Lobos think key transfer will be healthy by Dec.

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Despite losing two starters – including MWC player of the year Darington Hobson — from last season’s 30-5 squad, New Mexico expects to vie for another conference crown.

But that will require a healthy Drew Gordon.

The MWC newcomer of the year will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but isn’t expected to miss any time because the UCLA transfer isn’t eligible to play until December. It’s hard to overstate how important that is given he’s the player most likely to step into Darington’s role.

“We’re hoping it will be no more than a four-week deal, and only a week or two where he’s not doing anything,” New Mexico coach Steve Alford told the Albuquerque Journal. “It’s not easy for him, but somehow he’s got to stay focused and learn while he’s on the sideline.

“And staying focused is not Drew’s greatest gift,” Alford said with a laugh, turning to Gordon.

The Lobos also welcome transfers Demetrius Walker (yes, that Demetrius Walker) and Emmanuel Negedu, but Gordon’s the key. The 6-9 junior averaged 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game before leaving UCLA. He’s a mobile, skilled wing … if that meniscus is healthy.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.