Stevens: Lobos Look For Payback Vs. Mean Green in Thanksgiving Tournament
Nov. 22, 2012
Game Sponsors: LA Boxing and Residence Inn by Marriott Airport
Media Sponsor: ESPN Radio 101.7 The TeamNew Mexico Lobos Women's Thanksgiving Tournament -- In The Pit
Friday: 5:30 p.m. - Lobos vs. North Texas; 3:30 p.m. - Georgia vs. Saint Bonaventure
Lobos On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend & Nikki Heckroth
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It is payback time first for Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos, but speedy North Texas isn't making the trip to Albuquerque to be the designated turkey in New Mexico's Thanksgiving Tournament.
They plan to gobble up the Lobos, so to speak.
Which won't be easy The Lobos are undefeated in 2012 and the team that Sanchez once compared to a bowl of soup has a whole lot of ingredients that are meshing well - most of the time and at key times - to produce UNM's 4-0 mark.
For sure, the Lobos want to push that mark to 5-0 which would provide the payback for the 63-50 spanking the Mean Green put on the Lobos a year ago in Denton, Texas.
And, sure, the Mean Green would like to place that first stain on the New Mexico record, but North Texas is just looking for a win.
"We're going to face a team that's very familiar with The Pit," said Sanchez. "They are fundamentally sound. They lost in three overtimes to Alabama, so they are hungry for a win."
The Mean Green are 0-3 so far in 2012 with losses to Texas State (88-83), Southern Methodist (67-63) and a triple-overtime 88-83 heartbreaker to Alabama.
The Mean Green are better than their record. They came from 15-points down at Alabama to force overtime. They lost in the third overtime when three Mean Green players fouled out. The Mean Green plan is to get the Lobos to run with them in The Pit.
The Green have some depth and they have full-court athleticism much like Texas Tech. If North Texas has a weakness, it's in the height department. Their tallest player on the roster is 6-foot-1.
They also turn the ball over too much, but that might improve as they get used to each other and used to playing at their frenzied pace. Their shooting percentage might go up, too, as the season makes adjustments in decision-making.
The Mean Green have two freshmen, a sophomore, and a first-year player as their top four scorers. They average 76 points per game, shoot 38 percent from the field and a chilly 23 percent from long range.
The Mean Green like transition. Their top scorer is BreAnna Dawkins, a transfer from Wichita State. The 5-6 Dawkins averages 15.7 points and she isn't getting all those points by posting up in the paint.
She runs along with 5-11 Alexis Hyder (13.0), 6-foot Bralah Blakely (10.0), 5-9 Loryn Goodwin (8.3) and 5-7 Laura McCoy (8.0). Blakely, McCoy and Goodwin come off the bench. McCoy might be their top 3-point threat and Hyder averages 9.0 boards.
Of course, the Lobos have eyes only for North Texas, but Lobo fans have the luxury of looking ahead. The championship battle dancing in those heads is Lobos vs. Georgia. That's No. 9 Georgia.
Now, that would be a test for the Lobos - as would Saint Bonaventure, which rolled out a 30-plus win season in 2011-12. But Georgia is the "name" team coming into The Pit with a Top Ten ranking.
"I feel we can beat anybody, if we play our game," said UNM's Bryce Owens. "It doesn't matter what name it is, if we go out and play our game."
The Lobos have four players, who have risen to the top of the UNM scoring charts and that four probably comes as no surprise: Caroline Durbin (14.5), Sara Halasz (11.0), Deeva Vaughn (9.3) and Owens (9.3).
Sanchez isn't looking ahead to Georgia or the Bonnies because she sees the real threat from North Texas.
The Mean Green will attempt to disrupt the UNM offense and will attempt to score in transition. If the Mean Green shoots well and takes care of the ball, the Lobos could be in trouble.
"Every game for us is going to be a test, going to be a challenge," said Sanchez. "We can't rest on past successes. This team can't just step on the court and expect to win."
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning sports columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org