Road has been tough lately for Mavs
The coaching axiom of “win at home, split on the road” usually translates to a high seed in conference tournaments.
And although Colorado Mesa University women’s basketball coach Roger Walters wants to be better than a .500 road team, right now, he’d take it.
“I don’t think the average person knows how hard it is to play on the road,” Walters said of the Mavericks’ 2-3 RMAC road record. “Until you go to Regis, until you go to Western … it’s just different. It’s a different creature and you’d better be focused and be at the top of your game. We didn’t, and that’s my fault. We’ve got to do a better job executing, we just do.”
In the RMAC, winning on the road is pure gold. So far this season, home teams have won 45 of 79 games. It’s not an overwhelming winning percentage, but those numbers are skewed somewhat because the conference has two teams ranked in the top five in the nation, No. 4 Fort Lewis and No. 5 Metro State. The Skyhawks are 11-0 in the conference, with five road wins.
That will be tested tonight when Fort Lewis plays at Metro. The Roadrunners’ only loss came just down the road in Lakewood, at Colorado Christian (7-10 5-6 RMAC), CMU’s opponent Saturday night. Tonight, the Mavericks (8-7, 5-6) are in Golden to play Colorado School of Mines (5-12, 4-7).
“I thought we were getting off to a great start with our New Mexico trip (wins at Western New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands),” Walters said. “I thought that was really big for us. Not a lot of people are going to roll into Metro and win. Regis is a tough place to play; they’re all tough. You have to have a mindset to go into different places and just get it done, no matter what it takes, just get it done.”
At home, teams can ride on emotion, pulling some energy from their home fans. On the road, some parents who make the trip are about the only friendly faces. It’s that way at Brownson Arena, where the Mavs are 4-2 in conference games this season, losing to Fort Lewis and CSU-Pueblo, which has proven to be the third-best road team in the RMAC, with a 5-1 record away from Massari Arena.
The Mavericks aren’t outwardly demonstrative on the court, but they’re a little more animated at home than on the road, high-fiving good plays and hustling to congratulate a teammate or pick her up off the floor after taking a charge.
Walters loves this group of players, saying time and time again that they’re “nice kids.” He’d love just a bit of a mean streak to creep into the nice kids when they step on the floor.
“They’re leaders by example for sure,” Walters said. “It just boils down to they’re so nice. We have more of that (emotion) at home by a long shot. We’ve got to take that on the bus. I think sometimes when you go out on the road you’re waiting for something bad to happen instead of creating your own luck and playing hard and controlling the controllables.
“When we play like we practice we’re awfully good. We still get to that point where they think they have to do something different. You don’t. It’s a pretty easy game.”
He calls the Mavs fighters, and is convinced they’ll pull out of this streak, where they’ve lost five of their past seven games, and return to the team that rattled off seven straight wins. It’s part creating their own luck and part getting just a little bit meaner.
“Our kids are the neatest kids in the world,” he said. “One of the nicest groups I’ve ever coached in 16 years, or however long I’ve been doing this. I’d like to see more of a mean streak through them; when we’ve got a team down, put a foot on their throat and don’t let it back in it.”