ALBUQUERQUE — One game is hardly a workable sample size, which is exactly why the man charged with returning Lobo basketball to the center of the state’s collective sports consciousness is anxious to get back to the drawing board Saturday night in The Pit.
University of New Mexico head coach Paul Weir said he’d keep phasing in different looks from his team’s defense after the Lobos opened the season with a less than inspiring 21-point win over Eastern New Mexico earlier this week. UNM will host Cal State-Northridge to close out their opening week of the 2019-20 season.
While Weir was OK with his team’s offense — the Lobos shot 61 percent from the field and had 21 assists on 30 baskets — it’s the defense that remains a work in progress. He said it’s a fair bet to assume a few new wrinkles will be thrown in at the defensive end as things continue to evolve.
“I think the extent of our defense will vary as the season unfolds, as these games unfold,” Weir said. “Most of what we were trying to do [against ENMU] was get 75 to 90 great half-court defensive possessions where we can just improve, get film, talk, grow [and] just hopefully allow us to get better.”
Tinkering with things minus the concern of making oneself vulnerable is the luxury one has when the opponent is ENMU, a mid-level Division II school. It gets a bit more challenging with CSUN. The Mavericks were picked third in the Big West preseason poll and have four starters back from a team that took the Lobos down to the final possession in last year’s game in Southern California.
Weir admitted to not knowing much about CSUN after Wednesday’s opener, but the concern at that point was with the fine-tuning he’s done to get his team ready for what many believe will be a big year for New Mexico. He used just eight players until late in the second half when he began emptying his bench after the Lobos built a 28-point lead.
There were times, Weir said, where he saw flashes of his team’s swagger, the trait he said will carry the team a long way if its done in a manner that doesn’t lead to mistakes on the court; such as fouls, turnovers and going off-script at both ends of the floor.
“Our team is not lacking for confidence,” Weir said. “We’ve just got to find a way to harness that the right way.”
What: Cal State-Northridge (0-1)
at New Mexico (1-0)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday in The Pit
Tickets: $25-$45, www.GoLobos.com
Broadcast info: No TV, but the game will be streamed at www.theMW.com/watch; radio coverage at KKOB-AM 770
Live stats: www.GoLobos.com