A Night With the Lobos

March Madness has hit. Everyone who follows college basketball has set up an office pool, is chatting about his regrets on the treadmill at the gym, and is following his favorite team picks. That is, Everyone but me.  In the spririt of this Spring sports frenzy, here is as close as I can get to it: highlights from a night of Lobo basketball from this past December.

When my dad, sports enthusiast Grandpa, came to us for his latest visit, he had the great idea to bring my boys to a Mens’ college basketball game at University of New Mexico. We live within a 15-minute drive to campus. Abuquerque is filled with all things “Lobo.”

Nevertheless, my eldest declined. He anticipated that the experience would be boring after five minutes. The middle child went along. He realized it was a chance to show some local pride, wear cherry and silver-colored Lobo gear AND spend an evening with Grandpa.  I enjoy out-of-the-ordinary occasions, so along I came, with my camera.

We were all entertained from start to finish at our first Mountain West Conference college basketball game; (NCAA member schools are located in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming).  The athletic abilities of the players,  the cheer leaders, the zippy school band (with rousing versions of Pink’s “So What [I’m still a Rockstar],” the refreshingly polite and enthusiastic fans all around us, and a comedic half-time show made the whole event lively and fun.

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Home Team Esprit De Corps Starts Before Players Take the Floor

When I was in college at my school’s “home” hockey games, student spectators in the stands used to display a similar antic when visiting team players were being introduced to the ice.  My schoolmates used to turn their backs to the ice while holding up their newspapers, to make it look like they could care less and were reading the news. This rude and amusing tradition carries on more than 2,000 miles away and more than 25 years later.

On this evening at the WisePies Arena, also known as “The Pitt,” it was mascot night. The game started early at 6 PM to allow young children to come and support their team.

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Diehard Lobo Fans Bring Babies to Games | This new parent at least had the sense to put protective sound dampening ear muffs on his peanut.

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Mascot Night at the Pitt

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Half-time Gags | Sponsors sent out their mascots to play against each other in a slapstick basketball match.

During the first 20 minutes of play, I thought I heard the announcer calling the visiting team the “Warthogs.” I rather liked the image of a wolf battling a warthog. It worked for me. When I read one of the screens as player stats were being flashed,  I saw the actual name of our opposing team; the Warhawks.  After living out here for 5 years, I’m still not used to the New Mexican accent!

We sat in a corner opposite the student section, which was smart, because the band–though awesome–was loud! Our seats afforded the view of the basket our home team would shoot into during the game’s second half.

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Lifts and Tumbles to Get The Crowd Pumped during Timeout

At this arena, there was action all over the place. Cheerleaders encircled the court. They were constantly on the move.

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Bouncing Beneath the Basket

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Springs for Feet

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Action at the Basket

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The Real Wolf: Coach Neal | Displeasure Shown at a Ref’s Call

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Rising To The Challenge

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Game Over | Fist Into the Air At the Buzzer

Final score was the University of New Mexico Lobos 54 University of Louisiana Monroe Warhawks 47.

It was an exciting game, and I was sure glad our team won. My son and father enjoyed the experience, and I had a chance to test out my camera indoors for a sporting event.

I also concluded I need a better telephoto zoom for closeups of the players on the floor. Overall, I felt like I captured the spirit of the evening.

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