Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- UMHB women’s basketball head coach Mark Morefield saw plenty that needed to be improved as his team took the floor for the first time on Nov. 5-6, going 1-1 with a one-point win over Rhodes prior to a 74-61 loss the following day to Trinity.
But in the weeks since, he has been impressed by the response from his team, and the number of players who have seemed to have found rhythm and confidence as the Crusaders prepare for contests against Colorado College and Nebraska Wesleyan this coming weekend.
“I think we’ve seen some of the players who didn’t play in those first two games get better,” Morefield noted just before his team departed for the Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “I think we’ve also seen the emergence of some transfers and freshmen that are playing with more confidence that I think will be in the rotation this weekend and for the foreseeable future.”
Those include guards Jacqueline Cilliers and Kamryn Martinez, both outside shooting threats who are still awaiting their first minutes of the season. Additionally, Morefield said that Lily Guevera, a forward from Driftwood, Texas, has shown signs of improvement and could be a freshman that sees more time as the year progresses.
“It’s going to be a tremendous asset to have, as there are several players who have stepped up,” Morefield said of the increased depth moving forwards. “Jackie Ciliers is playing with a ton of confidence and so is Kam Martinez. They’re both shooters. Obviously anytime you can add more shooting to an offense, as a coach, you’re happy with that.
“Another one who is coming along and I think in time will be in that mix is Lily Guevara. With freshmen, it’s always about processing things. In high school, you may not have the in-depth scouting reports, the quick adjustments, and that is sometimes a learning curve. She is starting to grasp and understand some things, and I think as the season goes along, she’ll really start to flourish.”
The Crusaders used a three-week break between the loss to Trinity and Friday’s contest at Colorado College to review and improve in a variety of areas. As Morefield noted, there is a big difference between having practiced 19 times, as the Cru entered the season opener, and 33 practices, which is where UMHB is currently.
“To have double-digit leads late [in those first two games], you kind of like where you’re going,” Morefield said. “And yet, you still didn’t have everything in.”
That improvement will be seen on the floor at Reid Arena this weekend, as UMHB faces Colorado College at noon mountain time on Friday, before battling Nebraska Wesleyan on Saturday at the same time.
These two opponents, who are facing the Cru for the first time, each pose unique styles of play, with an emphasis on strong play in the paint. In Colorado College’s first win of the season last weekend, an 82-70 overtime victory over Linfield, the Tigers tallied 46 points in the paint. Nebraska Wesleyan demonstrated its post dominance in a recent victory at Grinnell, winning the rebounding battle 52-29.
“We try to get a variety of teams and styles of play so that we can be better,” Morefield noted. “Colorado College has tremendous low-post scoring and you have a Nebraska Wesleyan team that is physical and does a lot with the high-low actions and pounds the ball inside.
“This will be great because we have not really seen post-dominant teams if you look at our two scrimmages or Trinity or Rhodes, where that’s their focal point. This helps us prepare for anybody we see down the road that is a low-post, center-type ballclub.”
In the post for UMHB is sophomore Kaitlyn Kollmorgen and senior Kasey Jo Hinton. Through two games, Kollmorgen is second on the team in points (19) as well as the leading rebounder (17) and shot blocker (5). Hinton has contributed with 10 rebounds, and six points, as each started UMHB’s first two games of the year.
When the Cru steps onto the floor on Friday, it will have been exactly 20 days since the team’s last contest. Morefield has seen how far his team has come in that span, and is confident the Crusaders are prepared for whatever situation they might encounter over the next two games.
“Obviously there are pros and cons to both sides,” Morefield said of the extended break, which also included finals. “There will probably be some rust to knock off on Friday, since we haven’t played since early November. But I think the great thing about it is we’ve tightened some things up. We’ve had some very competitive and spirited practices, and put the girls in some pressure situations in practice to make them have to overcome.
“To have two full weeks to really focus on those things [we needed to improve on]…I think it will pay great dividends for us.”