Degel finding footing after missing last year with injurySlowly and steadily, Dawne Degel is getting her groove back.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Slowly and steadily, Dawne Degel is getting her groove back.
A year ago Monday, Degel’s first season as a Dickinson State women’s basketball player was cut short not long after it had begun when she suffered a stress fracture in her left foot during the Blue Hawks’ trip to Denver for a pre-Thanksgiving tournament.
“Anytime you don’t play for a year, it takes some time to get some rhythm back,” DSU head coach Caleb Harrison said. “But every practice, every game, she seems like she has a better groove.”
Degel is averaging 8.3 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 38 percent from the field. Defensively, she has five blocks and four steals.
The 5-foot-11 junior forward will likely be in the starting lineup when DSU hosts Valley City State at 5 p.m. Friday as part of the Sam Milanovich Classic at Scott Gymnasium.
It’s the Blue Hawks’ (2-2) fifth game of the season.
That’s as far as Degel got last season before the injury derailed her initial junior year. She was later awarded a medical redshirt by the NAIA because of the injury.
“So lucky,” she said with a smile, referencing the NAIA’s decision to allow her a hardship season.
A transfer from Sheridan (Wyo.) College, Degel had been off to a slow start trying to get acclimated to DSU’s system and was averaging 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
One year later, she is showing signs of improvement and Harrison said Degel’s performance on the court began turning his head on the first day he watched her practice.
Degel said much of her awareness on the court developed because she spent the bulk of last season watching the games from the bench and participating, but not playing, during practices under former head coach Andre Goldberg.
“It was really hard to sit out and watch last year, but I’m glad I did it because I could see a lot of things I needed to work on,” Degel said. “When I do end up out on the court, it helps me visualize what I need to do. I sat and watched so much last year that I kind of know what to expect.”
The Twin Bridges, Mont., native, has the range to shoot outside — she’s 6 of 13 on 3-pointers — and has an athletic frame and long arms that make her ideally suited to crashing the boards.
However, the Blue Hawks have had trouble finding ways to use Degel effectively as she plays between the perimeter, which is dominated by DSU’s quick guards, and the post, where centers Janae Moore and Jess Bygate are beginning to establish themselves.
“She definitely brings a big part to our team right now,” DSU senior guard Ashley Jelly said. “If we can learn how to utilize her, she’s definitely going to kill for us. She’s a tough kid. She handles adversity really well. No matter what, she’s going to have a positive energy.”
Rebounding, Degel said, is her strong suit. Getting her going on the offensive boards is a priority as the season progresses, Harrison said. While she has 20 rebounds in four games, only three came on offense.
Nonetheless, Harrison is impressed with the way Degel is coming along.
“She’s way ahead,” he said. “That’s what makes it exciting for the rest of the season, the fact that she’s already at this point at this time of the year. Give her another two weeks, give her another four weeks, it’ll be exciting to see what she can do.”