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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico didn’t have to look far to find its next head coach.
Craig Neal, who spent the past six seasons as the team’s top assistant, was hired Tuesday to replace Steve Alford.
Athletic director Paul Krebs made the announcement in a one-word tweet: “Noodles,” a reference to Neal’s nickname. The university confirmed that Neal would be introduced as UNM’s 20th head basketball coach during a news conference Wednesday.
As assistant head coach under Alford, Neal helped the Lobos win back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles and reach three NCAA tournaments.
Players and fans had voiced their support for Neal as the top choice after Alford revealed last weekend that he was leaving for UCLA. Emotions were raw the last few days, but Krebs’ announcement helped dissolve some of the uncertainty and disappointment that was sparked by Alford’s departure.
While Krebs was guarded about the future of the head coaching spot on Saturday, he said during a news conference that Neal was a candidate and would provide continuity and stability for the program.
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