Lobo Women's Basketball Opens Exhibition Action Tuesday
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/02/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 2, 2008

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico women's basketball team opens exhibition play Tuesday against the Melbourne Roos inside The Pit at 7 p.m. The Lobos face the Roos in the first of two preseason games. The game will be broadcast live on 610 AM The Sports Animal in Albuquerque and available via gametracker on www.GoLobos.com.

New Mexico will take on the Melbourne Roos for the first time in school history on Nov. 4. The Lobos are 21-4 all-time in exhibition games under head coach Don Flanagan. UNM will play two exhibition games during the preseason this year. The Lobos conclude exhibition action against Alaska-Anchorage into The Pit on Nov. 9.

The Lobos were picked fourth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll released on Tuesday, Oct. 14 by the league office. UNM is projected where they finished the 2007-08 year. Utah is expected to win the conference while San Diego State was picked second. TCU was picked third ahead of New Mexico and BYU who was ranked fifth. Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and Air Force round out the nine team league. The Lobos did not have a player selected to the preseason all-conference team.

New Mexico opens the 2008-09 season on Nov. 15 against Alcorn State. The Lobos will play three games in three days as part of the Basketball Travelers Tournament held inside The Pit from Nov. 15-17. UNM will also play Idaho State and DePaul. The showdown with DePaul will be broadcast live on the Mountain West Sports Network.

New Mexico returns three starters from last year's squad that went 20-13 overall and made its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament. The Lobos have 10 letterwinners back including all-conference performer Amy Beggin. Beggin averaged 10.9 points last year and started every game. This season, UNM expects to use a steady rotation of players to make up for the loss of two talented seniors from a year ago.

Lobo head coach Don Flanagan is the winningest coach in New Mexico basketball history. Flanagan is entering his 14th season and has an overall record of 283-126 (.692). He has guided UNM onto the national scene and has led UNM to eight NCAA Tournaments. During his tenure, Flanagan has captured five Mountain West Conference Tournament Championships, three regular season titles and made 11 consecutive postseason appearances. The Lobos are one of 13 programs' nationally to make the last seven NCAA Tournaments and continue to rank in the Top 10 nationally in home attendance.

The Lobos will play nine games on television during the 2008-09 season. UNM is set to have four games broadcast nationally on the Mountain West Sports Network, two on the CBS College Sports Network and three games locally aired by My50TV in Albuquerque. The first nationally televised game will be on Nov. 17 against DePaul at 7 p.m. Every game on TV will be aired from inside The Pit.

New Mexico will once again host the First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament in 2009 and 2010. The dates in 2009 are March 21 and 23 inside The Pit. For more information about the tournament, including ticket sales, go to www.GoLobos.com.

Freshman Sara Halasz has impressed since arriving at New Mexico. The 6-0 guard chipped in 28 points in the first scrimmage and scored 31 in the second. She has shown great athletic ability, a good shot and explosiveness to the basket. Through preseason drills and scrimmages, Halasz looks like an impact player in her first season. Halasz, a native of Fort Lewis, Wash., grew up playing against army guys and has translated that aggressive style into the college game.

When it comes down to who is the most improved player heading into the 2008-09 season, junior Valerie Kast has to be in the conversation. Kast has shown great improvements during the preseason and has the ability for a breakout season. The 6-6 center is moving well after working hard on her conditioning. Her shot has also improved and defensively she is moving her feet better in the paint.

The 2008-09 Lobos are in need of scorers but don't expect that to come from just one player. UNM will utilize a steady rotation of players and use the strategy of strength by numbers. Junior Amy Beggin is back after averaging 10.9 points per game last year and is the only all-conference selection returning. Senior Angela Hartill has the most experience on the roster and will be looked up as a leader. Hartill averaged 6.4 points per game as a junior. UNM has as many as 10 athletes with scoring potential and all will be given plenty of opportunities.

The 2008-09 season marks the 10th anniversary of the Mountain West Conference. The Lobos have emerged as one of the top programs in one of the top basketball conferences. New Mexico has tied for two MWC regular-season titles during the decade and captured five MWC Tournament Championships over the last six years.

New Mexico had two athletes named to the MWC All-Decade team in Dionne Marsh and Jordan Adams. Marsh finished her career as the school's all-time scorer with 1,913 points and was a two-time First Team All-Conference player. Adams scored over 1,000 points during her Lobo career and ranks as one of the top shot blockers in school history. Adams was a First Team All-Conference player her senior season and was the last Lobo drafted by the WNBA.

The Mountain West Conference future basketball championships site subcommittee recently announced finalist cities to host the 2011-13 Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Championships. The five finalists are Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and San Diego. These cities will be moved forward in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process with an expected awarding of the future site to take place in June 2009. Denver (2004-06) and Las Vegas (1999-2003, 2008-10) have previously hosted the MWC Basketball Championships.

Former Lobo standout Chelsea Grear has signed a professional contract to compete with the Meteors Basketball Club in the Irish Superleague for the remainder of the 2008-2009 international season.

Grear will have her first showing with her new team this Saturday, Nov. 1 in a road trip game against Glanmire in County Cork. The Glanmire squad is currently tied for first place in the Irish Superleague and were last year's league champions. The Meteors are currently 0-3 in league play and are hoping that the addition of Grear will turn things around. Founded in 1965, the Meteors Basketball Club is the oldest and most successful Ladies Basketball Club in Ireland.

Grear last played professionally with the Perik Jumpers in the Netherlands during the 2003-2004 season, where she averaged 17.1ppg and 10.0 rpg.

The New Mexico women's basketball program has always had a great relationship with its former players but the 2008-09 season is taking that to a whole new level. The Lobos have hired former Lobo great Jordan Adams as the Director of Basketball Operations. Adams joined the staff over the summer. Former Lobo standouts Abbie Letz and Nikki Heckroth-Lobato are involved with the program on the media side. Letz will provide color analysis during the My50TV broadcasts and Heckroth-Lobato will provide color commentary for all home games on the radio.