobos have had a better than 40% offensive rebound rate four times this season (all four wins) and under 40% six times (all six losses).

Stats and stats

Here’s a link to the digital version of statistics from Wednesday’s game: New Mexico 72, Dixie State 63

And here’s a link to the more traditional looking stat sheet: New Mexico 72, Dixie State 63

Wanna watch?

Here’s a link to the WAC Digital Network’s stream of Wednesday’s game: WATCH UNM at DSU GAME

(Note, stream started during warmups, as you’ll see. Game play is a good 21 minutes into the stream)

In case you missed it…

Former Lobo Anthony Mathis on Monday was drafted into the NBA’s G-League, taken with the No. 12 pick in the second round by the Austin Spurs.

Grammer’s Guesses

The Guesses got one right! Actually, two right if you count the bonus pick I put in the tweet below before Wednesday’s games.

But the season long competition against my daughter’s coin flipping only counts Mountain West games. For Wednesday, that meant I got it right picking Boise State and my daughter’s coin got it wrong, going with Wyoming.

I’m now at 12-17-1 on the season. My daughter falls to 15-14-1.

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