Last weekend, Lobo football defeated Texas State for their third victory of the year, matching the total wins of their last three seasons combined. When Bob Davie took over the cherry and silver head coaching duties, not even the most jaded Lobo fan could have imagined such a convincing change of course.
Infamous former head coach Mike Locksley evoked some ridicule with an early statement that the Lobos were going to need “... a third digit for the scoreboard ...” because they were going to be piling on the points under his leadership. So far this season, the Lobos are still nowhere near that level of ambitious boasting, but they are averaging more than 28 points a game, which far surpasses previous records. Consider that in 2011, the Lobos scored a meager 17 touchdowns over the entire season (and only 21 in each of the two before that).
Unlike the Lobos' first victory this season, their last two have come over respectable, even if not powerhouse, Division I schools. The win two weeks ago against instra-state rivalry NMSU was extremely important to most sports-loving New Mexicans. But the near-win last week against burly Boise State seemed to say even more. With these games adding to the Lobos' self-esteem and win total, things seem to be primed for a turnaround.
As exciting as the early season has been, don't declare the future a bed of roses just yet. Despite a Lobo triumph, the game against the Bobcats wasn't pretty. New Mexico managed only one completed pass in the entire game. Though rushing yards were ample, making up for the lack of a passing game, that won't be enough to assure wins in the future. The Lobos have now rushed for more than 400 yards in four separate games, but they'll need to balance out their attack in order to see victories over more quality opponents.
And the more quality opponents are on their way. All of the games from this point on are conference matches, and the Lobos currently sit at 7th in the Mountain West. Staring up at our opponents is not necessarily the way we want to start conference play but, fortunately, next week the Lobos face Hawaii (one of the three teams that hasn't won a game in our conference thus far).
If the winning ways can keep up, even just for next week, the Lobos can lay claim to something they haven't had in more than four years: a winning record halfway through the season.
The No. 4 University of New Mexico Lobos looked a bit sloppy against the Houston Baptist University Huskies on Sunday, allowing a goal in the 16th minute. However, they managed to put two in the back of the net to come out on top in Houston.
The Lobos continue their march forward in the wake of last year's undefeated season—a remarkable season that, due to the odd rules of soccer, concluded in the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a match that sent the Lobos home, but did not count as a loss.
The Huskies have lost five games this season, but the Lobos have taken only a single loss. Their tenacity after a 13-hour weather delay and a site change for the game shows how focused this team is on improving last year's considerable accomplishments.
This game was the conference opener for the The Lobos and who now face nine consecutive matches with members of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation all vying for the NCAA Tournament automatic bid. UNM's last conference game will be another against Houston Baptist on Saturday, November 3. In between, of course, there will be plenty of tough matches, though none against the old giants of the MPSF, Sacramento State and Colorado. The Lobos should still brace themselves October 21 for a home battle against CSU Bakersfield, another Mountain Pacific team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year.
In a year full of individual accolades that continue to pile up for the Lobos, the most promising praise is the national ranking and the knowledge that, after such repeated success, this team deserves to be considered among the national title contenders.
This weekend, the Lobos will continue their assault on two in-conference visitors: Air Force on Friday and Denver on Sunday. Both matches should showcase the Lobos' talents and serve as excellent opportunities for fans to jump on the wagon and get behind a local team that could make waves come championship time.
Do I look better in this cherry blazer than Steve Alford?
When the University of New Mexico defeated the Southern Jaguars 66-21 their opening weekend, it was the fresh start the football program desperately needed. For the first time in three years every part of the team worked in sync, showing some potential for Lobo Football to be successful again. The only only damper on the victory was the fact they beat a poor team from a weak conference. Southern offered little opposition and little opportunity for UNM to show their stuff beyond a spectacular halftime show. So when the Lobos squared off against the No.15 Texas Longhorns, fans and critics were given an accurate depiction of New Mexico's football program.
