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Women’s basketball: Lobos lose two players, add assistant

The whirlwind hasn’t settled yet for University of New Mexico women’s basketball coach Mike Bradbury.

In the two weeks since Bradbury was hired as the program’s sixth coach, several key changes have occurred at the Davalos Basketball Center.

• Two players, Whitney Johnson and Jannon Otto, have informed Bradbury they will transfer to other schools.

• Valerie King has been hired as an assistant coach. King was one of Bradbury’s assistants at his previous coaching stops, Wright State and Morehead State.

• Bradbury has started establishing his coaching style during individual workouts this week. Tuesday and Wednesday drills provided his first opportunities to see UNM’s nine returning players in action.

“On just our second day I saw improvement,” Bradbury said, “way more than I expected. I wasn’t down after the first day but I’m really encouraged after the second.”

Bradbury acknowledged transitioning from Wright State to New Mexico has been an organizational challenge.

“Still spinning a little bit,” Bradbury said after Wednesday’s individual drills, “but we are making progress.”

Bradbury, whose family resides in Ohio, returned there for a week after a three-day introductory tour of Albuquerque. Bradbury said his family will relocate to New Mexico this summer but he and his wife, Christy, needed time to get organized for the interim.

While he was home Bradbury said he received phone calls from Johnson and Otto, both of whom will be released from their scholarships. Johnson and Otto were starters for the Lobos early last season but saw reduced playing time as the schedule progressed. Johnson, a 6-foot-2 redshirt junior, averaged 4 points and 3.1 rebounds, while Otto, a 6-1 freshman, averaged 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds.

Johnson missed two seasons at UNM because of injury and a Mormon mission. She could play next season as a graduate transfer, but Otto will have to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules.

“I only met them once when I met the team,” Bradbury said, “and there was nothing negative when they called me. They just told me they were planning to transfer and I wished them well.”

Bradbury said he has spoken with the four incoming freshmen who signed with UNM for next season and all of them remain committed.

“That leaves us with 13 players and two scholarships available,” he said. “We’re currently recruiting some kids, so the next four weeks are big. We’ll see what happens.”

The spring signing period for Division I basketball began Wednesday and concludes May 18.

Bradbury also hopes to fill his coaching staff in the coming weeks and took a step in that direction by hiring King, who has earned a reputation for developing perimeter shooters. King excelled as a shooter when she played at Cincinnati from 2000-04 and set both school and Conference USA records for made 3-pointers with 338. Bradbury was an assistant coach at Cincinnati for King’s first two seasons there.

“Valerie is already out recruiting this week,” Bradbury said. “She should be here in a few days.”

Two assistant coaching positions remain open and Bradbury said he is working to fill them. Former Lobo player Amy Beggin, who worked as an assistant for former coach Yvonne Sanchez, remains on staff but has not been extended for next season.

In his first week of on-court coaching, Bradbury said he is trying to establish a faster pace. Lobo players said new terminology and schemes have been secondary.

“It’s 100-percent different and we have a lot to learn, but (Bradbury) doesn’t care if we make mistakes right now,” sophomore Jayda Bovero said. “He just wants us moving as fast as possible.”

Bradbury’s previous teams have featured up-tempo offenses and he plans more of the same at UNM.

“Everything we do has to be at a high rate of speed,” he said, “or we can’t play that way. That’s the first thing these players have to learn.”

Sophomore Alex Lapeyrolerie just smiled when asked about the fast-paced workouts.

“Fast is the way I like it,” she said. “The faster the better.”

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