Struggling Team Remains Upbeat
Forget about looking at the season through rose-colored lenses.
UNM women’s basketball coach Yvonne Sanchez and her players know there’s been nothing pretty about their 2011-12 season to date.
“I don’t think this program’s ever been through anything like this,” Sanchez said, “definitely not in the 12 years I’ve been here.”
UNM at Colorado State, 7 p.m.
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“This” refers to a disastrous run of luck that has UNM 6-12 overall, 0-4 in Mountain West Conference play and scrambling.
“This” refers to having three injured starters out for the season, and three walk-ons being counted on to play significant roles.
Sanchez and her players answer honestly when asked about the adversity they’ve been forced to accept. They’re not resigned to holding daily pity parties, however.
“I’ve been through worse things,” junior guard Jayme Jackson said. “It’s very frustrating because we’ve lost a lot of close games and a lot of things haven’t gone our way. But things like this make you tougher. We’ll keep fighting.”
Tonight the Lobos will take the fight to Moby Arena, where they’ll face a suddenly resurgent Colorado State bunch. The Rams (7-12, 3-1) got a momentum-changing win last week at Boise State and come in tied for second place in the MWC race.
“I know they struggled early,” Sanchez said, “but I haven’t seen that in their conference games. Kim Mestdagh and Sam Martin are playing really well, and we’ll need our ‘A’ game to have a chance to win.”
With that in mind, the Lobos have adopted a circle-the-wagons attitude. They are trying to pull together and have thus far avoided the finger-pointing that can accompany losing streaks.
“We have to step up,” Jackson said. “I know I can do more, score more points. I have to try to be a leader.”
Senior walk-on Ashley Rhoades said she’s been impressed with her teammates’ resolve. Junior forward Deeva Vaughn (concussion symptoms) was declared out for the season last week, and Rhoades is gearing up to take on a greater role.
“It’s a great honor for me being part of this team,” Rhoades said. “I just want to provide something. Deeva’s out now, which is unfortunate, so it’s up to me to bring my level up, not let the team’s level go down.”
Sanchez and her staff have been adjusting to an ever-changing player rotation, but they left for Fort Collins on Tuesday feeling reasonably encouraged. Rhoades, who missed Saturday’s UNLV game to attend a clinic for USA Volleyball, figures to see significant action tonight. Junior Jourdan Erskine (stress fracture) is expected to return to action after missing six games.
“We’re not getting down, just trying to get better,” Sanchez said. “We’ve had good practices this week, and I think we’ve got a game plan that gives us a good chance to beat (the Rams). All we can do right now is look forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
NOTE: Mestdagh, the MWC’s Preseason Player of the Year, has heated up since league play began. She ranks fifth in the league in scoring, third in assists and first in steals.
Struggling Team Remains UpbeatResurgent Colo. State Awaits Lobos
— This article appeared on page D3 of the Albuquerque Journal