Stevens: The Smallest Lobos -- Fenton & Nelson -- Steal The Show At Lobo Howl
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/14/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 14, 2011

The Lobos Howl in The Pit -- on Friday Night

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

If you left early, you missed the showstopper. Maybe it wasn't planned that the Lobos saved the best for last, but that's what happened.

Little -- by basketball standards -- Jamal Fenton stole the show and the dunk contest at the University of New Mexico Howl staged Friday night in The Pit by Steve Alford's and Yvonne Sanchez'sLobos.

"I call it The Jamal Special," said the 5-foot-9 (maybe) UNM point guard. "I knew I shut it down after that."

For sure, the dunk was special - and amazing. Lobo Coach Steve Alford said he thought Tony Snellhad sealed the win with a running dunk set up by a swooping the ball under his leg from his left hand to his right hand - and then down through the hoop.

Of course, the other Lobos went crazy and chased Snell around the court. Then Jamal lined up for "The Jamal Special."

This dunk is almost as hard to describe as it is to do it. Fenton started outside the 3-point line to the right of the hoop. His back was toward the basket. He peered over his right shoulder a couple of times and then threw the basketball high over his head.

Then Fenton did a back flip, raced to catch up to the bouncing ball which amazingly was near the rim. Fenton snatched the ball out of the air and threw down a one-handed smash. Then he hung onto the rim and pulled his feet over his head.

The place went nuts and Fenton did a victory dance around the Bob King Floor. Nobody argued that the champion had been crowned, not even the trio of distinguished judges: ex-Lobos Darrington Hobson, Dairese Gary and Daniel Faris.

"It's a crazy environment," said Fenton. "It kind of looked like a real game. We do (this) for them (fans). That's who we play for."

Both teams of Lobos ran through some practice drills and scrimmaged in front of a crowd estimated to be almost 7,000.

"It's unbelievable that so many people come out for a just a practice," said Hugh Greenwoodfrom Hobart, Australia. "It was good to get that out of the way. My knees were shaking. I was nervous."

Said Coach Sanchez: "These fans never cease to amaze you and always remind you why Lobo basketball is on such a special level. I know my players can't wait to play for them."

Fenton definitely stole the show for the Lobo men and Nikki Nelson, the shortest Lobo woman at 5-foot-5, stole the show for Sanchez's women. First, Nelson wowed the crowd with her center-court dribbling exhibition. As usual, she was flawless in her routine. Then she wowed the crowd with some ball control in scrimmage traffic and a few long bombs.

The bummer of the evening was when junior Sara Halaszcrashed to the floor after a drive and had to be helped off the court and up into the training room. The women were about two minutes away from ending their time on the court.

Halasz was favoring the repaired knee that kept her out of the 2010-11 season. Tests are pending.

Another than that mishap, The Howl was a booming success. As much as anything, The Howl is a tease to both Lobo fans and Lobo players. The fans get a taste of what the two teams can bring to the court: the men open Nov. 1 and the women open Nov. 5.

The players get a taste of what The Pit will be like down the road. "I can't wait to see what a real game in here is like," said Greenwood.

Said Alford: "The guys played hard and enthusiastically and we wanted a lot of energy in the building tonight and we got that These fans are remarkable fans and continue to do a lot of good things for our program and tonight was one of them."