Weather could delay Knight's bid for win No. 880
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Bob Knight's highly publicized attempt to get record win No. 880 could be delayed if the weather in Albuquerque doesn't clear by Sunday.
Albuquerque had a reported record of nearly a foot of snow Friday and into Saturday, with the forecast calling for snow into Sunday. New Mexico, which is scheduled to play Texas Tech on Monday at noon ET, is scheduled to take a Southwest Airlines flight from Albuquerque to Lubbock on Sunday. But Southwest canceled its once-a-day flight for Saturday and posted on its Web site that all flights through Sunday are subject to cancellation or delay.
The Albuquerque airport was closed for parts of Friday and Saturday. New Mexico takes commercial flights to the majority of its games. The option of busing to Lubbock is moot since Interstate 40 is closed from Albuquerque to the Texas border. A number of major stores, including malls, were closed Saturday because of the storm. The public was urged to travel only if necessary.
"We want to play the game, but we're not going to put our kids' safety in danger," New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said Saturday afternoon. "We're not going to put our kids at risk [by busing in hazardous conditions]."
New Mexico regularly gets snow during the winter, but the amount has been overbearing for the city and state in an area where plows aren't plentiful. Main highways and surface streets were clearing up but many of the side streets remained unplowed.
McKay said he was having trouble getting out of his northeast Albuquerque home for practice and had to push it back a few hours Saturday. Meanwhile, Pepperdine and Alcorn State, two of the three teams (Binghamton was the other) that played in a New Mexico tournament Thursday and Friday, couldn't get out of the city and had to ask UNM for practice times Saturday.
The Lobos have a two-game road swing coming up with the Texas Tech game on the front end and the Mountain West opener at TCU on Wednesday.
Texas Tech missed out on a chance to get win No. 880 for Knight when the Red Raiders were beaten handily by UNLV, which maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half Thursday night at United Spirit Arena.
McKay said he hasn't talked to his team about preventing Knight from breaking the record. He said he expected the Lobos would "take the best punch" from the Red Raiders after the UNLV loss, assuming they get to the game.
McKay was quick to point out that games being canceled has happened this week due to the weather, with Colorado having to cancel games against UC Davis and TCU due to the snow.
But the Lobos have no reason to run. New Mexico beat then-No. 8 Wichita State in Las Vegas last week before losing to Kansas State the next night at Orleans Arena. The Lobos beat a K-State team without high school phenom Bill Walker (he wasn't eligible yet) earlier this season at the Pit.
Kansas transfer J.R. Giddens (18.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) is nursing a sprained left ankle and didn't play against Alcorn State. McKay played him against Pepperdine and Giddens scored 26 points. He said he shouldn't have played him in losses earlier this season at UTEP and New Mexico State after Giddens suffered a broken nose and had a combined three rebounds in the two games.
"When J.R. is healthy, we're pretty good," said McKay, who is 54-23 the past three seasons. The Lobos' second-leading scorer is junior Tony Dandridge. Along with Giddens, McKay said they are two of the better wings in the Mountain West, if not the region. Meanwhile, the Lobos consider themselves to be a team that will be in the thick of the MWC race with UNLV, Air Force, San Diego State, BYU and Wyoming.
McKay said he handed out a Texas Tech scout plan late Friday night but hasn't talked about Knight's record. He said he told the team that this was a chance to be on the national stage and that was about it. This is New Mexico's only appearance on ESPN2 since the MWC has an exclusive conference game schedule with CSTV. Home games aren't available to the ESPN networks, either.
"It's not supposed to stop snowing until Sunday, so we'll wait and see," McKay said. He said he would confer with his athletic department Sunday morning to assess what to do.
"We can't bus there, so we'll just have to see. I don't think ESPN would push the game time back because of the bowl games, do you?"
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com