Lobo fans watching the first half had reason to feel okay as their defense kept Texas to a less-than-terrifying 17-0 lead at halftime. But after UNM quarterback B.R. Holbrook suffered a concussion in the second quarter, the optimism quickly turned into panic. The Longhorns proved why they are a true college football powerhouse by forcing four Lobo turnovers and a crushing final score of 45-0. Even though UNM suffered another beat-down at the hands of a top college football team, the Lobos had a solid ground attack and were even able to rush for 206 yards. Local sports talk radio were surely filled with calls angry and depressed fans already claiming this season was a failure. But sensible fans can hardly expect head coach Bob Davie to work a miracle in one season. Former coach Mike Locksley caused huge damage to an already fragile program. It's going take years to transform UNM into a threatening college football program. As for this season, if Davie can lead his team to a decent performance at Texas Tech before the big grudge match against New Mexico State, the Lobos should feel confident heading into Mountain West Conference play.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Come on man, it’s my turn to hold the ball.
NFL Opening Weekend
Just two years ago, The San Francisco 49ers looked like the shell of a franchise that won five Super Bowls. But ever since second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh took over, honor and respect have been restored to the Bay Area. Last year, the 49ers proved to be a dark horse when came out of nowhere to go 13-2, win their division and play in the NFC Championship game. With the target off their backs, the 'Niners looked towards a tough season opener against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this last weekend. Meanwhile, the Packers were looking to erase the memory of losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants. If the 49ers could defeat Green Bay on the road, it would seal their place as one of the elite teams of the league.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith exercised his new offensive weapons MarioManningham and Randy Moss while picking apart the Packer defense. Along with Frank Gore's power-running game, he led the 49ers into a 16-7 lead at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was able to move the ball for Green Bay but failed to make the game-changing play that would have captured the lead. The Packers cut the Niners' 16-point lead to just 8 in the fourth quarter. But Harbaugh's signature defense held steady and managed to avoid a last-second Green Bay comeback. San Francisco’s 30-22 victory should give them the momentum they need moving forward into the season and will potentially set them up for a repeat of last year's success and beyond.
Frank Gomez vs Aaron Cerda, courtesy of swfight.com
The Jackson’s MMA Series touches down for the ninth time on Saturday, September 8th in its new home: Tingley Coliseum. As usual, the card is comprised of members of the world-famous Jackson/Winkeljohn MMA squad taking on challengers who come from all over the Southwest, including El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix, Socorro, Colorado, as well as from other gyms in Albuquerque. In fact, the card’s main event was scheduled to be a cross-town showdown between Jackson’s product Frank Gomez and Mikey Lovato of Lovato Total Fitness in Albuquerque.
At Friday’s packed press conference at the Hotel Albuquerque, promoter Ricky Kottenstette announced that Lovato had sustained a knee injury the day before, and was being replaced in the main event by Aaron Cerda, from Tye, Tx.
It’s worth noting that Kottenstette was able to orchestrate this last minute switch because he had taken the precaution of arranging Cerda as a possible last-minute substitute, should one of his main event fighters get injured. Cerda had already been medically cleared and knew there was a possibility he’d be asked to compete.
I bring this up because the Jackson’s academy, as well as Jackson’s fighter Jon Jones, were recently blamed by UFC President Dana White for the collapse of UFC 151, a fight card that was scheduled to take place September 1st in Las Vegas, NV. You can read about the sordid details here, but suffice it to say White said some fairly not nice things about Jackson’s trainer Greg Jackson and UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Jon Jones.
So it jumps out at me that unlike UFC president Dana White, Jackson’s MMA Series GM Kottenstette had a plan B. There was no drama, no blame-gaming, and the show will go on.
Lovato Total Fitness will still be represented in the friendly cross-town rivalry, as Lynae Lovato takes on Emily Kagan of Jackson’s, who will be making her pro debut.
