A Very Scary Lobo Halloween

TheRedMenace.com is proud to be able to publish the dedicated work of William Naegele and Jimmy Hester. Lady Lobo Hoops just does not receive enough coverage outside of Albuquerque. Today's story goes a long way to doing just that!


Like many a parent this Saturday, University of New Mexico women's basketball coach Don Flanagan will be shepherding his young'uns on a Halloween foray.

Unlike many trick-or-treaters though, Flanagan's brood of Lobos will not be donning costumes and making the neighborhood rounds via shanks' mare. Rather, they will be sporting their red-and-white uniforms and be boarding a jet plane Halloween morning for some out-of-state thrills.

And when they touch back down in Albuquerque Halloween night, they won't be bearing bags of goodies but rather bags of ice: bags of ice strapped to their various body parts -- for while they won't have the tummy aches common to most Halloweeners, they'll be hurting just about every place else.

They'll be knocking on just one door in Tempe, Arizona - that of the Wells Fargo Arena. And they won't be fooled when that pretty blond lady answers the door - unlike popular myth, not all powerful witches are old and ugly. Despite her charming smile and manner, this witch keeps as nasty a coven of Sun Devils as you'll ever hope not to meet.

"They might be as good, or better, than anybody we are going to play on our schedule," Flanagan admits of Charli Turner Thorne's Arizona State University squad.

They'll be knocking on just one door in Tempe, Arizona - that of the Wells Fargo Arena. And they won't be fooled when that pretty blond lady answers the door - unlike popular myth, not all powerful witches are old and ugly. Despite her charming smile and manner, this witch keeps as nasty a coven of Sun Devils as you'll ever hope not to meet.

"They might be as good, or better, than anybody we are going to play on our schedule," Flanagan admits of Charli Turner Thorne's Arizona State University squad.

One could back that statement by pointing out that the Devils made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season -- knocked out only by the all-conquering UConn Huskies.

Then again, there's a closer to home example: a common foe this past season, Texas A & M. The Aggies thumped the Lobos, 83-51. On the other hand, when the Aggies ran into the Devils, it was they who were thumped, 84-69.

That's a big "Ouch!" for Lobo fans.



In addition to taking her Sun Devils to the Elite Eight in March, Thorne also led the USA women to the Gold in victory over Russia in the World University Games in July. Flanagan has been up against Thorne since her days at Northern Arizona. Lately, the competition has been more off court in the scramble for recruits - with Flanagan coming out on the short end as of late. "….those palm trees down there in Arizona," Flanagan half-jokes.

Back to Saturday

"This will be a good game for our kids," Flanagan says. "And it will give me a better idea of where we stand - I feel right now we are doing pretty well. We'll see after Saturday if that's true or not. We have some areas to work on…

"I also want to see if I can get my freshmen to contribute…to see if they can contribute in a game-like situation."

Beyond just its high level of play, ASU also offers a broad spectrum of tactical challenges that is not ordinarily found in an exhibition-season opponent, Flanagan points out.

"We might play each other eight minutes of zone - a lot of times when we play an exhibition game we wouldn't get that experience…we wouldn't get someone normally who would play zone.

"She presses - normally we would not press this early. And normally we wouldn't be working on it this early: so this week I have to go to some things I don't normally do this early in the season just because I don't want them to be caught completely off guard with certain things.

"We're not doing a lot of press-breaking right now - we're working on our half-court stuff -- so we'll have to go for that just to be ready for Saturday. I'm going to have to throw in a zone this week so that they can play against a zone, too. We'll also work on late-game situations."

In addition to whatever devilment ASU comes up with, the Lobos will be taking along a goblin of their own: no surprise, the nasty is hanging out in the paint.

Neither of UNM's center candidates, Valerie Kast [6-6 senior] nor Emily Stark [6-5 freshman] are what Flanagan defines as "in condition."

"Val's not in condition to play 40 minutes. If you can play 40 minutes then you are in condition. If you can play 20 minutes - half a game - I don't consider that 'in condition.' I don't think Val could play a whole game with the kind of effort I expect. There's no question Val is much improved in her conditioning, but…"

There are a "couple of young players" including Stark who also are not a Division I conditioning levels, Flanagan says. "I think we'll have some reality checks on the inside. Inside I think they will be stronger than we are." Beyond the inside conditioning question, there is the one of experience. Stark is a freshman and has none, and, although Kast is a senior, she has played few sessions of serious minutes.

Outside is another proposition.

"I think our guards will hang in there with their guards. I think that will be the good competitive part," Flanagan says.

So what will the final outcome be on Saturday? Will it be "Devil's Night," or "The Howling?" Unfortunately, we'll never know the answer, as that is how such scrimmages are played these days: in total Hitchcockesque suspense and secrecy. Or, as Don Flanagan might say, "I could tell you the score, but then I would have to kill you."



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