Ft. Lewis ‘D’ will pressure Mavericks
Skyhawks have four players who can hurt Mavs
Timi Brown wanted to implement an in-your-face, aggressive style of basketball when she took over the Mesa State College women’s program five years ago.
Saturday night in Durango, the Mavericks (4-15, 1-10 RMAC) tip off against a team that plays that way, third-ranked Fort Lewis.
“Fort Lewis is in your face whether they press you full-court or use a zone,” said Brown, who is resigning after the season. “They are very aggressive. They don’t let you out of situations. They play a style I’m used to coaching.”
The Skyhawks (18-1, 11-0 RMAC) lead the RMAC in scoring defense (55.5 points per game), field goal percentage (.457), steals (11.37 per game), turnover margin (plus 5.58) and assist to turnover ratio (1.03).
“It has kind of evolved,” Fort Lewis coach Mark Kellogg said. “The first couple of years, we were not good enough to play man defense and we didn’t press. More than anything, we don’t let offenses get in a comfort zone. The kids have bought into it.”
Kellogg took over the Skyhawks’ program in 2005 and turned a mediocre program into an RMAC power garnering national recognition.
“It’s recruiting,” Kellogg said. “I’d love to think we’re great coaches, but when we got here,
(Erin) Kerr was the only one here. We really started recruiting with the junior class. There are two or three special kids in the freshman class. We’ve been able to recruit to the way we play.”
Kerr, the starting point guard, is the only senior on the squad. The rest of the starting lineup is juniors, including preseason RMAC player of the year Allison Rosel.
She was double-teamed last season and is again this season, but junior guard Laura
Haugen has picked up some of the scoring slack, leading the Skyhawks with 13.6 points a game . Rosel is averaging 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a game after averaging 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season.
“It hasn’t been just Laura,” Kellogg said. “She did take more of a leadership role. Allison is a better player, but she is getting double-teamed this year. From the first game of the year, we’ve seen that. That’s the respect she’s earned. ”
Brown said any of four players are capable of big nights.
“Haugen can shoot it,” Brown said. “If she gets hot, it can be a long night. Audrey George is active and tough to guard. She deserves double-teams, but they are so balanced. If you take away their inside game, they will knock down outside shots. They play well together and know their roles.”
The Mavericks, who are 0-6 on the road this season, may be without Alishea Kelly again this weekend. Although the junior guard has returned to practice after injuring her back last week, she is still moving gingerly, Brown said. Kelly said she has scoliosis.
Mesa State looks to snap a two-game losing streak at 6 tonight when it plays Adams State (8-11, 4-7 RMAC) in Alamosa.
“Adams is one of the toughest teams I’ve seen on film,” Brown said. “I love the way they play. They are so disciplined. They play hard and are well coached. It will be a battle, but I think we can win if we go in and play hard and not make too many mistakes.”