He attended Pasadena High School, graduating in 1974, then Pasadena City College before transferring to the University of New Mexico. He played for the New Mexico Lobos for two seasons, 1976 – 1978, and was named first-team All-Western Athletic Conference. In his senior season, the Lobos won the WAC title, with Cooper averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.
Steve Alford coached the Lobos for six seasons, compiling a 155–52 (.749) record with three NCAA tournament appearances, at least a share of four league titles, and two conference tournament championships. As a player Alford had been a prolific scorer and two-time All-American at Indiana, winning a national championship, and earning an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. national team. He had been a collegiate coach for 16 seasons, the previous eight at Iowa, amassing over 300 career wins.
An early objective for Alford was to change the culture of the program regarding discipline and academic focus. Under McKay, J.R. Giddens had frequently missed games due to disciplinary problems. Alford applied a strict regimen and Giddens responded with a standout senior season, leading the team with 16 points and nine rebounds a game. Six other players averaged between seven and ten points as balanced scoring became a hallmark of Lobo squads under Alford. The Lobos began the 2007 – 2008 season 14–2 before losing four of six in league; they then won eight of nine to close out the regular season. They lost in the conference tournament but received a bid to the NIT, losing at Cal to finish 24–9, the most wins for a first-year Lobo coach to date. Giddens was named MWC Co-Player of the Year and received an AP All-American Honorable Mention. He was selected as the 30th pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA draft by Boston.
College Sports Established
Albuquerque, New Mexico
University of New Mexico
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1907 – 1921 / Athletic Association of the United States
1999 – Present / Mountain West Conference
1962 – 1999 / Western Athletic Conference
1951 – 1962 / Skyline Conference
1931 – 1951 / Border Conference
Lobos – The Lobos name began in 1920. A UNM Weekly student newspaper editor, George S. Bryan, came up with the teams’ name, the “Lobos”, which is the Spanish word for wolf. Previously the University’s teams were referred to as the “University Boys” or “Varsities.”
Men’s Basketball 0
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