The Mines women’s basketball team split their first two games on the weekend of November 9th to start the season. It was an interesting mix of old and new faces on the court. Mines returns seven players from last season’s squad, welcomed four redshirts, four true freshmen and a redshirt-senior transfer. Three of those returning are seniors that have put up impressive numbers in the past; Cassidy Budge, Nicole Archambeau and Anna Kollmorgen.
Kollmorgen returns as the only four-year starter, but her role has evolved over the years. She started her career as a shooting guard, and started all of the team’s 28 games. Last season she transitioned to point guard to fill the void left by Laura Tyree, who ended her career ranked seventh all-time for Mines scoring.
“This year being a senior I kind of have to be the ‘coach on the court’ more so than I have been,” said Kollmorgen, admitting that being vocal is not her usual personality.
Mines has been near the top of the RMAC in recent years, clinching a spot in the RMAC tournament every year Kollmorgen has been on the team. Her freshman year Kollmorgen played a vital role in the program’s first ever RMAC title, dropping a game-leading 21 points in the championship clinching game. However, Mines has tended to struggle in the postseason, failing to win an RMAC or NCAA game in the last three seasons they’ve advanced past conference play. Kollmorgen plans to change that this season.
“It would be sweet to win a post-season game,” said Kollmorgen. “Win our league again, get back to the NCAA tournament.”
For that goal to be achieved, a few unknowns need to be resolved. Mines lost a few impact players after last season, including primary center Liz Tomon and shooting guard Emily Bailey, who holds the program record for single season scoring. “We have to pick up Em’s scoring,” said Kollmorgen. “She put up big numbers.”
There are plenty of ways this year’s squad can make up for Bailey’s scoring. Cassidy Budge established herself from beyond the arc last season, setting a program record with nine three-point shots made in a game against Adams State. She was sidelined for the first two games as a precaution to rest a minor ankle injury. Nicole Archambeau was a threat on both sides of the ball last season, transferring from Colorado Mesa and garnering Second-Team All-RMAC honors. She picked up her twelfth career double-double (points and rebounds) in the second game. True freshman Sammy Van Sickle made a great first impression on November 10th, leading the way with 15 points in her collegiate debut. Freshmen Megan Van de Graaf and Lena Long-Shore also made their debuts and will likely contribute to the Oredigger offense moving forward. True freshman Denali Pinto is also expected to make an impact from the guard position.
In order to replace Tomon, Mines has to be a little more creative. The only player on the roster listed as a pure center is sophomore Courtney Stanton, who split time with Tomon her freshman season. She was sidelined opening weekend due to a finger injury, but is likely to return to the lineup soon. The Orediggers also gained an experienced player in redshirt-senior Madelene McDonald from Loyola Maryland. “[McDonald] is a four-five position,” said Kollmorgen. “She’ll take that [spot] as well.” In the first two games of the season, McDonald was primarily under the basket, with Van de Graaf spending some time at the position as well. Redshirt-sophomore Raven Herrera is also a force to be reckoned with, and will likely pick up rebounds and play tough defense from the forward position.
With a good mix of experience and new faces, Mines has all of the pieces of a competitive RMAC team. Kollmorgen said that “if [the younger players] can put up big numbers,” this team has a good shot at a conference championship. “Different kids every time stepping up kind of adds a variety and makes it hard to guard,” said Kollmorgen. Opposing teams already know about Archambeau, Budge and Kollmorgen’s ability to score, but how younger players respond in high pressure situations can make or break a team’s season.
Kollmorgen wants her senior season to be memorable. She has previously received All-RMAC honorable mention, and is looking to garner First-Team All-RMAC honors for the first time in her career. However, the primary goal is always a conference championship.
“We’re young,” said Kollmorgen, “and this weekend we played two pretty good teams and we were able to compete really well.”
The Orediggers open conference play at home on the weekend of December 15th against Colorado Christian and Regis. Be ready to rock Lockridge Arena at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.