Different breed: Mesa’s Dominguez is rare type of senior transfer
Senior transfers are a crapshoot.
They’ve been in at least one, often two, other programs. They’ll likely be taking playing time away from someone who has been in the program for three or four years.
And if it’s a senior transferring from a Division I program to a Division II school, there’s always the risk of the new guy big-timing his new teammates.
Then there’s Michael Dominguez of the Mesa State College men’s basketball team.
“Sometimes you worry about a D-I transfer coming in and saying, ‘You all know I’m a Division I transfer, you should bow down to me because you’re lucky I’m here with you,’ ‘’ Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said last week in talking about the 6-foot-3 senior guard who leads the Mavericks (6-0, 2-0 RMAC) in scoring at 17.8 per game.
“At no point has he (done that). He’s great to his teammates, he fits right in.”
Dominguez, from Santa Fe, N.M., played two years at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, where he was an all-region player in 2008, then went to Florida International University last year.
He started 30 of 33 games for the Golden Panthers, averaging 10.1 points a game. He led the team in scoring in nine games, including a season-high 22 against Monmouth in the second game of the season. He had five 20-point games, including one against Georgetown.
“Yeah, I can score 20 on Georgetown and we get drilled by 30,” he said of the 76-38 loss. “It’s not a fun feeling. I’d rather win.”
He wasn’t comfortable on the big campus (40,000 students) and being so far away from his family. Also, FIU didn’t offer his major, K-12 physical education, so he had to change majors to sports management. He’s back in the education department now, and will gradate next winter.
“It (made) me a lot better and I played superb competition, UCLA, Georgetown, but it was a matter of being somewhere closer to home,” he said.
“My family is coming up for the second week. They’ve gotten to see more games in two weeks than all of last year.”
More than that, though, he hated losing. The Golden Panthers went 13-20 last season.
“In five years, I lost a total of 11 games in high school and junior college,” he said. “I lost that in one year at FIU. I’m not accustomed to losing.”
When he decided to leave FIU, he called his junior college coach, Eddie Trenkle, and told him he was looking for a school in the RMAC.
Trenkle, who played at Mesa State in the late 1990s, suggested Dominguez call Heaps. Michael Wells, a former assistant at Northeastern, is now the director of the student recreation center at Mesa and told Heaps that Dominguez was worth a one-year deal.
So far, so good.
Dominguez has been the Mavs’ leading scorer in four of six games, averaging almost 31 minutes a game, tops on the team. It’s not a case of Dominguez demanding the ball or Mesa running the offense to suit him — he’s second on the team in assists with 22, 3.6 per game.
“It’s how you fit in with the players,” he said. “Yeah, I’m going to break someone down and score, but I’m also going to create a shot for you and they’re going to knock it down. I’m not looking to put up 20 shots a game.”
A point guard in high school, Dominguez can help handle the ball against pressure, like the Mavericks will see Sunday night against No. 17 Metro State. On Saturday night, Mesa plays Regis University.
Saturday’s women’s game begins at 7 p.m., the men’s game at 9 p.m. — a move to accommodate the Maverick Duals high school wrestling tournament that begins Saturday morning.
Sunday’s women’s game begins at 5 p.m., the men’s game at 7 p.m.
As well as Dominguez has fit in with the Mavericks, one thing isn’t quite the same as D-I hoops.
“He complained because we had to eat at a convenience store after the Mines tournament game,” Heaps said, laughing. ” ‘This is where we’re eating?’ ‘Yep. Get used to the RMAC travel, baby.’ We were trying to get on the road, just get something and go.’‘
Dominguez was a little surprised at the postgame “restaurant,” but again, he’ll trade linen tablecloths for a win.
“We used to eat at the best restaurants, stay at five-star hotels, everything top of the line,” he said. “Here, I’ll substitute all that for more victories and hopefully a championship and a trip to nationals.”