Oct. 7, 2009
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In a simplified nutshell, you can see that Don Flanagan's Lobo women were picked to finish off the top of the Mountain West Conference basketball race for similar reasons that the Lobo men fell into the No. 5 spot.
Flanagan's Lobos, picked fourth in the league's preseason poll, probably will have to look for immediate help from some young Lobos and UNM's inside game is a question mark. Ditto for Alford.
San Diego State, co-champs last season, was a strong pick to grab the 2010 title pulling in 25 of 28 first-place votes. The panel consisted of the league's nine coaches and select members of the media. TCU grabbed the other three first-place votes to take the No. 2 spot followed by 3- Utah, 4- New Mexico, 5- Wyoming, 6- Brigham Young, 7- UNLV, 8-Colorado State, 9- Air Force.
Of course, there is a huge and important reason not to discount the 2009-10 Lobos. A legitimate MWC Player of The Year candidate in senior guard Amy Beggin will lead New Mexico.
"She's a leader and players respond to her leadership," said Flanagan via a teleconference call from Denver. "She is a role-model leader. And this season I expect even more from her."
What Flanagan got from Beggin in 2008-09 was 36 starts, 36.2 minutes per game and 15.6 points. Beggin played the stretch run of the season with torn ligaments in an ankle and a target on her back. Still, she performed at an extremely high level.
Beggin again will carry a target on her back this season on a Lobo team that will be loaded on the perimeter and looking for several players to step up their game in the paint.
The Lobos' leader inside last season, Angela Hartill (12.0 pts), has graduated and Flanagan will begin the season looking at a committee of Lobos to provide the inside rebounding, scoring and muscle from both a post and forward spot.
That group includes 6-foot-6 Valerie Kast, 6-foot Eileen Weissmann, 6-1 Jessica Kielpinski and two freshmen: 6-2 Jordan Unverzagt and 6-5 Emily Stark. Weissmann averaged 5.6 points last season, Kielpinski averaged 4.0 and Kast averaged 3.4 points and 7.0 minutes. That's about the scoring production Hartill produced as an individual.
On the outside, Flanagan is loaded. He also returns 6-foot Lauren Taylor, 5-5 Nikki Nelson, 5-11 Sara Halasz, 5-11 Georonika Jackson, 6-1 Porche Torrance, 6-foot Amanda Best. He also has three freshmen guards in 6-foot Jourdan Erskine, 6-foot Chinyere Nnaji and 6-foot Caroline Durbin.
"A couple of (freshmen) will have to play some minutes and a few of them might play some major minutes," said Flanagan."
Beggin was placed on the MWC First Team Preseason team. "The players respond to Amy and our chemistry is going to be good again," said Flanagan.
SDSU returns four starters including two strong candidates for Player of The Year honors in Jene Morris and Paris Johnson. Aztec coach Beth Burns says her team is both "confident and hungry" for the 2009-10 season.
PRESEASON ALL-MWC TEAM PLAYER PROFILES
Amy Beggin, Sr., G, New Mexico
Two-time all-MWC selection, including a second-team member in 2008-09...An MWC all-Defensive Team selection last season...Led the Lobos in scoring, averaging 15.4 ppg, and ranked first in assists (3.8 apg)...Ranked 13th in the country in free-throw percentage (87.3 pct.) and 26th in assist/turnover ratio (1.87)...Ranks 11th all-time in scoring at UNM with 1,063 career points...Scored in double-digits in 34 contests last season, including a streak of 19 in the middle of the season...Scored 20+ points in seven outings.
Paris Johnson, Jr., C, San Diego State
First-Team all-MWC in 2008-09...Led the Aztecs in rebounds (8.3 rpg), field-goal percentage (53.1 pct.) and blocked shots (94 blocks), while ranking second in scoring (13.6 ppg) last season...Ranked first in the MWC for the second consecutive year in blocked shots, while ranking 11th nationally...Her 94 blocks are an SDSU single-season record and stand second in MWC history...Scored in double-figures in 22 games and earned nine double-doubles in 2008-09.
Jené Morris, Sr., G, San Diego State
A 2009 WBCA State Farm Honorable Mention All-American...Also named the MWC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as an all-MWC First-Team selection last season...Led the MWC in steals in each of the last two seasons, ranking seventh nationally in 2008-09 with 3.3 steals per game...Set the MWC single-season record with 100 takeaways as a junior...Scored 30+ points in three contests, while leading her team in scoring in 17 games...scored in double-figures in 24 games for the Aztecs, while leading the team in scoring with 16.1 ppg.
Helena Sverrisdottir, Jr., G/F, TCU
A unanimous First-Team all-MWC selection in 2008-09...First TCU player to average at least 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the same season...Only MWC player to be ranked among the top seven in the league in scoring (4th), rebounds (6th), assists (2nd) and steals (7th)...Scored in double-figures in 26 games last season, including seven 20+ point outings...Recorded nine double-doubles in 2008-09, including two with double-digit assists and points...One of only three MWC student-athletes to record at least 10 assists in a game last season.
Kalee Whipple, Sr., F, Utah
Three-time all-MWC honoree, including a unanimous First-Team selection last season...Ranked second in the league in scoring, averaging 17.0 points per game...Amassed three 30+-point scoring games in 2008-09, while netting in double-figures in 31 of her 33 games...Currently holds a 17-game double-figure scoring streak...Leads all MWC active players with 1,389 career points...Let the Utes in scoring 12 times and rebounding six times last year...Recorded 72 steals on the season (2.2 spg), ranking fourth in the MWC.