WNMU opens up the RMAC season at home, for what seems like the first time in a few years. But it will be a tough home conference opener against Colorado School of Mines. The Orediggers come to Drag’s Court with a 4-0 record and were picked #3 in the pre-season standings by the coaches. One bright spot, the big guys for Mines, including Trevor Wages, are gone; not to mention, WNMU has kind of had the Orediggers’ number in the past few years, having beaten CSM 2 of their last three trips to Silver City and winning once in Golden, losing by a point in another game over that same stretch of time. Last year was not good; two big losses.
Mines is #5 in the RMAC in scoring per game at 78 points a contest to go along with a solid defense, #3 in the conference, allowing 67 points a game. They shoot a solid 49% from the floor while holding opponents to 43%. They’ve played a decent schedule getting wins against former RMAC foe, UN Kearney, DI UC San Diego (yes that San Diego), South Dakota Mines & Midamerica Nazarene. Their website is not updated, but MNU is an NAIA school that was 1-6 going into the Mines game; SD Mines is 2-7; UNK is 2-1 and a solid team; UCSD is 3-1 and another solid team.
The toughest thing about Mines is their depth and the number of guys that can score. For example, against UNK, 4 players scored over 15 points. All five starters average double figures, led by Sr G Brian Muller, a RMAC second team selection last season; he’s pouring in 16.5 per game, hits 51% and 47% from downtown, 81% from the line. He’s the main threat and can do it all, put it on the floor, move without the ball to get open…
Gokul Nateson & Caleb Waitsmen average 15 a game; Nateson is the three point specialist, hitting 10 of 22 from dowtown. He also gets to the line quite a bit where he hits about 70% of his attempts. Waitsmen, 6-8 215, is the ‘big’ guy inside. He’ll hit about half his shots, has gotten to the line a team high 30 times and hits about 70% of those shots, plus he leads the team in rebounding with 9 a game.
Trevor Ritchie and Joel Dellenbach round out the starting five avearging 12 & 10 points a piece respectively. Both hit well over 50% of their attempts, but Dellenbach is experiencing a long ball slump having hit only 4 of 15 attempts. Ritchie leads the team in assists with 19 but will turn it over, losing it 11 times this season.
Mines as a team plays some pretty good defense. They will block about 5 shots a game and get almost 9 steals per game, both among the best in the conference. Both Dellenbach and Waitsman have 5 blocks followed by Ritchie with 4. Natesan has 9 steals followed by Waitsman with 7. Overall it’s a pretty solid, team defense that doesn’t give up a lot of easy buckets. One weakness is giving up offensive rebounds, 10 per game which is among the worst in the RMAC. The Stang guards will have to hit the boards hard and Tyler Shea could be a big factor on this end of the floor.
The Mustangs are pretty much bringing up the rear in every statistical category. The key is going to be to find someone to score besides Marcos Castrillo, along with Marcos having to exert his will more consistently. Mines, I’m sure will try to deny the ball to Marcos in the low post and if he gets it there, he’ll be quickly double teamed. Someone is going to have to be cutting into the lane on the weakside looking for the pass. Marcos will have to make a quick move to score, before the help defense rolls over.
This probably won’t be a higher tempo game as the last couple involving WNMU have been, but WNMU may try and push the tempo a bit to take advantage of their speed, especially with the Brandons, Tanter & Williams. That may be the best way to get them in the scoring mode, not to mention trying to get Roland Wyatt a couple of high flying dunks to get the team and the crowd into the game.