STEVENS: Is The Pit Ready for The Klash of The Kielpinskis?
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/08/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 8, 2008

Lobo Basketball
Lobos vs. Alaska Anchorage
When: 2 p.m., Sunday
Where: The Pit
On The Air: 610 KNML-AM; Streaming/Gametracker - GoLobos.com
Lobo starters: Jessica Kielpinski, Eileen Weissmann, Amy Beggin, Sara Halasz, Angela Hartill

By Richard Stevens
Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It is likely that Lobo Jessica Kielpinski will have two physical forms of greeting for her older sister, who comes all the way down from Alaska to pay little sis a visit in The Pit.

For sure, Jessica will have a hug for Rebecca Kielpinski. But an elbow to big sis's chest just might be on the way Sunday when the University of New Mexico and Alaska-Anchorage jump ball in The Pit at 2 p.m.

Ditto for Rebecca. The sisterly love will be put on hold for a couple of hours as Lobos battle Seawolves.

"I`m kind of nervous, but also really excited," said Jessica, a UNM sophomore. " I really don't want to guard her. She's really good and she's really aggressive."

Rebecca has been good enough at Alaska-Anchorage to become a three-time All-American at the Division II level going into her senior year. The Seawolves are pretty good, too. This might not be your typical Lobos-pound-on-smaller-school exhibition. Alaska-Anchorage is ranked No. 5 at the D-II level and reached that classification's Final Four last year, ending the season at 30-5.

Jessica and Rebecca grew up and played together in Mandan, N.D. before Rebecca went Northwest to Alaska to seek her basketball fortunes. Jessica ended up going almost due South two years later.

Rebecca averaged 12.7 points and 8.9 rebounds as a junior and was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Jessica averaged 5.0 points and 3.3 rebounds as a Lobo freshman. Jessica, the Lobo, might not have to guard Rebecca, the wolf, exclusively as UNM's 6-foot-2 senior, Angela Hartill, has a little more experience in the paint.

The Kielpinski sisters are both listed at 6-2. Jessica says her sister's game has changed a bit since their high school days when they both helped lead Mandan High to state titles.

"In high school, I was more the bruiser and she was more the finesse player," said Kielpinski, the Lobo. "But I think she might be more the bruiser now. She's been trying to get a scouting report out of me and I've been trying to get one out of her."

Jessica said her family is driving down from North Dakota to see the "Klash Of Kielpinskis." Rebecca also had a Lobo link her freshman season when ex-Lobo Katie Kern was a Seawolve assistant.

"She had Katie up there showing her some stuff and we have some of the same concepts here," said Jessica. Kern also played for Lobos coach Don Flanagan at Albuquerque's Eldorado High. Kern is now at Wyoming.

If Jessica was to give her sister a scouting report on the Lobos, it wouldn't be giving away any UNM secrets.

Flanagan's scheme entering the 2008-09 season is to play a lot of Lobos at an up-tempo pace and attack the basket with a dribble-drive philosophy that produces layups, free throws or open shots on the perimeter.

UNM got a lot of nice looks in their 83-41 exhibition romp over the Melbourne Roos, but the Lobos did not shoot at the high percentage needed to make this type of offense scary.

Another tip for the Seawolves would be to keep an eye out for freshman Sara Halasz, who scored 18 points against the Roos. The Lobos also have a lot of potential from behind the 3-point line.

The Lobos will be playing without sophomore Porche Torrance, who will miss the 2008-09 season due to a knee injury that will require surgery. The Lobos will open their season on Nov. 15 against Alcorn State. UNM went 20-13 last season, making its seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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