Basketball Wiki
New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico Lobos.png
School Name: University of New Mexico
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Arena: The Pit Arena
Capacity: 17,200
Conference: Mountain West
Head coach: Steve Alford

The University of New Mexico is home to the New Mexico Lobos. The University of New Mexico Lobos men's basketball team represents the University of New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference in the NCAA Division I. UNM established basketball as a varsity sport in 1899, only eight years after the invention of the sport, but it wasn't until 1920 when they hired a new basketball coach. It was at that point the UNM athletic department became competitive among colleges in the Western United States.


Roy W. Johnson (1920–59)

When Johnson arrived in 1920, the school's gym was a small wooden building where the walls were out-of-bounds markers for basketball games. Johnson soon oversaw the construction of Carlisle Gym. He also built the first grass football field and bleachers at UNM.

The Lobos appeared one time in NAIA post season tournament in 1947. The Lobos lost to Hamline University in the first round 71-49.

Near the end of his career, he oversaw construction of the 7,800-seat arena that bears his name, Johnson Gymnasium, which opened in 1957. For many years, Johnson Gym was the most prominent feature of the UNM campus for those driving along Central Ave./Route 66.

During a seven year stretch of Johnson's time as basketball coach, the Lobos posted a 95–31 (.754) record. The Lobos won 157 games with Johnson as head basketball coach, a school record for thirty years and third on the all-time list.

Bob King (1962–71)

New Mexico Lobo Basketball achieved national prominence for the first time under Coach Bob King.

The Lobos had just two winning seasons between 1947 and King's arrival in 1962, and the team had gone a dismal 42-149 (.220) over the previous eight seasons.

King's impact was immediate. The Lobos won as many games in his first two seasons as they had won in the past seven seasons combined.[2] They compiled a record of 116-44 (.725) in King's first six seasons.

The Lobos won their first Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship in King's second season, 1963-64, and won the championship again in the 1967-68 season.

After New Mexico State University hired Lou Henson in 1966, both programs became perennial winners, and a fierce rivalry grew statewide. The teams play twice every season, once at each home site, although they are not in the same conference. Many star players of the King era include Ira Harge, Mel Daniels, and Willie Long. All went on to post-collegiate careers in the ABA and NBA.

In a formal ceremony on December 1, 1992, the basketball court at University Arena was dedicated and named Bob King Court in honor of the man who built the program and made The Pit possible. Coach King died on December 10, 2004.

Norm Ellenberger (1972-79)

When Bob King moved on to coach at Indiana State, his assistant, Norm Ellenberger, was named head coach. The Lobo program thrived in the 1970s, and Ellenberger became a local celebrity, restaurateur, and man-about-town, earning the nickname Stormin' Norman for his flashy attire, fiery coaching style, and flamboyant personality.

Under Ellenberger, the Lobos won WAC championships in 1974 and 1978 and compiled an overall record of 134-62 (.684).[4] His teams were frequently ranked among the Top 25 in the nation. His ability as a teacher of defense made him a frequent participant in basketball coaching camps, where he became friends with University of Nevada-Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian, leading to a heated rivalry between their teams during the late 70s.

Ellenberger coached Michael Cooper for two seasons at UNM before "Coop" went on to become one of the greatest defensive players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history.

The turning point in Ellenberger's career came with "Lobogate," a lurid episode involving forged academic transcripts, payments made for bogus junior-college credits to keep players eligible, and other devices permitting athletes entirely lacking academic credentials to be represented as college students while playing on Ellenberger's team. The episode began with an FBI wiretap on the phone of a prominent Lobo booster, recording a conversation in which Ellenberger arranged with assistant coach Manny Goldstein to transfer bogus credits from a California junior college to the office of the UNM registrar. Subsequent investigation turned up a manufactured college seal from Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, along with blank transcripts and records of previous forgery. Chapter one ("Lost in Loboland") of William C. Dowling's Confessions of a Spoilsport: My Life and Times Fighting Sports Corruption at an Old Eastern University contains a detailed account of Ellenberger's Federal trial in Roswell, New Mexico, including extensive citations from the original trial transcript.

