Lobos continue to make national noise

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Pit is no stranger to loud crowds and big basketball moments.

Back in 1999, The Pit was ranked the 13th best sporting venue of the century by Sports Illustrated beating out college and professional arenas and fields all across the nation. But for the last few years, the charm The Pit brought disappeared.

Now, in Richard Pitino’s second year leading the Lobos, he’s resurrected this program and brought life back to fans.

“It’s kind of nice for us to have this team, and I think it’s a really good thing for the school as a whole to bring some attention to us,” Nolan Kuhn, a senior at UNM said.

“This is my first time sitting in the student section, and it has just been a phenomenal experience — we get so loud, it’s just so rocking,” Illiana Moya, a freshman at UNM said. 

With only three losses so far this season (18-3, 5-3) and a couple of national rankings, the Lobos have drawn eyes from big national media outlets.

Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney wrote an article on the revival of this team called “New Mexico basketball is back home and better than ever,” — the title speaks for itself.

Sweeney mentions the eight long years since UNM made it to the big dance.

“Eight straight years without a postseason berth after Steve Alford departed Albuquerque for UCLA,” Sweeney said in the article.

He also goes on to talk about how New Mexico sports were impacted harshly from the pandemic when the Lobos couldn’t even play at home.

“No state was impacted more by COVID-19 restrictions on athletic competitions and large gatherings than New Mexico,” Sweeney said in the article.      

Now, The Pit and its fans have Coach Pitino speaking up on its culture — something he’s echoed all season.

“I’m not just saying this, that was the loudest building I’ve ever been in, by far, not even close. Our fans were amazing,” coach Pitino said after the Lobos Boise State victory.

Without a large major professional sports team in town coupled with The Pit’s rich history, when this basketball team is rocking, they put New Mexico back on the map.