Mavs’ goal: Cut the nets
Adding to RMAC banner is driving CMU women
Katrina Selsor remembers what it feels like to cut down the nets.
She was a freshman at CSU-Pueblo when the ThunderWolves won the RMAC Shootout (she was the tournament MVP), and she’d like nothing better than to bookend that with a conference title at Colorado Mesa University her senior year.
“We keep looking at this banner,” Selsor said Monday after practice, glancing up at the rafters at Brownson Arena.
Each sport has a banner in the arena listing the conference championship years. The last number on the women’s basketball banner is 2002.
“At the end of the year we want a 13 on that banner, so when we come in here, we know our hard work went to that. That’s what we want this year,” she said. “We want the RMAC tournament, we want first in RMAC and to be successful after that. That’s what we want for ourselves, for the school. All the hard work, you want it to pay off.”
When Roger Walters resigned in April, the Mavericks were pretty much on their own to keep working out over the summer until Taylor Wagner was hired in late June.
“We definitely stuck together, and we always have, ever since Day 1 when I came here,” Selsor said.
Selsor has a slightly different role in Wagner’s system than she had the past two years, when she was strictly a guard. Now she’s more of a forward/guard, with Kelsey Sigl playing more of a post in the 4-out, 1-in setup.
Wagner has installed two motion offensive sets and a slew of half-court set plays — half of the large whiteboard in his office lists those plays, and time in each practice is devoted to running set plays until they become second nature. Of course, the Mavs want to rebound and run, scoring easy buckets in transition, but if that doesn’t happen, Wagner will pull a play from his deep bag of tricks.
“Five or six we’ll run all the time,” Wagner said. “Some of the specials we’ll run once, maybe twice a game. We might not even run some of those, but we’ll have them in.”
By running set plays, Wagner said, the Mavs can make sure they get the right players in the right spots to be successful.
And they’ve got plenty of options.
Sigl, a 6-foot forward, is the RMAC Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 18.3 points a game last season. She drew double- and triple-teams last season and expects more of the same this winter. Backing her up is 6-1 junior Hanna Bowden, whose game is more polished after a year of playing time and working against Sigl every day.
“Some of the set plays will help us get (Sigl) in the right spots,” Wagner said. “She realizes she’s gonna have to be able to become a facilitator to open herself up. If she makes a couple of nice passes to people, that’ll free her up to do what she does. She’s a great player and can score in different ways. She’ll cause people some fits this year.”
But, Wagner said, spend too much attention to Sigl and the Mavericks can hurt you from every other spot on the floor.
First there’s Selsor, who can score inside and out, rebounds as well as anyone and is an outstanding defender.
“She’s a great player,” Wagner said. “She does a lot of things really well, and that’s the best thing about her. Because of her length, she could be one of our better defenders, if not the best, one of our better rebounders, if not the best. She’s able to score, distribute the ball. She can help us in a lot of different ways.”
And back after a year out of school is her older sister, Sharaya, a 5-9 junior.
“My big sister but little sister in eligibility,” Katrina said with a laugh. “I missed playing with her last year, and I think she’ll help us a lot this year.”
Sharaya Selsor’s perimeter shot, which was good two years ago, is more consistent, and she’s still a terror on defense.
When she goes to the bench, the Mavs will match her energy level with senior transfer Bruna Deichmann, who played in the NCAA Division I Elite Eight last year with Alaska Anchorage. The two will also be on the floor together at times, giving the Mavericks a double dose of frenzy.
Deichmann, a 5-9 guard, is from Brazil and wasn’t thrilled with the cold weather in Anchorage, Wagner said. She played at the College of Eastern Utah before going to Anchorage.
Also new to the lineup is shooting guard Taylor Rock, a 5-10 junior who played for Wagner at Otero Junior College, where the Rattlers reached the NJCAA national tournament, and point guard Christen Lopez, a 5-4 junior transfer from Miles (Mont.) Community College.
“Me, Kelsey and Raya, we’ve played together, and Taylor Rock is a great kid, a great shooter,” Katrina Selsor said. “She’ll fit really good into the system. Christen makes great reads to set us up, and that’s what a point guard is supposed to do.”
Lopez isn’t very big, but she sees the floor well, and her quickness allows her to break down the defense and drive to the basket.
Rock is a left-handed 3-point shooter who is deceptive on defense.
“She’s not the most athletic person, but she’s long and she’s in the right spots. Because she’s in the right spot, she can make plays defensively,” Wagner said. “She had over 90 steals last year just by herself. She knows how to play the game.”
That’s what Wagner really likes about the team he inherited. The upperclassmen have that sense of urgency to win and a high basketball IQ, and the younger players are quick studies.
The players have bought into his system quickly because they all have the common goal that wafts over their heads in the gym every day.
“We want it,” Katrina Selsor said, sneaking another peek at the banner above midcourt. “We really want it.”
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SEASON OPENER: Colorado Mesa at Dixie State Tip-Off, Friday vs. Simon Fraser; Saturday vs. Montana State-Billings, St. George, Utah.