Ellenberger managed to remain popular in Albuquerque even after the Lobo-gate recruiting scandal decimated the program, forced him to resign as head coach, and left him with criminal liability. An NCAA investigation into Lobo recruiting practices found 57 rule violations, and Ellenberger himself was convicted on 21 counts of fraud in 1981. The program was sanctioned by the NCAA, including a ban on post-season appearances for three years.

In the wake of Lobo-gate, assistant Charlie Harrison was elevated to head coach for the 1979-80 season, leading a team made up of mostly walk-on players. The team limped to a woeful 6–22 record, as the program was forced to rebuild virtually from scratch. Harrison and his players gained fan sympathy for persevering under difficult circumstances, but he served primarily as a caretaker until a new coach was named.

Gary Colson (1980–88)

Gary Colson was brought to the program in 1980, inheriting the messy aftereffects of Lobo-gate. Colson was known as a genuinely nice man who took on the task of turning the Lobos into a winning team. However, he did fail to live up to the high expectations of Lobo basketball fans. Colson prided himself on integrity and honesty, which are values he tried to instill into the recruits that played for him.

It took four years for Colson to reach postseason play. In 1984, they reached the National Invitational Tournament. This started an 11 year postseason streak for the Lobos. The 1986-87 was Colson's best season as Lobo coach. His team posted a 25-10 win-loss record, but lost in the Western Athletic Conference finals to Wyoming. When Colson returned the team to the NIT in 1988, he was abruptly fired.

Fans took the decision pretty hard since Colson was looking at his best season ever with returning players, such as, Luc Longley and Rob Loeffel.

Dave Bliss (1988-99)

Dave Bliss helped the Lobos return to glory. He took the team to the NCAA tournament six of last seven seasons, reaching the second round in the last four years. Longley had left in 1991 for a career in the NBA. Bliss also had forward Kenny Thomas to work with from 1995-99.

The Lobos were ranked among the AP Top 25 team almost every week during Thomas' four-season career, cracking the Top 10 seven times, and the team reached the NCAA tournament all four seasons.

Thomas was selected as the 22nd pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. He has also played for the Philadelphia 76ers and currently plays for the Sacramento Kings.[1]

Fran Fraschilla (1999–2002)

After Bliss left to become head coach at Baylor, former Manhattan and St. John's coach Fran Fraschilla coached the Lobos from 1999 to 2002. His tenure was marked by a disappointing record (55–41 with no NCAA tournament appearances) and a poor relationship with his players.

Ritchie McKay (2002–2007)

Ritchie McKay proclaimed that coaching the Lobos was a dream come true. His father, Joe McKay, was a starter for the Lobos from 1960-63, and he said he was happy to return to Albuquerque. McKay was seen as a second-tier candidate for the coaching job by Lobo fans, in large part due to his sudden, late-night appointment. McKay had a mixed record coming in, but getting rid of memories from recent years provided relief and hope for fans.

Coach McKay faced a major rebuilding project when he took over as head coach in 2002. The team was short on talent and scholarships, and once again had to resort to walk-on players. One player, Ruben Douglas, would provide a bright spot for the 2002-03 squad, leading the NCAA in scoring with 28.0 points per game.

The Lobo program abruptly stopped its slide and began to recover in December 2003. After sitting out the first semester for eligibility reasons, Danny Granger and Troy DeVries made their Lobo debuts. DeVries was a solid, experienced player who stabilized a young backcout — and who will play professionally in the German Bundesliga beginning in 2005.[2] Granger was among the best few players in Lobo history. The young Lobos became competitive by the end of the season led by the two vets, though a late run for a post-season spot fell short.

