Richard Pitino, New Mexico beat Rick Pitino and Iona 82-74

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was a very public two-hour, father-son bonding experience between New Mexico coach Richard Pitino and his dad, noted coach Rick Pitino of Iona, on Sunday.

And in the end, the son prevailed 82-74 as the Lobos (11-0) got 22 points from Jaelen House and 17 from K.J. Jenkins. The Gaels were led by 22 from forward Nelly Joseph.

“I’m just really happy for him, 11-0,” Rick Pitino said. “This is a rebuilding job and he’s done it in one year. I’m just beaming with pride with what he’s accomplishing. I’m disappointed in my team but I’m so happy for him.”

The younger Pitino tried to downplay the relationship factor.

“I said all week, it’s not about me and it wasn’t about me, especially with the nonconference that we had,” he said. “It’s not about beating my dad. I’m grateful that my dad played here because we benefitted. That was a nationally televised game he did not need to play. Happy we won, but I don’t look at like I beat him. I look at it as New Mexico beat Iona.”

After Iona (7-3) scored the opening bucket, New Mexico led the remainder of the way, building a 17-point, first-half lead.

But Rick Pitino, who has national championships from his days at both Louisville and Kentucky, found a few tricks to get his squad back in the game, closing to within 76-73 with just over two minutes left.

“Our zone was giving them problems,” he said of a defense that he hasn’t broken out in three seasons. “And we started attacking the rim and we got some easy buckets.”

But it was not enough to coax the Gaels to a win, although Richard Pitino said he anticipated seeing some zone.

“I would say being his son, I knew he would play some zone because he hasn’t played any,” he said. “Working for him, he always has a zone in his back pocket.”

It was a contrast in styles on the court and on the bench as the younger Pitino sported comfortable attire and gym shoes, while his dad wore a sports coat, slacks and a dress shoes.

The Lobos also preferred a fast-paced attacking style compared to the more deliberate, get it inside look from Iona.

First-half runs of 14-2 and 8-0 helped New Mexico build a 37-20 lead at the 3:21 mark before Iona nibbled into the lead, cutting it to 41-33. But K.J. Jenkins hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, his third of the half, to give the Lobos a 44-33 halftime advantage.


This was the third meeting between father and son Pitino. The other two coming when dad coached Louisville and his son was at Minnesota, with the Cardinals winning previous games. The teams will play again next year at Iona.


Asked who was buying the postgame meal, Richard Pitino said, “I don’t know if he wants to go to dinner tonight. I’m supposed to take him to dinner. You have to give him a little grace period because he’s not great right away after games. But we’ll get together.”

Although unsolicited, Rick Pitino had some advice for his son and the Lobos, saying, “Richard knows how to handle it but the one piece of advice for this team, don’t embrace it. Get better. Take what you did wrong and get better. Because as quickly as you get to climbing that mountain, you get knocked right off it.”

New Mexico police: Planned attack led to university shooting

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico investigators say a University of New Mexico student conspired with two other students and a teenage girl to lure a visiting New Mexico State University basketball player onto campus, leading to a shootout that left the UNM student dead and the player wounded.

The investigation into the shooting early Saturday continued Monday, with New Mexico State Police confirming that they have arrested and charged the teen with aggravated battery and conspiracy, but that it was too early to say whether others would face charges.

Police identified Brandon Travis as the University of New Mexico student who was fatally shot and accused of planning the assault on Mike Peake, the starting power forward for the Aggies basketball team. Police have identified the other two students, but their names have not been released.

The shooting in Albuquerque happened hours before the scheduled tipoff of a basketball game between the rival schools that was later postponed. It was not clear if the game would be rescheduled. The two teams already were set to face off in Las Cruces on Dec. 3.

New Mexico State Police said an altercation between Travis, 19, and Peake led to the shooting. They said Travis had plotted with his friends “to lure the 21-year-old victim to UNM campus and assault him.” How and why the two first crossed paths remained unclear.

