ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sanchez Is Making Changes During Lobos’ Break
The holiday makeover has begun.
Coming off a stinging, one-sided loss at Colorado, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team plans to unveil a new image in 2013. It won’t be about stylish shoes or flattering hairstyles.
“We’ve got to create a new identity, especially on defense,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve got to pressure the ball more and we’ve got to play more physical. Colorado beat us up and we took it. We’ve got to have a lot more fight than that.”
UNM at UNLV, 8 p.m., 610 AM
Sanchez said a lack of aggression has been evident in several recent games, particularly in the early moments. The Lobos fell into early holes against Arizona, UTEP and Colorado and started poorly in the second halves of those defeats.
One adjustment is to alter the starting lineup, and Sanchez is using her team’s lengthy schedule break to tinker with different player combinations. The Lobos don’t play again until their Jan. 9 Mountain West Conference opener at UNLV.
“The good thing is we have time to work on things,” Sanchez said. “We need to find a spark going into conference and the players know that. We can compete in the Mountain West race, but not if we’re getting down 10-2 or 12-2 every night.”
Sanchez said she has not yet determined UNM’s starting lineup for the UNLV game, but at least two changes will likely be made.
“It’s not about punishment,” Sanchez said, “because the players who come off the bench now will still get minutes, maybe as many minutes as they got before. It’s about creating energy. We’ve got to have a starting group that battles and sets the tone.”
One starter who has shown that kind of competitive fire is senior Jourdan Erskine, Sanchez said. The forward leads UNM in rebounding (6.4 per game), holds her own defending taller players inside and has recently begun looking to score more often.
“Jourdan gives her all,” Sanchez said. “Energy is never an issue with her.”
Sanchez wants to see Erskine’s teammates amp up their defensive energy, something they did not do at Colorado.
“It wasn’t just that game,” Sanchez said. “We’ve been too willing to just let opponents execute their offense. I want to see us forcing the action, disrupting things. If we make some mistakes, that’s OK. We need to be aggressors.”
WELCOME BACK, BRONCOS: Sanchez was delighted with the recent news that Boise State will remain in the Mountain West after this season.
“Boise has a very good women’s basketball program,” she said, “and it’s a school that brings so much to the conference in every sport. I think it’s terrific they’re staying.”
As for rumored future additions…
“Everyone’s speculating,” she said, “about whether (MWC officials) want a school in the Texas market, or whether it’s BYU coming back or San Diego State. Now that Boise’s staying, I’m sure the phones are ringing. Everything looks positive right now.”
ROOTING INTERESTS: The NFL season got simpler this week for Lobo senior Caroline Durbin. A graduate of Texas’ Austin-Westlake High, Durbin had two fellow alums starting at quarterback for NFL teams this season: New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Philadelphia’s Nick Foles.
Durbin knew Foles (a 2007 grad) during her prep days. Brees (Westlake Class of 1997) was well before Durbin’s time, though she went to school with his younger sister, Audrey.
Does Durbin root for the former Chaparrals?
“Of course,” she said. “I was excited to see Nick playing for the Eagles, but I’m a Cowboy fan so it was hard to root for him.”
Brees, Foles and Durbin’s beloved Cowboys concluded their seasons Sunday, but she still has one playoff rooting interest.
“Justin Tucker, the Baltimore Ravens’ kicker,” she said, “he’s from Westlake, too.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal