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Fans Loyal to UNM Women

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 6-14 UNM Women Still Top 10 in Attendance

 

There’s a lot to be said for loyalty.

Fans in stands
NCAA Women’s Basketball Home Attendance Rankings (Through Jan. 29)
Avg. School Record Att.
1. Tennessee 16-513,812
2. Louisville 17-49,593
3. Iowa State 11-89,548
4. N. Dame 21-18,749
5. UConn 19-28,656
6. Purdue 18-48,332
7. Baylor 21-08,237
8. Texas Tech 15-57,646
9. Mich. State 13-97,054
10. UNM 6-146,756
Others
33. Wyoming 7-123,114
40. TCU 11-102,748
102. NMSU 4-161,305
161. UNLV 17-5834
261. SDSU 16-4467Readers react to a Sports Speakup! comparing Yvonne Sanchez to Mike Locksley
D2Today

Air Force at UNM, 6 p.m.
TV: The mtn. Radio: KNML-AM (610)

While the injury-decimated University of New Mexico women’s basketball team has thus far struggled through a nightmarish 2011-12 season, Lobo fans have continued to back their team in remarkable fashion.

Going into tonight’s home game against Air Force, UNM ranks 10th nationally in home attendance with an average of 6,756 fans per contest.

Granted, the numbers are down from recent seasons, when the Lobo women have consistently averaged 7,000 fans or more. But considering how things have gone for UNM – three injured starters out for the season and a 6-14 record – the attendance figures are beyond impressive.

“It’s really shocking to me,” said Lobo junior Jayme Jackson, a transfer student in her first season at UNM. “I keep thinking every time we lose, the fans will stop coming. It never happens. It’s amazing.”

New Mexico’s position in the attendance rankings becomes all the more remarkable when one examines the schools ahead of it. All nine have winning records and seven are ranked in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.

UNM is one of just two teams with losing records (Wisconsin is the other) currently ranked among the top 30 in home attendance.

“To use one word, phenomenal,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said when asked to describe her team’s fans.

“I truly believe we’ve got the best fans in the country, because if a lot of the top schools had our record, their fans wouldn’t come out. Ours are here rain or shine.”

Women’s basketball hasn’t always been a major attraction at UNM. The program was dropped from 1987-91 and didn’t begin to attract much fan interest until Don Flanagan took over as coach in 1995.

New Mexico averaged 3,501 fans per home game that season and the number steadily increased until 2002-03, when UNM ranked fourth nationally at 11,896 fans per home game.

Attendance has declined from there but has remained steady between 7,000 and 8,000 for the past four seasons. New Mexico ranked ninth nationally last season at 7,677 per home game.

Still, fan loyalty has been tested in 2011-12.

After five freshman players unexpectedly left the program last spring, Flanagan opted to step down and was later replaced by Sanchez. Already short on scholarship players, Sanchez lost Preseason All-Mountain West Conference guard Sara Halasz to a preseason knee injury. Talented freshman post Whitney Johnson went down with a knee injury in game two, and forward Deeva Vaughn played in just nine games before concussions ended her season.

Still, the fans have come.

“I think our fans understand we lost a third of our team at the beginning of the year,” Sanchez said. “It’s really been one thing after another. But I can’t tell you how many people I see out and about who tell me they’re still behind us. It sure motivates you to come and work hard every day.”

Junior Caroline Durbin agreed.

“Our fans are so loyal and support us no matter what,” Durbin said. “Sometimes you almost take them for granted, but then we go on the road and see other teams playing in empty gyms. It reminds us how great our fans are and makes us want to play as hard as we possibly can for them.”

Sanchez believes UNM’s loyal fans have already helped her make significant strides in recruiting. Prep seniors Kadijah Shumpert and Jordyn Peacock committed shortly after attending the Lobo Howl, and junior Brooke Allemand decided to cut short her recruiting process after attending the recent UNM-Wyoming game.

“That kind of enthusiasm for women’s basketball is unique,” Allemand’s father, Andre, said. “Seeing that kind of crowd when the team has a losing record, we could only imagine what it’ll be like when coach Sanchez gets it going. We didn’t need to see anything else. Brooke can’t wait to play in that environment.”

MUST-WIN CONTEST? Sanchez declined to put the dreaded “must-win” tag on tonight’s encounter with Air Force (5-16, 0-6 Mountain West Conference). Durbin did not.

“I think it is a must-win,” Durbin said. “We’re about to play everyone in the conference again and we need to get a winning streak started.”

UNM, also 0-6 in MWC play, is coming off close road losses at Colorado State and TCU. While the players remained positive and upbeat at Monday’s practice, Sanchez admits a six-game losing streak is taking its toll.

“The players are not happy,” she said. “Aside from San Diego State, we’ve been right in every conference game and we know we’ve had opportunities. We’re all very determined to get a win right now.”