“Once at the campus, Travis, armed with a firearm, confronted and shot the victim. The victim, who also had a firearm, shot Travis,” authorities said in a statement issued Sunday.

The teen girl and Travis’ friends fled the scene outside a dormitory at UNM’s Albuquerque campus.

Peake was listed in stable condition at a hospital.

New Mexico State University officials confirmed Monday that the player was Peake, a Chicago native who spent most of high school playing in Kansas before signing with Georgia and then transferring to Austin Peay State University. He came to NMSU for the 2021-22 season.

New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan E. Arvizu said in a statement it was important that “no one rush to judgment until all the facts are made available.”

University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes said the university community was shaken by the shooting, calling it a “tragedy on so many levels.”

The shooting came six days after a former University of Virginia football player allegedly killed three Cavaliers football players and wounded two other students on the Charlottesville campus before being arrested.

Pre-dawn shooting at University of New Mexico kills 1

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A 19-year-old man was killed and a 21-year-old man was wounded in a predawn shooting Saturday at the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, where police said it was not an active shooting or a threat to others on campus.

School officials called off a basketball game scheduled with in-state rival New Mexico State.

The shooting took place about 3 a.m. and the wounded man was taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, police said. His condition was not immediately disclosed.

Albuquerque police called the shooting “a singular incident” and not a threat to other students on campus.

“This is not an active shooter,” the department said.

The university issued alerts overnight notifying the campus community that the shooting happened near Alvarado Hall, a student dormitory.

University and Albuquerque police are investigating the shooting. State police said the investigation was in the preliminary stages, but that authorities did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the community.

Steve Kirkland, University of New Mexico athletic director, said in a statement that officials from both schools decided to postpone the evening basketball game.

“Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this tragedy,” the statement said, adding that details would be released later about rescheduling the game and refunds.

The Rio Grande Rivalry matchup between the Lobos (3-0) and the Aggies (1-1) had been scheduled at 5 p.m. local time at The Pit, where the athletic department said more than 13,000 tickets had been sold.

Gethro Muscadin, ex-Kansas, New Mexico forward, dies at 22

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Former Kansas and New Mexico forward Gethro Muscadin died late Monday from injuries he sustained in a single-car rollover crash in December, Jayhawks coach Bill Self announced Tuesday.

“Although only here one year,” Self said, “Gethro was loved and liked by all and will always be remembered as a Jayhawk. We wish his family and loved ones the best going through this most difficult time.”

Muscadin, 22, grew up in the seaside city of Gonaives, Haiti, and moved to the U.S. in 2006 to pursue basketball. He played at Sunrise Christian Academy and Life Prep Academy, both in Kansas, along with Aspire Academy in Kentucky, where he grew into a four-star prospect that had scholarship offers from a number of high-major programs.

The 6-foot-10 center chose the Jayhawks and appeared in 11 games during the 2020-21 season, including a loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament, and was teammates with many on last season’s national championship team.

Muscadin transferred to New Mexico after the season, starting nine of 12 games and averaging 9.3 points before leaving the program last December. At the time, Lobos coach Richard Pitino called it a mutual decision to part ways.

Muscadin had returned to Kansas to watch the Jayhawks play Nevada and was traveling to Wichita afterward when the crash happened on a stretch of interstate. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Muscadin was not wearing a seatbelt when the vehicle “went off the road, rolled multiple times, and came to rest on the fence line” south of Topeka.

Self said Muscadin, who turned 22 in August, had been in a “non-responsive state” since the crash.

The driver, Alaceyia Howard, was hospitalized with minor injuries from the crash.

“The Lobo community is saddened today by the passing of former New Mexico basketball player Gethro Muscadin,” the program tweeted Tuesday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this time.”

This story has been corrected to show that Muscadin was 22, not 20.

New Mexico hires Richard Pitino, as Minnesota aims higher once again

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After an amicable split with Minnesota, Richard Pitino headed west for New Mexico, no longer a young man relying more on name recognition than coaching experience.

Both the mid-major team he’s inheriting and the power-conference program he’s leaving behind are searching for a spark to bring fans back to their storied arenas.

