Dec. 6, 2010
Lobo Women's Basketball -- In The Pit
Tuesday: 7 p.m., Arizona at Lobos
On The Air: The Mtn. (Comcast 276, DirecTV 616)
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Stats, LoboTV
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Of course, Flanagan might have thought for a while that Torrance was never going to let him see her block out either.
"We bumped heads for a while," said Flanagan. "My impression is in high school she pretty much got to do what she wanted to."
Yeah, that's probably pretty much true because at Colleyville-Heritage (Fort Worth area), Torrance was an all-everything type athlete: basketball, volleyball, track. Heck, she was even the school's Homecoming Queen her senior year.
However, in the prep ranks standout athletes often can get by with pure athletic ability. In college, things change because that level is full of standout athletes. At UNM, there are no heads harder than Flanagan's head when it comes to effort and fundamentals. He looks for those things in his Lobos. He demands them.
And then comes along Porche Torrance - athletic, smooth, gifted, versatile, and not an athlete who turns into a leaky garden hose when it comes to running the court.
"When I came here as a freshman, I don't think coach thought I was working hard enough," said Torrance, this week's Mountain West Player of The Week. "In my body and in my mind, I know I'm working hard.
"But some people sweat more than others and I don't sweat that much or maybe not hard enough. He saw that and maybe thought I wasn't hustling. My style of play is different because he's so fundamental.
"But I caught on and this year I've caught on even more in understanding his style of play."
Understanding Flanagan's style of play is a good thing. It equates to playing time.
As a freshman in 2007-08, the 6-foot-1 Torrance didn't play much and averaged 0.9 points and 1.5 rebounds. She blew out her right knee (ACL) during the preseason of 2008-09 and sat out the season.
In 2009-10, she played in 32 games with two starts scoring 12 points against Florida Gulf Coast and pulling down 12 rebounds at TCU. It was an OK year for Torrance, but at times, it was frustrating to watch this smooth, gifted athlete play basketball.
There was another level hidden inside that smoothness. Would Torrance ever let that level out? As a high school senior, she was MVP of her district averaging 15.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.2 steals and 3.4 blocks a game. That's tremendous balance. But can those types of numbers be reached at the D-I level without a higher level of passion and commitment?
So far, in 2010-11, Torrance's numbers are moving in that direction. She tops the UNM team in scoring (10.8 per game), blocks (18), steals (19), rebounds (8.8 per game) and minutes played (30.8 per game). He shoots an amazing 61 percent from the floor.
There is no argument between Flanagan and Torrance about which basic the junior wing needs to most concentrate on. "Blocking out," said Torrance.
"Said Flanagan: "Shane (assistant Shane Flanagan) will stand under the basket and a lot of times it's, `Block out, Porche! Five pushups, Porche. `Block out, Porche. Five more pushups, Porche.' Porche has her own style and doesn't want to vary from it.
"She has pauses in her game where she might not do one of those fundamental things I like," Flanagan continued, "She likes to do things her way. But she is competitive and it's easier to live with those pauses when you see her playing with a higher level of desire."
This silky smooth Porche has an explanation for one of those "pauses," -- this "blocking out fugue." She didn't used to have to do it!
"I still believe I can just run in there and grab the rebound," she said. "It obviously helps to box someone out and push them away from the basket when you are playing someone bigger and stronger. I believe in (boxing out). I'm not saying I never believed in it. I am just confident I can go get it anyway."
The improvement in Torrance this season also has to do with renewed confidence in the knee that kept her on the sidelines two years ago. "She is recovered physically," said Flanagan. "But a lot of times mentally, you have a problem going full out. You still remember the pain."
Torrance remembers the pain and the exact day it buckled her knee. "It was November fifth," she said. "I was really down and it took a lot out of me to bounce back. I'm a totally different player this year mentally and physically. My confidence is way up."
So, is Torrance a complete player? The stats (averages) that made her MWC Player of The Week suggest she is close: 11.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.7 blocks, 34.0 minutes. But there is still work to do. Torrance probably could move her feet a bit better on defense. She also leads the team in fouls with 23. And there is that minor glitch in her game when it comes to earning a rebound via fundamentals rather than athletic ability.
But in calculating if Torrance if ready to take her game, her effort, her passion, to another level, the answer is an obvious one: No sweat!
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.