By Ken Sickenger
Journal Staff Writer
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will take the “new season, new team” axiom to a whole new level in 2018-19.
The Lobos opened summer workouts this week and it felt a little like a get-acquainted session.
Coach Mike Bradbury’s team has just seven returning players, six of whom have played in UNM uniforms. Rising senior post Jaisa Nunn has made 48 starts for the Lobos, while all of her teammates have one combined.
Eight players on next season’s roster will be new to the program, and transfer Aisia Robertson will see her first playing time after sitting out last season per NCAA rules.
Talk about a team in need of a roster.
“Yeah, it’s a different world out here,” Nunn said Thursday, “but we have a ridiculous amount of talent. I’ll adjust, no problem.”
Bradbury believes dramatic roster overhauls like the one UNM has undergone are simply part of college basketball’s current landscape.
“We had a year like this at Wright State,” the third-year Lobos coach said, “and I think you’re going to see a lot more of it from now on. In the age of transfers, it’s becoming the norm.”
UNM’s roster for 2018-19 includes four transfers, two of whom will be eligible. Guard Robertson (Kansas) and post Nike McClure (Washington State) figure to see significant playing time. Guard Najala Howell (UTEP) and post Bride Kennedy-Hopoate (Iowa State) will be available to practice but can’t play until 2019-20.
New Mexico also has five freshmen joining the fold: guards Jayla Everett, Bre’Asiajah Mathews, Quincy Noble, Ahlise Hurst and post Shaiquel McGruder. Returning posts Nunn and Erica Moore along with guards Emily Lines, Madi Washington, Antonia Anderson and Jaedyn De La Cerda fill out the team’s 15 scholarships.
New Mexico Junior College guard Ni’Asia McIntosh also committed to UNM but did not qualify academically. McIntosh has been released from her commitment, which will allow her to play at a non-Division I school next season, Bradbury said.
There are more get-acquainted sessions to come as some of UNM’s signees have not yet arrived in Albuquerque. Texans Noble and Mathews will start summer school in July, and Australians Hurst and Kennedy-Hopoate are scheduled to arrive in August.
Meanwhile, McClure, Everett, Howell and McGruder have begun the indoctrination process.
“First impression, I absolutely love it,” McClure said. “It’s really fast-paced and my new teammates are fantastic. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”
Bradbury expressed similar sentiments.
“We’ll be a completely different kind of team,” he said. “We’re bigger at the guard spots, bigger at post, bigger everywhere but still fast and athletic. We’re just getting started and everyone’s still out of shape, but we’ve got a lot to work with. It’s going to be exciting. I love it.”
SCHEDULE NOTES: UNM has not yet released its non-conference schedule but Bradbury said the opponents are all determined and offered a few highlights. The Lobos’ pre-Mountain West slate includes home games against Oklahoma, New Mexico State and UTEP and road games at Long Beach State, Houston, Northern Arizona and NMSU. The Long Beach State, Houston and NAU games are part of home-and-home contracts. UNM’s regular-season opener will be Nov. 9 at home against Texas State in round one of the Preseason WNIT.
CAMPS SET TO TIP: The Mike Bradbury Basketball Camps for girls will be held this month at the Pit and the Davalos Center. Camps will be conducted by Bradbury, his coaching staff and UNM players. Sessions include individual camp (June 18-21 for ages 8-17) and high school team camp (June 22-23 for varsity and JV teams). Contact Vera Jo Bustos (505-925-5787) or click the “Camps” link at www.golobos.com for fees and additional information.