The Lobos will dribble-drive and attack. This is a good way to play in The Pit with its rabid crowd. There is energy to be milked out of WisePies Arena – energy that was wasted over the past several seasons because the sizzling upside to Lobo basketball was never reached.
Mike Bradbury Promises Fans a Dynamic Team
BY RICHARD STEVENS
You can’t help but wonder if Paul Krebs, UNM’s vice president of athletics, should bring a shovel to all his news conferences. It seems King Krebs is either digging himself into a hole – or out of one.
Krebs, the guy who chased off Rocky Long and also hired Mike Locksley, Yvonne Sanchez and Craig Neal, looks like he is making a good attempt to excavate himself with his latest hire – Mike Bradbury.
Bradbury will replace Sanchez as the holder of the keys to The Pit on the women’s side. You remember The Pit, don’t ’ya? It was once one of the best venues in the nation to play women’s college basketball.
Yes, The Pit has faded a bit – well, a lot – but it is still above the norm, and there is hope that maybe The Pit can recapture its faded glory.
There are at least two reasons to expect Bradbury to be an improvement. There is really only one way to go, and that is up. And Bradbury looks like a pretty good hire. Krebs actually might have done some research before tossing out the big bucks.
Bradbury needs to make some dynamic hires.
It’s not that Bradbury is a “wow” hire. He comes from Wright State, which is not exactly a powerhouse or a big name in women’s basketball. But let’s face it: There aren’t too many “wow” hires in women’s basketball because the sport is pretty much pushed to the back pages of the sports pages from the East Coast to the West Coast.
But Bradbury will find things are different in New Mexico and in Albuquerque. The heartbeat of New Mexico is still basketball and the potential of The Pit has only been scratched (by Don Flanagan) and not scratched recently.
You have to blame Krebs for this decline because he failed to act with boldness and foresight when he replaced Flanagan five years back.
Bradbury, 46, says a few things you want to hear from a guy making $250,000 in his first year and $275,000 a year over the next four. He has a five-year contract. He coached from 2007 to 2010 at Morehead State where he rolled out a modest 50-44 record. Not good enough for The Pit. He then jumped to Wright State from 2010 to 2015 and went 128-73. That’s better, but when you consider The Pit is worth an 80 percent win percentage, you want more.
You want the stuff that Flanagan produced in his early years.
Bradbury could do better. Flanagan was a dynamic floor coach and polished his Lobos with fundamentals and purpose. He was not a dynamic recruiter, and he never hired a dynamic staff to make up for this shortcoming.
Bradbury needs to make some dynamic hires. The Pit already has a fan base that exceeds most of the colleges in America. The women players don’t really choose colleges based on ESPN appearances. They want a good experience. They want an education. They want a chance to win. The Pit is an exceptional lure.
The Lobos will dribble-drive and attack. This is a good way to play in The Pit with its rabid crowd.
Bradbury said at the news conference that “coaches all over the country know about this program and are envious.” He said he understands the high expectations but said he thinks those Pit dreams are “right on.”
He also says his Lobos will run – play at “full-fledged chaos.” The Lobos will dribble-drive and attack. This is a good way to play in The Pit with its rabid crowd. There is energy to be milked out of WisePies Arena – energy that was wasted over the past several seasons because the sizzling upside to Lobo basketball was never reached. It would be nice if Bradbury also throws out a full-court press and some half-court traps.
And a lot of Flanagan stuff – defense, honoring possessions, focus, preparation, taking good shots, etc.
Krebs emphasized that Bradbury has a strong desire to work at UNM and that that was a plus in making the decision to hire him. Yeah, Locksley, Sanchez and Neal had the same desire. Would you hire someone who did not have a strong desire to come to UNM and make an outrageous salary?
Here’s hoping that Bradbury brings a few other qualities to the table.
Richard Stevens is a former sports writer for The Albuquerque Tribune. More recently, he was an insider at the Lobo athletic department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.