Not 2 bad
Mesa women's hoops team moves up to No. 2 in nation
Leave it to the coach to put it all in perspective.
“If the season ended today, we’d only be second place,” Colorado Mesa women’s basketball coach Taylor Wagner said after the Division II national rankings were released Tuesday.
His players were echoing that sentiment, even though their faces lit up when they saw they had risen to No. 2 in the poll.
“I think it’s cool, but at the same time, this is just a piece of paper,” senior guard Sharaya Selsor said, studying a printout of the USA Today/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association rankings. “It’s one of those things that’s really neat, but at the end of the day ... no one’s going to remember who was ranked No. 2 Week 14 or whatever week this is. They’re gonna remember at the end of the thing who was No. 1. That’s all anyone really remembers.
“Yeah, I feel good that we’re 17-0 and we’re doing something that only two teams in the country have done right now, but ...”
The Mavericks (17-0, 13-0 RMAC) are one of two undefeated women’s teams in Division II.
Top-ranked Bentley (Mass.) University is 18-0 and received 30 of the 32 first-place votes Tuesday. Colorado Mesa and No. 3 Emporia State (Kan.) University got one each.
Senior post Aubry Boehme, who transferred to CMU from the University of Wyoming this season, laughed that the target just got bigger.
“In high school we did really well my sophomore year, and the next year our coach had a big target on the back of our shirts for us,” she said.
The thing is, Boehme said, she just feels like a normal college student.
“I was thinking about it (Monday), I just feel like I’m an everyday person. I just do my thing and come to practice and work my hardest and play on the weekends,” she said.
“I love being with my team, and I love learning from Coach Wagner. It’s weird to think we’re second in the nation.”
It’s the highest ranking in the history of the women’s basketball program at Mesa, and, senior forward Hanna Bowden said, a continuation of the expectations set a year ago, when they won the RMAC Shootout, the South Central Regional and reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
“We talked a lot about breaking records we hadn’t done before. We did a lot of that last year,” she said. “It’s still coming into play, the goals of keeping the program being built instead of being just a one-year thing. We want to make it more of a legacy, and that’s helping us get to that point. It’s a step.”
Selsor said the goal is to make Colorado Mesa one of those programs that’s in the national discussion every year.
“I want to make sure that Colorado Mesa is on the map for women’s basketball,” she said. “Every time when these (rankings) come out at the beginning of the year, there are those teams that are going to be in it, regardless of the season they maybe had the previous year. You know they’re going to come out with a top-25 team, and that’s what we want to have Colorado Mesa be.”
Wagner has talked to the Mavericks all season about getting every team’s best shot, and it’s sinking in.
“We’re 17-0, and now not only do you have the national ranking, you have that everyone wants to be the one that’s in your (loss) column,” Bowden said.
This weekend, the Mavericks are back home, facing Colorado School of Mines on Friday and Colorado Christian on Saturday. Christian is the only team to beat CMU in the regular season the past two years, and the first meeting this season came down to Selsor hitting a last-second shot.
The Mavericks haven’t lost at Brownson Arena in Wagner’s tenure, working on a streak of 32 games that dates to Jan. 28, 2012.
Selsor put a different spin on the mental pressure that comes with being at the top of the league — and the nation.
“Every single day you go into a game and you know you’re going to get your opponent’s best. That’s good practice for the end of the year,” she said. “Once the conference tournament, the regional tournament comes around, we’re not going to get someone’s second-best.”