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One down, one to go: Specht set to begin her final season

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Story by Austin Cannon

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wball2_fileAfter transferring to Drake from Johnson County Community College, senior guard Mary Pat Specht immediately had to adjust.

“Everyone in the Missouri Valley Conference is just so much bigger, stronger, quicker, so that’s something I had to get used to,” Specht said.

And adjust she did. Specht finished the 2012-2013 season averaging 7.6 points per game in all 31 games and tying for second on the team with 48 three-pointers.

“She did a great job of acclimating and really trying to find her niche on the team,” said Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk.

After playing several games in Iowa with Johnson County, Specht was recruited by Drake and decided to transfer to Drake last fall.

“I was really excited about it because I just love Drake. I think it’s a great academic institution, not only, but their sports teams are really good, too,” Specht said.

Joining a new team at a new school, it was similar to Specht’s first year of college.

“It was kind of weird. In some ways, I felt like a freshman because it was my first year coming to this program,” Specht said.

Because of that, she got to know her fellow newcomers.

“I’m actually really close with a couple of the (then) freshman, Ashley (Bartow) and Emma (Donahue), because we came in together and shared a lot of the same experiences,” Specht said.

Living with Bartow only brought the two closer together.

“Over the summer, we were roommates at (Drake) West Village, and we got to know each other more, became closer on and off the court,” Bartow said.

As for this season, Specht and the rest of the Bulldogs look to build off last season’s late success.

“It was kind of hard adapting to a brand-new coaching staff, but by the end of the year, we were playing our best basketball, and that was really exciting,” Specht said. “I think just a year of experience helps so much. I think that I know my teammates better. I know my coaches better. We have a lot better communication, and I think that’s going to definitely help us in the long run.”

If this close-knit Drake team is to challenge for a MVC title, Specht’s on-court talents will be vital.

“I think Mary Pat is one of those players that everyone wants to have on their team. She’s a tireless worker. She really is all about the team. She gets in the gym, she puts the time in,” Baranczyk said.

“She’s really tenacious. She doesn’t take a play off. She is just a hard worker overall,” Bartow added.

After graduating as a three-sport star (basketball, softball and volleyball) from Shawnee Mission North High School, Specht saw many similarities at Johnson County, but she did have to alter her mindset.

“It’s all about doing whatever it takes to help your team win, whether that’s getting a rebound, whether that’s making a shot, whether that’s getting a defensive stop, so more of the ‘team’ camaraderie,” Specht said.

Spetch, a recipient of the MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award, joins fellow seniors Morgan Reid and Alyssa Marschner on the Bulldogs’ roster.

“It’s a really special senior class, and I think Mary Pat has really enhanced both Morgan and Alyssa,” Baranczyk said.

Over the next four months, that trio will look to lead Drake to a MVC Championship.

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