Mesa women first, men sixth in first regional rankings
The suspense wasn’t where the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team would be ranked Wednesday when the first NCAA Division II South Central Regional rankings were released.
The Mavericks, ranked fourth in the nation, were a pretty easy No. 1 pick in the region.
No, everyone at Brownson Arena was more curious to see where the CMU men’s team would land.
The men, 16-6, are No. 6 in the region, a good starting point.
“That’s where we were hoping to be,” CMU men’s coach Jim Heaps said before practice. “You just want to be in position where you can control your own destiny. We know now if we win out, we’re in great shape. That’s all you can hope for.
“You don’t want to be on the outside looking in and saying, ‘We need four schools to lose games for us to move up.’ “
The thing the Mavericks want to make sure of is they don’t have to win the RMAC Shootout to slip into the national playoffs, as was the case last season.
Senior Jeff Hart would love to see the Mavericks move up one or two spots for a little more breathing room, but he said there’s only one way to do that.
“If we take care of business at Western and then that last weekend against Adams and Fort Lewis, if we can get those, those are two top-eight region teams,” he said. “I’m glad we’re there. We’ve worked hard to put ourselves at this point. We need to win these three games and go into the RMAC tournament with no pressure like last year, when we had to win. That’s a tough way to go out.”
The Metro State men are No. 1, Fort Lewis is No. 4 and Adams State No. 7 in the men’s poll from the RMAC.
Metro State is No. 4, CSU-Pueblo is No. 8 and CU-Colorado Springs No. 10 in the women’s rankings. Eight teams in each of eight regions qualify for the national tournament.
“That’s reinforcement of what we’ve done so far and kind of helps us refocus on our goals for the end of the season,” senior forward Kelsey Sigl said. “We want to be sleeping in our own beds for the RMAC Shootout and to host regionals and have that advantage in those tournaments.”
Women’s coach Taylor Wagner has told his players they’ve put themselves in position to do exactly what they’ve set out to do.
“It’s ours to lose,” he said of the ranking. “The main thing at this point is getting better and not getting complacent with the grind of the end of the season.
“Be excited about what’s to come. I think our kids are focused; I haven’t worried about them being worried about rankings or winning streaks. They know what to do.”
Brains and basketball
Hart and Sigl made the Capital One Academic All-America third team, which was announced Wednesday.
Hart, a senior from Phoenix, has a 3.85 grade-point average in finance, economics and marketing, and Sigl, a senior from Bismarck, N.D., has a 3.63 GPA in kinesiology.
Hart has been sending out resumes, and adding “Academic All-American basketball player” will beef it up even more.
“I’m gonna update it as soon as I get home,” he said. “Academic All-American. Done.”
Sigl, too, will add that to her resume.
“Shoot, that I’m on that, I think it’s kind of cool,” she said. “I’ll take that.”
The Mavericks had a bit of an adventure Saturday morning as their bus made its way to Silver City, N.M.. The basketball teams drove from Las Vegas, N.M., to Socorro after Friday night’s game, then left Socorro for Silver City on Saturday morning.
The U.S. Border Patrol pulled over the Mavericks’ charter bus on a routine stop. Silver City is just north of the U.S./Mexico border.
An officer boarded the bus and asked if all of the passengers were legal U.S. citizens. The Mavs all nodded yes — except one. Bruna Deichmann, a citizen of Brazil, stared straight ahead.
“I didn’t say anything,” she said Wednesday, laughing. “It was like the only trip I didn’t bring my passport with me.”
Deichmann is in the U.S. on a student visa, which is stamped on her passport, but she forgot to put it in her backpack before the team left Grand Junction.
“I just pretended I didn’t hear what he said. It’s basically the only legal ID I have. I can’t bring my ID from Brazil. It has to be a passport,” she said. “I think I put it in my other bag, and I didn’t put it in my backpack. I was a little scared.’‘
Deichmann said she’ll never make that mistake again.
“I learned my lesson,” she said, thankful the officer didn’t check everyone’s identification. “I’d probably still be there.”