JC transfer Herl quickly adapts to Mavs’ offense
Every basketball season, just about the time the calendar turns to the New Year, a light flips on.
The junior college transfers in their first year with the Mesa State College men’s basketball team get it.
They understand the offense, the demands on defense. They know their roles, know what kinds of cuts
their teammates will make to get open.
They get it.
This season, the Mavericks only have one new junior college transfer, and he’s a little different than most JC guys.
Jase Herl gets it.
“As a JC kid he picks it up maybe faster than any JC kid I’ve had,” Mesa State coach Jim Heaps said of
Herl, a 6-foot-3 guard, who transferred from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College. “He just understands. He’s picked it up well.”
For Herl, who led the Mavericks with 18 points and five rebounds in their season opener last week against Southern Utah University despite a badly bruised right thumb, understanding Mesa’s system came easier thanks to his junior college team.
“We ran a similar system at my junior college, four-out motion, and I’ve just been really fortunate to have coaches teach me how to read screens and use screens,” Herl said.
“Playing with guys at the JC level, you’ve got to cut to get open. They’re such good defenders, as soon as you get the ball, they’re on you. Cutting to get open and shooting when you’re open is such a big deal in this offense. There’s a lot of similarities with our offense in junior college and the one here. It’s helped
out a lot.”
The transition hasn’t been completely seamless — Herl has had to get used to a new group of teammates and learn their tendencies on the floor. Since the motion offense really doesn’t have set plays, it’s a case of players reading not only the defense, but what their teammates are doing.
“There’s some different things, spacing on the floor, ball swings and where (Heaps) wants us to attack from are a little different,” Herl said. “Those are things I’m picking up on so in games it just comes natural.”
Herl found out about Mesa State through a former player and coach, Jeremy Johnston, an assistant at Dodge City. And since Herl is from Goodland, just a stone’s throw from the Colorado state line, playing in Colorado was a good option.
His family will make the 21/2-hour trip this weekend to watch the Mavericks play in the Mines Tip-off Classic in Golden. The Mavs (0-1) play William Jewell (Mo.) College on Friday and Caldwell (N.J.) College on Saturday. Both games are at 5 p.m.
With the Mavs’ small lineup, Herl is playing the 3 guard, but he’s being counted upon to be one of the team’s big rebounders. Heaps thought about playing him at forward but likes the matchup problems he can create from the perimeter.
“I can rebound better from the 3 where I come in from the top,” Herl said. “At the 4, I get stuck trying to box out a 6-8 guy. It makes it a little more difficult to get the rebound then, but if I can come around from the 3-point line, I can go up and get a few more rebounds.
“Ever since high school, me and my dad talked about going and trying to get every rebound. That’s what coaches like, guards who can rebound. I feel like I want to go get every rebound I can. That’s what’s going to help us win. We’re small and we need all five guys to rebound.”
Herl is also a tough defender, and he knew coming in the emphasis Heaps puts on the defensive end.
“In preseason drills, most coaches have you doing offensive stuff and we’re getting in gaps and doing defensive stuff,” he said. “I knew defense was going to be a big deal.”
He’s not sure what to expect of the teams the Mavs play each week since he’s the new guy, but he’s up for that challenge.
“As a team we want to go out there and compete with everybody and have a chance to win at the end of the game,” he said. “Whatever we’ve got to do is what we’re going to try to do.
“It might be a little bit of a process with our lineup but we’re definitely ready to get going and I’m excited to see these teams and play against some of these guys.”