Ritchie McKay is dancing as head coach for the first time since his New Mexico Lobo days

By Mark Smith
Enchantment Sports
Editor in Chief

Off all places, Nashville, Tenn., was perfect.

The irony couldn’t have been lost on former New Mexico Lobo men’s basketball coach Ritchie McKay, who led UNM — the team his father, Joe, played for — into the NCAA Tournament in 2005-06.

McKay’s Lobos, led by future NBA All-Star Danny Granger, lost to Villanova 55-47 in their first game of the tournament after nearly making a miracle comeback. The Lobos trailed 34-11 at the half but sliced it to five late in the game and missed an open 3-pointer that would have cut it to two points.

Liberty players celebrate after winning 74-68 at Lipscomb on Sunday to win the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.

McKay has been back to the NCAA Tournament a number of times since but as an associate head coach for Tony Bennett at mighty Virginia. But on Sunday, McKay snatched his first berth in the Big Dance has a head coach since that 2004-05 season when his Liberty Flames won 74-68 at Lipscomb — in Nashville.

McKay told Enchantment Sports, “It’s been some season — so far.”

Enchantment will do a feature on McKay this week. For now, CONGRATS RITCHIE!!!!

Seeing good things for a good guy is always good news. The Flames (27-6) are being penciled in as a probable 12 or 13 seed in the Huge Hootenanny.


Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio. He covered the Lobo basketball beat for the Albuquerque Journal for 15 seasons, including all five seasons when McKay was coach. Smith is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.


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