Photo By Hillary Ehlen
It is something every team needs, experience and leadership. Who will be the one to pick the team up when they’re down? Who will get the ball in the closing seconds with the game on the line? These are the question every college basketball coach must ask themselves at the beginning of each season.
In his first season as head coach, Jory Collins is at a bit of an advantage. He has three players who possess the ability to lead and take over a game at any given moment. It could be senior Rylee Nudell one game or it could be juniors Emily Dietz and Michelle Gaislerova in others. Regardless, it’s always nice to have options.
The new staff has transitioned seamlessly and has made their intentions known on the current team. “The staff is absolutely amazing, Jory is so intense and he is so efficient with his time and is very knowledgeable in the game of basketball,” said junior Emily Dietz. “I really appreciate his patience with us players and the staff as a whole since this is such a new situation for all of us.”
In Dietz’s mind, Collins will be the one to return the program to its former glory. She feels it will happen sooner rather than later too.
“When you meet him, you find out that personality and you find out his motivations. He’s just so intense and passionate about basketball. He is here to win and he has said that time after time. In practice and meetings with him, he’s not here to mess around, he’s here to win,” she said. “He has shown that in the gym with us and just in his personality, he has a winning personality. That is something that is really important for us moving forward to have that mindset and I really do believe he is going to take this program to the next level.”
A new coaching change takes a certain amount of commitment from the players. Dietz is quick to point out that the Bison returners were quick to buy into Collins’ way of doing things. “I’m very grateful that all of the returners are trusting the new coaches and are willing to stay and work with him. None of us have had a problem and this has been an amazing transition to a brand new coaching staff,” she said.
Dietz was a breakout player for the 2018-19 Bison. She averaged just over nine points per game on 46 percent shooting. The West Fargo native was a revelation in the post and was getting close to 20 post touches each game near the end of the season. As just a sophomore, her post footwork was some of the best in recent memory on the women’s side. That is sure to improve as she continues to learn more ways to score down low.
While she proved to be a truly dominant scorer at times last season, scoring in double figures 12 times, Dietz knows there is more to explore on offense. “We’re working a little bit on my range, trying to step out and get a few more shots on the outside and on the three-point line,” she said. “Being more confident when taking the ball off the dribble whether that’s in the short corner or from the elbow, just becoming more of a mobile player.”
Just from watching her last season, it’s clear that Dietz has a reliable jumper from the mid-range. However, if she develops a long-range game, along with what her inside game, she will be a tough task for any defender.
What may be more important for Dietz is making sure she leaves a legacy on this Bison program. A Fargo Shanley graduate, Dietz grew up around North Dakota State and its dedication towards athletics. The university has provided her with so many options that she wants to make sure she gives back with her play on the floor.
“NDSU has given so much to me in the last couple of years. It has such a legacy just in the town of Fargo. There is so much local support and I’ve really appreciated that,” she said. “I feel like that has helped me thrive as a player and feel more confident playing in my hometown. It’s been a tremendous blessing and I really do hope that I can leave my mark on NDSU.”
Jory Collins and the Bison have weapons on the perimeter as well. Both Rylee Nudell and Michelle Gaislerova are stellar offensive talents and look to raise their level of play this season.
Nudell has been one of the mainstays on NDSU’s roster the past three seasons. The senior from Buffalo, North Dakota, has yet to miss a game in her North Dakota State career. In 2018-19, she was key offensive force, averaging nine points on 45 percent shooting. She is also one of the team’s best three-point shooters, shooting 36 percent for her Bison career.
Sharpshooter Gaislerova is one of the most explosive threats for North Dakota State. She led the team in points per game (14.4) last season and made a whopping 75 three-point shots at a 40 percent clip. That split alone is enough to prove how valuable the Trutov, Czech Republic, native is to the Bison offense. She also shot 40 percent from the field and heading into her junior season, she has made 125 career threes. That is ninth-best in school history. Needless to say, she has a real chance of overtaking that record within the next two seasons.
Top to bottom, the Bison women have weapons at their disposal. However, if the game is ever on the line, Jory Collins can sleep well at night knowing one of these three can take control of a game. Not only that, they can connect with their teammates and lead them to new heights on and off the floor.