Lobos play in the Las Vegas tournament »Albuquerque Journal

Richard Pitino, the Lobo men’s basketball coach, watches Jordan Arroyo dribble in an exercise at Rudy Davalos’ practice facility at UNM in April. (Roberto E. Rosales / magazine)

Lobo basketball cannot play them all in the pit, no matter how hard they want to.

This November, they’ll be playing at least two non-conference games in their second most popular location: Las Vegas, Nevada.

UNM has signed up as one of four teams for Thanksgiving Week of the 2021 Las Vegas Classic Basketball Tournament at the Orleans Hotel & Casino. The other three teams were not disclosed.

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Under the contract for the event, signed earlier this month by UNM and Basketball Promotions & Events LLC, the company hosting the tournament, the Lobos will pay $ 30,000 to attend and participate in two games – Jan. and November 26th – In addition to accommodation for the team and the travel company.

The contract also provides for the event to be classified as “29 plus 2 MTE” under the new NCAA guidelines. This means the Lobos will play a total of 31 games in the 2021-22 season – 18 Mountain West games and 13 non-conference games. One of these will be at UTEP with new head coach Joe Golding, and two will be the resumption of the longstanding rivalry between the states and the state of New Mexico – one in Las Cruces, one in Albuquerque. This annual home-and-home series was canceled last season due to COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico. This marked the first time since World War II that Lobos and Aggies didn’t play a men’s basketball game.

The Orleans has hosted regular season basketball events for men and the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference basketball tournaments in March for several years.

Even before UNM football literally moved to Las Vegas last fall due to COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico, Sin City was long considered a home away from home by Lobo sports fans, largely due to the success of the basketball team there there was a tournament game in Mountain West in addition to at least one conference game per season.

As for the non-conference game, however, the visits are not that frequent. The last time the UNM men’s basketball team played a game outside of Mountain West in Las Vegas was when the Lobos Marquette defeated newcomer Cullen Neal behind 24 points on December 21, 2013 at the MGM Grand Showcase.

The Lobos have competed twice in the Las Vegas Classic – 1-1 (win against a team from Wichita State and loss to Kansas State) in Las Vegas in the 2006/07 season under Ritchie McKay and 1-1 (win) over Colorado and one loss to Northern Iowa) there in 2010/11 under Steve Alford.

MAKUACH’S MOM: At a ceremony earlier this week for all of the Lobo athletes graduating this spring, guest speaker was Makuach Maluach, the four-year-old men’s basketball starter who has long planned to move on this summer to begin a professional career as an overseas player although he has never made such an announcement to the media or fans.

The senior, whose family fled South Sudan for Australia when he was 10, spoke of his trip to Albuquerque four years ago when he took an 18-hour flight to a school where he only knew one person, former assistant Chris Harriman.

Talking about all of the exams, difficulties and lessons he had learned over the past four years, he told fellow athletes that his “greatest achievement” at UNM was “telling my mother that I am a college graduate” .

Maluach has a degree in business administration.

Keep going: Strength and conditioning trainer Nick Michael now holds the same position at Loyola-Chicago.

He announced on social media on Tuesday that he was grateful for the opportunity at UNM. Loyola announced his appointment there later that day.

Michael only spent the 2020-21 season with the Lobos.

HE SAID IT: The university’s press releases announcing that a new player has joined the team – often several days after the player himself did so on social media – usually include a hand-crafted statement, both by the coach and comes from the player. Aside from changes in the names and dates of the releases, the quotes couldn’t tell the difference from one new player announcement to the next.

However, the recent involvement of the Swedish 6-foot-11 center Sebastian Forsling brought a unique perspective on why he chose UNM while also deepening his knowledge of Lobos in the wild.

“The word ‘family’ means a lot to me and UNM is all about family,” Forsling said in the press release. “‘The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives’ is a quote I live for.”

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