Baker gives Mesa women’s hoops team a true point guard
Her given name is Effanesia (eff-a-NEE-see-a), but you can call her Effo. Everyone does.
“I’ve gone by it my whole life,” said Effo Baker, the new starting point guard for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team.
“Mom, it depends. If my mom is mad, she calls me by my middle name. Sometimes if I’m really in trouble it’s both names.
“It’s really comical, very few people around here know my real name.”
If things go as planned for the Mavericks this season, everybody’s going to know her name.
Baker brings a new dimension to the Mavericks, who return three starters and three key reserves off their 17-10 team (14-8 RMAC) last winter.
The 5-foot-5 junior is cat-quick, a good passer and can get to the basket, draw the defense and find the open player.
She transferred from Rogers State (Okla.) University and had to sit out last season under NCAA rules. She ran the second team all last season in practice and studied her teammates during games.
“Over the course of last year and seeing how Kelsey (Sigl) plays, how Katrina (Selsor) plays, how Amy (Weitzeil) plays, you kind of get accustomed to it,” she said.
“In the spring semester we played pickup together, we switched teams up to see how we all play together, so coming in this year, I think the chemistry off the court kind of carries over on the court.”
Baker is a big part of that chemistry, with her engaging smile and desire to get the ball to the right person at the right time.
“She does have a true point guard mentality, she does have another gear and sees the floor unbelievably well,” Mesa coach Roger Walters said. “She gets everybody involved.”
The Mavericks open the season Friday at California State University-Chico and play at Sonoma State on Saturday afternoon.
Sigl, the Mavericks’ all-RMAC power forward, knows she’s going to attract plenty of attention in the paint, just like the Mavs’ all-conference guard, Katrina Selsor, will draw on the perimeter.
“It’s going to be good. Amy and I will see more attention on us this year and we have all of our shooters who are outstanding,” she said. “It’s a dish out, hit a 3.”
Weitzeil, a 6-1 senior post, and Sigl, a 6-foot junior, both got stronger in the offseason to deal with the physical RMAC, and 6-1 sophomore Hanna Bowden brings even more strength off the bench.
Selsor, a 6-1 junior guard, appears primed for a breakout season after transferring from CSU-Pueblo and adjusting to a new program last season.
“She’s such a complete player, it’s kind of scary,” Walters said. “She scored five, seven points against DU but at the same time, she dominated the game at both ends. She had a handful of assists, 10 rebounds and just played terrific defense. She’s a stat-stuffer. She’s so talented she doesn’t have to score to dominate, but she will.
“She’s not thinking anymore, she’s going out and playing. They’re all a little bit like that. It’s so much more fun to play the game when you don’t have to think.”
On the other wing is 5-9 senior Hillary Duncan, a transfer from Oklahoma Christian University who didn’t play basketball last season.
“She’s a big piece of what we need,” Walters said. “We have seven, eight kids good enough to start and we are deeper this year. She’s a huge part of it.”
Duncan can hit the 3 or put the ball on the floor and drive. She led the Mavs with 14 points in their exhibition game against the University of Denver.
“She knocks down shots, creates shots for our other shooters,” Sigl said. “She knows how to get to the bucket really well.”
Sharaya Selsor, who started on the wing last year, left school for personal reasons.
Senior Tara Gehring will come off the bench on the perimeter, Alaina Brennan returns for her senior season as a 5-6 post player, and Walters has a host of options, with an active roster of 17.
Dallas Rohrbaugh, a 5-7 freshman from Erie, will back up Baker at point guard.
With the core of the team back, it’s almost a continuation of last season, with one big difference.
“It’s the start of something,” Walters said. “I think we’re going in the right direction.
“Our first year was our first year. Last year we brought in so many new kids, 11 new kids, so it was a first year again. This is the first time since we’ve been here it’s not a first year.”