In 2004-05, Granger carried the Lobos to a 26–7 record, the Mountain West Conference (MWC) tournament championship, and back to the NCAA tournament. He was named to the All-MWC first team, and recognized as an AP Honorable Mention All-American.

In June 2005, Granger was selected as the 17th pick in the first round of the NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have been a regular playoff team in recent years, and the organization includes former Lobo Mel Daniels and Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

On February 22, 2007, Ritchie McKay was fired by University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs due to falling attendance, poor play, and fan apathy.

Steve Alford (2007–)

Steve Alford was named head coach of the Lobos on March 23, 2007, after stepping down from the same position at the University of Iowa. His First year, He led the Lobos back to a winning record, 24–9. Alford's first year record was the best in Lobos history since Bliss' departure. He led the team to the NIT, but the Lobos lost to Cal 66–68 in the first round. The Lobos finally beat Utah in Salt Lake City for the first time since 1989. The Lobos were third place in the 2007 MWC season. The # 8 nationally ranked (Associated Press) Lobos won the Mountain West Conference outright for the 2009-10 season with a 28-3 record. They defeated TCU 73-66 on March 3, 2010 to clinch the regular-season title outright. Alford captured MWC coach of the year honors for a second straight season.

Lobo basketball program

Athletic conferences

Lobo athletic teams began competing in the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association as a founding member in 1931, winning the conference basketball championship in 1944 and 1945. UNM left the Border Conference in 1951 to join the Mountain States Conference (aka Skyline Conference).

In 1962, the Lobos became a founding member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), remaining until 1999.

Lobo basketball led all teams in the WAC in overall winning percentage over the seventeen season span from 1962 to 1979, posting a won-loss record of 328–161 (.671). The Lobos won the WAC regular season championship four times during that period (1964, '68, '74, and '78). They later won the conference tournament championship twice (1993 and '96).

In 1999, the Lobos left the WAC to become a founding member of the Mountain West Conference (MWC), their present league. The Lobos won the MWC basketball tournament championship in 2005. And, The Lobos won the back to back regular-season MWC championships (2009 and 2010).


The Lobo is the official mascot of the University of New Mexico. Lobo, the Spanish word for "wolf," was suggested by George S. Bryan, a sophomore at UNM, in 1920. For a brief period in the 1920s, a live wolf pup appeared at every football game, but UNM administrators were forced to cease the practice when a child teased the wolf and was subsequently bitten.

Human mascots, dubbed "Lobo Louie" and "Lobo Lucy," currently rouse crowds at New Mexico athletic events. During Fran Fraschilla's short coaching tenure at UNM there was a small "Baby Lobo" mascot who appeared at men's basketball games but the Baby Lobo, in reality Fraschilla's son, left when Fraschilla resigned.

For some years in the 1980s, a popular chant among Lobo fans was, "Everyone's a Lobo, Woof Woof Woof!" Coach Dave Bliss phased out the cheer shortly after his arrival in the early 1990s. In recent years, however, the cheer has slowly started to resurface, and the UNM student section have begun using the chant more and more at Lobo sporting events.

National rankings

The Lobos were ranked as high as #3 in the AP poll in the 1963–64 season. They reached #4 in the UPI poll in 1967–68 and in 1977–78. They were regularly ranked among the Top 25 nationally during the 1990s. 2009-2010 season, the Lobos' first ranked team since 1999. The team was ranked as high as eighth in both the AP and Coaches Polls that season.

Home courts

Arena[3] Years
Old Wooden Gym 1899-1927
Carlisle Gym 1928-1956
Johnson Gymnasium 1957-1966
University Arena ("The Pit") 1966-present

"The Pit"

The Pit, known officially as University Arena from its opening in 1966 until 2009, is located on the UNM campus and has a capacity of 17,126.

UNM was the only team ranked in the top 10 in national attendance every season from the opening of the Pit in 1966 through the 2000-01 season.

