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New Mexico women’s basketball head coach Don Flanagan has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about his team’s potential this season, which returns three starters and six letterwinners.

Leading the team is senior Amy Beggin, a preseason First Team All-Mountain West Conference pick.

Beggin was the Lobos’ biggest asset last season, averaging over 15 points per game, and should only get better this year. In the 2008-2009 season, she finished with 553 points, second all-time for scoring in a season. Beggin also was named to the All-MWC Defensive team and became the 16th Lobo to reach 1,000 career points8212;only the sixth junior to do so in school history.

The Lobos have perimeter threats in Amanda Best, Sara Halasz, Nikki Nelson, Georonika Jackson, Porche Torrance, Lauren Taylor and Eileen Weissmann. However, the Lobos lost their primary post scorer last season, 6-foot-2-inch Angela Hartill, and have looked to 6-foot-6 center Valerie Kast to fill the void.

Kast was praised by Flanagan before the season for her conditioning and work put in during the summer, and will need to play a much bigger role for the Lobos this season. With so many smaller athletic perimeter players, Flanagan said that the team will play an up-tempo transition offense, and his biggest concern is his post players being able to catch up.

Teams have keyed on Beggin so far this season, but she still has averaged 16 points per game. She’s received help on offense from Best and Halasz, who are each averaging 9.7 points per game.

The Lobos were picked to finish fourth in the MWC in their preseason poll, and have posted a 5-2 record so far. The Lobos finished fourth in the MWC last season with a 9-7 mark, and finished with an overall record of 25-11.

Joseph Simmons