Back to normal

Finally healthy, Baker giving Mavs quality minutes off bench

After battling anemia, Effo Baker has gotten her iron levels right and has been playing well for Colorado Mesa. Baker comes in off the bench at point guard and has shined in that role in her senior season.

Fresh asparagus, a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake it for about 10 minutes.

“It’s delicious. A couple of the girls on the team hadn’t tried it before, and I made it for them and they loved it,” said Effo Baker, a senior point guard for the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team.

Baker isn’t the team gourmet chef, but she does make sure to eat her greens. She has to in order to prevent a reoccurrence of how she felt this past fall, when she had a serious episode with anemia.

When the Mavericks started to play pickup games once they all returned to campus in August, Baker noticed she was getting tired more quickly than usual.

“I’ve had struggles with it in the past,” Baker said. “In pickup, I wasn’t feeling normal, so I went and got my bloodwork done, and they told me my iron levels were really low. That was part of the reason I was so tired and drowsy all the time. That really took a toll on me.”

She missed about six weeks of conditioning as she built her iron level up by taking supplements and loading up on iron-rich foods. When practice started in October, she still didn’t have the stamina to keep up with all of the running her teammates were doing.

Slowly but surely, she got stronger.

This wasn’t the first time Baker has had anemia.

“Around 2009 I had an episode,” Baker said of when she was playing at Rogers State, in Claremore, Okla. “It was so low, and I had no idea. I went through the whole preseason running sprints, and I was really tired. I had no energy. School was a struggle because I was always tired.”

Her coach suggested a trip to the doctor was in order, and Baker said her iron levels were so low she was close to needing blood transfusions. She had her blood tested every few weeks to make sure it didn’t drop again.

Now, with iron supplements, Vitamin C and plenty of green vegetables — “Asparagus, broccoli, I’m a spinach fan; I love it. Growing up, I ate spinach all the time. I eat spinach salads.” — Baker is feeling like her old self.

That’s translating to success on the court for the No. 7 Mavericks (18-1, 14-1 RMAC), who play host to Black Hills State (7-12, 6-9) and Chadron State (3-16, 3-12) this weekend at Brownson Arena. Saturday’s game is their annual “Pink in the Paint” game to raise money for breast cancer research.

“We’d like her to play even a little bit more,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said.

Baker, a 5-foot-5 point guard from Dallas, plays about 10 minutes per game, scoring 2.4 points, with 18 assists and only eight turnovers on the season.

“She does things that some of the girls can’t do, creating her own shot and being able to get in the paint. When she does it, it looks effortless,” Wagner said. “We need that down the stretch. If we can get that production, I think it will help our team tremendously.”

Baker, who started for the Mavs last year but had an up-and-down season, said she’s comfortable coming off the bench this season, spelling Christen Lopez at point guard.

“I feel like my role coming off the bench is to kind of help give us a spark,” she said. “Come out and give the team a different look. I know I can push it and help us get out and run and into transition. We can both push it, and I can go create for myself or for others.

“Defensively, get up and pressure the ball and amp them up. It might not come down to me (making a defensive play), but I get them rattled up, and it’s a trickle effect and we get the steal.”

After their first loss of the season, Baker said the Mavericks have refocused for the stretch run.

“That kind of helped us stay grounded and refocus what our main goal is and who we are as a team,” she said. “(Wagner) always talks about our identity and who we are.

“Getting back to that after this weekend is pivotal for us. Everyone is ready to get back into it, refocus and come out swinging again.”


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