Brennan playing at Brownson for final time
Alaina Brennan was on the north side of the floor at Brownson Arena during practice Wednesday, running drills with the post players.
A few minutes later, she was playing one of the guard positions, throwing passes to the post players.
This is pretty much a normal practice for the 5-foot-6 senior out of Central High School, who will suit up and play Saturay night at Brownson Arena for the final time.
“I think I’m a wimp now, those girls beat me up,” Brennan said of the post players, who in the past month have found their inner Shaq and are attacking the basket. “They finally realized, ‘I’m bigger than all you guys, I’m stronger than all you guys, too. I should probably just own you.’ ’‘
Recruited as a point guard, Brennan got thrown into the post her sophomore year when the Mavericks were down to only a handful of players.
“My freshman year I played pretty much point, maybe a little wing,” she said. “Coach (Roger) Walters came in and I was a point the first half of that year and we had … a little adjustment on the team, and we needed some posts. He said, ‘AB, go down with the posts.’
“I just kind of laughed at him, ‘Good one.’ ‘Seriously.’ ‘Oh, OK, Coach.’ ”
Her time on the low block has taught her how to play on the perimeter, where she gets most of her playing time now. She averages 15 minutes off the bench, averaging 4 points and 2.3 rebounds a game.
“It’s a whole new aspect, you understand the game at a different level once you really start to understand more positions,” she said. “Post feeds, give them the ball. I know how much it sucks to work in there and not get the ball.”
Three more seniors, Tara Gehring and Amy Weitzeil Hillary Duncan, will be honored Saturday after the Mavericks play Western State.
Gehring and Weitzeil transferred from Snow College in Utah last year.
“They came from a totally different system at Snow and they’ve really tried hard to do everything we’ve asked,” Walters said.
Weitzeil, a two-year starter, is a tough defender in the post, averaging 6.5 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.
Gehring came off the bench last season and moved into the starting lineup this season, and is one of the Mavs’ top 3-point threats, shooting 36 percent from the 3-point line. Her hustle has led to 26 steals this season to go with her 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds a game.
“The sad thing about junior college kids is you only get them for two years and you get really attached to them, and they’re gone,” Walters said. “It’s hard to see them go.”
Duncan transferred to Mesa this season from Oklahoma Christian after sitting out of school for a year, wanting one more chance to play and finish her education.
She missed five games with a concussion, and in her first practice back, tore the ligaments in her right knee.
“It’s disappointing because she was such a dynamic player and would have made a huge difference for us the second half of the season,” Walters said of Duncan, who was averaging 7.4 points a game when she was injured.
“She was just getting it figured out and the injury ended up ending her career. I’m disappointed for her.”
Brennan was a college rarity her first three years at Mesa, playing basketball and softball.
She’s not playing softball this spring and honestly, she’s not sure what to do with her time.
“I’ll text my sister, ‘Where are you?’ I’m all alone at the house and I’m never alone and I never have free time and I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Brennan will graduate in May, in four years, with a degree in exercise science with a minor in sports management. Lots more school is in her future, because she plans to become a physician’s assistant.
“You have to have a lot of upper-division chemistry, biology, anatomy and physics,” she said. “Fun stuff.”
Fun is what Walters will remember about Brennan.
“She’s got a great sense of humor, she keeps everybody loose and she’s just a neat kid,” he said. “She’s great to have on bus trips, and she can take a joke. She dishes it out, but she can take it too. She’s a good role model for the kids. She really bought into the family atmosphere we’re trying to get.”
The final home game for the hometown kid will probably sink in about 7:30 Saturday night.
“I’m sure it’s gonna hit me but I think everything has its time and I’ll gonna go become an intramural all-star, play some slowpitch, play on the ranch.”