STEVENS: Don Flanagan's Plan For UTEP Miners Is To Guard Everyone
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/15/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 15, 2008

Lobo Basketball
Lobos vs. UTEP
When/Where: 7 p.m. Tuesday -- The Pit
On The Air: KASY My50-TV; 610 KNML-AM
Online: GameTracker; All Access (live) on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In guarding the UTEP Miners, Lobo coach Don Flanagan's game plan probably can be summed up in two words: Guard everybody.

Oh, sure, that`s kind of Flanagan`s plan for every game, but sometimes there are certain enemy players you target because, if you don`t, they could go off and score 30 on you. With the Miners, there is lots of balance. It`s a UTEP team that attacks like a five-fingered fist.

"If a team is really looking for one kid, unless that kid is an All-American, it's easier to focus your defense on that one player," said Flanagan. "We've had to do that before and it's fine because that's the direction their offense is going anyway. Sometimes it's more difficult to defense a balanced team because there are a lot of areas they might break you down in.

"With UTEP, their top scorer is at 11.6 and their No. 5 scorer is at 9.6. That means they are sharing the basketball so you have to watch out a little bit for all of them."

Flanagan says when you play a balanced team like UTEP, you need to recognize what each players does best.

If it's a 3-point shooter, you take away the perimeter and maybe force that player to pass or drive. If it's a player who likes to drive, you stop that drive and be aware that "help" defense might be required. If it's a post-up player, you deny the ball, push them off their block, or again get help defense.

Flanagan said the closest thing the Miners have to a go-to player probably is their point guard, Jareica Hughes. "She`s a pretty good player," said Flanagan. "She has been hurt a little bit, but she is someone who could average 14, 15 points for them. She is quick and you have to make sure she doesn`t penetrate and break you down."

Not too many teams this season have had much luck in breaking down the Lobos, especially in The Pit where UNM has produced all the wins on its 9-1 slate. The Lobos are on a six-game Pit winning streak.

The Lobos are similar to UTEP as UNM features a balanced offense, but the Lobos obviously have two players to watch in Amy Beggin and Angela Hartill. Beggin has been hot of late and is averaging 15.8 points per game. Hartill is scoring at a 12.4 clip.

Flanagan said UTEP's plan for a Pit victory includes pressure defense and run-and-gun basketball. That plan also is similar to things the Lobos do at both ends of the court.

"They are a denial kind of team on defense, pressure defense," said Flanagan. "They'll extend it half-court and they'll go full-court, too. They like to get in the passing lanes."

Flanagan said the Miners will set a lot of screens on offense, but also like to "drive and shoot, or drive and dump the ball off."

"They like transition," he said. "They like to push it and shoot it. They like a fast-paced game. What they try to do is get the ball down the court real quick and if they don't have a shot, they'll set up and drive. They aren't a bring it down and pass, pass, pass team.

"But if they want to run, that's OK with me. We'll try to take away what they want to do and don't let them get any second shots."

Flanagan's Lobos practiced on Sunday but Monday was a day of rest -- from basketball. The Lobos coach said he gave the team Monday off because of finals. "The first test was at 7:30 a.m. and I think the last test finished at 10 p.m.," said Flanagan. "It looked to me that Monday was a good day to have off."

Lobo Notes: Fans purchasing a Cherry Crush T-shirt ($7.95) at the UNM Bookstore, New Mexico Look or The Pit's Lobo Store will receive a ticket to the women's game vs. UTEP and the men's game vs. Oral Roberts on Wednesday. ...Lobo junior Amy Beggin is this week's Mountain West Conference Player of The Week. ... Beggin is No. 10 on UNM's all-time career assist chart with 246. ... Ex-Lobo Abbie Letz returns to The Pit vs. UTEP to do the color commentary on My50-TV. Ex-Lobo Nikki Heckroth is the analyst for 610-AM. ... Senior Amanda Adamson leads the team in rebounding with 6.9 boards per game. ... Hartill is 31-of-33 from the line this season. ... UNM is at New Mexico State at 2 p.m. Saturday.