Season of frustration

Defensive inconsistency has led to roller coaster 2013-14 for Colorado Mesa men

Lack of consistency on defense has been costly this season for Clay Kame, 15, Carlos Perez, back, and the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team. Getting some consistency will help the Mavs in the final five games.


Mav Watch

Probable Starters

Colorado Mesa (10-11, 8-9) N.M. Highlands (10-11, 7-10) Western N.M. (1-19, 1-16)

PG Joe Kiely, 5-10 Soph. Stargell Love, 6-3 Sr. Terrez Scott, 6-0 Jr.

9.0 ppg, 4.6 apg 9.3 ppg, 4.6 apg 11.8 ppg, 6.3 apg

G Landon Vermeer, 6-2 Jr.Lavell McDadde, 6-4 Sr. Steven Loucks, 6-5 Fr.

10.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg 15.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg 6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg

G Mike Melillo, 6-5 Jr. Manie Cass, 6-7 Sr. Adam Kesler, 6-0 Soph.

8.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg 18.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg 7.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg

F Jon Orr, 6-6 Jr. Javerik Nelson, 6-8 Jr. Marcos Castrillo, 6-7 Jr.

7.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg 5.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg

C Ryan Stephan, 6-10 Soph. Drew Martin, 6-7 Soph. Brelan Berry, 6-8 Sr.

18.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg 5.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg 11.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg

About the Mavericks: Mesa is fourth in the RMAC in scoring defense (77.1 points per game), but 11th in scoring offense (74.9). The Mavs are 9-2 when they have a higher shooting percentage than their opponent and 1-9 when they shoot worse than their opponent. Vermeer scored a career-high 21 points last weekend on 7-of-10 shooting.

About the Cowboys: Highlands allows 85.6 points per game, the most in the RMAC. The Cowboys average 80 points per game. They have lost their past four games, allowing more than 90 points in each game. Highlands is 9-2 when it shoots better than its opponent.

About the Mustangs: Western New Mexico scores a conference-low 63.4 points per game. The Mustangs lose by an average margin of 18.7 points per game. Their opponents have shot better than the Mustangs in 18 of their 22 games — all losses.

Mav Watch

Probable Starters

Colorado Mesa (21-0, 17-0) N.M. Highlands (10-11, 6-11) Western N.M. (9-13, 6-11)

PG Christen Lopez, 5-4 Sr. Alyssa Lopez, 5-8 Sr. RaTanya Newsome, 5-5, Jr.

9.1 ppg, 5.1 apg 10.1 ppg, 1.5 apg 13.3 ppg, 4.6 apg

G Sharaya Selsor, 5-9 Sr. Jenny Johnson, 5-10 Jr. Ashley Mitchell, 5-10 Jr.

24.7 ppg, 4.3 apg 10.8 ppg, 2.8 apg 11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg

G Taylor Rock, 5-10 Sr. Leisha Crawford, 5-8 Soph. Kim Clark, 5-9 Sr.

8.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg 4.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg 5.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg

F Hannah Pollart, 5-11 Sr. TJ Manson, 6-3 Sr. Nalani Hernandez, 5-9 Jr.

6.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg 6.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg 8.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg

C Aubry Boehme, 6-0 Sr. China Smith, 6-1 Sr. Stephanie Moore, 6-1, Jr.

14.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg 12.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg 11.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg

About the Mavericks: Second-ranked CMU has won 32 straight at Brownson Arena. Selsor is now 11th in career scoring with 1,266 points, nine behind Jill Teeters Derrieux, and is ninth in career assists with 268, six behind Kelly O’Dwyer Hall. Her 519 points this season are seventh-best in a single season; Debbie Green Cain is sixth with 542. Lopez became the first Maverick since 1999 to have 10 or more assists in a game when she dished out 10 against Chadron State, her second double-digit assist game this season. She leads the RMAC with 67 assists.

