STEVENS: Lobo Howl Brings The Known & The Unknown
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/15/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 15, 2009

Lobo Howl :
Friday, Lobo women 7-8 p.m.; Lobo men 8-9 p.m.; doors open 5:30 p.m.
Where: Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

If you want a taste of the known and the unknown, the Lobo Howl just might be the place for you Friday night when the 2009-10 Lobos step onto the exhibition stage at the Santa Ana Star Center.

The known is the comfy stuff that comes with Steve Alford's and Don Flanagan's Lobos. The constants, and probably the stars, on these two teams are Roman Martinez and Amy Beggin.

If you are a die-hard Lobo fan, it hurts to think about these two seniors entering their final season in The Pit. They have given us so much.

There is no renovation project with these two stalwarts of University of New Mexico hoops. You can start their resume with the words "class" and "character," and almost throw down their on-the-floor stuff as a footnote. These two Lobos are poster cards for what a student-athlete should and can be.

Of course, Alford and Flanagan will be loving that Martinez and Beggin on-the-floor stuff throughout the 2009-10 seasons. These Lobo seniors are beyond good in what they do on the court, too. They score. They rebound. They play defense. They lead. The autograph line in front of Martinez and Beggin might stretch from the Star Center to Bernalillo.

"She is a role-model leader," said Flanagan. "And this season I expect even more from her." Said Alford on Martinez: "You don't get too many opportunities to coach a kid like Roman Martinez."

Those two Lobo knowns are joined by Dairese Gary, Will Brown, Nate Garth, A.J. Hardeman and Phillip McDonald for Alford's men. Flanagan also will be returning Valerie Kast, Eileen Weissmann, Jessica Kielpinski, Sara Halasz, Lauren Taylor, Nikki Nelson, Georonika Jackson, Porche Torrance and Amanda Best.

And, sure, we've seen these Lobos do their thing before, but there are still question marks about these known quantities.

Is Kast really in as good as shape as Flanagan thinks? Doe Nelson finally have the swagger to go along with her considerable skills? Has McDonald improved his defensive intensity? Are Brown and Hardeman going to be scoring threats inside?

You might see hints of these answers at The Howl. You might also field a few new questions concerning the unknowns -- the first year Lobos.

Ah, the unknowns. The pups that both Flanagan and Alford likely will have to call on throughout the year for quality minutes and quality production.

Alford really has no choice, but to look at his youth and hope for great things. He has one of the youngest lineups in D-I ball and the youngest team he has ever coached. His first-year, on-the-court Lobos are Darington Hobson, Curtis Dennis, Chad Adams, Jamal Fenton, Matt Staff and Kevin Nelson.

Alford will be hoping that Hobson, a JC transfer, can quickly adjust to D-I ball, play hardnosed defense and still show the sweet shot he displayed in JC ball. Alford will be looking at Dennis and hoping all that offensive power he saw in practice from his redshirt will carry over to "real" ball. The 2009 Mountain West Coach of The Year will be looking at his other pups and, well, hoping.

Flanagan won't have to lean on his unknowns as much as Alford will, but the Lobos women's coach does expect to throw a few freshmen into the fire. His first-year players are Jordan Unverzagt, Emily Stark, Jourdan Erskine, Chinyere Nnaji and Caroline Durbin.

"A couple of (freshmen) will have to play some minutes and a few of them might play some major minutes," said Flanagan."

The annual Lobo Howl has become a highlight of the preseason for both Lobos and their fans. It's a feel-good reach out by the Lobos to embrace an important part of their programs that help make them what they are. "We love our fans," said Beggin. "That's one of the reason I came here," said Martinez.

The doors to the Santa Ana Star Center open at 5:30 p.m. Both teams of Lobos will compete in a 3-point shooting contest, a Cherry-Silver scrimmage and will sign autographs. The men also will hold a slam-dunk contest.

The Lobo women, who became Santa Ana Star darlings during their 2009 WNIT run, will take to the court from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The men are up next and should finish around 9 p.m.

Lobo merchandise will be on sale during the event through the UNM Bookstore and fans will also have the opportunity to find out more information about Lobo season tickets. Ah, there's another known and unknown. It's The Pit. It's the new Pit. Come and see!

There is nothing unknown about the price for the Lobo Howl. It's free to the public and parking is free. That's a good price.