Head Coach 4th year – Indiana ‘87
In just three seasons roaming the sidelines of The Pit and Bob King
Court, Steve Alford has taken the New Mexico Lobos to new heights
and reinvigorated the program that makes national headlines with
regularity. Alford has won more games in his first three seasons
(76) than any of his UNM predecessors and led the Lobos to back-to-back
conference championships after a 15-year New Mexico title drought.
In his first season at New Mexico, Alford recorded a school record
24 wins, the most by a Lobo head coach in his rookie season.
In his second seasons,
Alford was named the 2008-09 Mountain West Conference Coach of the
year after leading Lobos to a share of the MWC regular season title,
the first UNM boss to earn the award in the MWC. Surprisingly, it
is Alford’s first coaching accolade at the NCAA Division I
Most would think the 2009-2010 season would be hard to top, but
Alford led the Lobos to a second-straight conference title, this
one outright with a 14-2 MWC mark, including 14 straight wins to
end the conference season. New Mexico went 30-5 overall, and won
its first NCAA Tournament game in 11 years. Alford won a second
consecutive Mountain West Coach of the Year award.
Neither title was easy. Last season the Lobos opened the year with
12 straight wins, but come Mountain West play. New Mexico actually
started out 0-2 before reeling off 14 consecutive wins, including
seven on the road. Among those wins was a sweep of BYU, including
a title clinching 83-81 win at the Marriott Center. The Lobos also
took a two-point win over Utah in Salt Lake City in OT, another
game in which the Lobos trailed in the extra session.
The previous season UNM was picked to finish fifth in the MWC preseason
poll. The lobos would win their final five games to tie BYU and
Utah for the crowns at 12-4. Included in that run was a double-OT
victory at Colorado State, a game UNM trailed by five points with
13 seconds left in regulation. The clincher came on a cold snowy
afternoon at Wyoming when UNM escaped with a one-point victory.
The hardware came just two years after UNM was 4-12 in the league
and lost in the MVC Tournament play-in game.
As a team, the Lobos have put up some impressive numbers in three
seasons with Alford at the helm:
- Home record over two
seasons – 49-6 overall, 21-3 in MWC games.
- A combined 24 road
wins in three seasons are the most in consecutive seasons in program
history … UNM was 14-60 on the road in the seven seasons
before Alford arrived.
- After having only
two top-three finishes in the MWC from 2000-07, the Lobos have
a pair of regular season titles in 2009 and 2010, and a third-place
finish in 2008.
- The Lobos have 37
conference wins in three seasons, averaging over 12 wins per year.
- The Lobos were a +7
in conference victories in 2007-2008, the second-greatest jump
of all-time and an argument could be made it’s the largest
ever…during World War II – when schedules were abbreviated
– UNM fashioned a 3-0 record in the Border Conference in
1944 with all three wins coming against Texas Tech… the
Lobos jumped to 12-0 in 1945 for an improvement of +9.
- Former Lobos Tony
Danridge (2009) and J.R. Giddens (2008) have represented UNM at
the annual Slam Dunk Contest held at the Final Four each season
… Danridge brought home the title in 2009. Then in 2010
Roman Martinez represented the Lobos in the Three-Point Contest
at the Final Four.
Mired with scholarship
reductions for poor academics before he arrived, Alford’s
teams have made dramatic improvement in the class room… two
of the programs top-four semester GPAs have come in the past three
semesters and six of the seven seniors that played for Alford have
graduated. In 2010, Roman Martinez was named CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine
Second Team Academic All-America, and he was also the winner of
the Chip Hilton Award.
Alford was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame on
March 25, 2009. Alford was one of 14 members in the Class of 2009,
along with NBA coaches Gregg Popovich and Scott Skiles. Alford is
just the eighth honoree to be selected in his first year of eligibility
joining other notable Indiana products Oscar Robertson and Larry
In 2010, the Big Ten Network proclaimed Alford as the #17 Big Ten
Icon of all-time in a television series that crossed over all Big
Ten sports. The half-hour special produced on Alford was hosted
by Keith Jackson.
