Lobo Howl mirrors expectations for the season

The endings of the men's and women's segments of Friday's night's Lobo Howl perfectly encapsulate the feelings of many fans going into the 2011-2012 season for both the men's and women's basketball teams at the University of New Mexico.

The men's team's portion of the night ended with a surprise and a celebration after 5-foot-9 junior Jamal Fenton stole the show with an unusually acrobatic routine in the slam dunk contest that ended the night for everyone and left the crowd of approximately 7,000 cheering and on their feet.

Fans were left quiet and concerned when the women's team had its scrimmage ended abruptly after junior Sara Halasz crashed to the floor on drive to the basket. The 5-11 guard fell, clutching her surgically repaired knee and screaming in pain. The injury left the Pit crowd hushed and tense, the tension broken briefly when Halasz was helped up the ramp, gingerly putting pressure on her knee. Halasz will have her knee evaluated by Monday.

Fenton incorporated a gymnastic move, starting outside the right side 3-point line then tossing the ball over his shoulder, executing a back flip then catching up to the ball and slamming it through the hoop two-handed before hanging off the rim.

Freshman High Greenwood, who joined the team this Fall after spending the summer with the Australian U-19 National team playing at the FIBA World Championships, said he was impressed by the atmosphere at The Lobo Howl.

"It was crazy," he said. "To think this was just a practice and not even a game and the fans who turned out… it was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was nice to get the nerves out of the way. I couldn't even feel my les out there.

"It was nice to get that out of the way. Hopefully in the first game, I'll play much better."

Both teams ran drills to begin their sessions and eventually scrimmaged for Lobo

fans Friday night, kicking off preseason practices that will end the first week of November when both teams play exhibition games before starting the season a few weeks later.

In the scrimmages, the men kept the action going with a run and gun session that emphasized drives to the basket and only flashes of defense. The fast moving Lobos kept things fun and light, joking with refs and even fans at times. Forwards A.J. Hardeman and Drew Gordon along with guards Tony Snell and Kendall Williams kept the game above the rim while shooters Chris Perez, a sophomore, and transfer Demetrius Walker hit some stunning jumpers showing the potential inside-outside game he Lobos are likely to show.

The women, who ran their scrimmage along with male practice players, played a looser style than the studiously structured style shown by teams under now-retired coach Don Flanagan. Seniors Nikki Nelson and Porche Torrance along with Halasz and junior transfer (and former Highland Hornet) Deeva Vaughn were all standouts in the scrimmage that was short on scoring but long on action.

The UNM women have one exhibition against New Mexico Highlands on Sat., Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. before starting the regular season at Texas Tech on Friday, Nov. 11. The Lady Lobos then travel to North Texas on Nov. 14 before their home opener against Oklahoma on Nov. 19.

The UNM men play exhibition against Davenport (Mich.) on Nov. 1 and Western New Mexico on Nov. 5 before opening the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11 against New Orleans.

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