Journal class

Lobo Hoops notes: Pitino completes staff with Mountain West veteran

Tarvish Felton, seen coaching the Fresno State Bulldogs, has been hired as an assistant coach for the UNM Lobos. (Photo courtesy of Fresno State Athletics)

In Tarvish Felton’s last four seasons on the bench at Fresno State, including the last two as associate head coach, the Bulldogs went 8-1 against the men’s basketball team. from UNM Lobo.

It’s time for the Lobos to see what it’s all about.

Richard Pitino announced Monday that he has hired Felton as the team’s third assistant coach, filling the vacancy created in early July when Andy Hill left the program to take a job near his family at Montana State.

“The biggest thing you’re going to see from Tarvish on a daily basis is his infectious enthusiasm on and off the field,” Pitino said in a school press release. “Staff chemistry is very important to me. All the things we ask of our players, we ask the same things of our staff, and I think they’re going to work very well hand in hand with everyone in our program.

Felton joins a team of Eric Brown and Isaac Chew as three team assistants and Dave Pilipovich, the former Air Force coach, whose title is Special Assistant to the Head Coach.

Pitino named experience as a primary requirement he was looking for for the position when asked about it on July 13, noting then that he thought “one of the reasons we moved from this which we took to where we are now – and did not arrive – had very good experienced staff (in 1 year). We’ve all been doing it for a while. We all understand what this is about. What I sell to my team, I sell to my staff. We must work together.

Felton has been coaching for more than 20 years, including nine seasons at Mountain West — the last four at Fresno State and five of his 10 seasons at Utah State since the Aggies joined the conference for the 2013-14 season (they were in the WAC before that).

“I truly believe that New Mexico basketball has always been one of the best brands in the country,” Felton said. “Tradition, history and community support make it a very attractive place. I look forward to being a part of this and expanding this tradition in the future.

Under head coach Justin Hutson, Fresno State enjoyed a pair of 20-win seasons during Felton’s four seasons there and he helped develop big man Orlando Robinson, who is currently signed to the Miami Heat. During his decade at Utah State, coaching under Tim Duryea and legendary coach Stew Morrill, the Aggies had five 20-win seasons, including two 30-win seasons in the WAC when one of the team’s chief rivals was the New Mexico State Aggies.

“Tarvish has tremendous Mountain West experience,” Pitino said. “I have a lot of respect for what Justin (Hutson) is doing at Fresno as well as what Stew Morrill has done at Utah State. He learned under great coaches, has a great basketball spirit, is a very good recruiter and our program has improved a lot with his addition.

Felton graduated in 1999 from Southern Utah and still ranks among the program’s leaders in several categories of his playing career there.

UNMSU SUMMER EDITION: While the mixing of UNM Lobos and NMSU Aggies mascots or names is common in season for basketball and football in national media, Monday featured a rare summer edition of the Bahamas.

The Aggies played and soundly beat the Nassau Discount Distributors Rockets 105-78 in the first of four games they will play in five days on their Bahamas foreign tour.

The game was streamed live on YouTube with the title: New Mexico State Lobos vs. Discount Distributors Rockets before being patched after the game started.

The NCAA allows teams to travel overseas in the summer once every four years. The UNM Lobos haven’t done such a tour since 2013 before the first season of the Craig Neal era when they traveled to Australia.

FAMILY QUARREL: Although the Iona vs. Lobos game in the pit won’t be until Dec. 18, the Pitino vs. Pitino build has already begun.

Iona’s coach, Rick Pitino, posted on his Twitter page last week: “Just finished a one hour quick workout – 13 players totally focused on improving! The best backcourt in the country in New Mexico better be ready,” referring to all of the returning offseason accolades of All-Mountain West guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. with the Lobos.

His son, the second-year Lobos coach, responded on Twitter with, “Four more months of this. …. What was I thinking?”

Father and son will train against each other again in 2023 when UNM play Iona.