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Women’s basketball: Injuries already piling up for Lobos

Preseason practice is off to a painful start for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.

Coach Mike Bradbury’s Lobos, who were already thin from a roster perspective, got thinner this week because of injuries.

Transfer post Erica Moore suffered a torn right Achilles tendon during practice and will require surgery. Moore was not eligible to play this season because of NCAA transfer rules but had been practicing with the Lobos all summer. She is expected to be ready for 2017-18.

Junior point guard Laneah Bryan also missed practice this week with a pulled right hamstring. Bryan’s injury is not season-threatening but Bradbury did not have a timeline for her return.

The Lobos had just 10 healthy eligible players practicing two days ahead of Friday’s Lobo Howl. The season’s first exhibition game is less than three weeks away, and with Bradbury and his staff working to install man-to-man offensive and zone defensive schemes, the first-year coach would have preferred to have all hands on deck.

Fans should not expect to see an intrasquad scrimmage at Friday’s Howl, Bradbury said.

“We weren’t going to scrimmage anyway,” he said, “but right now we probably couldn’t do it if we wanted to.”

Still, the women’s portion of the Howl will go on as planned. Bradbury, though, isn’t pushing the panic button about his team’s limited depth for the upcoming season.

“It reminds me a lot of our first season at Wright State,” he said. “We had to shorten the bench and just be a little more methodical. We might end up doing the same thing here.”

Things have not reached the desperation stage as it did in former Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez’s first season (2011-12). Injuries and attrition left that team with just six scholarship players and forced Sanchez to add and play walk-ons to get through the schedule.

Bradbury does not plan to seek walk-ons. UNM has Green Bay transfer Tesha Buck (not eligible to play this season) and its male practice players to help fill the gaps.

“It’s not ideal because we’d like to get 60 to 70 percent of our offense installed by Nov. 1,” Bradbury said. “We’ll do the best we can with the players we have.”

With Bryan sidelined, junior Cherise Beynon is seeing the lion’s share of time at point guard. Bradbury has been satisfied enough that he now intends to give Beynon heavy minutes at the position.

Other players may also handle the ball more in Bradbury’s high-paced offense, including posts like senior Kianna Keller.

“I’m getting used to that,” Keller said, “but otherwise my role is still pretty much the same: play tough defense, rebound, hopefully score now and then.”

Keller said the intensity level during practice has increased under Bradbury, but she’s not concerned about adjusting to new playing schemes.

“We had three different coaches during my high school career,” Keller said, “so I’ve been through this before. It’s mostly just a matter of listening, learning and working hard.”

Bradbury agreed.

“I like our work ethic and how hard we play,” he said. “It’s a start and we’ll build from there.”

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