Ellie Dietz collected more knowledge than minutes in her first season at MidAmerica Nazarene University, absorbing the college game mostly from a comfortable seat on the bench.
“I was the backup, backup, backup point guard,” the Monarch graduate said.
Such is the case for many freshmen. But the experience was valuable considering the Pioneers finished 28-4 last season with a roster populated with eight seniors and advanced to the NAIA Sweet 16.
This season, the rewards are starting to come for Dietz. She wouldn’t consider herself a staple of the rotation, but she is starting to crack it. She has played in 10 of 14 games and is averaging 6.7 minutes. She has scored 19 points and drilled three 3-pointers.
And while not as top-heavy as last season, the Pioneers are still salty with a 9-3 record at the holiday break.
“We had to rebuild the whole team,” Dietz said. “We have four or five freshmen who are really solid and we got a couple transfers. It took some time to really learn each other’s strengths, but it’s starting to pay off.”
Dietz said she rotates between the No. 2 and 3 point guard this season, and has helped spell guard Kyleesha Weston, a transfer from the University of Colorado who has been dealing with concussion issues.
Patient to wait for the increase in her role, Dietz is happily rooted at the Olathe, Kansas-based school. A criminal justice major, she undoubtedly envisions herself remaining at MNU for the duration.
It should serve as no surprise that Dietz is a college athlete considering her family history. Her sister, Kimberly, was a four-year basketball player at Kansas State. Another sister, Kristen, was a college golfer at UC Santa Barbara. The girls’ father, Bob, is an accomplished club basketball coach.
“Anytime we can get a Monarch player to play at the next level, it’s exciting for our program,” said Coyotes coach Gail Hook, whose program currently boasts seven athletes playing college ball. “We’ve been fortunate enough for that to happen every year for the past eight to 10 years. For her, that’s a Dietz. Their second home is the gym.”
Hook figured Dietz was bound for the college game.
“She’s a shooter and every team needs a shooter,” she said. “You’ve got to have that outside threat and I thought Ellie always presented that.”
Dietz’s most noteworthy production so far this season came in a win against Ottawa (Kan.) in which she scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and dished three assists in 16 minutes.
She scored 55 points in limited duty as a freshman, including a career-best eight against Culver-Stockton (Mo.).
Dietz, who is back in the area over her break and helping her parents make a close-proximity move, has kept up with the current state of Monarch basketball. It’s a good state. The Coyotes are sitting on a 9-1 record over the break. Dietz has conversed with Coyotes guard Raegen Rohn and keeps up with the team’s exploits via social media.
In Dietz’s final season at Monarch of 2012-13, Hook was on a one-year sabbatical. She is in her second season back, and Dietz’s is delighted to see it.
“She’s been there for a long time, and obviously her program works,” Dietz said. “The little girls who have grown up watching her coach, they obviously want to play for her. It’s good she’s back.”
Current Coyotes echo that final thought whenever Dietz visits.
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