Lovin' the Lobos
by Matt Worley
"We don't have any quality wins. We've got take at least one of these games this week if we want to get into the tournament," I said to my bandmate as we drove through the rain (soon to be snow) on the way to a Valentine's night gig.
About a month ago we had the worst week of the season when we were less than impressive in consecutive losses to San Diego State (at home even!) and UNLV. Nothing seemed to work. No one could shoot. And UNLV just blew us out in the second half. It was gonna be one of those years.
But then it was one of these years.
We haven't lost since that bad week. We've won by an average of 20 points in those seven consecutive wins. And we beat San Diego State (on the road!) and UNLV, the two ranked teams in our conference, to be in first with two games up in the standings.
I watched most of the games this season thanks to my brother's better cable deal. In other words, he gets the Mountain, which shows a lot of Mountain West games. And also the CBS-Sports extra channel that shows the ones the Mountain doesn't.
But on Saturday, really early (it started at freakin' 11 a.m. here, I barely made it to Aaron's in time), the Lobos were playing a nationally televised game (technically half the nation, as the East Coast feed showed the Kentucky game). And, after holding par in the first three-fourths of the game, the Lobos turned the corner to a blowout of UNLV. A few hours later, San Diego State fell to Air Force.
This sets up a glorious end to the regular season (or, in equally spectacular fashion, a horrendous collapse...I mention this not because I think it's going to happen, but because I'm a fatalist sometimes) for a team that was picked to win the conference in pre-season, but was all but written off a month ago.
I have no special insight as to why the season has gone this way, except that the team has responded to adversity quite well. They figured out the point guard situation. And the bench is deep. No one's been hurt in our recent winning streak, and we don't seem like a team that's getting tired at the end of the season (we've had this happen the last few years). In other words, we're playing well at the right time.
I can't remember if it was Maria or Donna Rose who came up with the phrase, "Eat the dirt!", but it's been our mantra during this win streak. I'm not even sure what it means, but it's pretty funny. "EAT THE DIRT!"
We'll be ranked this week. I say 15th, but it'll probably be lower. We've been ignored so far, so even that thumping of UNLV might not melt the hearts of voters across the country.
I'm just loving the Lobos right now, which is a pretty nice feeling.
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