Ready to contribute
With ankle injury healed, Saane Lo'amanu set to give Mavericks a lift
Saane Lo’amanu came to Colorado Mesa University to play basketball for coach Taylor Wagner again.
Two months after start of the season, the junior guard from Taylorsville, Utah, will finally play in a game for the fifth-ranked Mavericks (10-0, 6-0 RMAC). Mesa returns to action after a two-week Christmas break this weekend. The Mavs play at 6 p.m. Friday at Colorado Christian and 5 p.m. Saturday at Colorado School of Mines.
Lo’amanu sprained her right ankle during the first week of practice back in October.
“I was expecting to come in and do something, then I get injured,” Lo’amanu said. “All you can do is cheer from the side and encourage your teammates because you can’t be out there.”
Lo’amanu played two years at Otero Junior College for Wagner, then transferred to Friends (Kan.) University, but didn’t like it there and left the school after one semester. She returned to her parents’ home and worked before coming to Mesa in the fall.
“I love it,” Lo’amanu said. “There’s no other coach I’d rather play for than him.”
She returned to practice this week and is ready to add depth to the Mavericks.
“She’s still got a long ways to go, but she’ll help us in the long run,” Wagner said. “She’s a great rebounder and defender. The big thing for her is getting into shape. We’re excited to have her back. She brings a different element to our team and one that we need.
“I don’t want to throw her out there. It will build up here in practice. Once we see the growth and she can run, obviously the minutes will increase.”
Wagner said the rest of the team showed they stayed in good shape over the break and are ready to go.
“You never come back the way you left,” Wagner said. “You can’t simulate it, but they worked hard I think. Now, we just need to get back into game mode.”
Lo’amanu could make a difference for the Mavericks this weekend against a Colorado Christian team that has guard Christina Whitelaw back. The senior missed last season with an injury. She played her first game of the season two weeks ago against Colorado Mines and scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and had seven assists.
“(Christina) Whitelaw is a great player,” Wagner said. “It will be interesting to see how this week goes.
“They’re only going to get better. They’ll be one of the teams in there at the end.”
Mines also has a scorer back in Taylor Helbig, who played her first game of the season two weeks ago against Colorado Christian and scored 18 points.
“We play two good teams,” Wagner said. “They both have their best player back. The (Taylor) Helbig girl from Mines had surgery over the summer, so she’s played one game. I think they’re both capable teams with good players.”
“What we tell our kids in conference play the next biggest game is the one that’s next,” Wagner said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go.”
Colorado Mesa men’s basketball coach Andy Shantz was pleased with practice this week.
“We had a lot of energy,” Shantz said. “It looked like the boys kept up their cardio and are ready to go.
“It’s a group that seems to enjoy playing with each other. It looks like they missed each other (over the break).”
The Mavericks (7-3, 5-1 RMAC) play two of the tougher teams in the RMAC on the road this weekend in Colorado Christian (5-4, 3-2 RMAC) and 13th-ranked Colorado Mines (9-0, 5-0 RMAC).
“CCU has three outstanding guards and are perimeter-oriented,” Shantz said. “They do a good job knocking down 3s. Mines is probably one of the best teams in the nation. They have a good part of their team back that was No. 1 in the nation two years ago.”
Mesa matches up well with the smaller Cougars, who like to run up and down the court with their guard-oriented offense.
Mines presents possibly the biggest challenge of the season for the Mavericks.
“Mines is scoring 100 points a game,” Shantz said. “They can play any way they want. They are balanced. We’ll have to play well for an opportunity to win.”