STEVENS: Coach Flanagan Wants His Lobos To Defend the Home Floor vs. TCU
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/24/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 24, 2009

Lobo Basketball
Lobos vs. TCU
When/Where: 3 p.m. Sunday -- The Pit
TV: CBS College Sports (Comcast 274, DirecTV 613, Dish 152)
Radio: 610-AM KNML
Online: GameTracker, live streaming on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

The message from Coach Don Flanagan to his Lobos is one of those paradoxes of coach-speak that actually makes a lot of sense: Forget the last game; remember the last game.

What the Lobos need to remember in their loss to San Diego State is that they didn't come out with enough focus and confidence and they let a Pit game slip away which damaged UNM's standings in the Mountain West Conference.

"They have to realize how important the home court is," said Flanagan. " There are so many good teams in this conference and there are five or six teams who could be in the top and there are a couple of others who can beat you."

What the Lobos need to forget going into Sunday's game with TCU is the hurt, frustration, doubts, whatever, that sometimes accompany a loss. "Get rid of those emotional feelings," said Flanagan. "It takes a while to recover from a poor game. Not just a loss, but a poor game. You can't have losses linger. We have too many games. If they linger, you can get beat twice."

The Lobos' 57-52 Pit loss to SDSU dropped UNM to 3-1 in the MWC race and cut into the impact of UNM's road win at BYU. The Lobos could bounce back nicely with a Sunday win over a very good TCU team (12-6, 4-1), coming off an 81-78 win at Wyoming.

The Horned Frogs are paced by TK LaFleur and Helena Sverrisdottir, who both average 15.4 points per game. The Frogs average 73.3 points per game.

"TCU has a lot of offensive ability," said Flanagan. "They have the ability to really run up some numbers. They can score in the 70s without much of a problem. So defensively, we have our hands full. We have to do a great job of holding them to one shot.

"They have four or five players who shoot over 40 percent from the three. We have one. They can put it on the floor and score. They can score through their offense."

The Frogs might have a small edge on UNM in quickness, but the teams match-up pretty well in height except for one spot.

"They have a 6-2 point guard," said Flanagan. "That creates a mismatch. She's a big girl and can look over the top. We can't have our point guard (5-6 Amy Beggin) playing their point guard defensively, so we'll have to make some changes."

The Lobos 3-1 mark has them in fourth place in the MWC ahead of 3-2 Brigham Young, which lost today (Saturday 1/24) 56-36 at San Diego State. The Aztecs are tied with TCU for second place at 4-1. Utah won today (1/24) 67-50 over UNLV and the Utes are 5-0 in league play.

Like Flanagan says, there are some good teams battling it out for the top spots in the MWC and protecting the home turf is critical to that race. "You have to win at home and you have to play well at home," said Flanagan, who said the loss to SDSU was "more mental than physical."

"I think sometimes our players worry a little bit about not pleasing the crowd," he said, "instead of just playing the game and focusing on the game. I think they are ready to play."

Said Beggin: "I think we're ready to go again. Sometimes when you win games and you get away with some little things, you don't play as hard or you don't do things you should. The first thing I want to do when we lose is to get back on that court and play another game."

The Lobos weren't happy with their play in the SDSU loss, but this year's team set a mark for the program's best start at 14-2 and the 14-3 Lobos have won 11 of 13 games. Beggin tops the UNM scoring charts at 15.4 followed by Angela Hartill at 11.7. Senior Amanda Adamson leads the team in rebounding at 6.6 boards per game.

The Horned Frogs are 2-2 against ranked teams with upsets over Maryland and California. A hot-shooting TCU team can be fearsome.

"Talent wise, they probably are as good as anybody,' said Flanagan. "The talent could be hot when it gets here and if it is, we're going to have to score more points than we are accustomed to scoring."

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