By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Putting Penn to paper, this doesn’t appear to be what the New Mexico Lobo men’s basketball team needs right now.
Then again, the Penn Quakers could be exactly the elixir the Lobos could use. As long as they can handle some strong medication.
UNM (5-5) plays host to Penn (9-2) on Saturday (Dec. 22) at 2 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena. On paper, the Quakers are exactly the type of team that has made life touch for the Lobos this year.
New Mexico hasn’t been able to handle quick, well-disciplined, good shooting teams. The Lobos’ defense has been horrendous, and opponents have had little trouble getting to the lane and hoop so far.
Enter Penn, a team that went 24-9 last year and made the NCAA Tournament and is on a five-game winning streak. The Quakers’ most recent win came against then 17th-ranked Villanova.
Penn, out of the Ivy League, has traditionally made poor defensive teams looks silly with its precision offense that can create consistent back-door layups and open jumpers.
After North Texas beat UNM 74-65 on Tuesday night in the Pit, getting to the basket seemingly at will, I asked Lobo senior guard Anthony Mathis how frustrating it’s been seeing opponents shoot layup-after-layup.
The Lobos lack of one-on-one defense is the reason they are actually 3-point underdogs.
Underdogs? At home? Against an Ivy League team?
That’s not something you see often. But a win against an opponent like Penn could very well be the spark that New Mexico needs with the Mountain West Conference opener less than two weeks away.
Your takes on the Lobos/Penn game are welcome. Email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in the state’s history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.