Bear essentials: Junior forward has come a long way for Mavericks

Michael Bear’s ability to hit jumpers gives the Mesa State junior an advantage over other RMAC big men he plays against.



Women’s Basketball

Friday: Western New Mexico (0-5, 0-2 RMAC) at Mesa State (4-2, 1-1), 6 p.m., Brownson Arena

Saturday: New Mexico Highlands (3-5, 0-2) at Mesa State, 5 p.m., Brownson Arena

The Mavericks’ split of the Nebraska swing was a good start to the long RMAC season — Mesa State won only one conference road game all of last season.

Kelsey Sigl had a season-high 21 points in the Mavs’ win at Chadron State and leads the Mavericks in scoring (13.3 points per game), with Sharaya Selsor right behind at 13.2. Katrina Selsor averages 10.8 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds a game.

“For us to be successful, she’s got to get her touches,” Mesa State coach Roger Walters said of Sigl, a 6-foot sophomore forward. “She’s really talented offensively and the offense has to go through her; she sets the table. She’s got the ability to go to the line every time she touches the ball. She’s been more aggressive and is getting better every game.”

Western New Mexico will bring full-court pressure and try to force the game into a series of sprints.

“Every time they score they’ll press and get up in your face and try to turn it into a full-court game, rattle you in the full court,” Walters said. “We have to break the press and if we have something we’ll take it but if we don’t we have to make sure to get a great shot. We have to dictate the tempo.

“We have offensive kids on the back end, so when we do break it, we can make them pay if we can get a shot or two to go.”


Saturday, Nebraska-Kearney Open, all day, Kearney, Neb.

Notes: This is the first year the Mavericks are wrestling in the Kearney Open. Mesa State wrestled in the Fort Hays State Open the last two years. Mesa will have 20 to 30 wrestlers in the tournament, coach Chuck Pipher said. Dylan Goddard (freshman, 174 pounds) will sit out the tournament with an undisclosed injury. Clay Flot (freshman, 125) is expected to wrestle after missing Western State dual with illness. RMAC schools Nebraska-Kearney and Chadron State are wrestling in the tournament along with No. 1-ranked Nebraska-Omaha and some Division I programs like Nebraska and Oklahoma State. Pipher hopes each wrestler gets four to five quality matches. This is Mesa’s last tournament or dual for three weeks.

Women’s Indoor Track & Field

Friday: Mesa State at Colorado Mines Alumni Extravaganza, 1 p.m., Golden

It’s the season opener for the Mavericks, picked ninth in the indoor preseason poll. Adams State, Colorado Mines, CSU-Pueblo, Metro State, CU-Colorado Springs and Western State are also in the meet, which is also the final event of 2010. The Mavs take the holidays off before running in the Air Force Academy’s All-Comers meet Jan. 14.

Michael Bear has been listed at 6-foot-7, 205 pounds ever since his freshman year.

Now a junior, the starting post player for the Mesa State College men’s basketball team honestly has put on some weight over the past four years. Yes, he still looks like a tall, skinny kid, but he’s gotten bigger and stronger every year.

“He’s miles stronger,” head coach Jim Heaps said. “He loses (weight) during the season. It’s gotta be a conscious thought process to keep weight on him.”

Bear has gained 25 pounds since graduating from Delta High School. It’s just that he literally runs off most of what he gains in the offseason once basketball season begins.

“I was up to 228,” he said. “Now I’m down to 215. Your body becomes more used to the endurance aspect of running. In the summer you lift and play a little bit, but you’re not always running like you are during the season. It’s hard to keep it on. It flies right through me.”

The Mavericks (4-2, 0-2 RMAC) are back home this weekend, facing Western New Mexico (1-5, 1-1) at 8 p.m. on Friday and New Mexico Highlands (5-0, 2-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Brownson Arena.

Highlands opened the RMAC season with a convincing 91-78 win over Metro State, then beat Regis 70-52. Western New Mexico beat Regis 70-55, then lost to Metro 62-56. The Mavericks lost back-to-back games in Nebraska, 78-61 to Chadron State and 73-65 to Nebraska-Kearney.

“It was a rude awakening to the RMAC on the road,” Bear said.

Lifting weights has helped Bear increase his strength, so even if he is slimmer than many of the post players he faces, he can still bang around in the paint. Plus he’s quicker than most of the big men he faces and he’s got good range for a post player. He’s got a nice touch from the baseline or elbow, and can shoot the 3. That versatility comes into play when defenders have to come out and defend him on the perimeter — Bear is able to put the ball on the floor and drive past his defender.

“His skill set is so far improved from where he was,” Heaps said. “He’s always had the face-up skills, he could always shoot it, could always dribble it, skills that you don’t always see on a 6-7, 6-8 kid. His strength, his back-to-the-basket moves, his ability to finish. He’s much more polished.”

He’s not there yet, though. Bear is quiet on and off the court, not overly demonstrative. You might see a fist-pump when he scores inside and is fouled, but Heaps wants him to take that to the next level. Both player and coach believe that will come as he gets more and more game experience.

“I’d like to see him get to that point. It’s hard for him,” Heaps said. “He’s not that personality. He’s a real quiet, laid-back kid. He’s not real emotional, he’s just not. That’s his process now.”

After redshirting his first year, Bear played eight minutes a game as a redshirt freshman in 2008-09, coming off the bench to spell Kurt Bangle. He scored 3.3 points a game.

Last season, he came off the bench, splitting time in the post with Lance Fite. With his increased minutes (20 per game) came increased production (9.7 points per game).

He and Fite are both in the starting lineup now, playing nearly 25 minutes a game, averaging a team-high 11.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

“You see the potential,” Heaps said. “The kid could be dominating games. He’s still feeling his way through being the man. He’s never been that kind of player. He’s always been a secondary guy, if I get 4, 5 or 15 points a game, great I don’t have to get 15 every night for us to win.

“It’s a different mindset. There are a lot of players with a lot of skill out there who never get to that point, going in day after day and hit shots and make plays. There’s a lot of pressure with that.”

Bear is confident he can become the player Heaps expects.

“I’ll get there,” he said. “Sooner, hopefully.”


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