Stevens: It's Pack The Pit For Lobos -- And A Worthy Arizona Opponent

Dec. 7, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women Basketball - In The Pit

Saturday: 2 p.m.; Arizona Wildcats at New Mexico - Bob King Floor
On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend and Nikki Heckroth-Lovato; GameTracker, Game Story, Statistics, Live Stream

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

Really, it's not the Davellyn Whyte show. Arizona has a lot of Wildcats with sharp claws. But, really, a game with Arizona can turn out to be the Davellyn White show. This Wildcat can light it up.

"Everybody is going to mention Davellyn Whyte and she is a good as advertised," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "But they have players."

For Sanchez and her Lobos, they need to think about those other Wildcats - plus Whyte. For Lobo fans coming to "Pack The Pit," on Saturday, Davellyn Whyte is more than worth the $2 price of admission. She will be a Lobo enemy The Pit will love to hate.

Last year, she torched the Lobos for 27 points and 12 rebounds as Arizona held on for a 59-50 win in Tucson. On Saturday, Whyte surely will be a targeted enemy. You simply can't let her go off on another 27-point night.

"Davellyn Whyte - we've seen her four years and she's gotten better and better and better," said Sanchez. "They'll get a lot of shots for Whyte, but their other players are very, very good.

"It's another enormous task for us."

There really is no reason this Lobo-Wildcat tussle shouldn't be one of those "Pit" games -- a high-energy environment formed by a combination of Lobos, a special opponent, and lots of passionate Lobo fans protecting their Pit darlings.

The Lobos are playing well at 7-2 and Arizona is a geographical rival out of a prestigious conference. The price is right.

"Hopefully, we'll have a great atmosphere on Saturday," said Sanchez. "We haven' had those sellout games in years. It used to be fun to have a Pack The Pit when you sold The Pit out. We used to do that.

"Arizona is Pac-12. It's a good game. We're hoping we can at least fill the lower bowl, get 14,000 in, and go from there."

The Lobos probably could use the help on Saturday. The Wildcats aren't Top Ten like Georgia - picked to finish 12th in the Pac-12 -- but the Wildcats bring a solid 5-3 team that features a star in Whyte.

The 5-foot-11 senior leads the team in scoring (15.8), assists, steals - and turnovers. Yep, she handles the rock a lot.

"Arizona is Arizona," said Sanchez. "They are athletic. They are quick. They are tough. They are strong. They are a team that likes to push the ball. They like to be physical. They'll post up and they love to offensive rebound.

"You can identify (Whyte) as their best player, but understand, Arizona is a very good team. They're not just going to get her 30 shots."

Whyte averages 13.5 shots a game, but only shoots at a 31 percent clip. Kama Griffitts is second on the team in shots and shoots 29 percent. Whyte and Griffitts both shoot better at 3-point range than they do overall. So, maybe you don't leave them open. They both have shot 61 treys on the year.

Whyte is joined in double figures by 6-foot-1 Alli Gloyd at 10.9 and the 6-foot Griffitts at 10.3. The 6-2 Erica Barnes averages 9.3 points and tops the team in board work with a 6.8 average. Arizona has five players pulling down more than five boards a game.

The `Cats aren't real tall, but have seven players between 6-foot and 6-foot-2. They are long, lean and athletic.

The Wildcats have wins over Cal State Bakersfield, UNLV (83-82), Cal State Northridge, Texas Southern and North Texas. They lost to UTEP (64-53), lost to Brigham Young and are coming off a 71-61 loss at Long Beach State. Whyte had 17 points, seven assists and eight steals at Long Beach.

Long Beach State didn't exactly contain Whyte, but still won by ten. The key for Arizona might be getting their star a little more help - and taking care of the ball a bit better. Arizona averages 21.3 turnovers a game. They make up for this by creating 22.3 miscues a game.

If the Wildcats ever put together a game featuring good shooting and good ball handling - look out!

The Wildcats are athletic enough, quick enough and just tall enough where it makes it tough on the Lobos to concentrate too much help defensively on Whyte. Still, UNM might have to do that - jump out at Whyte, jump back into position.

"It (guarding Whyte) will have to be by committee," said Sanchez. "Coach (Joseph) Anders, who did the scout (on Arizona), said, `One player can't guard her. The team has to guard her.' We'll probably start Caroline (Durbin) or Sara (Halasz) on her, one of the two, but it has to be a team effort to guard that kid.

"Whyte is a player who is extremely hard to guard because she knows the game of basketball. She understands the game. This kid is tough and physical."

UNM is led by Durbin with a 12.4 average followed by Deeva Vaughn at 10.2. Halasz and Bryce Owens are both at 9.7. Jourdan Erskine tops the team in rebounding with a 6.6 average. UNM shoots 59 percent from the free-throw line and 42 percent from the floor.

Arizona has a 12-9 advantage over UNM and is looking to win three straight. Arizona beat UNM on the boards 49-33 last year, but no longer have center Aley Rohde, who had eight blocks and 10 boards in Arizona's 59-50 win.