After a disappointing 72-70 first round loss to Cypress College at the Cuyamaca Tournament, head coach Travis Nichols spared his squad a scolding, but instead used the late collapse as a teaching moment.
Having been able to dominate Cypress College most of the game, at one time leading by ten points, Mesa committed back-to-back turnovers with less than two-minutes left, allowing the game to slip away.
“We are getting better after each game,” states Nichols. “We let Cypress off the hook with silly mistakes, but I reminded them that if we play fundamental basketball, we will get the results we want. This includes listening to the coaches, rebounding with both hands, and boxing out.”
The message worked. The Olympians are currently on a two-game win streak defeating Victor Valley College 79-64 and Miramar College 95-93 in overtime. Miramar College was ranked #3 in the PCAC Sports Information Preseason Poll.
“The biggest difference has been the defense,” states Nichols. “Defense will always be the key and should not be overlooked. We are also starting to play with a lot more confidence. One of the challenges that we have with such a young team is to get our players to believe in themselves.”
Mesa continues to see impressive play from freshman guard Aren Thomas (Dekaney HS) who is averaging 12.3 points per game and 4.3 assists per game.
“The last two wins have been great, but we still have a lot of work to do, adds Nichols. “In order for us to stay in the win column, we need to push each other at practice. I am a firm believer that the way you practice is the way you’ll play in games.”
The Olympians are back home tonight as they take on Victor Valley College. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.