Arguably the biggest accomplishment for Alford is his three seasons
at UNM has been his ability to teach, blend, and mold undersized
and possibly less talented groups into cohesive units that have
become the epitome of “team” basketball. He has changed
the mindset and work ethic of the program and the Lobos have responded
by playing the game “the right way”.
Still a youthful 46, Alford has patrolled the sidelines for 19 seasons
at four institutions. Alford, who has never been an assistant coach
during his career, has a 384-209 (64.8%) career record as a head
coach, 76-26 at New Mexico. His teams have qualified for postseason
play 14 times, including nine of the past 10 seasons, produced 16
winning seasons and reached 20 wins on 11 occasions, with a 30-win
season to boot.
Alford came to UNM after spending the previous eight seasons as
the head coach at the University of Iowa.
In eight seasons at Iowa, Alford compiled a 152-106 record with
a school-record seven consecutive winning seasons, and six postseason
appearances. The Hawkeyes won two Big Ten Conference tournament
titles (20201 and ’06).
Prior to Iowa, Alford posted a 78-29 record in four seasons (1991-99)
at NCAA Division III Manchester (Ind.) College and a four-year (1995-99)
record of 78-48 at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State).
The Bears defeated Wisconsin and Tennessee to advance to the Sweet
16 of the 1999 NCAA Tournament before losing to top-ranked Duke
in the regional semifinals. In 1997 Alford led the Bears to a 24-9
record (second in the Missouri Valley Conference) and a trip to
the national Invitation Tournament.
Alford joined the collegiate coaching ranks at Manchester (Ind.)
College in 1992, taking over a team that had lost its first eight
games. After winning four of 20 games that season, Alford led Manchester
to a 20-8 mark in his first full year of 1992-93.
Alford began his coaching career after a four-year playing stint
in the NBA, spending most of his career with the Dallas Mavericks
and a portion of one season with Golden State. He was the 26th selection
in the 1987 NBA Draft. Alford played for former Iowa basketball
standout don Nelson in the NBA.
A native of New Castle, Ind., Alford was a prep standout for his
father, Sam Alford, at New Castle Chrysler High School. He earned
Indiana’s Mr. Basketball Award in 1983 after averaging 37.7
opints per game as a senior.
During his collegiate career at Indiana, Alford started all but
fine of 125 games, helping the Hoosiers post a four-year mark of
92-35. Alford served as a head coach Bob Knight’s team captain
in 1987 when Indiana posted a 30-4 overall record and won the national
Alford concluded his college career as Indiana’s all-time
scoring leader with 2,438 points and he became the first player
to win the Indiana MVP award four times. He is also Indiana’s
career leader in steals and 3-point field goal percentage. Alford
was a consensus first teams All-America Selection and the Big Ten
MVP as a senior.
Alford earned first team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final
three seasons and also earned All-America honors as a junior. He
was named to the NIT all-tourney team as a sophomore when the Hoosiers
finished second to UCLA. His career free throw percentage of .897
(535-596) ranks fourth best in NCAA history and he led the nation
in free throw percentage as a freshman.
In 1997, Alford was inducted into the Indiana University Athletics
hall of Fame and in 2001 he was one of 15 players selected to Indiana’s
All-Century team. He was one of five players named to ESPN’s
Big Ten conference Silver Anniversary team in 2004. The Sporting
News recently published Legends of College Basketball, a publication
that recalled the careers of the 100 greatest Division I college
basketball players. Alford was the No. 35 on the list.
Following his freshman season at Indiana, Alford was selected to
play for the United States basketball team at the 1984 Olympic Games
in Los Angeles. He shot 64.4% from the field, averaged 10.3 points
per game and was second on the team in assists as the U.S. collegians
won the gold medal. The 1984 team marked the last U.S. squad to
win the gold medal and Alford’s teammates included Michael
Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullin, and Waymon Tisdale.
Alford was born in Nov. 23, 1964, in Franklin, Ind. He holds a bachelor’s
degree in business from Indiana University. Alford is married to
the former Tanya Frost, whom he has known since the two were schoolmates
in grade school in New Castle. The Alfords have three children:
Kory, Bryce, and Kayla.