(7/27/21) EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of the graphic for this article labeled the leftmost player as Eliza Mariner. This has since been changed to the correct player, Leilani Baker.

Football

The UNM football team struggled to find anything positive during their 2019-20 season. The COVID-19 pandemic shortened their schedule to seven games, and the Lobos went a disappointing 2-5.



In his first season as head coach, Danny Gonzales presided over a defense that gave up 164.3 yards rushing and 283 yards passing per game. On the season, they allowed 18 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Lobos scored a total of 167 points but could not outpace their hemorrhaging defense, which allowed 228 points against them on the season. 

Coming into this season, the first objective for Gonzales is to remedy his defense. This starts with the team’s incoming signing class, which features 11 players on the defensive side. The hope is that the incoming class will feature a linebacker capable of filling the shoes of Brandon Shook, who led the team in total tackles last season.

J.D. Roberts and Alec Marenco are two three-star outside linebacker recruits, according to recruitment site 247Sports, that we hope will fill the void Shook left behind.

The one brightside on the defensive end of the ball is the return of safety Jerrick Reed II, who led the team in interceptions with four during the 2019-20 season. Coming into this season, Reed was voted preseason All-Mountain West by league-wide media.

On the offensive side of the ball, the team will also need to settle on a starting quarterback, as five different signal callers saw the field last year for UNM.

The competition will likely come down to Trae Hall and Tevaka Tuioti — the two who saw the most playing time last season. But also keep an eye out on Terry Wilson, who transferred to UNM from Kentuncky in March and has the second most wins as a starting quarterback in the University of Kentucky’s history.

Women’s Basketball

The UNM women’s basketball team had a highly successful 2020-21 season, finishing with a record of 15-5 and at the top of the Mountain West conference. With the return of four of their five main starters and exciting additions to both the playing and coaching roster, the Lobos are well set up for more success this season.

The most significant loss this offseason was Ahlice Hurst who, before transferring to the University of Oregon, started in 16 of the Lobos’ 20 games; however, head coach Mike Bradbury will have a plethora of choices about who to fill her spot with, whether it’s an established player like LaTascya Duff who started in Hurst’s place last season or one of the newcomers, who are all freshmen since there are no transfers this year. 

Particularly exciting to basketball fans in Albuquerque will be Viané Cumber, the 2020-21 Gatorade New Mexico Girl’s Basketball Player of the Year from Sandia High School, who is 5 feet, 10 inches tall and averaged 26.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game her senior year. Cumber will be joined by fellow signee Mackenzie Curtis, who is sure to add valuable shooting to the team after averaging 22.6 points in Lakeside, California.

Men’s Basketball

The Lobos men’s basketball team had a dismal 2020-21 season, finishing 6-16 and struggling to assert any kind of successful offense. They ranked 327th in adjusted offensive efficiency in KemPom’s database of Division I men’s basketball programs, 340th in effective field goal (eFG) percentage and 344th in free throw percentage; in short, they shot horribly.

The name of the game for new coach Richard Pitino will be improving the Lobos shooting. New additions that should all help with shooting woes are:

  • Jaelen House — 50.0 eFG%, 51.3 true shooting (TS) percentage, 0.390 three-point (3FG) percentage
  • Taryn Todd — 50.0 eFG%, 50.9 TS%, 0.383 3FG%
  • K.J. Jenkins — 40.4% on field goals, 0.365 3FG%

Pitino has said in the past that he wants his new team to shoot more often and better; his team’s success will depend on whether they can do both.

Softball

The University of New Mexico softball team had a rocky 2020-21 season with a record of 10-36 thanks in no small part to a brutal first half of the schedule facing top teams including the University of Oklahoma, the University of Arizona and Oklahoma State. In conference play UNM did comparatively better with a record of 9-15 in the Mountain West and finished around the lower-middle of the pack in the NCAA rankings. Looking forward, we can analyze a few team losses and gains based on new and lost personal additions.

What will undoubtedly hurt the Lobos this upcoming season are the losses of Cameryn O’Grady, who had the second-highest batting average and on-base percentage (OB%), and Izabella Owen, who had the third-highest batting average and fourth-highest OB%.

However, the Lobos have added on Amber Linton as a right-handed pitcher with a 4.87 earned run average (ERA) from Indiana University, who will hopefully provide some relief to primary pitcher Emma Guindon (5.0 ERA), as well as bringing on Olivia Birkinshaw as a utility player with an OB% of 0.431.

In addition, the coaching staff has hired Kristen Hawkins as an assistant coach to focus chiefly on working with the catchers as well as honing a defensive strategy, according to the official UNM Athletics website GoLobos. The arrival of volunteer assistant coach Mike Forsythe with a wealth of coaching experience will help the pitching group and add to a well-rounded coaching staff this season.

Hope can also be found in returning player Andrea ‘Homerun’ Howard who led the team in batting and OB% in 2021, and is currently playing for Italy in the Tokyo Olympics. If head coach Paula Congleton plays her cards right with the schedule this season, the Lobos might shape up to have a much more satisfactory record.

Volleyball

The Lobo volleyball team still feels like a team finding its way after a relatively recent coaching hire, especially after a 4-10 season last year in which they only got to play two home games and were bested in almost every statistic by their average opponent.

Their incoming class is made up almost entirely of more advanced transfers, with only two incoming freshmen: Abby Thigpen, a 5-foot-10-inch outside hitter, and Elizabeth Woods, a 6-foot-2-inch middle blocker.

Two new transfers have a height advantage with 6-foot-1-inch middle blocker Mmachi Nwoke and 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter Kassie McGill. The team also has two new setters: 5-foot-6-inch Alia Rasmussen, a junior college transfer, and 5-foot-11-inch Melissa Walden.

This fresh infusion of experience has to work in the Lobos’ favor; otherwise, they may end up without a strong up-and-coming bench or a competitive team.

Gino Gutierrez is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @GGutierrez48

Shelby Kleinhans is the multimedia editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at multimedia@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @BirdsNotReal99

Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com and on Twitter @baggyeyedguy