Hobson tops Lobos in scoring, rebounds and assists

These days, New Mexico always serves the team meal with

Butter.

Junior college transfer Darington Hobson – nicknamed Butter

because of his smooth game – has added a versatile flavor to what

is becoming a historic season for the No. 12 Lobos.

Hobson leads New Mexico (24-3, 10-2 Mountain West) with averages

of 15.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. If he can

make those numbers stand another month, he will become the first

player in school history to lead the team in all three

categories.

“He’s been awful close to a triple-double now for the last two

weeks,” coach Steve Alford said. “He’s an outstanding

player.”

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard picked up his nickname as a

15-year-old on the outdoor courts at a neighborhood park when he

lived in Houston. Players in pickup games saw that he had a smooth

game to go with his height and light-colored skin.

“Like a stick of butter,” Hobson said. “Fits me

perfect.”

The left-handed Hobson was shorter and younger than nearly

everyone on the court, so he usually played point guard. He calls

it his most natural position, and it showed when Hobson made a

highlight no-look pass to teammate Phillip McDonald for a layup

earlier this week against Wyoming.

Yet it seems Hobson can do anything on the court.

His season high in scoring is 30 points during a November win

over Louisiana Tech and he had 22 points and a season-high 16

rebounds when New Mexico beat Creighton in December. Echoing his

teammates, he insists he’s willing to do whatever’s needed to

win.

“I see a lot of balance. Guys know their roles,” Hobson said.

“This is the most unselfish team I’ve ever played on. Nobody cares

about their stats.”

It’s humble talk, for sure, by the guy with the best

statistics.

Going into Saturday’s contest against Air Force (9-15, 1-10),

Hobson has averaged 18.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists over

the past four games.

He has nine double-doubles this season, including a 20-point,

10-rebound effort in Wednesday’s 83-61 win over Wyoming. Last

weekend, he had 10 rebounds and 11 assists in New Mexico’s 68-65

overtime victory at Utah, barely missing a triple-double with eight

points.

The only Lobo to notch a triple-double was Luc Longley, who had

17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists when New Mexico lost to Penn

State in the 1990 NIT consolation game.

“I think I’ll probably get one or two before the season’s

over,” Hobson said, laughing. “You can’t really plan for it

because that’s when you try to do things you’re not capable of

doing or you try to do too much. You just play the way you play. If

it comes, then it comes.”

New Mexico has won 10 straight, all in league play, with a

chance Saturday to make it 11 conference victories in a row for the

first time ever. One more win, and a 25-3 record would be the best

ever after 28 games in the school’s 107 seasons.

Hobson is a big part of the success. He spent the past two

seasons at the College of Eastern Utah. New Mexico recruited him

out of high school but he didn’t qualify academically.

So he went to Price, Utah, enduring road trips in the Scenic

West Conference where players packed into a van for seven- and

eight-hour drives each way – the trip to northern Idaho was 12

hours. Meals usually involved fast-food restaurants.

It was a great experience, Hobson said, because he appreciates

how good things are going now.

“You learn never to take anything for granted,” he said. “A

lot of people don’t realize how good it is in Division I. You fly

everywhere. You eat at good restaurants. In junior college,

breakfast, lunch and dinner was McDonald’s, Sonic and Burger

King.”

Hey, at least all those meals came with Butter.