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October 31, 2012The New Mexico Lobos play their first exhibition game Wednesday night, and it probably won't be a very interesting game for fans to watch.
Coach Steve Alford, however, is very interested in in seeing how his Lobos play.
Victory is the team the Lobos are playing. It is a small college in Tennessee near Memphis. It isn't a member of the NCAA and isn't expected to put up much of a challenge.
Don't expect Alford to pay any attention to what Victory is doing. He is trying to decide what combinations he wants to play, who fills what role and how much playing time each of his guys should get.
``We've got to figure that out pretty quickly,'' said Alford. ``We know this is going to be a tough schedule. Rebounding in these two exhibition games are important to us. We're getting kinks worked out. This year, we've got to be ready to go from Game 1.''
The Lobos have three starters returning, and they aren't the question. Kendall Williams, Tony Snell and Hugh Greenwood will be the guards when UNM takes the floor.
And Alford realizes he has to have one big man. That could either be 7-foot Alex Kirk or 6-9 Cameron Bairstow.
That fifth starting spot is up in the air. It could be the second big man, or Alford probably will go with a fourth guard in the form of Demetrius Walker.
Kirk, who missed last season with a back problem, sprained an ankle and won't play on Wednesday. ``Alex is out. Bringing him back too early for an exhibition game doesn't make sense,'' Alford noted.
So the Lobos will definitely be rolling out the four-guard formation for this game. The backup under the basket will be 6-9 freshman Nick Banyard. ''We know we're thin up front,'' Alford admitted.
Senior guard Jamal Fenton will be eligible to come off the bench for this game, but the NCAA has slapped him with a three-game suspension when the regular season starts for accepting gifts that are not allowed. No one at UNM will say what that gift was.
Fenton will miss the season opener against Davidson and the first two games in the Jam, a tournament in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He'll be available for the third game in the Jam on Dec. 19.
``Jamal knows he made a mistake. It does affect our rotation. We'll have to play our vets a little more. Being a senior is what hurts,'' Alford said.
If Fenton needs to come off the bench to rally the Lobos Victory then New Mexico has big problems. He knows what Fenton can do and has a good idea how to use him off the bench. But that is one of the few situations he won't be paying close attention to Wednesday night.
New Mexico NEWS