The co-main event features rising Jackson’s star Hunter Tucker taking on Nate Patterson of 3 Crosses BJJ in Las Cruces. Patterson may have something to prove after getting one-punch knocked out at a pool party in April of this year, in a story that made national news. Tucker, we assume, will be out to re-test Patterson’s chin, as well as end a three-fight losing streak that Jackson’s fighters have against Patterson.
Also on the card, Eric Dodson, the younger, larger brother of UFC star John Dodson will be making his amateur debut, as a bantamweight. Another fight to watch, also on the amateur card, is Ricky Esquibel of Jackson’s taking on Chris Brewer of Longfellow MMA in Monte Vista, CO. I saw Esquibel’s debut amateur fight last October, and was impressed.
The fun starts at 7 pm on Saturday, September 8, at Tingley Coliseum. Tickets start at $20, and are available at holdmyticket
Who's says revenge isn't sweet? Holly Holm got some much need retribution in a unanimous-decision victory over Anne Sophie Mathis on Saturday night at the Route 66 Casino. In December, the pair fought a back-and-forth affair that saw Mathis getting the better of Holm with a seventh-round knockout. In the rematch, Holm used a strategy to outbox Mathis instead of engaging in a brawl to avoid getting knocked out. The gameplan may have not been the most crowd pleasing but it got the job done and impressed the judges to earn the 97-93, 96-94, 99-91 victory. Now the debate begins over what move Holm will make next. Along with being an accomplished boxer, she's also had success with mixed martial arts. Despite women's MMA being relatively new, the sport has already made some popular stars and Holm could be next if she makes the full transition. But in the meantime, Mathis will most likely request a rematch away from Albuquerque and in her home country of France. For now, Holm looks to enjoy some time off, but whatever decision Holm makes, the Burque boxing fans will be watching very closely.
LeBron and the Heat took a 2-1 lead over OKC on Sunday night.
Lebron James has been declared the best player in the world by many NBA experts. James has every basketball ability any player dreams of. But when the NBA Finals began, everyone was quick to declare Kevin Durant the new king. Because of James' past inability to perform in the Finals, it has opened the door for Durant to become the league's best player. Despite tuning the media out with antics such as reading The Hunger Games prior to a big matchup, James seems to have taken his game to the next level by averaging 30 points during the 2012 Finals. In the critical game three, James put his finals nightmares behind him, scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He proved the reign of King James has perhaps only begun by hitting a clutch three in the fourth quarter and outplaying Kevin Durant.
Durant did have 26 points and 6 rebounds, but was in serious foul trouble throughout the game (just like in game two). The Thunder made a run in the fourth quarter to cut the Heat lead, but Miami scored the final seven points to prevent any Oklahoma City comeback. The 85-91 loss puts the Thunder in a 2-1 hole and makes game four a must win. Luckily for the Thunder, it’s been in this situation before, being down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. OKC will need to correct the mistakes if they are going to get back into the series. So far Durant has performed well in his first Finals appearance, but he'll have to find a way to outplay a more determined and focused Lebron James. Game might be the beginning of the King James era, or it may end before it even gets started.
Despite a strong start, Cotto couldn’t keep up with Mayweather.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vs. Miguel Cotto
The sport of boxing may only have a couple of mega stars, but whenever they’re in action the sports world always takes notice. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. fought Miguel Cotto for the WBA Super Welterweight title in what turned out to be a compelling fight this Saturday night.
Despite Cotto being the champion, he was a massive underdog among casual fans and Vegas odds makers. Usually, whenever any fighter faces Mayweather, he is overmatched and often embarrassed by defensive boxing skills and technique. Surprisingly, Cotto was aggressive and was able to damage Mayweather. Many experts in chat rooms and Twitter had the fight close heading into the second half of the bout. But eventually supreme conditioning and counter punches carried Mayweather into victory. While the judges scorecard of (118-110, 117-111, 117-111) for Mayweather conveyed a lopsided win, Cotto seemed to have gained more fans and respect in defeat than any of his wins. If Cotto gets a couple of high profile wins, it wouldn't be out of the question to request a rematch or face Manny Pacquiao for the second time.
