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New Mexico 84 – Colorado State 71

January 16, 2017

On an afternoon when Larry Eustachy played the peacemaker (more on that later), the New Mexico Lobos woofed their way over the home team, dominating and eventually clowning the Rams in their own gym.

The game was close through the first 10 minutes but the Lobos were having their way on both ends of the floor. Their height in the paint prevented the Rams from scoring at the rim, their crisp play on the offensive end led to open shots which the Lobos were converting at a high rate. New Mexico was playing at their tempo and they began to punish the Rams both inside and out as they ran out to a 44-34 halftime lead.

After an early parry by the Rams to get the deficit, the Lobos quickly pushed their lead back into double figures and the game was never close again.

The Lobos began to clown the Rams with their crisp execution of offensive sets coming out of time outs. First a Dane Kuiper baseline jumper running off a pair of screens (Kuiper would finish in double figures showing beautiful offensive touch before fouling out on a couple of dubious calls). Second, a Sam Logwood alley-oop dunk off of a back screen.  Easy hoops, well-executed plays that CSU has no clue how to run.

And then the clown play of the game.

A wild Gian Clavell spin on the offensive end led to a turnover and steal for an easy run-out layup by the Lobo’s Elijah Brown.  UNM’s Joe Furstinger trailed the play by 40′ but when no Ram chased Brown, he slowed up and waited for Furstinger, then threw the ball off the backboard for Furstinger to complete the NBA All-Star game dunk.  Unnecessary and clownish. 

And then the ugliness as Furstinger set a hard pick at midcourt that knocked out the Rams’ JD Paige.  While eventually ruled legal on replay, there was clearly intent to deliver a blow as Furstinger celebrated by flexing his muscles and continued his run down the court meeting CSU’s Anthony Bonner with a shove as well. The Lobo lead was nearly 20 and the clock was at 2 minutes and thats the behavior the visitors chose.

The officials (led by the incompetent Larry Spaulding) stopped the game, Players brushed each other at midcourt, New Mexico assistants came onto the court, and Larry Eustachy went to his fallen starter Paige. 

 In the aftermath, the UNM assistants were ejected for leaving the bench and were forced to make the ignominious walk past the CSU bench where words were spoken with the CSU bench.  It was a horrible mistake to walk them by the CSU bench when they could have exited via the entrance on their side of the bench to get to their locker room.  And would no doubt lead to some unnecessary post-game histrionics between the teams.

The officials ruled the Furstinger screen to be legal, Paige was helped off the floor, Elijah Brown grabbed a ball and started punkishly dunking it at his end. The game continued with no incident (other than a Brown soft shoulder into Clavell while dribbling out the clock).  Larry Eustachy instructed his team to dribble out the final 20 seconds, the teams went through the handshake line coldly, order had been restored, and the Lobos sent the Rams and their loyal fans home sad.

The Lobos had shot 56%, the Rams 36%. The Lobos dominated the paint, outscoring the Rams 32-16 and outrebounding them 39-29.  Brown would finish with 25 points.

Larry the Peacemaker

I’m not a big Eustachy fan and I think I’ve been pretty clear about that.  But I have to compliment him for his behavior that kept this thing from absolutely blowing up.  No coach likes to see his team play poorly and when New Mexico started to rub poop all over the Rams’ collective faces in the second half I have to think his blood was boiling inside.  After watching Paige get knocked out, Eustachy’s response was cool, calm, and collected.

He could have escalated it very easily.  For while he only played the 7 players who will be eligible starting January 16th, he had three players on the bench (Che Bob, Devocio Butler, and Kimani Jackson) that he could have inserted into the game for the final two minutes. He could have instructed those players to go Hanson Brothers (see the movie Slapshot), knocking Lobos to the floor and starting up something worse.  Fights, ejections, a free for all.  He could have played to his seething home crowd.  And it would have been risk free.  Those three players were lost for the season anyway; any penalties for bad behavior would be served against the Prairie View’s of the world next season.  UNM could have lost players for upcoming games this year.

Instead Larry Eustachy chose to rise above all the crap, calmed his team down, and allowed the game on the floor to finish without incident.  I dont think I would have done the same if I were in his shoes. 

The aftermath…

After the game there was a video record of a dust-up between CSU player Emmanuel Omogbo and UNM assistant coach Terrence Rencher.  I’m not going to get into that because there is too much he said, she said going on.  I rely on my own eyes, ears, and brain these days (arguably a treacherous path).

But what has been reported in terms of incidents pre-game and post-game on top of what I observed during the game is an embarrassment to both programs.

Just 4 short years ago these two programs were Top 25 programs nationally and they squared off in an epic game in Moby that decided a conference championship.  New Mexico scored a great win that day but more importantly, those two teams went after each other on the court and let their basketball, not their mouths, do the talking.

Neither program is a Top 100 program these days.  

The crap I watched and heard about on Saturday is the reason why.

Both head coaches are running their respective programs into the ground.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 16, 2017 3:14 pm

    I’ve been waiting for your take on the game. Insightful as always. Thanks!

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