Red- hot Oredig­gers see­ing fam­ily val­ues pay o≠ in RMAC run

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Irv Moss Irv Moss: 303- 954- 1296, imoss@den­ver­post.com or @ irv­moss

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.”

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