Air Force comes to Albuquerque riding a seven-game losing streak and has come close to a conference win just once (an 81-75 loss to Boise State). The Falcons have since dropped four games by double-digits, including a 98-36 drubbing at Wyoming.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque JournalAir Force at UNM, 6 p.m.
TV: The mtn. Radio: KNML-AM (610) 

While the injury-decimated University of New Mexico women’s basketball team has thus far struggled through a nightmarish 2011-12 season, Lobo fans have continued to back their team in remarkable fashion.

Going into tonight’s home game against Air Force, UNM ranks 10th nationally in home attendance with an average of 6,756 fans per contest.

Granted, the numbers are down from recent seasons, when the Lobo women have consistently averaged 7,000 fans or more. But considering how things have gone for UNM – three injured starters out for the season and a 6-14 record – the attendance figures are beyond impressive.

“It’s really shocking to me,” said Lobo junior Jayme Jackson, a transfer student in her first season at UNM. “I keep thinking every time we lose, the fans will stop coming. It never happens. It’s amazing.”

New Mexico’s position in the attendance rankings becomes all the more remarkable when one examines the schools ahead of it. All nine have winning records and seven are ranked in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.

UNM is one of just two teams with losing records (Wisconsin is the other) currently ranked among the top 30 in home attendance.

“To use one word, phenomenal,” Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez said when asked to describe her team’s fans.

“I truly believe we’ve got the best fans in the country, because if a lot of the top schools had our record, their fans wouldn’t come out. Ours are here rain or shine.”

Women’s basketball hasn’t always been a major attraction at UNM. The program was dropped from 1987-91 and didn’t begin to attract much fan interest until Don Flanagan took over as coach in 1995.

New Mexico averaged 3,501 fans per home game that season and the number steadily increased until 2002-03, when UNM ranked fourth nationally at 11,896 fans per home game.

Attendance has declined from there but has remained steady between 7,000 and 8,000 for the past four seasons. New Mexico ranked ninth nationally last season at 7,677 per home game.

Still, fan loyalty has been tested in 2011-12.

After five freshman players unexpectedly left the program last spring, Flanagan opted to step down and was later replaced by Sanchez. Already short on scholarship players, Sanchez lost Preseason All-Mountain West Conference guard Sara Halasz to a preseason knee injury. Talented freshman post Whitney Johnson went down with a knee injury in game two, and forward Deeva Vaughn played in just nine games before concussions ended her season.

Still, the fans have come.

“I think our fans understand we lost a third of our team at the beginning of the year,” Sanchez said. “It’s really been one thing after another. But I can’t tell you how many people I see out and about who tell me they’re still behind us. It sure motivates you to come and work hard every day.”

Junior Caroline Durbin agreed.

“Our fans are so loyal and support us no matter what,” Durbin said. “Sometimes you almost take them for granted, but then we go on the road and see other teams playing in empty gyms. It reminds us how great our fans are and makes us want to play as hard as we possibly can for them.”

Sanchez believes UNM’s loyal fans have already helped her make significant strides in recruiting. Prep seniors Kadijah Shumpert and Jordyn Peacock committed shortly after attending the Lobo Howl, and junior Brooke Allemand decided to cut short her recruiting process after attending the recent UNM-Wyoming game.

“That kind of enthusiasm for women’s basketball is unique,” Allemand’s father, Andre, said. “Seeing that kind of crowd when the team has a losing record, we could only imagine what it’ll be like when coach Sanchez gets it going. We didn’t need to see anything else. Brooke can’t wait to play in that environment.”

MUST-WIN CONTEST? Sanchez declined to put the dreaded “must-win” tag on tonight’s encounter with Air Force (5-16, 0-6 Mountain West Conference). Durbin did not.

“I think it is a must-win,” Durbin said. “We’re about to play everyone in the conference again and we need to get a winning streak started.”

UNM, also 0-6 in MWC play, is coming off close road losses at Colorado State and TCU. While the players remained positive and upbeat at Monday’s practice, Sanchez admits a six-game losing streak is taking its toll.

“The players are not happy,” she said. “Aside from San Diego State, we’ve been right in every conference game and we know we’ve had opportunities. We’re all very determined to get a win right now.”

Air Force comes to Albuquerque riding a seven-game losing streak and has come close to a conference win just once (an 81-75 loss to Boise State). The Falcons have since dropped four games by double-digits, including a 98-36 drubbing at Wyoming.

Inside
Readers react to a Sports Speakup! comparing Yvonne Sanchez to Mike LocksleyD2

Today
Air Force at UNM, 6 p.m.TV: The mtn. Radio: KNML-AM (610)By Ken SickengerJournal Staff Writer

 
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

 

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