STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
For the second consecutive year, a Drake Bulldog was awarded with the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year in Women’s Basketball.
Last year Lizzy Wendell won the prestigious award, and this season it was earned by Maddy Dean.
“It’s really exciting,” Wendell said. “It shows that our program is going somewhere.”
Dean, a freshman from Jordan, Minnesota, started the final 20 games of the 2014-2015 season, earning that spot as her play continually improved as the season progressed.
She became a key scorer for the Bulldogs down the stretch and led the team in their MVC tournament loss to Evansville with 21 points.
She also led the team in rebounds with 12 in their second postseason game against Eastern Michigan in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
She also averaged 13.6 points with 2.3 three-pointers per game on the season, both of which were the most by a freshman in the MVC. Her 6.9 rebounds per game also placed her at fourth overall in the conference and second amongst freshmen, behind teammate Becca Jonas.
“Maddy has been big during conference,” head coach Jennie Baranczyk said late in the 2014-2015 season. “She has become a great player in all aspects of the game.”
“It’s awesome, and coach Baranczyk gets all the credit,” Dean said. “She knows how to recruit players into her system.”
Dean started off the season a little shakily, scoring prodigiously early but struggling with some defensive issues. However, she began to come into her own once the non-conference season started to wrap up, pulling down a couple of double-doubles to end 2014. She ended with eight on the year.
“She has some stuff that she’s working on to develop her game even more,” Wendell said. “She’s already a great all-around player and will come out strong next year.”
Dean started her ascent to the top with a dominant performance on Jan. 9, scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds against Illinois State University.
She followed that up with her best game of the season against Evansville, scoring 23 points and pulling down 16 rebounds. That development wasn’t lost among her coaches and teammates.
“Maddy has grown tremendously this season,” Baranczyk said. “She has become a defensive leader and holds her own on the boards.”
As the season wound down, Dean continued to flourish, scoring in double digits consistently and is one of the most well-rounded players on the roster.
She finished the year second in scoring and rebounding on the team, while also finishing with the top free throw percentage among the starters at 79 percent.
Dean now heads into her sophomore season as the reigning Freshman of the Year and a first team All-Conference selection, looking to take the conference championship away from Wichita State University and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.