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TMC women's basketball: The reason is teamwork

Unselfish play and player camaraderie are the keys to Mustangs’ best start in school history

Posted: January 11, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 11, 2013 1:55 a.m.
The Master’s College senior Lena Rivera (14) shoots against William Jessup’s Alexandria Westsbrook on Dec. 15. The Master’s College senior Lena Rivera (14) shoots against William Jessup’s Alexandria Westsbrook on Dec. 15.
The Master’s College senior Lena Rivera (14) shoots against William Jessup’s Alexandria Westsbrook on Dec. 15.

One day at a time and as a team.

A simple explanation, provided by fifth-season head coach Dan Waldeck, but one that couldn’t be any more accurate to describe the early success of The Master’s College women’s basketball team.

The Mustangs are 14-0 and are not just winning games — they’re blowing away the competition.

Take their last game for example — the Golden State Athletic Conference opener.

TMC defeated Hope International 94-47 on Tuesday.

“We have pretty awesome chemistry. The kids have really bought into each other as far as who they are as people, which has been huge for our program. It’s really clicked this year,” Waldeck said. “In between the lines, the kids have really committed to defense.”

Coach speak?

The old lines about chemistry and defense?

Most of the times, that’s just an easy way to explain things.

But how else could one explain how a team so good doesn’t have one or two standouts and is still dominating opponents?

The individual statistics provide one answer — that the load is shared.

Six players are averaging at least 8.0 points per game with junior forward Jacquelyn Marshall being the leading scorer at 11.9.

Five girls are at at least 3.0 rebounds per game, with Marshall again leading the way at 6.9.

Five girls are shooting at least 39 percent from beyond the 3-point line and seven girls have at least one steal per contest.

“I think the big thing is our team buys into the idea that it’s something so much bigger than ourselves,” said TMC senior guard Kimmy Iverson on why the stats look like that. “I think there’s a neat balance. We’re people. We deal with selfishness in general. (But) it’s not what we’re individually willing to score. It’s about what we’re able to accomplish together and to enjoy each other as people.”

Iverson is an example of why the team is a success in another way.

Chemistry and saying the girls get along very well is one way of simply putting it.

Iverson shows it.

Her first two years in the program, she was on the bench.

Last season, she worked her way into the starting lineup as a junior.

She could have felt an entitlement to a starting role as a senior, but she acknowledges how fellow guard Zoe Scott has earned her position.

“I’d love to start, but at the same point if I could help my team the most by coming off the bench, then bring me off the bench,” said Iverson, who has led the team in scoring twice this season.

The Master’s College is beating teams by an average margin of victory of 20.6 points.

TMC is not winning games in transition, or on the perimeter or inside — it’s winning games in all the above.

It’s not winning games by a smothering defense or a man-to-man attack, it’s throwing different looks at teams.

Waldeck offers another reason for the success.

When he took over the program in 2008, The Master’s College made a move to spread out the amount of athletic scholarships it offered to give the athletic program as a whole more of a balance, Waldeck said.

This took scholarships away from the women’s basketball program.

Less scholarships equals less talent.

At the same time, Waldeck said the GSAC got better.

Those scholarships were restored last year and thus a stellar freshman class has come in and provided depth, led by forward Kelly Burns, who is averaging 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

This is the Mustangs’ best start ever and it comes after a rough season.

The Master’s College finished 12-19 last season and 5-13 overall in the GSAC.

It was a far cry from the old Mustangs teams of the not-too-distant past that represented one of the best programs in the NAIA.

TMC made the NAIA Tournament under former head coach Ken Sugarman in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 — making the NAIA Final Four in 2006.

Twenty-win seasons were the norm.

Waldeck’s previous four teams have been competitive — 61-59 overall and 38-41 in the GSAC.

But this squad is on the road to becoming a reminder of just how strong Mustangs basketball could be.

Iverson said the team isn’t 14-0.

It’s 1-0.

Yet it’s a convincing 1-0.

Now it’s a matter of finishing.

TMC is now ranked No. 8 in the NAIA, making it a very early favorite to get back to the NAIA Tournament.

“I think we could,” Waldeck said, understanding that there are 19 games to play. TMC still has two games each against NAIA No. 2 Vanguard and No. 12 Westmont. “We have depth, we have good point guard play, we have size, athleticism, we are very balanced. That could make us a hard out in a national tournament. That’s what we’re were hoping for.”


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