Lobo backlash growing with losing streak

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Some Lobo basketball fans are starting to get restless and vent as the basketball team has continued its skid.

After a run of four NCAA tournament appearances in five years, some fans are having trouble with being in the middle of the pack. The men’s basketball team has now seen three losses in a row and has a mediocre conference record. All of it is something fans haven’t seen from their team in about eight seasons.

The three game losing streak started on the road in Colorado Spring where the Lobos fell to Air Force.

“(We) couldn’t score,” chuckled Lobos head coach Craig Neal about the game. “You’re not going to win Mountain West games on the road if you only score 49 points.”

Saturday, the Lobos lost their second game straight to Utah State, marking the team’s second home loss of the season.

“We gotta finish better,” said Neal after the game.

Finally, Tuesday night the Lobos lost in Fort Collins Colorado to the Rams, the first time the Lobos have lost to that team in six games.

All of it has irked some fans who love the team.

“It’s not a good feeling!” said Onesimus Al-Amin, a Lobo student and basketball fan.

“It’s tough!” said Jaren Trost, another Lobo fan.

“We’re used to something a little bit better,” said longtime Lobo fan JC Baillio.

But it’s not just on campus. Local sports talk radio hosts are hearing it too.

“I don’t think the season is what any Lobo fan hoped for,” said Michael Carlyle.

Carlyle is a host at “Sports Radio 610 KNML.” He says with the recent losing streak, he’s noticing more upset Lobo fans calling in his four hour weekday program called “The Sports Bar.”

“What I saw was a team that seemed to be struggling with its identity,” said one fan who called in to the show Tuesday.

“(It’s) a lack of platform confidence,” said another caller.

“There isn’t a leader on the court,” said a third caller, speaking of the Lobos team.

The Lobo men have dropped to 14 and 10 on the season, including a 6 and 6 conference record. The team hasn’t struggled this much since the 2006-2007 season, the year before Steve Alford came to the University of New Mexico.

“I will say that Lobo fan is not a patient fan-base and I completely understand that,” said Carlyle.

Online, the comments are getting harsh as well. Forums on the “TheRedMenace.com” are getting a lot of traffic. After the loss to Colorado State, fans wrote, “Harvard all over again,” “team seems to have zero confidence,” and “raise the bar New Mexico!”

“You do feel there’s Lobo fan backlash right now?” asked KRQE News 13’s Chris McKee.

“Oh sure absolutely, I think you know it’s very polarizing situation Lobo basketball,” replied Lee Roy Lucero, founder of TheRedMenace.com website.

Lobo Athletics declined an interview with KRQE News 13 about the fan-climate Wednesday. Lucero says he expected the rebuilding project.

“I think it’s going to be a tough couple years,” said Lucero.

While it may be a down time for the team, many fans say they’re not giving up on the Lobos season yet.

“They’re our team, you’ve gotta support our team through thick and thin,” said J.C. Baillio.

“My confidence is still there, always a Lobo fan,” said Jaren Trost.

“Definitely motivates us to do a lot better in the future,” said Ayham Maadi, another Lobo fan.

Right now it’s looking like if the Lobos want to keep their NCAA tournament streak going, they’ll have to win the Mountain West Conference tournament next month. The Lobos play against Nevada next, that’s in Reno on Saturday.

While the team is struggling, attendance is still strong. A lot of Lobo fans knew this could be a down year as well as the team lost its top three players. Two of them went to the NBA.

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