As for the now 43-0 (26 KO) Mayweather, his next opponent will be a jail cell as he serves time for misdemeanor domestic violence. Once he's done serving his 87-day sentence, the pressure of putting together the super fight between himself and Pacquiao should reach its boiling point. The potential matchup would be the biggest pay-per-view attraction in the history of the sport, but fans’ patience is starting to wear thin. If Pacquiao is dominant over Timothy Bradley, hopefully the wheels will start to go into motion for Pacquiao and Mayweather to finally collide.
UFC on Fox 3
Diaz emerged victorious against Miller
It was a jam-packed weekend of sports, but lost in the shuffle was the Ultimate Fighting Championship on network television. While the card was lacking in star power, it tried to make up in exciting action. The main event featured Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller to possibly determine the next challenger for the Lightweight title.
Before the fight, Miller had a slight edge among mixed martial arts experts, but when they squared off, Diaz used superior boxing to confuse and damage Miller. Then, in round two, Diaz used his signature Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to gain the guillotine choke and make Miller tap for the first time in his career. Ever since Diaz moved to Lightweight, he’s looked almost unstoppable by dominating Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. Now Diaz has proved he's a worthy challenger for champion, Benson Henderson. Since Henderson will face Frankie Edgar in a rematch in August, Diaz would most likely take another bout to stay active rather than take a long break. Since older brother Nick Diaz is suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Nate has gained all the attention and maybe has become a breakout star for the UFC. If Nate Diaz takes another fight and defeats Anthony Pettis, he will no doubt stand on his own as an elite fighter in MMA.
There's no doubt the University of New Mexico basketball team has had great success throughout its history. From conference championships to 30-win seasons, the Lobos have an impressive résumé. But when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, true prosperity has always been out of reach for New Mexico.
It looked like this might finally be the year that curse would be broken. In Thursday's Second Round matchup, the Lobos held off a tough Long Beach State 75-68 to face Louisville on Saturday night.
The first half featured a defensive battle with New Mexico only behind 33-31 and carrying momentum headed into halftime. Despite Drew Gordon injuring his knee early in the game, he returned and had a standout performance with 21 points and 14 rebounds. With Gordon's leadership, New Mexico seemed primed for their its first-ever appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, but when the second half started, the pressure finally got to the young and inexperienced Lobo backcourt. The Louisville Cardinals capitalized on Lobo turnovers and bad offensive execution to gain a 15-point lead. When the Lobos actually ran plays on the offensive end, they were successful and eventually closed the gap to 53-51 with 1:48 remaining. Louisville's star player Peyton Siva was contained by the Lobo defense but he proved to be the difference by hitting a pass to Gorgui Dieng to extended the Cardinal’s lead by four. Siva also nailed some free throws to give Louisville a conformable 59-53 lead headed into the closing seconds. Gordon did give Lobo fans some hope by hitting a three with 2.9 seconds left, but it was too late as Louisville advanced with the 59-56 victory.
While the Lobos have a lot to be proud of this season, head coach Steve Alford and his team have to feel they let a great opportunity slip away. Alford has lots of young talent to find a true leader to guide the Lobos out of the round of 32 and into competing with top basketball powerhouses. This loss with hurt in the short term, but Lobo fans should feel excitement for a promising future.
March Madness Sweet Sixteen Preview
As usual, this year's tournament has produced many upsets and busted brackets. With No. 2 seeds Duke and Missouri taking an early plane ride home, there are some refreshing matchups in the Sweet Sixteen.
Kentucky vs. Indiana has the potential to be one of the most memorable games in this year’s tournament. Marquis Teague hasn't let his inexperience affect his performance in the dance so far by having 24 points and 7 assists against Iowa State. Teague's lead the Wildcats to an impressive 87-71 victory and now will face a hot Hoosiers squad. Indiana had an easy time with New Mexico State but faced the dreaded VCU Rams in the second round. The Hoosiers’ Cody Zeller had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help his team survive VCU’s attempt at another run to the Final Four. Many experts and fans probably have Kentucky advancing, but Indiana has been the more battle-tested squad. If Kentucky doesn't bring the intensity, Indiana can spring the upset.
