2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: New Mexico

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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New Mexico Lobos (Last Year: 29-6, 13-3 in MWC)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Alex Kirk (Jr)/Obij Aget (Fr)

PF: Cameron Bairstow (Sr)/Nick Banyard (Soph)/Tim Myles (Fr)

G/F: Deshawn Delaney (Jr)/Merv Lindsay (Soph)/Devon Williams (Fr)

G: Hugh Greenwood (Jr)/Cleveland Thomas (Soph)/Arthur Edwards (Soph)

PG: Kendall Williams (Sr)/Cullen Neal (Fr)

Gone: SF-Tony Snell, PG-Jamal Fenton, F-Chad Adams, PG-Demetrius Walker (transfer-Grand Canyon)

2013-14 Outlook:
With Steve Alford chasing greener pastures at UCLA, the New Mexico Lobos turn to assistant coach Craig Neal to take over the program. With four starters returning, the Lobos are the favorite to repeat as Mountain West Conference champs.

Neal has the luxury of relying on a veteran backcourt in Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood. The guard duo is interchangeable in that each can run the point or play off the ball since they both shoot the three ball fairly well. Williams is the better athlete and distributor of the two as he enters the season seventh all-time in Lobos history in assists, so he will spend more time creating offense, while Greenwood rebounds really well for his position.

Junior college transfer Deshawn Delaney and Kansas transfer Merv Lindsay share the responsibility of replacing Tony Snell at the three. Delaney is a two-time JUCO All-American and capable scorer. Lindsay was barely used during his freshman season with the Jayhawks but is a long, athletic wing who brings versatility to the floor much like Snell did.

Up front, New Mexico returns the physical duo of Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. After missing the 2011-12 season, Kirk was a huge weapon for New Mexico since he can bang down low, but also step out on the perimeter and knock down outside shots. He also adds a defensive presence in the middle. Bairstow capitalized on increased playing time last year, eventually earning a spot in the starting five. Due to his physicality, he will see some minutes at center as well when Kirk needs a rest.

While there is a lot to like with the starting five, the bench is a huge question mark since seldom used Cleveland Thomas and Nick Banyard are the only reserves who saw any playing time a year ago. The coach’s son, Cullen Neal, should immediately be a factor off the bench and is another versatile guard. Redshirt freshman Devon Williams, JUCO transfer Arthur Edwards, and freshmen Obij Aget and Tim Myles will all compete for minutes as well.

Until the bench figures itself out, the New Mexico Lobos need their four returning starters to play heavy minutes and lead the charge. As the rotation begins to take shape, New Mexico has the talent to repeat in the Mountain West.

Player to Watch: Kendall Williams, G
The 4-year starter has quickly climbed up the record books at New Mexico. He can do a little bit of everything on the floor, which is why he should win his second-straight MWC Player of the Year award and hear his name called in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/21 vs. UAB (Charleston Classic)
  • 11/22 vs. UMass/Nebraska (Charleston Classic)
  • 11/23 vs. Davidson/Clemson/Temple/Georgia (Charleston Classic)
  • 12/4 at New Mexico State
  • 12/7 vs. Cincinnati
  • 12/14 vs. Kansas (in Kansas City)
  • 12/21 vs. Marquette (in Las Vegas)

  • Predicted MWC Finish: 1st

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