Plugging away

Transfer Paul Walter still learning Mavericks' offense

Paul Walter, right, drives to the basket as Ryan Stephan defends during a recent practice. Walter is still trying to pick up the Colorado Mesa offense, as the Mavs prepare for their home opener, Friday vs. Northern New Mexico.



QUICKREAD

Clarion Inn
Thanksgiving Classic

At Brownson Arena

Men’s Games

Friday

Dixie State (3-0) vs. Fort Lewis (1-0), 3 p.m.

Northern New Mexico (3-6) vs. Colorado Mesa (1-1), 7 p.m.

Saturday

Fort Lewis vs. Northern New Mexico, 3 p.m.

Dixie State vs. Colorado Mesa, 7 p.m.



Paul Walter felt the same way his father did when he first visited Grand Junction.

Paul Walter Sr. was an all-conference tight end for Mesa College in 1985.

When his son was looking for a four-year school as his second year at Clackamas (Ore.) Community College wound down, Paul Walter Jr. recalled what his dad said about his college career.

“All he talked about what how much he loved Grand Junction and the friendships he made,” said Walter, a 6-foot-4 junior guard for Colorado Mesa University’s men’s basketball team.

“It was one of the first places I checked out. I came down here and had the same feelings about it. I love the place and love the guys on this team, the coaches and the area. Everything is going great.”

CMU coaches Jim Heaps and Andy Shantz kid Walter about being a “legacy.”

“That’s why we call him ‘Flounder,’ ‘’ Shantz quipped.

Unlike the character in Animal House, though, if Walter’s photo popped up during recruiting meetings, no one would have thrown things at the screen and booed. Recruiting Walter, Heaps said, was an easy decision, and just not because of his father.

“He does a lot of good things,” Heaps said. “He plays defense and he’ll rebound. He’s the perfect example of give me another reason to keep you on the floor.”

As is the case with 99.9 percent of players who transfer into Mesa’s system, though, Walter feels like he’s a fish out of water now and then.

“Once I get it down, with how well everybody passes, we have great shooters, once I can figure it out we’re going to be a lot better,” he said. “It’s not so much because I’m going to score more, but because I won’t slow down the offense.”

Heaps knows Walter will get there, and the football player’s son is doing everything he can to learn the Mavs’ motion offense.

Since Mesa hasn’t played for two weeks, he’s watched film of the first two games and he and Shantz have gone over practice film. They talk about when he needs to cut to the basket, when he should screen, identify when a teammate is screening for him and where he should cut when that happens.

“I’m trying to cut better, screen better, just get into the motion offense,” said Walter, who averaged 13 points a game at Clackamas last season and has scored 14 points in CMU’s first two games. “I’m used to the dribble-drive type of stuff and that’s a big change for me. I’m slowly picking it up.”

He’s a combo guard, able to play either wing spot or small forward. He’s averaging 7 rebounds and leads the team with 5.5 assists a game.

“I’ll shoot, but I like passing,” Walter said. “I like sharing the ball. We have a lot of guys on our team who like to share the ball, it’s a very unselfish team. If I’m open I’ll shoot it, but I’m definitely looking to pass. I trust these guys a lot.”

His biggest concern as the Mavericks prepare for their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday in the Clarion Inn Thanksgiving Classic against Northern New Mexico is that the light bulb Heaps talks about with transfers flips on and stays on.

“I’m waiting for it,” he said.

Heaps and Shantz keep telling him that time is coming.

“For transfer kids it takes awhile to get what we’re doing, especially for transfer kids on the perimeter,” Heaps said. “It takes them awhile to get comfortable in what we do offensively.”

Until that happens, Walter will keep plugging away, watching film, watching his teammates, asking questions and trying not to get frustrated.

“I’ve tried not to show it. I haven’t been perfect about it, but there are times I feel lost out there and it is really frustrating because I want to fit into the offense better,” he said. “I’m working at it. We’re getting there.”


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