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Yvonne Sanchez enters her second season at the helm of the University of New Mexico women's basketball program. Her inaugural season as head coach saw the Lobos make history despite a roster that was decimated by injuries.
The 2011-12 season was a season of firsts for Coach Sanchez and company. Despite finishing the regular season with a 9-19 record overall, the Lobos would never surrender. They turned the 2012 Mountain West Conference Tournament upside down advancing all the way to the championship game as the tournament's seventh seed. Their run through the conference's postseason tournament saw UNM become the first-ever seventh seed to beat a second seeded team. They also became the first-ever seventh seeded team to advance to the championship game of the conference tournament.
Along the way, Coach Sanchez's players picked up the first individual awards of the Yvonne Sanchez era. Caroline Durbin was named First Team All-Mountain West. She also became the first Capital One Academic All-American First Team member in program history. Porsche Torrance garnered Third Team All-Conference honors while being named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. The 2011-12 New Mexico Lobos also finished tenth in the country in attendance. That ranking was first in the Mountain West and among all non-BCS conference teams.
Yvonne Sanchez was named the fifth head women's basketball coach in UNM history on April 22, 2011. The long-time assistant coach under previous head coach Don Flanagan was selected after a national candidate search. Sanchez had spent eleven seasons, including three as associate head coach, along side Coach Flanagan as he became the winningest coach in program history.
"After conducting a national search, we realized that the best candidate was right here at the University of New Mexico," said Paul Krebs, vice president of athletics. "Yvonne is passionate about Lobo basketball, she brings great energy, and is an outstanding recruiter. Her reputation within the coaching community is outstanding, and she is the right person to lead this program into the future."
Sanchez joined the Lobo staff in 2000 and immediately saw the program surge to new heights, winning 20 games in each of her nine seasons as an assistant coach. In her first year, 2000-01, the Lobos advanced to the championship game of the WNIT before advancing to seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments, winning two regular season Mountain West titles and five MW tournament championships. With Sanchez on the Lobo sidelines, she helped build UNM's reputation for defending The Pit, going 155-44 in eleven years, a .779 winning percentage. The Lobos won double-digit home games in ten of her elevens seasons as assistant and associate head coach, including a three-year stretch where the Lobos were a stellar 45-5.
Over eleven seasons as an assistant at New Mexico, Sanchez has also helped coach seven First Team All-MWC performers, ten Second-Team members, and nine Third-Team members. Also in that time, the Lobos had six players earn honorable mention honors, three earn All-Defense and two players earned Mountain West Newcomer of the Year honors.
In addition the Lobos earned 33 MWC Player of the Week awards, 82 Mountain West All-Academic selections, six Academic All-District selections, one Academic All-American, and one Kodak All-American. Five times the Lobos were recognized by the WBCA for ranking in the Top 25 nationally in team grade point average, and twice the team finished the season in the national top 25 polls as well during Sanchez's eleven years on Don Flanagan's staff.
"I am thrilled to be the next head coach at the University of New Mexico," said Sanchez. "Coach Flanagan has been such a mentor and positive influence in my life, and has prepared me for this opportunity. Being a native New Mexican, the passion and pride I have for this university and athletic department is tremendous. I am honored and humbled to take over a program of such success and tradition, and I am ready to lead it back to one of the best teams in the Mountain West Conference."
Coach Sanchez's coaching career spans 18 years. In the time before her eleven seasons in Albuquerque, her career includes stops as an assistant coach at San Diego State (1999-2000) and New Mexico State (1993-1999). Sanchez got her coaching start in 1989 at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, a high school in San Diego. She led the squad to CIF championships in 1990 and 1992, and was named the 1990 San Diego prep coach of the year, despite not having an indoor facility. During her tenure at OLP, the Pilots compiled a 76-39 (.661) record.
The 44-year old Sanchez is a 1989 graduate of U.S. International University in San Diego, where she was a four-year letter winner. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology. The Albuquerque native was a three-year starter under Don Flanagan at Eldorado High School from 1982-85, during which time the Eagles won a state-record 74 consecutive games and two 4A state titles. She was twice named to the all-state team and was also tabbed as the state 4A Player of the Year by the Albuquerque Journal.
What They Are Saying About Yvonne Sanchez
Kelly Graves, head women's basketball coach, Gonzaga Bulldogs, former UNM player (UNM '88)
Steve Alford, head men's basketball coach, New Mexico Lobos
Charli Turner Thorne, head women's basketball coach, Arizona State
Debbie Antonelli, ESPN/Westwood One women's basketball analyst
Sherri Coale, head women's basketball coach, Oklahoma Sooners