Despite winning back-to-back national titles, Florida doesn't get much national creditability compared to traditional basketball powers. The Gators haven't had the best season and their seven seed proves it, but they have improved their play and even took Kentucky to the limit in the SEC tournament. They handled their first two tournament games with ease but now will face their toughest test against Marquette.
The Golden Eagles have bounced back from their disappointing loss to Louisville with two wins over BYU and the Cinderella story of the regular season, Murray State. Now Marquette must battle a Florida team with a successful tournament track record.
UNM coach Steve Alford cuts down the net after the Lobos win the MWC tournament.
After this weekend, it’s understandable why the Lobos are on cloud nine. They beat their conference archrivals UNLV and San Diego State en route to a Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship. UNM was also awarded a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament.
And after winning a share of the regular season title, the Lobos must feel they've accomplished most of their goals they set in the preseason. But if they want to achieve the ultimate goal of advancing to the Sweet 16, they must battle an enemy that almost ruined their season: complacency.
The team was full of swagger and confidence after they beat San Diego State and UNLV in the regular season and were ranked in the Top 25. But then they let their guard down and lost two consecutive road games. Since that time, the Lobos are on a five-game winning streak and seem to have a renewed focus on defense.
Long Beach State has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation and will face the Lobos in the second round in Portland, Ore. If they advance, a potential match up against the Big East champion, Louisville, awaits.
March Madness apps
For most people, it’s almost impossible to sit on the couch and watch the entire tournament. However, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the action. Here are a few mobile applications that will ensure you never miss any possession or buzzer beater:
The NCAA has their official March Madness Live mobile app for iOS and Android that should satisfy any basketball junkie. Fans will be able to fill out a bracket, get live updates on their favorite teams and even watch every game for a one-time fee of $3.99. So far usability has been pretty seamless, so hopefully it delivers at game time.
ESPN also has its Bracket Bound mobile app which offers in-depth opinions and analysis on the tournament. It’s available for for iOS and Android and offers up-to-date Twitter feeds of ESPN personalities, video analysis and the ability to follow your team’s progress in the big dance. The only negative is the app still lists the projected field of the tournament and hides the real bracket in the top corner of the application. Despite the drawback, the app is free and offers users the ability to win $100,000 for the winner of the Tournament Challenge.
With these two apps, there's zero excuse why you shouldn't be the smartest fan in the room.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship made its return to the land of the rising sun this past Saturday and delivered an entertaining night of fights featuring knockouts and comebacks. Despite having the shadow of Japanese MMA looming over the event, most fans will have fond memories over the potential fight-of-the-year featuring Frankie Edgar v. Benson Henderson for the Lightweight title.
Edgar has put on many exciting performances as champion but is considered undersized, while Henderson has been on a huge role since his loss against Anthony Pettis in 2010. Once the cage door shut, both men engaged in nonstop action with neither able to have a clear advantage in the first round. Round two featured Henderson scoring a huge up-kick which immediately drew blood on the champion, but like many times before Edgar continued to press forward.
When the final round started many experts and fans had the fight dead even. Henderson may have finished landing punches in the dominate position when the bout ended, but the round was still razor close. Surprisingly, all three judges scored the bout for Henderson and ended the “Edgar Era” in the Lightweight division.
Also shocking has been the support for Edgar to move to the Featherweight division and for Pettis to receive the next title opportunity. While Pettis is an exciting fighter with lots of potential, Edgar deserves his rematch, especially since B.J. Penn and Grey Maynard got their second chance. Other than Edgar no one in the UFC Lightweight division stands out as an immediate title contender. The current Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is the only other fighter deserving as he has been the second-ranked fighter in the division for years. Hopefully UFC President Dana White will see the light and grant Melendez a chance to prove he belongs in the elite tier.
