Mesa men need to play together to snap funk

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Mesa State’s Kurt Bangle tries to put one up under the basket during Friday night’s game against Nebraska Kearney.

For years, the back of the T-shirts worn by the Mesa State College men’s basketball team has read: Together Everyone Achieves More.

Last weekend, coach Jim Heaps said with a half-hearted laugh, was definitely a team effort.

Just not the type of team effort he’s fond of seeing.

The defense?

“You go in playing a kid leading the league in scoring and he had 31 points, but their first 12 points are all on fast breaks or second-chance points, so they beat us down the floor repeatedly for layups,” Heaps said. “They scored 12 points on those two things. That kid (Nick Weaver) didn’t even hit a shot. They hadn’t scored within their offense other than miss a shot, get a rebound and then score, and they’re up 12-5.”


The Mavs gave up 20 points in the paint and 15 second-chance points in the first half alone.

The Mountain Lions had 18 offensive rebounds in the game, most of those in the first half when they were taking control of the game.

“We’re not shooting well on the road so you’ve got to defend and rebound and do all those things you have to do,” Heaps said. “That’s what we’ve always preached, that defense and rebounding gives you opportunities to win on the road.”

The offense?

Shooting 40 percent from the field isn’t going to win many games, at home or on the road.

“On the offensive end, we don’t screen, we get away from screening and we’re staring at the ball,” Heaps said, “and our post players, if they don’t shoot a high percentage, then you’re relying on, OK, it’s Ryan Mathews or nothing.

“You can’t beat many people with one-man teams and that’s kind of what we evolve into. It’s got to be a team contribution.”

Tonight, the Mavericks return home for the start of RMAC West Division play, facing Colorado State University-Pueblo. Friday night, New Mexico Highlands comes to town.

High on Heaps’ mind is getting his basketball team, which has lost two games in a row and five of its past six, back on track.

The Mavericks are shooting only 44.5 percent from the field, and the big men are struggling.

Starting center Kurt Bangle is at 54.4 percent and his backup, Mike Bear, is shooting an even 50 percent.

Jake Swartzendruber, who has moved from backing up Bangle to starting at forward, is shooting 46.6 percent.

“We can’t go 5 for 18 inside from our 4s and 5s,” Heaps said. “They can’t shoot 30 percent on the shots they’re shooting and give us a chance to win any game.

“It was a total team effort. Let me put it that way, a total team effort.”

Heaps said he didn’t prepare the Mavs well enough for last week’s trip and said it was a mistake to schedule a nonconference game the night after a conference game.

“You play (Johnson & Wales) on a Tuesday when you’ve only got a Saturday game,” he said.

“You can’t play them on a Saturday after a league game. Our kids were down, their kids were up and prepared and we hadn’t prepared much for them and it showed.”

After a film session Monday, followed by a renewed focus on the fundamentals all week, Heaps figures he’ll have the Mavs back where they need to be for the West.

“These kids do nothing but try to do what I want tell them to do,” he said. “They’re not fighting us on anything, they really try to do what we want, they just haven’t been able to do it yet. It’s a concentration thing, a focus thing, a habit thing. We’ll do it at times, but it’s not consistent enough.

“We control our own destiny. It’s one game at a time, get on a roll and go.”


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