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 Level.
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 Bird.
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 championship.
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.