Hours after Minnesota finalized his firing following eight seasons on the job, the 38-year-old Pitino was hired as New Mexico’s coach to succeed Paul Weir, who went 58-63 in four seasons for the Lobos.

“He is his own person. He knows his name is a name he’ll carry with him the rest of his life, and he owes a lot to his dad for giving him an opportunity, but the fact is he has built the successes and the reason he is here today is because of who he is and what he has done,” New Mexico athletic director Eddie Nunez said on a video conference call with reporters.

Dad in this case, of course, is Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach who has returned this year to the NCAA Tournament with his fifth different team, Iona.

When Minnesota picked Richard Pitino for the job, he had one season of prior experience as a head coach at Florida International and was far from the first choice.

Though Pitino went just 54-96 in conference play with only three finishes in the rugged Big Ten higher than 10th place, he took the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament twice and went there five other times as an assistant at Louisville under his father and at Florida with Billy Donovan. Two of Pitino’s other teams at Minnesota, including this year, were on an NCAA Tournament track before injuries led to a late-season demise.

“I love Minnesota. It was an eight awesome years, but I’ve landed in a spot where I know we can win big,” Pitino said on KFAN radio in the Twin Cities.

Nunez played for and coached under Donovan. Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle was another vital reference for Nunez, who also considered former Nebraska coach Tim Miles among others for the vacancy. Coyle and Pitino grew close, even though Coyle didn’t hire him, and the strength of their relationship made an impression on Nunez.

“He is one of my favorite people. I respect him. I know he’s going to do wonderful things at New Mexico, but in terms of at Minnesota, I just felt like it was time in my heart that we needed to go in a different direction and try to find a new leader to help us accomplish the goals that I firmly believe we can accomplish here,” Coyle said.

New Mexico last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014, in coach Craig Neal’s first year. The Lobos, playing in the Mountain West Conference, went three times in six seasons under Neal’s predecessor, Steve Alford. Playing in their eclectic arena, The Pit, they’ve had their share of strong teams over the last several decades.

“The way people view this program is so high, and it has earned that because of the passionate fan base that we have,” Nunez said.

Nunez said he was working on a six-year contract for Pitino with an annual salary similar to what Weir had ($775,000). At Minnesota, Pitino’s base salary was $2 million. His $1.7 million buyout will be significantly lessened by his new employment. Coyle declined to be specific about how much.

The Gophers play at Williams Arena, the 93-year-old, barn-shaped building with the uniquely raised floor that some analysts and boosters have pointed to as a hindrance to sustained success for the program in such an unrelenting conference with big-spending competitors.

Pitino, in his radio interview, said he didn’t think recruits were dissuaded by it. He does, however, believe it’s a factor in declining attendance when fancier professional-team venues are surrounding it in the area with the NHL’s Wild, the NBA’s Timberwolves, the NFL’s Vikings and MLB’s Twins.

“The fans, we’re asking a lot of them, to come at 8 o’clock on a Wednesday night in the cold weather,” Pitino said on KFAN.

Since reaching the Final Four in 1997, a season that was later vacated by NCAA infractions, the Gophers have won a grand total of two NCAA Tournament games.

“I did not come to Minnesota to be .500,” Coyle said. “We have the pieces in place here.”

Pitino thought so, too.

“We did some good things. We really did. I’m not going to sit here and defend and say I did the greatest job in the world, but there’s a lot I’m certainly proud of,” he said. “I’m proud of what we did, and hopefully someone can come in and make it better.”

New Mexico coach Paul Weir stepping down at end of season

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Paul Weir is stepping down as New Mexico’s basketball coach at the end of the season.

In a statement posted on the program’s website, athletic director Eddie Nunez said the school and Weir mutually agreed to part ways after the season.

The Lobos (6-14, 2-14 Mountain West) will play their regular-season finale at Colorado and take part in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, starting March 10.

Weir is in his fourth season as coach of New Mexico. He has a 58-61 overall record with the Lobos, including a pair of 19-win seasons.