Red- hot Orediggers seeing family values pay o≠ in RMAC run
In her four years on the job, coach Brittany Simpson has built the women’s basketball program at Colorado Mines around the idea of the team being a family.
The idea may have reached beyond expectations this season. The Orediggers are 7- 2 overall, including a seven- game winning streak, and 5- 0 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference games.
Two of the conference victories, 57- 56 at Fort Lewis on Dec. 11 and 78- 62 at Adams State the next night, were achieved while Simpson was away fromthe team bringing daughter Sawyer into the world.
Sawyer Simpson hasn’t attended a practice yet, but assistant coach Leslie Seymour’s 9- month old daughter, Ashlynn, is at practice every day.
Brittany Simpson knew while she was away that junior point guard Laura Tyree would be there.
“Coach always tells me I’m her voice on the floor,” Tyree said.
Simpson will be back in the coach’s chair when Mines plays Friday at Western New Mexico and Saturday at New Mexico Highlands.
“People outside of the program might consider us a surprise,” Simpson said of her team thatwas picked to finish ninth in the RMAC. “But we’ve been playing really well together and with confidence. Our team is built around defensive rebounding and a motion offense.”
Tyree and senior forward Courtney Martin have led the charge.
“We’re not surprised by our record,” Martin said. “I’m sure no one else was expecting us to be doing this well. But with all the work we’ve put into it, we’re not surprised.”
Tyree leads the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game. Martin, a 6- foot- 2 post player, is second at 10.6 points and leads the team in rebounding at 6.6 per game and blocked shots with 15. Tyree leads in 3- point field goals with 12.
“Tyree has a great attitude and she’s a program picker- upper.” Simpson said. “It has been great to watch Courtney develop. ... She’s turned into a really good player.”
The Orediggers have had some issues to deal with.
“We didn’t knowwhat to expect when we went into the weekend without our coach,” Tyree said. “But it wasn’t a big deal. Our assistant coaches stepped up.” Can the team stay on its roll? “We’ve been tested,” Simpson said. “We’re not where we have to be yet as a team, but we’re working on it.”