Colorado Mesa basketball teams relaxed, ready for Metro, Regis

Colorado Mesa basketball teams relaxed, ready for Metro, Regis

Nate Nelson, left and the rest of the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team got back to work after the Christmas break on Wednesday at Brownson Arena. The Mavericks (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) hit the road this weekend for games against Metro State on Friday and Regis University on Saturday.


Mav Watch

Men’s Basketball

Friday: at No. 1 Metro State (10-0, 5-0 RMAC), 5 p.m., Denver

Saturday: at Regis (3-6, 0-5 RMAC), 5 p.m., Denver

Notes:  The Mavericks (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) are fourth in the nation in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 35.6 percent. CMU, which is last in the RMAC in turnover margin (minus 4), will need to take care of the ball against Metro State, which leads the RMAC in turnover margin (plus 6.1). Four players are averaging double figures in points per game for Metro, led by RMAC preseason player of the year Reggie Evans (6-foot-4, sr., guard), who is averaging 17.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. “We’ll guard him with five people,” Heaps said. “We feel like we have a lot of confidence in all our wing perimeter defenders. We’ll have three or four guys guard him. It’s not just the guy that’s on him. It’s our backside help. We try to make them go through levels of defenders.”

Women’s Basketball

Friday: at No. 3 Metro State (9-0, 5-0 RMAC), 3 p.m., Denver

Saturday: at Regis (5-6, 3-2 RMAC), 3 p.m., Denver

Notes: The Mavericks (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) allowed a season-low 53 points and had a season-best 10 steals in their last game, a 69-53 victory over Adams State on Dec. 17. CMU may need a similar performance against Metro State. The Roadrunners lead the RMAC in scoring offense (75.1 points per game), defense (55.7) and scoring margin (+19.4). Metro State is led by preseason All-RMAC players Jasmine Cervantes (sr., guard) and Kristin Valencia (jr., guard). Metro State was picked second in the RMAC. Regis was picked to finish 10th in the RMAC, but forced Metro into a season-high 17 turnovers in a 70-64 loss. The Rangers are led by preseason All-RMAC player Tae’lor Purdy (soph., forward). “The last game Regis played was against Metro and it was a close game,” Walters said. “They are really aggressive. They spread it out and use dribble penetration to try to beat you. They are fearless.”

Christmas break was good for the most part, but the Colorado Mesa University men’s and women’s basketball teams are ready to resume where they left off.

Both teams took advantage of the rest, but continued to keep mentally and physically sharp during the layover.

“I’m excited,” Colorado Mesa point guard Kevin Screen said. “The break was nice, but it’s always much better to get back into the season. That’s what we live for, to play basketball.”

Screen said he relaxed the first two days of the break, but was back in a gym in his hometown of Glenwood Springs the rest of last week.

The CMU men (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) was playing well going into the break with wins over RMAC rival Fort Lewis and previously undefeated Adams State.

“I’ve been pleased with how we’re playing defense,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “I think we’re a pretty good defensive team. I can see major improvements offensively. We keep getting better. I thought we had a good rebounding team, but the last two or three games we haven’t rebounded very well. That’s an area we have to get better. We have to take better care of the basketball. I told our kids (Tuesday) morning, the turnovers aren’t because we’re not capable of passing or catching the ball. Our turnovers are because of our decisions more than anything. We’ve got to make better decisions. That comes with experience and filling our roles.”

Heaps isn’t concerned about being rusty going into this weekend against No. 1 ranked and RMAC preseason favorite Metro State (10-0, 5-0 RMAC). Tip-off is 5 p.m. Friday on the Auraria Campus in Denver.

“It is what it is,” Heaps said of the break. “You can play bad going into it or you can play good going into it. We wanted to play good basketball. For long stretches we did. We want to play good basketball our next two games coming up on Friday. That wouldn’t change if we played crappy last weekend or unbelievable. We want to play as hard and well as we can Friday night and keep going on that. A season is made up of 26 games. You’ve got to focus on each game as it comes and not look on it any way other than that.”

Screen couldn’t wait to get back to practice this week and prepare for the Roadrunners.

“It’s not every day you get to play the No. 1 team in the nation,” he said. “I can’t wait. Friday night is going to be an epic night.

“We’ve discussed if (the break) is going to affect us that much. I think this team has its mind into it. We’re strong mentally. I think we’re going to go into it without skipping a step.”

The break was especially good for the CMU women (7-3, 5-1 RMAC), who were able to rest and heal some injuries.

Kelsey Sigl is cleared to play after missing the past three games with a concussion. Katrina Selsor has ankle, foot and groin issues, but feels much better after the break, CMU women’s coach Roger Walters said. Alaina Brennan hyperextended her knee and played through it, but is doing better.

“I’ll take being healthy any time,” Walters said. “We were fortunate to get two of those three games without Kelsey.”

Players needed the rest, but he was confident the team stayed in basketball shape mentally and physically over the break.

“The kids ran over the break,” Walters said. “We shouldn’t be too bad. The kids are gym rats.”

They’ll need to be ready against No. 3 ranked Metro State (9-0, 5-0 RMAC). Tip-off is 3 p.m. Friday at Metro State.

Playing a top-tier team like Metro State after the break is a concern, but Walters believes the Mavs can come out and play well in their first game back.

“It depends on each individual team and how they are playing,” said Walters of playing the No. 3 ranked team in the country after a 10-day break from practices and games. “We can come out and play really good (Friday) if we do what we’re supposed to do.”


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