By Derek Noehren, Contributing Writer
Carolyn Blair-Mobley had one year of eligibility left and a decision to make.
The 5-foot-10-inch forward, originally from St. Paul, Minn., had already played for Cloud County (Kan.) Community College for one season and then at Oklahoma State for two seasons. Her senior season, Blair-Mobley took a break from basketball to earn her degree. But she wasn’t quite ready to walk away from basketball.
“I decided in March of my senior year that I wanted to play again, and that’s how I ended up here,” Blair-Mobley said.
When she went looking for a new home, Blair-Mobley didn’t have to look far. Her former coach at Cloud County once coached against Chance Lindley, then the head man at Barton County (Kan.) Community College.
When Blair-Mobley arrived in Omaha, she gave the UNO women’s basketball team a Big XII caliber talent. According to Lindley, she also added maturity and experience that he considers invaluable to his team.
“You can’t replace experience, maturity, playing at the highest level, I think she’s done all of those things,” Lindley said. “I think she walked in with added leadership, added maturity and has definitely been a blessing for us this season.”
Although Blair-Mobley is a senior in terms of eligibility, she was still walking into a brand new situation in another new city.
“She’s still a freshman in a lot of ways,” Lindley said. “She’s older but it’s still a new coach, new system, new style that she’s adapted to quickly. It’s a testament to her and how good she is as a player, but also how quality of a person she is as well.”
Lindley and Blair-Mobley both credit the acceptance of her teammates, and the team chemistry for her smooth transition to the squad.
“We’ve had chemistry from the start,” Blair-Mobley said. “I thought it would be kind of hard to transition, especially being here one year, but the girls were all accepting from the start. We never had any issues throughout the team from the beginning, and it really shows on the court,”
Lindley credits Blair-Mobley as a major reason the Mavs’ chemistry came together so quickly.
“[It’s] one of the best team chemistry (teams) I’ve been around since I’ve been coaching,” Lindley said. “She found a way to work in and fill in those gaps without stepping on peoples toes.”
Blair-Mobley has been a huge part of the success UNO women’s basketball has had to start the season. Although the Mavs were picked for last place in a Summit League preseason poll, UNO is 11-3 (3-1 in conference) and sitting in a tie for third.
“I think we’re enjoying it, but I also think we haven’t settled because we still have a lot more games to play and lot more to prove,” Blair Mobley said. “We still have people that are kind of doubting us, but we are enjoying this time, having fun with each other, playing together. It’s just all too fun right now.”
In 14 games this season Blair-Mobley is averaging 12.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds. But in the last five, she’s been on a hot streak, scoring 17.4 points per game and grabbing 7.8 rebounds.
During the run Blair-Mobley has been a red-hot 52 percent from the field and 48 percent from downtown.
“As far as those stats, I had no idea,” Blair-Mobley said. “I’m just playing and doing whatever I can for my team.”
After a few months she has certainly warmed up to the team and started to warm up to Omaha as well. According to Blair-Mobley, she prefers UNO’s campus to the one she spent two years on at Oklahoma State.
“Stillwater is a small college town, not really big as far if the student’s left, that was the town,” Blair-Mobley said. “Omaha is a lot better. It’s a city; we have downtown. It has a lot more to offer than Stillwater does.”