ALBUQUERQUE — It’s been an interesting ride from the get-go. And, despite the ups and downs, Alex Kirk would scarcely have it any other way.
Kirk, the 7-foot center for the University of New Mexico Lobos, will embark on his third appearance in the NCAA tournament starting Friday when the seventh-seeded Lobos meet the 10th-seeded Stanford Cardinal in the opening round.
To say the least, it’s been an eventful 12 months for the Lobos, and for Kirk.
Kirk was the standout center playing for Los Alamos High School, who graduated in 2010 and went on to play for UNM.
Now, as a junior — in terms of athletic eligibility, at least, as he finished up his undergraduate student work already — Kirk has rode the wave of a big 2013-14 season at UNM.
This season, which saw the Lobos go 27-6 and win their third consecutive Mountain West tournament championship, could’ve gone a number of different ways, and no one is more aware of that than the UNM big man.
Last March, right before the NCAA tournament and right after he agreed to terms on a hefty, 10-year contract with the school, Steve Alford left UNM to take over UCLA. That move, along with the implosion that was the Lobos’ first round loss to Harvard after earning a No. 3 seed, could’ve sent the program into a tailspin.