Gehring a selective, successful shooter for Mavs
Being called a streak shooter isn’t really a compliment.
Streaks start and stop. All too often, there’s a long dry spell between streaks.
Colorado Mesa University’s Tara Gehring was a bit of a streak shooter last season.
She was scoreless in only one game and scored anywhere from 3 to 22 points, reaching double figures in eight games, averaging 8.6 points a game.
The 5-foot-9 guard from Heber City, Utah, shot 42 percent from the field, 34 percent from the 3-point line, which was her calling card.
She played in 24 games, all off the bench. It helped her adjust to the Mavs’ system after transferring, along with center Amy Weitzeil, from Snow College in Utah.
“Last year I liked coming off the bench,” Gehring said. “I could see and get a feel for it. This year, it just feels good.”
The streak shooter has become a consistent shooter.
Now in the starting lineup, Gehring is averaging 10.8 points a game. Her overall shooting percentage is still at 42, but she’s shooting 45.5 percent from the 3-point line and is being more selective.
“I think I really fit in this system and this year I feel really comfortable,” she said after practice Wednesday.
The Mavericks (2-2) open RMAC play tonight at Brownson Arena against Chadron State (0-4) at 5:30 p.m. and Nebraska-Kearney (0-4) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
CMU coach Roger Walters put Gehring in the starting lineup based on her defense. Senior transfer Hillary Duncan is improving every day as she learns the Mavericks’ matchup zone.
“(Gehring) understood our matchup better. We wanted to start with our best defensive kids on the floor and she happened to be one of them,” Walters said.
“Hillary has had such good luck coming off the bench, I hate to mess with things when they’re going well.”
Gehring, a senior, wasn’t a great defensive player when she came to Mesa.
“I don’t think she’s ever had to play defense her whole life because she’s so gifted offensively,” Walters said. “She has improved on that end of the floor and I’m really proud of her for doing that.”
“I really like the defense here,” Gehring said, grinning. “It works well for me.”
Every player on the team has a nickname, and when Gehring got to campus, her shooting form quickly earned her the moniker of “Jimmy,” for Jimmy Chitwood, the picture-perfect form shooter in the movie “Hoosiers.”
Gehring is about as talkative as Chitwood, whose most memorable line in the movie was all of three words: “I’ll make it.”
Gehring, though, has opened up in the past year, just like her game has expanded.
She’s not simply a 3-point shooter; she’ll put the ball on the floor and drive, pull up for mid-range jumpers in transition and her long arms and quick reflexes have led to a handful of steals for breakaway layups.
“These things are coming with the flow of the game,” she said. “Coach has confidence in me, so I have confidence in myself, I guess.”
The Mavericks’ offseason workouts are the secret to her success, she said.
“Right when school started, Coach P (assistant coach Mary Psenda Doane) had the guards shooting 400 shots three days a week,” she said. “That’s a lot of shooting. I think that helped. As tiring and time-consuming as it was, I think it helped us a lot.”
Colorado Mesa shot a respectable 42.8 percent from the field last season. Through four games, the Mavericks are shooting 50 percent from the field, and their team 3-point shooting has jumped from 36 percent to nearly 46 percent.
The Mavericks are intent on making a statement this season — they’re back as a team to be reckoned with in the RMAC.
“Big things,” Gehring said when asked what this team can accomplish. “Big things; when everyone’s mind is right and everyone has energy, we look good.”
Walters and has noticed one big difference from last season in Gehring and her teammates:
“I think it’s just a matter of her being more comfortable with the system,” he said. “She’s not thinking, she’s just playing. That’s what you want them to do.”