New Mexico Is Primed

From Associated Press

New Mexico Coach Don Flanagan was unable to get a ticket to watch Jim Valvano's North Carolina State team finish its storied run to a national title 20 years ago in The Pit in Albuquerque.

"I watched it on television," Flanagan said.

He'll now have a front-row seat as his team tries to capitalize on its home "Pit" advantage and make an extended run in the NCAA women's tournament.

New Mexico (22-8) plays Miami (18-12) in Saturday's first round in the Midwest Regional.

For the Lobos, the road to the Final Four couldn't be more familiar or friendly. New Mexico is playing host to the first four rounds of the tournament, and four wins would earn the Lobos a spot in Atlanta.

"I don't think there's any doubt we have an advantage playing in The Pit," Flanagan said Wednesday. "We have maybe as good a crowd as anybody. This is a special event to them."

New Mexico is building a reputation as a power in women's basketball. The Lobos played before an average of more than 11,000 fans this season, fourth nationally behind Tennessee, Connecticut and Texas Tech.

Interest in the team and the Lobos' success started when Flanagan arrived eight years ago. He has transformed the program from one of the worst in the country to a team making its third trip to the NCAA tournament in five years.


The videotape reeled off the highlights and quiet moments of arguably the most successful duo ever at Vanderbilt -- Chantelle Anderson and Ashley McElhiney.

Fans stopped to watch the touching sequence in Memorial Gym, where they came for an open-house in conjunction with selection of the field for the NCAA's women's basketball tournament.

Anderson, 34 points short of breaking Vanderbilt's career scoring record for women and men, and career assists leader McElhiney, paid little attention to the giant screen on the floor where they created so many memories.

"Once you sit back and think about it, we've had an awesome career," McElhiney said. "We want a national championship, and that would be a great thing to end by."

They want to leave their final mark on Vanderbilt in their final NCAA tournament. The quest begins Saturday, when the 14th-ranked Commodores (21-9) play Liberty (26-3) in the East Regional.

Vanderbilt is 96-39 since the duo arrived in 1999. They returned Vanderbilt to the rankings and won the 2002 Southeastern Conference tournament title.


Women's NCAA Tournament


* Saturday at Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, Va.: Boston College (20-8) vs. Old Dominion (21-10), 8:10 a.m.; Vanderbilt (21-9) vs. Liberty (26-3), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Saturday at Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Ind.: Virginia Tech (21-9) vs. Georgia Tech (20-10), 8:14 a.m.; Purdue (26-5) vs. Valparaiso (18-12), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.: Connecticut (31-1) vs. Boston University (16-14), 9:06 a.m.; Michigan State(17-11) vs. Texas Christian (19-13), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan.: Arizona (22-8) vs. Notre Dame (19-10), 4:06 p.m.; Kansas State (28-4) vs. Harvard (22-4), 30 minutes after Game 1.


* Saturday at the Coors Events & Conference Center, Boulder, Colo.: North Carolina (27-5) vs. Austin Peay (27-3), 6:18 p.m.; Colorado (22-7) vs. Brigham Young (19-11), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn.: Tennessee (28-4) vs. Alabama State (20-10), 8:06 a.m.; Virginia (16-13) vs. Illinois (17-11), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at the Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.: Villanova (25-5) v. St. Francis, Pa. (23-7), 3:36 p.m.; George Washington (24-6) vs. Oklahoma (19-12), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.: South Carolina (22-7) vs. Chattanooga (26-4), 9:10 a.m.; Penn State (24-8) vs. Holy Cross (24-7), 30 minutes after Game 1.


* Saturday at the Pit, Albuquerque: Mississippi State (23-7) vs. Manhattan (20-9), 6:14 p.m.; New Mexico (22-8) vs. Miami (18-12), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.: Rutgers (20-7) vs. Western Kentucky (22-8), 8:18 a.m.; Georgia (19-9) vs. Charlotte (21-8), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, N.C.: Utah (23-6) vs. DePaul (22-9), 9:18 a.m.; Duke (31-1) vs. Georgia State (20-10), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech (26-5) vs. Southwest Missouri State (18-12), 3:40 p.m.; UC Santa Barbara (26-4) vs. Xavier (20-9), 30 minutes after Game 1.


* Saturday at McArthur Court, Eugene, Ore.: Wisconsin Green Bay (27-3) vs. Washington (22-7), 6:06 p.m.; Louisiana State (27-3) vs. Southwest Texas State (18-13), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Saturday at Maples Pavilion, Palo Alto: Minnesota (23-5) vs. Tulane (19-9), 6:10 p.m.; Stanford (26-4) vs. Western Michigan (20-11), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at Shoemaker Center, Cincinnati: Texas (25-5) vs. Hampton (23-8), 9:14 a.m.; Arkansas (21-10) vs. Cincinnati (23-7), 30 minutes after Game 1.

* Sunday at the Thomas Assembly Center, Ruston, La.: Ohio State (21-9) vs. Weber State (21-8), 4:10 p.m.; Louisiana Tech (29-2) vs. Pepperdine (22-7), 30 minutes after Game 1.

All times Pacific

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