Mavs have been piling up blocks of late
Tournament basketball is generally a bit more physical, and officials tend to let teams play a little more physically.
Maybe that’s why the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team has been throwing more of a block party than it has all season.
The Mavericks have blocked 65 shots this season, 20 of which have come in the past two weeks, since the playoffs began.
“I feel like they’ve let us play a little bit more,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “Maybe we were a little more tentative early on, but we’ve been playing aggressive, and they’ve given it their all. That’s the only thing I can think of. It seems like they’ve let us play, and we’ve adjusted to that.”
The Mavericks (31-1) aren’t a shot-blocking team by nature, but they challenge shots. They’ll need to do that today when they play Dowling (N.Y.) College in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas. The Mavs tip off at 1:30 p.m., with the game being streamed free online at ncaa.com.
During the RMAC Shootout and the South Central Regional, the CMU athletic staff and some fans were having fun with the blocked shots via social media, especially Twitter.
Mesa averages 2.2 blocked shots a game, with Kelsey Sigl blocking eight of her 18 in the past two weeks. She had three against Midwestern State in the regional title game and three against Colorado Christian in the RMAC Shootout championship. As a team, Mesa had six blocks that game and six early in the season against Hillsdale Baptist.
Wagner joked that he hoped the officiating at the Elite Eight allows the teams to remain aggressive or, knowing Dowling features 6-foot-3 Danielle Wilson, who was an All-Big 12 player at Baylor in 2009, calls it tight.
“Hopefully they’ll call it the same way,” he said with a grin, “or they call it tight with their girl. You don’t know.”
Wilson blocked 249 shots at Baylor in her three years before leaving to have a baby. Three years later, the Bay Shore, N.Y., product returned to school at Dowling, which is on Long Island, and she’s blocked 85 shots this season, 20 more than the Mavericks have as a team.
“She’s a good player,” Wagner said. “She changes the game. Obviously in the paint she will, not that she’ll block everything, but she’ll make you shoot differently.”
Monday evening, the Mavericks had their team photo taken at The Alamo and attended the pretournament banquet.
After the full day of activities, the Elite Eight teams’ attention turns to basketball today, and the Mavericks, who play the second quarterfinal of the day, draw the No. 1 defensive team in the nation when it comes to points allowed.
The Lions allow only 47.7 points per game, the Mavericks 53.7, which is seventh in the nation.
“Two great defensive teams are going to go at it,” Wagner said. “Hopefully we’re going to score some points, either one of us. Joe (Pellicane) has a great team, and defensively, obviously, they’re first in the nation in points allowed. We’ve got to figure out how to put the ball in the hole and see what we can do against their great defense.”
Pellicane, in his ninth year at Dowling and his 27th year of coaching overall, said the Lions will be tested by the Mavericks’ disciplined half-court attack.
“I love watching his team. They’re going to be very difficult to defend,” Pellicane said. “They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of skilled kids. I’ve got backscreens coming out of the back of my head, nightmares (from watching the Mavericks on film). It’s a great challenge, and no one got here because they’re lucky. One coach after the other is terrific, and the gentleman on my left (Wagner), all you have to do is watch his kids play.”
Sigl, Selsor land All-America honors
The Mavericks were well represented on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Coaches’ All-America Team.
Sigl made the 10-member first team, which was voted on by a selection committee. The committee is composed of one representative from each of the eight geographical regions and a chairperson.
Earning an honorable mention nod was Sigl’s teammate, Katrina Selsor.
Wagner was named the South Central Region coach of the year and is a finalist for the national coach of the year award.