As the 2017-2018 season approaches, many questions surround the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team. Last year was not how the Mavericks wanted the season to go, as the team finished 8-20, 7-15 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) and missed out on repeating as RMAC Conference Champions.
The Mavericks also had the majority of their scorers leave at the end of the spring, due to graduation, which leaves them with only one senior this season, CJ Davis.
Davis was second in scoring last year for the Mavericks, as he averaged 13.5 points per game and lead the team in three-pointers with 77 total.
Only Elmer Lopez was ahead of Davis in points per game last year, with 14.0 as well as having the second most rebounds per game with 4.4.
Lopez led the team in scoring, which opens the door for Davis to take over the offensive load and attempt to bring the Mavericks back into a winning tradition. However, the lack of experience on the team will affect the chemistry on the court, compared to the past four years.
Other returners, Ludvig Saldh and Connor Nichols, will have to take a significant role on the team as leaders, which is a step up from where they were last year. Both Saldh and Nichols are now juniors and will take the role as the other top scorers on the floor.
Saldh, last season, carried .354 season percentage from three-point range and had a field goal percentage of .400 in the 26 games he played in. Nichols averaged just under 10 points a game with 9.9 last season and had one of the better field goal percentages on the team with .429.
Along with the two juniors who have been with CMU since freshman year, the Mavericks have received some offseason acquisitions who can bring more expertise and leadership to the team. Headlining the offseason add-ons is Emilio Acedo, a transfer from Pima Community College, where he averaged 17 points per game, five rebounds and five assists.
Acedo was the 5A Southern Arizona Player of the Year when he was in high school, at Salpointe Catholic High School.
The Mavericks have six freshmen this year who will look to make a significant impact on the program. One of those freshmen is Brevin Brimble from Colorado Springs, Colo. The Doherty High School graduate was an all-conference player and is known for his three-point ability, which applies to Davis’ similar playing style as well.
This year CMU will start their season at the Division II Conference Challenge, in which the Mavericks will face off against schools such as Dallas Baptist, St.Edwards and Colorado Christian University.
Last season did not get off to a favorable start as the Mavericks went 1-6 in their opening two tournaments of the year. They would go on to only win seven more games that year and only one of those wins was against a non-conference team.
Head coach Andy Shantz is entering his fifth year as head coach of the Mavericks after being an assistant coach with the program for the previous 16 years. Shantz led the Mavericks to a 21-9 season back in 2015, but has only won eight games since then. Shantz has to lead the Mavericks to two RMAC championships as well as four NCAA National Tournament bids and he will look to turn it around this year with a brand new rookie class.
CMU will start their season at Brownson Arena in a Division II Conference Challenge with their first game against St. Edwards on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.