Lobos need frosh to contribue immediately

Updated: November 12, 2003, 9:09 AM ET
Scripps Howard News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico basketball coach Don Flanagan sees a way his Lobos women can exceed expectations this season.

He just needs his Lobos pups to come through in a big way.

"I think the freshmen are going to make us a better team than people project us to be,'' Flanagan said.

"Our freshmen have to help us this year.''

The Lobos return only six players who were part of the Lobos' stirring Sweet 16 season last year.

And although the Lobos expect substantial efforts from transfers Jenny Shetters and Judy Vogt, they're also going to need more than a couple of freshmen to step in and contribute.

"It's just as imperative as it was two years ago when we had (then-freshmen) Mandi Moore and Lindsey Arndt start for us,'' Flanagan said. "If our freshmen can play and contribute to this team, it will make us a much more effective team and increase our chances of success.''

Flanagan says he thinks four of the five freshmen -- guards Katie Montgomery, Fatima Maddox and Julie Briody, and forward Wande Olude -- are ready to contribute early this season.

Montgomery (5-10) and Briody (6-0) might be the two most skilled players on the team, Flanagan says. But he says they'll need time to physically adjust to the college game.

Maddox (5-6) is the quickest on the team.

And Olude, a 6-1 post from Winnipeg, Canada, is one of the strongest. Olude has already set a program record for UNM post players with a 158-pound power clean lift. She also tied Melissa Forest's bench-press record for post players with a lift of 160 pounds.

The fifth freshman, Timi E-Nunu, was suffering from respiratory problems early in camp and will likely need more time to catch up to the rest of the freshmen. But Flanagan says the 5-foot-11 E-Nunu's athleticism and shot-blocking ability are impressive.

Briody, Montgomery and Maddox are all considered proficient ballhandlers and are expected to be able to spell returning point guard Mandi Moore when needed.

"All those guards can handle the ball and go in transition,'' Flanagan said. "Julie (Briody) and Fatima (Maddox) can both create offensively, and Katie (Montgomery) is solid and has real good vision.''

Flanagan says he hopes to use the increased depth at guard to extend defensive pressure farther out on the perimeter.

The Lobos, who finished second in the Mountain West Conference last season before winning the conference tournament, were picked to finish third this season by MWC media.

In six of the past eight years, the Lobos have had a freshman on an all-conference newcomer team. Moore was the MWC Newcomer of the Year in 2001-02.