Feb. 25, 2010
Saturday: Brigham Young at Lobos, 4 p.m., The Pit
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Here's a short quiz on Lobo Eileen Weissmann and here's a hint for a good score: think blue-collar, inner-city, Chicago tough.
1. If Weissmann were part of an arm, would she be a limp wrist or a sharp elbow?
2. If Weissmann were a hand, would she be a "hi-there" wave or a "goodbye" fist?
3. Did Lobo coach Don Flanagan recruit Weissmann because he liked the way she ran down the court like a gazelle or liked the way she threw a screen like a Chicago freight train?
If you've seen Eileen Weissmann play basketball for New Mexico for the past four years, you know the answers. Weissmann is rock-solid, Midwest tough and usually a basketball team needs that quality as much as it needs a gazelle with a soft shot.
In scouting Weissmann in her club-ball days around Chicago, Flanagan had to decide how much he liked the blue-collar side of Weissmann. It wasn't all she had, but it was the best part.
"I liked how physical she was," said Flanagan. "I was watching her in a game and another player really got physical with her. She went right after that kid. She had that blue-collar attitude, `I'm not backing down from anybody.' I like that. I like coaching that type of kid.
"Eileen is one of those players willing to do whatever you want. If I told Eileen, `All I want you to do in the second half is screen,' she'd be more than happy to do it. There aren't many players like that. You need toughness on a team and sometimes that toughness takes over and makes you a better player. You could see that in Eileen."
Flashback to Feb. 6, 2010. Lobos at San Diego State. Here's a double mismatch for you. The Aztecs won 61-39 in The Pit. The 6-foot Weissmann had to guard the 6-4 Paris Johnson on her home court. Johnson is a gazelle, a leaper, an All-MWC candidate.
Johnson ran into the Lobo freight train. UNM won 65-58. "There is no way Eileen matches up with Johnson," said Flanagan. "Eileen outscores her (14-to-7) and outrebounds (4-to-3) her. That's a tribute to effort and toughness."
Weissmann, who also had five steals vs. SDSU, is one of those unsung Lobos who has drifted into the shadows formed by those who score points. She doesn't care. Sometimes she is a banger -- a fist. Sometimes she scores 14 and pulls down eight boards like she did Wednesday in The Pit in UNM's 65-50 roll of Colorado State.
"My four years here flew by. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself without basketball. I guess I'll have to get a job."
Lobo Eileen Weissmann.
"I`ve never been about the stats," she said. "That's probably a good thing. At Lobo Club (luncheon) the other day, coach told them I couldn't dribble, I couldn't shoot, I wasn't that fast, but I'd knock people to the ground.
"My dribbling probably is a zero (on 1-to-10 scale). My nine or ten might be playing physical. In the Midwest, around Chicago, you learn to knock people down."
Weissmann grew up in Chicago around a father, a sister and a brother, who were passionate about basketball and a mother passionate about letting her kids do whatever made them smile. "Basketball is my dad's love," said Weissmann. "But he never pushed me. I don't know what my dad will do once I'm through with basketball."
Weissmann's brother and sister quit the game in high school, but she carried on. She had a handful of college teams she planned to look at during her senior year, but scratched them all off her list after an official visit to UNM.
"I just loved the atmosphere here, The Pit, and coach Flanagan's style of coaching," she said. "And I wanted to get out of the Midwest for a while because I knew I'd go back to Chicago after school."
She made a quick impression at New Mexico with her booming picks and her booming voice.
"She talks really loud," said UNM assistant Yvonne Sanchez. Said Flanagan: "I kid her that she grew up having to speak over all the traffic noise in Chicago. Maybe it's more of the big-city, Chicago attitude. It`s kind of like what you see back East."
OK, it's not that Weissmann is really all that loud. There probably is a foghorn somewhere louder. Weissmann also is one of those confident, free spirits on the Lobo team that takes whatever her teammates throw at her and returns it with a smile.
"Eileen is one of those players who comes in with a smile on her face every day. She knows how to brush the little things off," said co-senior Amy Beggin. "But she is loud."
"Everybody says I'm loud," said Weissmann. "I think it's just a Midwest thing, a Chicago thing. The city is fast paced. You get done, you get doing, you talk fast and aggressively. I guess me and my sister talk loud. Even my dad tells us we talk loud. Chicago people are outgoing. We talk to anyone.
"I'm Chicago North. I have a Chicago address. It's Cubs and Bears there. We're tough on them. We'll boo `em, if we're not happy. I don't boo. I might groan."
And probably groan loudly!
Lobo opponents who run into a Weissmann pick often groan, too. Sometimes they crawl off the floor and back onto their feet. The Lobos play their final regular-season home game in The Pit Saturday against a team of Brigham Young Cougars, who like to set a lot of screens.
You might want to take a peek at the Chicago freight train doing her thing in the Lobo middle. She's been a special Lobo.