Mesa women’s hoops team still getting used to new lineup

Mesa women's hoops team still getting used to new lineup

Hanna Bowden and Amy Weitzeil used to sub for each other, but now the Colorado Mesa forwards are both in the starting lineup. The Mavs were forced to go with a three-post lineup after injuries decimated their guards.


CMU Women’s Basketball

Colorado Mesa (8-11, 6-9 RMAC) at Nebraska-Kearney (5-15, 5-10), 5 p.m. today

Colorado Mesa at Chadron State (7-12, 7-8), 6 p.m. Saturday

Notes: The Mavericks beat both teams at Brownson Arena earlier this season, but both Nebraska squads have improved. Chadron has shot into sixth place in the RMAC standings after starting the season 1-11, winning six of its past seven. Kearney, after a three-game winning streak, has lost three in a row and is 13th in the standings in the Lopers’ final season in the conference. Mesa has lost five in a row and eight of its past nine and is tied for seventh with New Mexico Highlands, CU-Colorado Springs, Regis and Colorado Mines. Shooting woes hurt the Mavs in a lopsided loss to Metro State last week, even though they played harder than Friday night’s loss to Regis. “If we’re going to shoot 24 percent, we’re not going to be in the ballgame,” coach Roger Walters said. “Eventually you’ve got to put it in the bucket. When you get an opportunity to have a wide-open shot on the block, it’s gotta go. When you get an open 10-, 15-footer, it needs to go, and we’ve got to make free throws at a really high rate. We went back to the game stats and all the games we’ve lost by five or less, (if) we shoot 75 percent from the line, we have five extra wins. We’d have 13 instead of eight, just on free throws, nothing else. You have to be successful in that phase of it and we haven’t been. You miss free throws and chippies, you get what you deserve.”

Hanna Bowden was kidding when she said it, but it’s true.

“March to March,” the sophomore post player for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team said Wednesday.

The Mavericks (8-11, 6-9 RMAC) need to do their best impression of CMU’s new marching band in February. They have seven games to reverse the downward spiral and reach the RMAC tournament, injuries, lineup shuffles and anything else be hanged.

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding quickly,” CMU coach Roger Walters said. “Hopefully we’ll play hard and execute a little bit this weekend and something good will happen.”

Bowden is part of the recent lineup shuffle, moving into the starting rotation in CMU’s three-post lineup. She and senior Amy Weitzeil play on the blocks, with forward Kelsey Sigl more on the perimeter or high post.

Bowden used to sub in for Weitzeil, so her playing time has increased, and the two are adjusting to being on the floor together.

“I like it,” Weitzeil said. “It’s fun. It’s different from the beginning, of course, but it’s a fun change.”

It wasn’t one Walters really wanted to make, but he didn’t really have a choice after losing two of his top three shooting guards in less than 48 hours two weeks ago.

Katrina Selsor is still a game-day decision with a hyperextended right knee, which still has a pocket of swelling. Hillary Duncan’s career ended when she tore the ACL in her right knee the day before Selsor was injured. Freshman Christal Barnett also injured her right knee, leaving the Mavericks with one true shooting guard, Tara Gehring.

“It’s a total adjustment for everybody, the staff, the kids,” Walters said. “I’ve never played that way in 17 years of coaching, but we do not have an option. That’s just the way we’re going to do it.”

The Mavericks, who were dominating teams on the boards before Selsor was injured, have struggled since. The 6-foot-1 junior guard leads Mesa in rebounding (6.7) and is the top defensive player on the floor.

By going with three bigs, the Mavs have beefed up their rebounding on both ends of the floor, and they’ll stay with three posts whenever Selsor returns. In fact, she’ll most likely split her time between point guard and shooting guard, because the Mavericks have reverted to turning the ball over too much.

Rachelle Litsheim, a 5-3 sophomore walk-on from Cedaredge who had played only two minutes all season before last Friday night, earned the right to start at point guard tonight against Nebraska-Kearney, Walters said.

“She played harder than the other kids at that position and took care of the ball better than any of them this weekend,” Walters said. “What the heck. That’s what we preach, so she’s gonna start on Friday.”

It’s up to her and Gehring to get the ball to the posts in the new offense, and it’s up to Bowden and Weitzel to put the ball in the basket or kick it back out.

“You usually mess with a team that way,” Bowden said. “Kelsey will get a smaller girl on her in the post so we can isolate her with a little player because the bigs will be taking me and Amy. It’s kind of nice.”

The biggest challenge for the low post players is to make sure they’re communicating who’s going to what side of the floor.

“First down goes ball side, the other one filters in,” Bowden said.

“We’ve been told to cut off baseline, that’s the biggest deal,” Weitzeil said. “You have to make sure to stay low. It has been a bit of a challenge, but we’re getting it down. I really enjoy it. Once again, it’s just communication.”

The Mavericks are also trying to slow things down offensively, being patient and working for a good shot if they don’t have anything in transition.

“If we could just get rid of the shot clock, we’d be in great shape,” Walters said. “If we could blow up the shot clock our chances would skyrocket.”


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