LAS VEGAS -- As if building a top-25 basketball program wasn't enough, Steve Alford has found another way to put his stamp on the University of New Mexico.
Each time his team wins any sort of championship, the Lobos coach climbs a ladder, snips away the final strands of the net and then wears it like a necklace to his postgame news conference. The look has become hip around New Mexico supporters, many of whom show up at Lobos games sporting cotton around the collar.
"Fans like it," Alford said. "I just try to do a lot of things our fans like because we've got the best fans in the country."
Those fans were certainly cheering Alford on Saturday as he sliced away the net at the Thomas & Mack Center. Within seconds of the final horn in New Mexico's 63-56 victory over UNLV, hundreds of fans stormed the court to revel in the Lobos' Mountain West Conference tournament title.
The championship was hardly the first for Alford at New Mexico, where he has won four Mountain West regular-season trophies in six seasons, along with three conference tournament crowns.
This one, though, may have felt a bit more special than the others. Winning the Mountain West is always tough, but doing it in a season when the league spent virtually every week ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the RPI makes the accomplishment even more meaningful.
"We weren't picked to win this league at all," Alford said. "We were picked anywhere from third to fifth. We dominated the league. We won it by two games.
"We don't know what our [NCAA tournament] seed is going to be. But we know we're deserving of a very good seed."
A possible No. 1 seed, perhaps?
For Jason King's full column, click here.