2012 NBA All-Star Game
No doubt this year’s edition of the NBA All-Star Game was somewhat overshadowed by the lackluster Slam Dunk Contest and Dwight Howard trade rumors. But the actual game still provided some noteworthy-enough moments to prevent fans from changing the channel to the Oscars. Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant was the focal point for his quest to become the all-time leading scorer in All-Star games. Bryant's 27 points helped the West dominate the East for most of the game until LeBron James caught fire in the fourth. James had 36 points and hit two huge threes to bring his squad within striking distance. But costly turnovers and bad execution in the final minutes allowed the West to escape with a 152-149 victory. Kevin Durant captured the game's MVP with 36 points and seven rebounds.
Fans of Lobo basketball have experienced the full gambit of emotions this season; from the overconfidence of destroying inferior non-conference opponents to feeling the despair and fear from two early losses to the UNLV Rebels and San Diego State Aztecs. The end result seemed very much in question but now that New Mexico has avenged both defeats convincingly, the Lobos should be in good shape to try on their dancing shoes come March. This past Wednesday, New Mexico put themselves in position to take firm control of the Mountain West Conference by upsetting No. 15 San Diego 77-67. With the victory, UNM had a chance to prove through a nationally televised game why they belong in the NCAA tournament. UNM only had a single-point lead at half time, but then turned to Lobo senior Drew Gordon to dominate and bully the Rebels in the paint. Along with Gordon's 27 points and 20 rebounds, a suffocating defense allowed the Lobos to outplay and outclass UNLV to a 65-45 victory. For doubters and nonbelievers, perhaps these two wins over nationally ranked opponents will change their minds. While it was a great week for New Mexico, the job is not over as they must finish the season out strong to win the conference. If Gordon’s production remains at this level, look for the Lobos to be a massive favorite in the conference tournament.
Lin went off for 28 points and 14 dimes
Two weeks ago Jeremy Lin was an afterthought in many basketball circles and was about to be cut by the New York Knicks. But with Baron Davis unavailable and Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony hurt, the Knicks were looking deep into the abyss. Fortunately for New York, Lin wasn't just a spark off the bench, he was the missing piece of the puzzle they've been searching for, and the team is playing it’s best ball in years. Along with his scoring, Lin has finally provided leadership and direction to the Knicks offense. His latest test was against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and he passed mostly with flying colors. Despite another game with 7 turnovers, Lin continued his hot shooting with 28 points and added a career-high 14 assists. New Knicks J.R. Smith and Steve Novak teamed up for 29 bench points to defeat Dallas 104-97. New York may have tons of flaws, but with Anthony returning from injury, it might just have the most dangerous offense in the Eastern Conference.
In a highly technical and strategic fight, Albuquerque's Carlos Condit defeated Nick Diaz via decision. The judges' verdict has Diaz fans crying fowl, claiming Condit was "running" from the fight by not allowing Diaz to trap him against the cage and tee off on him. According to Fightmetric, the UFC's official statistics provider, Condit outstruck Diaz 151 to 105 in significant strikes, a big margin.
Not surprisingly, Condit's head coach Greg Jackson agrees with the decision and defends the strategy. "A stick-and-move game plan against a guy that’s such an amazing fighter and such a tough guy as Diaz, for me is a no-brainer," Jackson says. "If you look at the numbers, we hit him many more times than he hit us."
After the decision was announced, Diaz said he would retire in protest. Interestingly, Diaz' last opponent, B.J. Penn, also retired after Diaz beat him.
With the win, Condit holds the UFC's interim welterweight title. He says he'll wait until November—when injured welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre is expected to be healthy—to fight St-Pierre and unify the belts. Many are calling for a rematch between Condit and Diaz, but with Diaz' retirement, it's unclear how that would work.