Freshmen playing expanded roles for Mesa women’s team
Freshmen playing expanded roles for Mesa women's team
It wasn’t anything anyone said, it was just a feeling.
For the freshmen on the Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball team, it was time.
“It was kind of an unsaid thing between us,” redshirt freshman guard Grayson Pipher said. “We kind of knew what we needed to do, that they would need to use us at some point and we had to be ready and have our minds right. We didn’t really talk about it, we just knew.”
After Hillary Duncan tore the ACL in her right knee in practice Thursday, the Mavs were a little thin at the guard spot. But when, in the first four minutes of Friday’s game, Katrina Selsor injured her right knee and missed the rest of the weekend, the Mavericks were in a pinch without their second-leading scorer and top rebounder.
“Before the game at Christian, everybody was down about it but we still had business to do,” freshman point guard Dallas Rohrbaugh said.
“We pulled each other in the middle before the game and it was, ‘You know what? Go out there and play for each other. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the team.’ I think we really pulled together that night and really focused on working together and it really helped.”
The coaching staff introduced a new scheme during Saturday’s shootaround: three post players, two guards, with 6-foot forward Kelsey Sigl moving to the perimeter and 6-1 sophomore Hanna Bowden starting alongside 6-1 senior Amy Weitzeil in the post.
It not only gave the Mavs more rebounding strength, it allowed them to stretch the minutes at the wing.
Tara Gehring moved from the left side of the floor to the right, where Selsor plays, Alaina Brennan played a little more guard than post, and at times, both point guards, Effo Baker and Rohrbaugh, were on the floor together.
“It hurt us position wise and we’re happy Katrina is getting better and we’re praying for Hillary,” 5-10 redshirt freshman forward Leanndra Gilbert said. “It kind of brought us together as a team.
“No matter what the circumstances are, we can’t feel bad for ourselves. It doesn’t matter, because any night anybody can beat anybody. Why not let us be the underdogs and take somebody out?”
Rohrbaugh and Gilbert have been in the rotation all season. Rohrbaugh averages 18.4 minutes a game, scoring 4.3 points a game. Gilbert plays about 11 minutes a night and scores 2.2 points a game.
The other three freshmen saw their playing time go up last week, and they’re ready for more, starting tonight when the Mavericks (8-9. 6-7 RMAC) play host to Regis (7-12, 5-8) at 5:30 at Brownson Arena. Saturday, fourth-ranked Metro State (16-1, 12-1) is in town.
With Bowden in the starting lineup, Erika Musante, a long-armed 6-foot-2 freshman post, doubled her playing time Saturday, from four to eight minutes.
“It’s paying your dues and being a freshman,” Musante said. “I have some really good posts ahead of me. I just have to wait my turn.
“We lost Katrina so we all had to step up and we all played different positions. We threw in three posts instead of the regular two and not being super deep in the post area and missing guards,we all had to step up our game and play.”
Pipher had played in only four games before last weekend, but got into both, playing a season-high seven minutes against Colorado School of Mines and scoring three points, tying her career high.
“I’m hoping for some minutes, but I’d rather my teammates not be hurt, obviously,” Pipher said.
Chrissy Armstrong, another redshirt freshman post, played five minutes against Colorado Christian, double what she had averaged in three previous games.
The freshmen agreed the expanded minutes have them more confident in themselves.
“To know we can come out and compete that hard, even though we came out on the short end of the stick, to know we put up 76 points without fast-breaking or anything, it showed that we can do a lot when we go back to doing what we can do,” Gilbert said.
After last weekend, the youngsters feel ready to lend a hand.
“The young girls on our team, me included, we know more than we think we do,” Pipher said. “Then it gets to those pressure situations and it just clicks. The more time we get, the more it’s going to click and we’ll gain more experience and feel we know what we’re doing.”