An independent study by The St. Petersburg Times named it "the loudest arena in the country" ahead of Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium and Indiana's Assembly Hall.[4]

Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts has been the voice of New Mexico Lobo sports since 1968, broadcasting football and basketball games, The Mike Roberts Show, and the coaches shows on KKOB (AM) in Albuquerque. He was also the sports anchor for many years on KOB-TV, the NBC affiliate in Albuquerque. At the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, Roberts was replaced as play by play announcer by Learfield Sports, Scott Gailetti was hired to play by play for the Lobos.

In 1999, Roberts was named an inductee of the University of New Mexico Athletic Hall of Honor by the Alumni Lettermen's Association and received the Distinguished Service Award.


Stand and cheer
  • At the start of each half during New Mexico Men's Basketball home games, all fans continue to stand and clap their hands until both teams on the court score a basket.
The Lobo Howl
  • The Lobo Howl is held at the earliest time the Men's and Women's Basketball Teams can practice, which used to be midnight on the first day of practice. Over the years it has evolved into a family-like atmosphere, including alumni scrimmages, team scrimmages, 3-pt. shooting contests, slam dunk contests, and player introductions. Student-athletes from both squads also take the opportunity to sign autographs. During this time, the Athletic Department holds the Select-A-Seat promotions to boost new season ticket sales.
Free Throw Wave
  • Students hold their arms above their heads when players are shooting free throws during a basketball contest. When the home team is shooting a free throw, and successfully completes the task, the students will drop their arms to their side, in addition to uttering a "whoof". When the opposing team is at the line, the students wave their arms and hands in tandem with the shot, to confuse the shooter...
Newspaper Shaking
  • New Mexico students attempt to read the newspaper as the opposing team is being introduced. They shake the paper as they read. As each player of the opposing team is introduced the students holler "Who's that?" When the opposing team's introductions are finished, the students crumple up the paper into a ball and throw it into the air. The recent sponsorship from the Daily Lobo, the student newspaper, has provided the newspapers.
Hey Song
  • When the "Hey Song" is played students and fans will yell "Hey Go Lobos" in place of hey

Songs and chants

UNM Alma Mater

New Mexico, New Mexico
We sing to honor thee.
This golden haze of college days
Will live in memory.
This praise we sing will ever ring
With truth and loyalty New Mexico, your fame we know
Will last eternally.

UNM Fight Song

Hail to thee, New Mexico,
The loyal sons are we. Marching down the field we go,
Fighting for thee.
Now we pledge our faith to thee,
Never shall we fail.
Fighting ever, yielding never.

During the "GO! FIGHT! WIN!" and "HAIL! HAIL! HAIL!" sections of the Fight song, Lobos fans show their clenched fists by pumping them in the air.

In basketball competitions, when New Mexico is all but assured of a win, an impromptu version of Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him) Goodbye" is performed to wish the competitor a farewell and good luck in future games. This may be accompanied by a rousing chant of "o-ver-ra-ted", if in fact the quality of the visiting team's play is not up to the standards of their current ranking. The song is also sung to call attention to players on the other team who foul out of the game.

Section 26

The student section in The Pit is named Section 26, due to the number of the section that the students sit in. The section was officially named in 2007, and over the last couple of years the section is becoming one of the more intimidating student sections in the nation. Section 26 members receive a howl sheet before each game with opposing teams rosters, stats, and embarrassing information as well as information about upcoming games. Section 26 shirts are passed out in the beginning of the basketball year in conjunction with signing up to be part of the Howl Raiser student organization, which promotes student attendance at athletic events.

