After beating New Mexico at the Pit, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher called Lobo fans spoiled because the Pit was empty far before the game was over. In a sense Lobo fans are spoiled, since Steve Alford and Craig Neal arrived in Albuquerque they brought success.
Even though the Lobos have never been to the Sweet 16, the past seven years have brought Lobo fans many wins and lots of regular season and tournament championships. New Mexico has become a fixture at the top of the Mountain West and along with San Diego State they have become the dominate programs in the conference.
New Mexico fans have become accustom to being in the conversation for the league title every year and being in the national polls whether it be ranked or receiving votes. They have come to expect wins on the road, at neutral sites and at especially at the Pit. Lobo fans believe that their team can win any game against any team because of their performance on the court the last seven years. The Lobos have received three seeds of five or better and that includes a pair of No. 3 seeds in the NCAA tournament, and have been dark horse candidates by the national media to make a run at the Final Four.
All of the past seven years has led to expectations by the fans and by the media this year despite losing three pro caliber players from the 2013-14 team, the Lobos were still picked to finish third by the media in the MWC. The Lobos were given the benefit of the doubt by most media members. The expectation was that Jordan Goodman would make an instant impact, Cullen Neal would have a breakout season, Deshawn Delaney would build off of the 2013-14 and lead the Lobos and either Sam Logwood or Xavier Adams would be impact freshman.
With most things in life what could have been and what really happens are two different things. Neal started off the season scoring over 20 points in his first two games, but was hurt during the third game of the season and has since applied for a medical redshirt.
Goodman has never been healthy he should Lobo fans what he is capable of during the Lobos win against George Mason but the rest of his season has been filled with DNP's and limited minutes. Plus he failed to pass Devon Williams or Joe Furstinger on the on the depth chart. Goodman has now been shut down for the season and may take a redshirt in 2015 to fully recover from bone spurs.
Delaney started off the season strong but has been highly inconstant during conference play, and has only reached double digits scoring in seven out of 15 conference games. He has scored a combined eight points in the Lobos last two games.
The freshman have been inconstant but Sam Logwood has shown that he has a bright future for the Lobos and has averaged 19 minutes a game and while only averaging six points a game he has five double-digit games in conference play. He has shown when he plays with confidence he is a tough match up, but the key for Logwood will be to continue to play with confidence. Xavier Adams has shown he can be a good role player for the Lobos, but he lost his starting job to Logwood and now the 9th or 10th player in Coach Neal's rotation.
inconsistency is the common theme with this year's Lobos team. There have not been any signature wins like in years past and unlike past teams there have been multiple bad loses. Many fans felt like the Lobos pre-Christmas loss to Grand Canyon University would be a season low but they were wrong. New Mexico has lost six-straight games which includes losses to Nevada, Air Force and UNLV who all have losing records in conference play. The Lobos last win against a team with a winning conference record came against Utah State on January 10th.
The Lobos now find themselves sub .500 and sit at 14-13 on year, so what does this mean for the Lobos?
It is too late in the season for this team to find an offensive identity or chemistry this season. Odds are that the Lobos will not finish in the top six and will have to win four games if they want to win a fourth consecutive tournament title which is the teams only shot at meaningful post season play.
The Lobos are far from the NCAA bubble and they will not make the NIT tournament because of their poor RPI and strength of schedule. New Mexico will probably play in the CBA or CIT but the Lobos must finish above .500 to qualify.
The next three games are critical for any post season play for next year it's important for players like Williams and Logwood who will be cornerstones of next year's team. It is important for Craig Neal to evaluate his players and find out if there are any players that do not fit into the Lobos long term future.
New Mexico has signed three players for the 2015 season and will only have two open scholarships, plus Tim Jacobs also deserves consideration for a scholarship which would leave two current players on the outside looking in at the program.