Four Things I Think I Learned Last Night

Joe Auletta
1.  This is not the kind of Lobo style we are used to. Yes, the 2017-18 team played fast and scored a lot of points, but the fast play was mostly on offense, and largely revolved around Tesha and Alex shooting a lot of threes.  This team seriously doesn’t have anyone who has stepped up to be that deadly three point threat (though there are some possibilities), and they have upped the defensive tempo as well.  Yes, the length and athletic advantage over Texas State allowed the Lobos to be successful at that, and it will be harder against other opponents (including potentially Auburn up next), but the intent to play that way from start to finish seemed evident.  And the physical traits of the team looks appropriate to doing that.  Besides, when Nike is doing a good Marvin Webster imitation (Dikembe Mutombo for you youngsters) it makes it much easier to take those aggressive risks on the outside.
2.  It is too bad we don’t get more than a year out of Nike. The six blocks and the rebounds are only part of the impact.  Her presence allows Jaisa more freedom, and when Jaisa did pick up her second foul she was able to take a rest without conceding the middle to the opponent.  Almost as noteworthy were the times that Mike voluntarily had both Nike and Jaisa on the bench, playing AT and Shai together as the pseudo-posts.  Nike can run the court, but AT and Shai can fly—and that gives the Lobos a totally different look for opponents to have to prepare for.  Speaking of the four posts, have we ever had a post rotation this deep and athletic?  I cannot remember any.  The future post picture also looks hopeful—we lose Jaisa & Nike—two very big losses—but gain Bride, Autumn, and Azaria.  For a coach who came to UNM saying two posts on the roster—maybe three—was sufficient, opinions have changed.
3.  That leads into point number three.  Critical Mass.  I know, we are one game into the season, but I saw the eight man rotation in quarters one through three had eight players.  Five of those eight were freshmen and sophomores.  And this does not include Madi, Q, or Bre, all of whom have shown potential.  That is at least a core of eight who—barring transfers—have three years of growing together ahead of them.  Add a highly touted incoming set of verbal commits, and this should avoid “rebuilding” for quite a while.  There is a long way from potential to actualization, but the ceiling on that potential looks really bright for now.
4.  I have to admit I was wrong about Ahlise. From the first time I saw here the basketball smarts, the no-fear attitude, and the smoothness were all evident.  I was confident she could become really good before she left UNM, however I wasn’t sure she was physically strong enough to get major minutes yet.  I know Texas St is not the prototypical MWC level of physical, but for the exhibition games and last night, I think she is intent on proving me wrong—and I hope she continues to do just that.