On January 22nd the men’s basketball team fell to CSU-Pueblo in a tough 10-point loss leaving them with a 7-5 conference record and a 12-6 record overall. Since that day, nothing has been able to stop the Orediggers as they have gone on a 10-0 run through conference opponents. The team clinched the number two seed in the RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with a thrilling double overtime 106-103 win against Colorado Christian (10-11 RMAC, 14-13 Overall) in Lockridge Arena on February 26th.
“I like where the team is right now. CCU was a tough game. They had played poorly for the last 3 games, and their game was a rivalry game so it was up for grabs to be honest,” Head Coach Pryor Orser said. “Our core group is dialed in and playing well. Caleb, Gokul, and Luke are playing at a high level.”
The team’s success this season comes from a mix of factors.
“Our defensive field goal percentage is going down, which is good because before it was up there. Our offensive field goal percentage is going up because we are shooting better shots and are having better shot selection, and we have more assists and are sharing the ball better,” said Coach Orser.
The team has been led through strong play by junior guard/forward, Gokul Natesan. The two time RMAC Defensive Player of the Week is top ten in the RMAC in scoring, assists, and minutes played and leads the conference in steals. He also set a school record in steals against New Mexico Highlands with 9 steals which also ranks third best all time in RMAC history.
The streak has been a team effort with strong play from the starting five and the bench, including high scoring efforts from sophomore forward Adam Laine and redshirt sophomore guard Luke Schroepher. Strong rebounding efforts by junior forward Caleb Waitsman sits in the top 10 in the RMAC in that respective category.
The team hopes to start the post season strong and will begin at home against number seven seed Adams State (12-10 RMAC, 13-14 Overall) on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Lockridge. The game will also be televised live on Comcast Entertainment Television. If the team wins, they would face the winner of the Colorado Mesa vs. New Mexico Highlands game.
“We like the match up against Adams State and Mesa/Highlands for the final RMAC form. It’s a fun time of the year to play. Our goal is to make it to playing in March every year, and here we are,” Coach Orser said.
The tournament is single elimination. Winning it would guarantee a trip to NCAA tournament. This would be ideal because, according to Coach Orser, the conference and the region are “wide open” and Mines is one of “12 -13 teams in the region fighting for the 8 NCAA slots.”
Of course, home field advantage truly pays off when fans come out and support their team.
“When we have students here we play better,” affirmed Coach Orser.
Be sure to clear your schedules and make your way to Lockridge on Tuesday as your Orediggers start their playoff run against Adams State!
Photo by Keenan Barker