Notes from the North

Football teams have a long history of hosting camps for women as sort of a behind-the-scenes glance at how things are done. Toss men’s college basketball to that list.

The University of New Mexico will host the Women’s Walkthrough on Oct. 3 for $60 per camper. They get a tour of the extensive Lobo facilities, which includes Davalos Center, film rooms, locker rooms and pretty much everything between The Pit floor and the exit sign in the practice facility.

It’s the latest way that UNM head coach Paul Weir is trying to connect with the public. During his two-plus years with the Lobos he has taken them around the state for practices, banquets, camps and even a regular-season game in Hobbs.

There’s the usual camp perks, like food and drinks, prizes, autograph sessions and more. On top of that is an opportunity to learn about Lobo basketball from the inside out and rub elbows with a coaching staff that is committed to brings fans closer to the action than a front-row seat on game day.

For more information, call the Lobo basketball office at 505-925-5750.

• • •

The past 12 months have been a whirlwind for Taos head football coach Art Abreu Jr.

Most of it was contained to the football field, as he helped guide the Tigers to a program-best 12-1 record and its first state title when it beat Bloomfield 14-7 in the championship game in December.

To kick off the 2019 season, Abreu announced on Twitter another milestone — he and his wife Chloe are having a baby. A photo taken at Anaya Field with the team surrounding the couple announced a February arrival for the child, so it won’t conflict with the football season.

• • •

The disturbing trends keep appearing in prep football: the declining numbers of players.

After The New Mexican’s Aug. 4 story on diminishing roster sizes, St. Michael’s long-time football historian Mike Pitel reported that 33 Horsemen showed up for the first practice of the 2019 season, although that figure improved to 41 in the afternoon and more players continued to trickle in throughout the week. The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that eight-man program Foothill canceled its season last week, which came on the heels of Mission Achievement and Success shuttering its program the week before.

Not all the news was bad, though. On Friday, Sheila Miller of The Taos News texted that Questa will have a junior-varsity program coached by district Superintendent Mike Lovato. The Wildcats struggled to finish its schedule for the previous two seasons and was designated as an independent team.

• • •

While the prep football season officially began last week with the start of practice, the rest of the fall sports (soccer, volleyball, cross-country) officially kick off Monday. Most of the teams will get two weeks to get ready for action — except for soccer teams at St. Michael’s and Santa Fe High. The schools kick off the season Aug. 21 with a boys/girls doubleheader at Christian Brothers Athletic Complex.

Hopefully, it goes better than last year’s season opener. The girls match ended in a 1-all tie, while the boys made it through 15 minutes before a thunderstorm halted play.

• • •

As of Sunday, there were 965 college basketball players entered in the transfer portal, meaning a whole bunch of name tags are going to be required for the first few days of practice this fall.

Of those, all but a handful have found new teams to take them in. One of the last was signed this week when former UNM big man Vladimir Pinchuk was scooped up by San Diego. The 6-foot-11 junior posted a photo of himself to his Instagram account wearing the powder blue Torreros jersey.

He was the second Lobo to jump ship this offseason, joining shooting guard Anthony Mathis (Oregon). It completes a busy season of comings and goings in the state as 17 players with ties to one of the state’s programs arrived or said adios.

That includes UNM newcomers J.J. Caldwell (Texas A&M) and Vante Hendrix (Utah), both guards.

More than half of the current Lobo roster is made up of players who transferred in.

New Mexico State was even busier with the exits of guard Junub Char Chuol (New Mexico Junior College), forward Berrick Jean Louis (Florida Southwestern State), forward Mohamed Thiam (Iona) and guard Addison Wallace (Collin College).

The Aggies notably added a strong group of transfers with guard Evan Gilyard (UTEP), forward Trevelin Queen (Western Kentucky), guard Shawn Williams (East Carolina) and center Jalone Friday (Abilene Chriristian).

NEW James Barron and Will Webber tie a bow on the prep football season for Santa Fe teams after Capital and St. Michael's bowed out in the first round. They also try to make sense of a new, complicated format for this week's state volleyball tournament.

New Mexico Highlands got into the game, too, with the addition of 6-6 strong forward David Hall, a senior from New Hampshire who is eligible immediately.

• • •

Lobo fans still carrying a torch for — or a grudge against — former UNM basketball coach Steve Alford may or may not ask for a room at the hotel situated between a steakhouse and an administration building for a local utility in New Castle, Ind.

Indianapolis Star reporter Dana Hunsinger Benbow recently published a story about the Steve Alford All-American Inn, a 55-bed hotel in his Indiana hometown.

It’s worth the read, even if you’re not an Alford apologist. It shows the undying love his former stomping grounds has for him. It’s a place where basketball legends never fade and local businesses are willing to erect an SUV-sized sneaker and paint it in whatever color their hero works for at the time.

Good stuff.

• • •

In keeping with the theme about former members of the UNM basketball program, Estevan Sandoval announced Friday he will join Gillette (Wyo.) College’s staff as an assistant coach. Sandoval, a 2013 St. Michael’s graduate, spent four years as a student manager at UNM and was a graduate assistant under head coach Paul Weir last season.

Sandoval joins a junior college program that is in its ninth year and already reached the NJCAA Final Four in 2016 and the Sweet 16 the following year.

Last year, the Pronghorns were 15-16 and did not make the postseason.

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