Flanagan sees playing time for Lobo rookies in 10-player rotation
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/07/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 7, 2008

Lobo Women's Basketball

Tickets: www.unmtickets.com; 925-5626 (season); 925-5858 (single game)

By Richard Stevens
Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The notion to give at least 10 players quality minutes in a game is one that Lobos coach Don Flanagan has had before, but it's never been a lock-down promise. If the notion makes it to the court this season, Flanagan will make a promise: "We'll be a very aggressive team."

"It's tough to get ten players in there," he said. "But that's what we're thinking we need to do this year. Right now, that looks to be our formula, but we have to see if we can play at a faster paced game."

The up-tempo formula also might bode well for the three new faces to Flanagan's University of New Mexico lineup: true freshmen Lauren Taylor and Sara Halasz, and redshirt freshman Nikki Nelson, who received a medical redshirt in 2007-08.

Flanagan says he likes a lot of things these Lobo rookies bring to the team, especially since the Lobos coach is hoping for a lot of options to fill the gaps left by the departure of Dionne Marsh, UNM's all-time leading scorer, and Brandi Kimble, who netted 52 3-pointers last season.

Combine the stats of Marsh and Kimble, and UNM is looking at a loss of 26.2 points per game and 13.5 rebounds. Pretty significant holes when you consider UNM averaged 62.7 points per game and 37.8 rebounds.

"We have to put some players out there who can score," said Flanagan, who has taken UNM to seven straight NCAA Tournaments. "Maybe that's five players picking up what those two players did. So, it appears to me we have to play more people."

If Flanagan needs a scorer, Taylor might be his Lobo. She is a 5-11 shooting guard from Brownsburg, Ind., who averaged 19.9 points and 6.2 rebounds as a senior. She averaged 19.5 points as a junior in a state that seems to know how to produce shooters.

"Lauren is quite a good shooter," said Flanagan. "She has good game awareness. What she needs to work on is getting a little stronger and becoming more physical. I think her defense will determine her playing time because offensively, I think she can help us.

"But all three are going to get a chance to help us. All three are going to play."

Taylor will add to Flanagan's impressive depth at the wing spots. That is where Halasz will be looking for playing time, too.

"Sara runs the floor really well and has the ability to score in traffic," said Flanagan. "People are going to play off her because she drives so well. She has the quickness and the length to be a good defensive player. She needs to improve her 3-point shot."

Nelson was supposed to give Amy Beggin some rest at the point guard position last season, but the 5-foot-5 guard blew out a knee in a pre-season pickup game. She is healthy again and still a jet on the floor.

"I like the way she pushes the ball up," said Flanagan. "I think she'll be an excellent backup for Amy and I think I can get them on the court at the same time because I think Amy might be able to play our two-guard position better than anyone else.

"Now, can Nikki guard the point guard position? That, I haven't seen yet, but she shoots the 3 pretty well, passes pretty well, competes pretty well and has good speed. She might even be faster than Amy."

Flanagan's roster for 2008-09 is versatile enough to see a lot of combinations, but it roughly looks like this:

Point guard:

-- Amy Beggin, 5-6, Jr.

-- Nikki Nelson, 5-5, Fr./RS


-- Amanda Adamson, 6-0, Sr.

-- Georonika Jackson, 5-11, Jr.

-- Lauren Taylor, 5-11, Fr.

-- Sara Halasz, 5-11, Fr.


-- Porche Torrance, 6-1, So.

-- Amanda Best, 6-0, So.

-- Eileen Weissmann, 6-0, Jr.


-- Valerie Kast, 6-6, Jr.

-- Jessica Kielpinski, 6-1, So.

-- Kelsey Ansley, 6-2, So.

-- Angela Hartill, 6-3, Sr.

Flanagan said playing time will be determined by a lot of things, but competitiveness in practice, taking care of the basketball, defense, and blocking out on rebounds are all high on his watch list.

The Lobos begin full-time practice sessions on Oct. 17. UNM opens exhibition action on Nov. 4 and begins the regular season on Nov. 14. Season tickets go on sale to the general public beginning today.

If Flanagan ends up looking for ten Lobos to contribute, that means there are at least eight spots open. "I don't think there is a clear difference at any position with the exception of Amy (Beggin, at the point) and Angela (Hartill, at center)," he said.

Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner