Mavericks adjusting to 9 new players
Sharaya Selsor wasn’t sure about this Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team at first.
“We sat up in (coach Taylor Wagner’s) office for the first week-and-a-half of practice and I was so frustrated,” the senior guard said.
Things weren’t clicking like last season. It just wasn’t comfortable.
That was mid-October.
Now, in early November, Selsor’s feeling pretty good.
“It all took care of itself,” she said.
You just don’t lose 62 percent of your offense to graduation and not miss a beat.
Yes, it took some time for the Mavericks to get to know each other, unlike last season, when the biggest factor was getting to know their new coach.
This season, with nine new players, Selsor, like most of the Mavericks, wasn’t sure how she fit in.
Her sister, Katrina, isn’t on the opposite wing. Kelsey Sigl isn’t posting up on the low block or trailing the break for a 3-pointer.
Now, Selsor is comfortable finding 6-foot Aubry Boehme, a transfer from the University of Wyoming, on the low block or running the floor on the break. Hannah Pollart, a 5-11 senior transfer from Cameron (Okla.) University, gives the Mavericks a different look as a power forward who can also shoot from the perimeter.
Christen Lopez is still running the show at point guard, and Taylor Rock is back at shooting guard.
It’s all good.
“We have a lot of new players on top of new players,” Selsor said. “We have new roles. There’s a lot to figure out in a short amount of time. We’re going to be a team that progresses as the season goes on, so will every team, but I think our progression will be bigger than, say, it was last year.
“We got better as the year went on last year, but we started out at such a high level.”
This squad, too, started out in impressive fashion in an exhibition game last week. The Mavericks led Brigham Young University most of the game before falling 70-66.
Boehme played for Wagner at Otero for two years and then signed with Wyoming, playing in 26 games, but averaging only 6.7 minutes and 1.7 points per game.
An all-conference and all-region player at Otero, Boehme transferred to play for her former coach. She, Rock and another transfer, Saane Lo’amanu, led the Rattlers to the NJCAA national tournament in 2012. Boehme scored 1,041 points in her two years at Otero.
Pollart, from Powell, Wyo., played in 26 games last season, starting 21, at Cameron after two years at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling.
Newcomers (nine) outnumber returners (six) from the 2013 active roster. Three more are coming off redshirt seasons.
Four seniors who combined to score 1,495 of the Mavs’ 2,399 points last season graduated, and four more, who contributed 39 points, didn’t return.
Wagner filled those open slots with a mix of transfers and players out of high school.
Saane Lo’amanu, a 5-8 junior guard, played two years for Wagner at Otero, then went to Friends (Kan.) University, but left the team and has two years of eligibility remaining.
She’s been hampered by two ankle sprains but will be a big part of the rotation when she gets healthy.
Before Wagner was hired by CMU, he signed Saane’s kid sister, Siu, out of Taylorsville (Utah) High School to play for the Rattlers. Siu transferred to CMU after one year to be reunited with her sister.
Siu gives the Mavericks a perimeter shooter who can put the ball on the floor and create offense for herself or draw the defense and find an open teammate with a slick pass.
The most noticeable change in the Mavs this season is they’re bigger, but they are still athletic and run the floor. Even more noticeable to Wagner are his options.
“I think we’re a little deeper,” he said. “Now it’s about getting everybody on the same page and knowing where people like the ball and what they do well, so you can either get out of their way or set a screen for them, somehow get them open. That’s what we’re still trying to learn with each practice.”
He’ll start five seniors and bring senior post Hanna Bowden off the bench.
“They’re all seniors, and they all have experience,” Wagner said of his starting five. “Hannah Pollart and Aubry are new, but they’ve played in big games.”
Junior Kennedy Allen, a 6-1 junior center, transferred from Northwest (Wyo.) College and gives the Mavericks even more size inside.
Last season, when the Mavericks went 31-2 and reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the best season in school history, seven players got the majority of the minutes.
That should change this season.
“I would like to go 10, 11 deep,” Wagner said. “That’s what we’re hoping, we can go 10, 11 and play that rotation with that many girls, and they’ll help us down the road. They’ll all be a little fresher.”
That’s just fine with Selsor, who said she worked even harder this past offseason than she did before her junior year.
“I worked way harder,” she said. “I knew my role was going to be different this year, and I wanted to accept that challenge of being more than just a shooter, within the realm (of the offense). I need to do more than that because we’re going to need more than me just going down and shooting.”
Part of her role is making sure all those new Mavericks understand the work ethic and the standard that’s been set with Wagner.
With a couple of transfers who have been through the Wagner Wars before, that hasn’t been too difficult.
“The biggest thing now is having chemistry together,” Selsor said. “It’s not learning the system, it’s learning each other. Once we figure that out, we’re gonna be a fun team to watch and a hard team to beat.”