Team records

Win/loss records

Pre-Bob King:

Years Coach RecordPct.Comment
1899-1911 none 20-10.667Sporadic games, six in 1908 most for one year
1911-17 Ralph Hutchinson 28-7.800 More frequent games initially, but tail off again
1917-19 John F. McGough 2-4.333
1920-31 Roy Johnson 86-42.688 Carlisle Gym opens, reg sched established
1931-33 Tom Churchill 32-19.627
1933-40 Roy Johnson 71-96.425Join Border Conf; Johnson, 157-138 (.532)
1940-41 Dr. Benjamin Sacks 5-17.227
1941-43 Willis Barnes 13-29.310
1943-44 George White 11-2 .846 Border Conf. Champions ‘44
1944-51 Woody Clements 84-76.525 Border Conf. Champions ‘45
1951-52 Berl Huffman 6-19.240
1953-55 Woody Clements 29-43.403 Clements, 113-119 (.487)
1955-58 Bill Stockton 14-58.194
1958-62 Bob Sweeney 21-75.219


  • Johnson 102-46 (.689) after 1934 season, 140-80 (.636) after 1937, 17-58 in last 3 yrs
  • Clements 41-19 (.683) after 1947
  • Lobos 113-252 (.310) from 1948-62
  • Pre Border Conf. 168-82(.627) from 1899-1933
  • Border Conf. 254-415(.380) From1933-1962
  • Pre Bob King, 422-497 (.459)
  • Since arrival of Bob King, 890-533 (.625)

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Bob King (Western Athletic Conference) (1962–1972)
1962-1963 New Mexico 16-9 4-6 4th
1963-1964 New Mexico 23-6 7-3 T-1st NIT Running-up
1964-1965 New Mexico 19-8 5-5 T-2nd NIT 2nd Round
1965-1966 New Mexico 16-8 4-6 5th
1966-1967 New Mexico 19-8 5-5 T3rd NIT 2nd Round
1967-1968 New Mexico 23-5 8-2 1st NCAA regional consolation game
1968-1969 New Mexico 17-9 4-6 T5th
1969-1970 New Mexico 13-13 7-7 T5th
1970-1971 New Mexico 4-10 7-7 7th
1971-1972 New Mexico 15-11 7-7 T4th
Total: 175-89 .663

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Norm Ellenberger (Western Athletic Conference) (1972–1979)
1972-1973 New Mexico 21-6 9-5 T2nd NIT 1st Round
1973-1974 New Mexico 22-7 10-4 1st NCAA Regional Third Place
1974-1975 New Mexico 13 13 4-10 7th
1975-1976 New Mexico 16-11 8-6 4th
1976-1977 New Mexico 19-11 8-6 T3rd
1977-1978 New Mexico 24-4 13-1 1st NCAA Round of 32
1978-1979 New Mexico 19-10 8-4 3rd NIT 1st Round
Total: 134-79, 684

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Charlie Harrison (Western Athletic Conference) (1979–1980)
1979-1980 New Mexico 6-22 3-11 T7th
Total: 6-22, .214

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Gary Colson (Western Athletic Conference) (1980–1988)
1980-1981 New Mexico 11-15 6-10 7th
1981-1982 New Mexico 14-14 7-9 6th
1982-1983 New Mexico 14-15 6-10 T7th
1983-1984 New Mexico 24-11 10-6 3rd NIT 1st Round
1984-1985 New Mexico 19-13 9-7 T3rd NIT 2nd Round
1985-1986 New Mexico 17-14 8-8 5th NIT 1st Round
1986-1987 New Mexico 25-10 11-5 T 3rd NIT 1st Round
1987-1988 New Mexico 22-14 8-8 T5th NIT Quarterfinals
Total: 146-106, .579

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Dave Bliss (Western Athletic Conference) (1988–1999)
1988-1989 New Mexico 22-11 11-5 T2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1989-1990 New Mexico 20-14 9-7 5th NIT Final Four
1990-1991 New Mexico 20-10 10-6 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1991-1992 New Mexico 20-13 11-5 3rd NIT Quarterfinals
1992-1993 New Mexico 24-7 13-5 3rd NCAA 1st Round
1993-1994 New Mexico 23-8 14-4 1st NCAA 1st Round
1994-1995 New Mexico 15-15 9-9 T4th
1995-1996 New Mexico 28-5 14-4 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1996-1997 New Mexico 25-8 11-5 3rd (Mountain) NCAA 2nd Round
1997-1998 New Mexico 24-8 11-3 2nd (Mountain) NCAA 2nd Round
1998-1999 New Mexico 25-9 9-5 T2nd (Pacific) NCAA 2nd Round
Total: 246-108, .695

