Mavericks catch eye of national pollsters

It’s been a few years since the Mesa State College women’s basketball team turned heads in the RMAC, let alone around the nation.

The Mavericks’ past three games apparently got the attention of some of the 30 women’s coaches who vote in the USAToday/ESPN Division II basketball poll.

Tuesday, the Mavericks (8-4, 5-3 RMAC) received 20 votes in the national rankings. They’re still a long way from cracking the top 25 — Dixie State (10-1), which defeated Mesa 77-69 in November, is No. 25 with 91 votes.

“I’ve been waiting to see when Dixie was going to make it,” Walters said. “I figure Metro, after this (past) weekend and another weekend, they’ve gotta be up there. They deserve to be.”

Metro State (11-0, 7-0) is two spots away from the top 25 with 65 votes, with Mesa 11th on the “receiving votes” list.

“Yeah, that’s kinda cool,” Walters said. “It’s better than last year. At least we’re going in the right direction. Obviously it’s not as fast as we want it to be and we’re not as patient as we (should) be.”

The last time Mesa State received votes in the national poll was Jan. 15, 2003.

The highest NCAA Division II ranking the women’s team has had was No. 7 in 2002. That season, the Mavericks won the RMAC and hosted the North Central Regional tournament, finishing 26-4.

Walters gave his players Tuesday off, but chuckled about how they spent the day.

“I just went to the rec,” he said. “Katrina’s (Selsor) down there shooting. Got her headphones on, listening to her iPod, getting some shots in.”

Most of the players wandered into the Hamilton Recreation Center at some point Tuesday, the attitude Walters likes, and one reason they’ve started to turn the program around.

“We’re making progress,” he said. “I think the staff, we see us getting better, looking at where we came from a year ago. We’re a lot better, and that was the goal when we got here, get it turned around as soon as we can and get better week to week.”

Fort Lewis (12-0) is ranked third in the nation, the best start in school history. The Skyhawks have won 37 consecutive home games and 12 in a row on the road, both school records.

That’s the kind of success Walters wants the Mavericks to aspire to achieve.

“I’m just sitting here laughing about it,” he said of the poll. “It’s great. We couldn’t imagine being there, sitting in this seat a year ago.

“(Rankings) don’t mean anything, they really don’t. The only thing that means anything to us right now is Friday night and once that’s over, Saturday night. Right now, it’s a grind.”

That’s what he’ll remind his players about when they play their third and fourth games of the week at Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

“They’re never beauty contests. Somebody made a comment to me once, would you rather win ugly or lose pretty? That’s a no-brainer. I’d rather win ugly, and I don’t care,” he said.

“I’ve coached a lot of years and I remember one game — one game — that we beat a really good team that we were pretty, and that’s out of 300, 400 games. It’s a grind and everybody’s good.”


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