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Many questions for Bradbury’s UNM squad

UNM coach Mike Bradbury is concerned his team could be at a disadvantage with restrictions at practices. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Mike Bradbury is finally starting to come up with some answers regarding his 2020-21 University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.

He still has a lot more questions.

The Lobos’ fifth-year coach fully expects his team and college basketball as a whole to play this season, in spite of the coronavirus and pandemic restrictions that have shut down numerous sports at all levels. UNM has been conducting limited workouts in recent weeks, and Bradbury and his staff have begun to install some elements of the offense they plan to employ.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham loosened some of the state’s pandemic restrictions earlier this month, including increasing the public-gatherings limit from five people to 10. That allows the Lobos to accomplish more during on-court workouts, but it still doesn’t permit the type of practice UNM needs to prepare for games, Bradbury said.

“We can work on skills and offense, and we’re doing that,” he said, “but it’s hard to accomplish very much when there’s no contact allowed and players can’t guard each other. We still can’t have the whole team together, so it’s hard to assess what some things are going to look like.”

Bradbury has seen enough to make a few determinations.

This season’s Lobos will likely be a perimeter-oriented bunch, relying less on the dribble-drive offense of recent campaigns. With junior college transfers (and twin sisters) LaTascya and LaTora Duff joining a UNM backcourt that includes returning starters Ahlise Hurst, Jaedyn De La Cerda and point guard Corina Carter (who played in 31 of 32 games last season), Bradbury expects to have options.

“We’ve got good ball-handling, quickness and some players who can really shoot,” he said. “You would think we’ll shoot a lot of 3s, but that kind of depends on how people defend us. If teams want to take 3-pointers away, I think we’ll be able to drive by them.”

UNM has not yet been able to work on defense, nor has the offense been tested against any sort of pressure. With other states working under less-stringent pandemic restrictions, Bradbury is afraid the Lobos will be behind whenever the season does start.

“A lot of states are in full contact now,” he said. “If we’re not able to have full practices, we’ll be at a distinct disadvantage.”

As for when the season might begin, the NCAA’s Division I Council is set to vote Wednesday on a proposal by the men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees that would set Nov. 25 as the official starting date for 2020-21.

Mountain West coaches and officials are set to hold a conference call the following day to discuss scheduling, Bradbury said.

“I’m confident we’ll play games this season,” Bradbury said. “How many non-conference games we’ll play, whether we can play at home, whether fans can attend, those are things I really don’t know. Hopefully we’ll have more answers (this) week.”

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