Feb. 3, 2009
What: Lobos vs. Wyoming
When/Where: 7 p.m. Wednesday -- Laramie
Radio: 610-AM KNML
Online: GameTracker on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There is something the University of New Mexico Lobos need to make sure they don't bring with them to Laramie, Wyo.: Baggage.
We're not talking about the baggage that includes clothes and uniforms and fancy gym shoes. We're talking about baggage as in bad memories, bad vibes.
The Lobos have to get over their 53-50 gut-wrenching, heart-stabbing loss to the Utah Utes in The Pit on Sunday. "I always worry about carry over, especially if it's negative," said Lobos coach Don Flanagan.
"That was so tough," said Lobo junior Amy Beggin of the loss to Utah. "It hurt because they keep finding ways to beat us. But this road trip is really important for us."
Yep, time to move on. Time for the Lobos to rally on the road and hold onto their No. 2 spot in the Mountain West Conference standings.
There is no doubt the Lobos' loss to Utah damages UNM's shot at the 2009 MWC regular-season title. The Utes are 7-0 with a Pit win and UNM is 5-2 with two Pit losses. Advantage to Utah.
But the Lobos' 5-2 mark has them tied for second place in the league and that spot also receives a favorable spot when it comes to bracketing the MWC tourney in Vegas. San Diego State and TCU also are 5-2.
The Lobos (16-4 overall) would like to hold on to that coveted spot and a win Wednesday at Wyoming (10-10) followed by a win Saturday at UNLV would be helpful to that quest.
"We've lost two games. We have to win on the road," said Flanagan in simple terms.
The Utes obviously have an edge over the league with a two-game edge in the loss column. It's also too early in the race to exclude Brigham Young (4-3) from title contention.
You probably can say goodbye to Wyoming (2-5) and UNLV (2-5), but both teams have the talent to be spoilers and every MWC team enjoys beating the UNM team which has won five of the past six MWC tourney titles.
"Wyoming is a young team, but they run a lot of things similar to Utah," said Flanagan. "They are very, very patient (on offense). I'm a little concerned that we might not be as patient on defense."
The Cowgirls' offense definitely is deliberate. They work hard, and often long, to find a good shot. They also prefer a slow tempo. Flanagan hopes to change that.
"Transition is going to be a key," he said. "We need to speed up the pace a little bit. They are very methodical; seven, eight, nine passes are not unusual for them.
"They are young and they are well coached and they are getting better. When you have good coaches, eventually those young teams are going to get it together. They haven't learned to finish a game because of their youth."
The Cowgirls definitely are having trouble learning to finish MWC games in front of their home crowd. Wyoming is 0-4 in Laramie for league games with home losses to Utah, UNLV, TCU and BYU. Wyoming won at Colorado State and at Air Force.
It's a game the Lobos can't afford to lose not just because the Lobos need to win some road games. UNM also needs to keep pace with Utah, TCU and BYU which won in Laramie. TCU and BYU also won at UNLV.
Flanagan's Lobos will get the day off in Las Vegas on Thursday because NCAA rules require a day's rest during the week and UNM played on Sunday. "I guess they'll do some site seeing," said Flanagan.
The game in Laramie concludes the first half of the MWC season. UNM's last win at Wyoming was on Feb. 3, 2005. Flanagan is 299-130 as a Lobo and still looking for win No. 300.