New Mexico Lobos
| MESSAGE BOARD
REGION: Midwest SEED: 12
COACH: Don Flanagan CONFERENCE: MW
Road to the Final Four ...................................................................................
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Though the Lobos fared just fine without her in the second half of the Mountain West tournament final, things probably wouldn't go as smoothly in the Big Dance without Moore on the court. She ranks third on the team in scoring but dishes a team-high 4.4 assists per game -- and boasts a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. The 5-foot-7 junior point guard, who logs a team-high 34.6 minutes, also tallies 1.5 steals. But forget the numbers. Her leadership is a must for New Mexico to make another deep run in the tournament this season. And you can bet Lobos fans are hoping that errant elbow that knocked Moore to her hands and knees with blood dripping from her mouth -- she had several stitches at halftime and played sparingly in the second half in the MWC championship -- only slowed her down momentarily.
ANALYSIS BY ESPN'S STACEY DALES-SCHUMAN
If you're a team teetering on the edge of fate in the basketball world, you have to make a pretty glowing statement to say, "Yeah, we're legit and we deserve to keep playing."
Don Flanagan's club did just that, and even if New Mexico hadn't edged Utah in the Mountain West Conference tournament final, the Lobos made a pretty good case as a bubble team. They ride an 11-game winning streak -- including a victory over UNLV and two wins over Utah -- into the NCAA Tournament.
Without a solid defensive stopper this season, New Mexico has had to defend within a solid five-player zone unit. And it's the best zone in the country, holding challengers to a dismal 51 points and scaly 33 percent accuracy from the hardwood.
Offensively, New Mexico is a major handful inside with the play of senior 6-foot-2 forward Melissa Forest and 6-1 all-conference junior Lindsey Arndt. Both players each contribute 10 points and seven rebounds. Forest can stretch beyond the colored box to hammer 12- to 15-foot jumpers, while Arndt provides leadership and versatility to wheel and deal around the hoop.
The third best scorer, junior guard Mandi Moore, has started at the point slot since her freshman year, and is good for eight points and 4.5 feeds.
Despite drilling a potent interior offensive game, the Lobos love to try the triple. And for the 18 3-pointers they attempt a game, 33 percent go in. And in the Mountain West final, they were 10-for-16 from downtown.
Generally, Flanagan's team is a deliberate group that makes simple plays to win games. The Lobos cash in on 73 percent of their free throws while blocking a conference-best five shots at the other end. They also finish each defensive sequence with a fundamental block-out to lead the conference with 27 defensive boards.
One thing's for sure, after last season's trip to the Sweet 16, New Mexico has bigger and better things to aim for in 2004.