STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
As a fan, as well as a broadcaster and a writer, I love teams that show heart and the drive to win no matter what, and that’s why I love the Drake Women’s Basketball team. I am honored to share in the team’s journey this far, calling numerous home games and reporting for one of the best seasons in school history.
After the conference tournament last season, I knew that this year would be special. We were getting all our key players back, while also bringing in a top-notch freshmen class. We had the reigning MVC player and freshman of the year in Kyndal Clark and Lizzy Wendell, and we were more unified than the past thanks to that amazing continuity. I was telling everyone I could that this was an NCAA tournament team and a conference champion on its way up.
But then disaster struck when Kyndal Clark went down for the season on opening night. Without their top scorer, I was slightly worried about my claims for the team. In non-conference play, it was evident that the team missed her leadership. However, they never were out of a game and that boded well for them. I never could have imagined the leaps that Lizzy Wendell and Caitlin Ingle would make, both still as underclassmen, a season that has made them the top sophomore connection in America, putting both on award watches.
When conference play started, I was excited. I didn’t know yet how they would match up to Wichita State or whether this young team would be able to handle the pressure of a conference title race, but they haven’t disappointed thus far. Each player has played a key role at different times. From Wendell’s top scoring numbers on feeds from Ingle to Becca Jonas holding down the middle and the fearlessness of Maddy Dean, this team has shown great poise for their age.
However, we can’t overlook the depth that makes this team so special. Liza Heap and Carly Grenfell have been leaders on the defensive end, holding opponents to low field goal percentages and creating turnovers, as have Cortni Rush and Emma Donahue. Even Cara Lutes has gotten into the games a lot more recently and has been invaluable, hitting a big three against Wichita State. And we can’t discount the ultimate heat check player Paige Greiner. Perhaps no bigger threes have been hit than the ones she hit against the Shockers, inspiring the Bulldogs to victory in their biggest game of the season.
I am thankful to be a student at this time and so should all of us, as this is a truly magical season. So, get to the Knapp Center and enjoy the final five home games as Drake tries to get back to the big dance. I’ll see you there.