STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
With great success comes great rewards, and the rewards are beginning to roll in as the Drake Women’s Basketball team continues their run through the Missouri Valley.
Caitlin Ingle has been placed on the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award. The award is given out to the best point guard in America as judged by a panel composed of the media, coaches, administrators and women’s basketball Hall of Famers.
“I’m honored to be on that list,” Ingle said. “It’s hard to take over a team as a freshman, but getting the feel of the team has helped me this year and will help for years to come.”
Ingle is averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game this season. She has gotten noticed thanks to her vision on the court, as she not only leads the Missouri Valley Conference in assists per game, but also ranks seventh nationally.
One of Ingle’s most memorable moments from this season was against Missouri State on Jan. 30, when she recorded the first triple-double in the MVC since 2009. During that game, she scored 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. She has reached double digits in assists five times, including a career high of 15 on two separate occasions, both on the road.
Her teammates naturally look to her as a field general to provide leadership on the court and to spark the team, and she has risen to the occasion so far this season. Even when she’s not on her game offensively, she changes the game in other ways as she currently ranks fifth in the Valley at 2.1 steals per game.
However, it is her dedication to her teammates that makes her the top dog on the court this season.
“She’s a winner,” coach Alison Pohlman said. “She’s just beginning more and more to understand what the team needs from her to win. She finds a way to make plays.”
Ingle also has shown confidence in her abilities, whether it is with making tough passes or big buckets down the stretch.
“Before we offered her (a scholarship), she was challenged by coach (Baranczyk) to work on her threes,” Pohlman said. “She ended up hitting two in a pickup game and after each one would make eye contact with coach and point.”
Ingle’s journey has been bolstered by sharing the court with another sophomore who has been the recipient of many of her assists, Lizzy Wendell.
However, their relationship is more than just point guard and scorer. They have developed a friendship that has impacted both, allowing each to feed off each other in the games and generating the highest scoring team in the MVC.
“She can find everyone,” Wendell said. “We sometimes laugh at some of the passes that she makes. They’re incredible enough that few point guards will make them.”
The list of names on the watch list for the Lieberman Award currently sits at 28. It will be whittled down to 15 in mid-March, before the final five players are named before the NCAA Tournament.
The winner will be announced during the Final Four. Ingle would be the first Drake student-athlete to win the award.