Lobos Pick Up USBWA District Honors
March 12, 2013
St. Louis, Mo. --- The last time the New Mexico Lobos won the Mountain West title outright, the Lobos picked up a host of Awards from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. This year is no different as Steve Alford was named the USBWA District VIII Coach of the Year, and Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk were both named to the All-District VIII team.
The team was selected by members of the USBWA is each respective district. District VIII comprises all Division I schools in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.
For Alford, it is his second District VIII Coach of the Year Award, after winning the honor in 2010 after the Lobos went 30-5 and won the Mountain West by two games, same as the school did this year. The Lobos this season led the Mountain West wire-to-wire. The team also won four games against ranked opponents this season, and UNM has the longest active streak of regular season wins over AP Top 25 schools, with six dating back to last season. Overall in the last four years, UNM has 16 wins over ranked opponents.
Williams and Kirk were both named to the 10-man All-District squad. Williams, who was the Mountain West Player of the Year winner, earned his first District honor of his career. The junior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. averaged 14.0 points a game to lead the Lobos, and he also led the team with 149 assists, just a shade under 5.0 per game. He also hit 46 threes on the season and nabbed 35 steals. Williams was one of 20 names on the next to last Cousy Award watch, although he didn't make the final list of 12. Williams was also named First Team All-Mountain West.
His became only the second former Mountain West Freshman of the Year to later earn Mountain West Player of the Year, joining Utah's Andrew Bogut. He hit the nation scene with a game for the ages, a 46-point outburst at Colorado State in the defacto MW regular season championship game, earning national Player of the Week honors from CBS Sports, ESPN, FOX, and NBC.
For Kirk, the season has been one five month revelation. Entering the season as a non-starter after missing the entire 2011-12 season after recovering from back surgery, he has shown amazing consistency. Kirk is tied for second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per game, and he leads with an 8.2 rebounds per game average, having started the last 29 games for the Lobos.
He also has led the team with 56 blocks, and can move into the single season and career top 10s in blocks this week. He is shooting .502 from the field, and he has racked up eight double-doubles on the year after just one as a freshman, and he has scored in double-figures in 23 of UNM's 31 games after doing so just four times as a freshman. Kirk has had some of his best games against UNM's top opponents, including 23 and 9 and 17 and 16 against UNLV, a 19 and 10 game at Colorado State, a 25 and 7 game against San Diego State, and a 15-point outburst plus the game-winning blocked shot at Cincinnati.
For the Lobos it is the second time that UNM has had a pair making the All-District team, as it also occurred in the 2009-10 season. Under Alford, New Mexico has had at least one player each season earn All-District honors.
The Lobos will play either Wyoming or Nevada in the Mountain West Tournament Quarterfinals on Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. Mountain Time.
DISTRICT VIII (WY, UT, ID, NM, CO, NV, MT)
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Andre Roberson, Colorado
COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Alford, New Mexico
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
Brandon Davies, BYU
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
Tyler Haws, BYU
Colton Iverson, Colorado State
Alex Kirk, New Mexico
Michael Lyons, Air Force
Anthony Marshall, UNLV
Andre Roberson, Colorado
Kendall Williams, New Mexico