About the Cowgirls: Highlands had radically different games last week, winning at Adams State 46-38 on Friday, then losing 108-78 at Fort Lewis on Saturday. Smith averages a double-double for Highlands, which is 3-3 in its past six games and is tied for ninth in the RMAC with Western New Mexico. CMU won at Las Vegas, N.M., 81-70, in December.

About the Mustangs: Western New Mexico is on a three-game losing streak, but it played Fort Lewis and Adams State close last week, losing by seven and four points, respectively. The Mustangs are trying to play into the conference tournament, tied with Highlands for ninth. Mesa won the first meeting 57-51 in Silver City, the only time this season the Mavs did not score at least 60 points.

The 2013-14 season has been up and down for the Colorado Mesa men’s basketball team.

The Mavericks (10-11, 8-9 RMAC) won seven of eight games before the Christmas break, then lost seven of eight immediately after the break. Last weekend, Mesa played one of its best games on defense in a 71-64 victory over Black Hills State, then the next night played one of its worst in a 94-82 loss at Chadron State.

“At times, it’s been frustrating for the players and the coaches,” CMU coach Andy Shantz said. “We’ve showed signs of how good we can be. We’ve been the only team in the league to beat some of the top teams and the only team in the league to lose to some of the worst ones.”

Colorado Mesa led top-ranked Metro State most of the game before losing. The Mavericks beat the third-, fourth- and fifth-place teams in the RMAC in Fort Lewis, CU-Colorado Springs and Adams State. The Mavs have also lost to Regis
(7-15, 4-13 RMAC) and Western State (2-19, 2-15 RMAC).

The struggles are rooted on defense, Shantz said.

“It’s never been an effort problem with these guys,” he said. “Some of it is having new guys, but that can’t be an excuse.

“We’ve had small breakdowns with our defense. It’s finding consistency on that end. We’re much better when we’re aggressive on defense.”

Mesa has played well defensively at times this season.

The Mavericks are 6-1 when they hold opponents under 70 points, and they’re 3-0 when they hold opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor.

“Consistency is our biggest focus,” CMU junior guard Landon Vermeer said. “We need to bring it every single day in practice and games, not just the Metro games. When we play Metro, we play them well. Then, we drop games to teams like Regis who we should beat.

“Defense consistency is our biggest thing, being consistently aggressive. Being aggressive (on offense) is another key. Coach wants us to swing and execute. We can be passive with that. We need to swing the ball to score instead of swing it to swing it.”

The lack of consistency this season has put the Mavericks in a precarious position, but senior guard Clay Kame remains upbeat.

“I have all the confidence in the world in what we have,” Kame said. “Ryan (Stephan) had an off game, and we usually go to him when we struggle, but he had 12 great games before that. Part of that is our execution. Part of it is (the opponent) being hot.

“We understand what we have in front of us.”

The Mavericks have some work to do to make the RMAC tournament for a 16th consecutive season. They enter this weekend in eighth place in the RMAC with five games left. The top eight teams make the conference tournament.

The last time Mesa missed the RMAC tournament was 1998.

“I guess it is a little foreign for us to be in this type of situation, but we can also look at it as a new type of challenge,” Kame said. “We know we’re a new group together. We knew a lot of things would change. I see it as a challenge now. All we have left is five games, and that’s are focus.”

Mesa hosts New Mexico Highlands (10-11, 7-10 RMAC) and Western New Mexico (1-19, 1-16) this weekend and Western State (2-19, 2-15) next weekend. Then, the Mavs close out the regular season with road games at Adams State (14-6, 10-6) and Fort Lewis (14-6, 11-5).

“The way the schedule is set up with the teams we play, it’s set up perfectly for us to go on a run,” Kame said. “We can be a team that is scary in February. It helps us we’ve been through a lot of up and downs.

“We’ve had a couple games like that this year, but I think that will help us. We’re going to have to find a way to get a little tougher and buckle down.”

Vermeer believes the team will respond.

“It’s not going to be an easy road by any means,” Vermeer said. “I think we’re going to have to play desperate, which leads to being a dangerous team. I think we’re as talented as anybody. We can play with anybody, we’ve proved it. We just need to do it on a consistent basis.”


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