#16 New Mexico Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

New Mexico Lobos

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #1 Mountain West

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New Mexico was flying high until March. The Lobos won the Mountain West regular season and conference tournament titles and headed into the NCAA Tournament with 29 wins. As a result, they earned a #3 seed. But the season came to a crashing end against Harvard. If that was not bad enough news for New Mexico, they lost their coach, Steve Alford, just a couple weeks later. Yet, despite the disappointing March, this is a team that returns four starters and promoted Coach Craig Neal from within. We will see more of the same from the Lobos in 2013-2014 and maybe they can win a couple games in the tournament too.

2012-13 Record: 29-6, 13-3
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Craig Neal
Coach Record: 0-0 at New Mexico, 0-0 overall

Who’s Out:
Tony Snell opted to leave early and enter the NBA Draft, where he was selected late in the first round. The big 6-7 guard used his size to shoot over defenders and attack the basket. He did both very well, averaging 12.5 points per game and knocking down 39.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. The backcourt has some other departures to worry about too. Demetrius Walker, Chad Adams and Jamal Fenton provided just about all of the minutes off of the bench on the perimeter. All three were capable outside shooters and much of the depth will now have to come from the newcomers.

Who’s In:
Deshawn Delaney, a 6-5 wing, will be asked to replace Snell. The junior college transfer averaged 17.1 points and 8.6 rebounds during his two years at Vincennes University in Indiana and that is some tough competition. Delaney may not be able to hit the glass quite as effectively in the Mountain West, but he will be a good scorer right away. Arthur Edwards is another big guard with junior college experience. He should be able to come in off of the bench and knock down some three-pointers. Cullen Neal, the son of new head coach Craig Neal, will spend a few minutes backing up the point and could provide a bit of an offensive spark off of the bench if his shot is falling. Devon Williams, Tim Myles, Obij Aget and Merv Lindsay are the newcomers in the frontcourt. Williams and Lindsay, a transfer from Kansas, are more big wings than forwards.

Who to Watch:
Kendall Williams, the reigning MW Player of the Year, is back to lead New Mexico to the NCAA Tournament. He led the team with 13.3 points and 4.9 assists and connected on 34.8 percent of his attempts from long range. Williams is a great floor general and he will lead this team to big things again in 2013-2014. Williams will be joined in the backcourt by Hugh Greenwood and the pressure will be on the 6-3 junior. Greenwood has been starting for two years so he does have experience and the ability to increase his 7.0 scoring average of a season ago. Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk are back to man their starting spots in the frontcourt. Bairstow played great ball down the stretch last season and the 6-9 senior will be in for a huge season if he can keep it up. Kirk made a huge impact on both ends of the floor in 2012-2013 and expect more of the same this year. The seven-footer averaged 12.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

Final Projection:
Sophomores Cleveland Thomas and Nick Banyard did not see much action as freshmen, but they could work their way into the regular rotation. But for New Mexico the bigger story will happen in March. Coach Neal has the most talented team in the conference and a great leader in Williams. The Lobos should win the conference title once again and if Coach Neal can take this team to the Sweet Sixteen, nobody will remember Alford.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kendall Williams, Senior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Hugh Greenwood, Junior, Guard, 7.0 points per game
Deshawn Delaney, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Cameron Bairstow, Senior, Forward, 9.7 points per game
Alex Kirk, Junior, Center, 12.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.3 (174th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.6 (38, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.3 (223, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.1 (26, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.3 (147, 5)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.1 (105, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (87, 3)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (107, 5)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (66, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (45, 3)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#43 Kendall Williams


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