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Fran Fraschilla (Mountain West Conference) (1999–2002)
1999-2000 New Mexico 18-14 9-5 3rd NIT 2nd Round
2000-2001 New Mexico 21-13 6-8 T-5 NIT Quarterfinals
2001-2002 New Mexico 16-14 6-8 T-6th NIT 1st round
Total: 55-41, .573

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Ritchie McKay (Mountain West Conference) (2002–2007)
2002-2003 New Mexico 10-18 4-10 7th
2003-2004 New Mexico 14-14 5-9 T5th
2004-2005 New Mexico 26-7 10-4 2nd NCAA 1st Round
2005-2006 New Mexico 17-13 8-8 5th
2006-2007 New Mexico 15-17 4-12 8th
Total: 82-69, .543

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Steve Alford (Mountain West Conference) (2007–present)
2007–08 New Mexico 24–9 11–5 3rd NIT 1st Round
2008–09 New Mexico 22–12 12–4 T–1st NIT 2nd Round
2009–10 New Mexico 30–5 14–2 1st NCAA 2nd Round
2010–11 New Mexico 22-12 8-8 5th NIT
Total: 98-38, .721

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion

Coaching records

By ## Wins YearsWin-Loss PctBy Win Pct.*Years Win-LossPct
Dave Bliss1988-99 246-108 .695>< Steve Alford2007-11 98-38 .740
Bob King1962-72 175-89 .663>< Dave Bliss1988-99 246-108 .695
Roy Johnson 1920-30,33-40157-138 .532>< Norm Ellenberger1972-79 134-62 .684
Gary Colson1980-88146-106 .579>< Bob King1962-72 175-89 .663
Norm Ellenberger1972-79134-62 .684>< Gary Colson1980-88 146-106 .579
Woody Clements1944-51,53-55 113-119 .487>< Fran Fraschilla1999-02 55-41 .573
Steve Alford2007-11 98-38 .721>< Ritchie McKay2002-07 82-69 .543
Ritchie McKay2002-07 82-69 .543>< Roy Johnson1920-30,33-40157-138 .532
Fran Fraschilla1999-02 55-41.573><Woody Clements 1944-51,53-55 113-119 .487

* - at least 75 games coached

Conference championships 9 Total (2 Border, 5 WAC, 2 MWC)

  • 2, Bob King (WAC: 1964, 1968)
  • 2, Norm Ellenberger (WAC: 1974, 1978)
  • 2, Steve Alford (MWC: 2009, 2010)
  • 1, Dave Bliss (WAC: 1994)
  • 1, Woody Clements (Border: 1945)
  • 1, George Ellis (Border: 1944)

Tournament Championship 3 Total (2 WAC, MWC 1)

  • 2, Dave Bliss (WAC Championship: 1993, 1996)
  • 1 Ritchie McKay (MWC Championship: 2005

NCAA Tournament appearances 11, (6-11 record)

  • 7, Dave Bliss (1991, 1993-94, 1996-99), 4-7 record in NCAA tournament
  • 2, Norm Ellenberger (1974, 1978), 2-2
  • 1, Bob King (1968), 0-2
  • 1, Ritchie McKay (2005), 0-1
  • 1, Steve Alford (2010), 1-1

20-win seasons (23)

  • 10, Dave Bliss (28)
  • 4, Steve Alford (high: 30 - school record)
  • 3, Norm Ellenberger (24)
  • 3, Gary Colson (25)
  • 2, Bob King (23)
  • 1, Fran Fraschilla (21)
  • 1, Ritchie McKay (26)

30-win seasons (1)

  • 1, Steve Alford (high: 30- school record)


External Links