Be Blue Season Preview: Seniors
Updated: 3 days ago
The calendar has now flipped to September and I'm ready for basketball to return. While there is still so much in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can still look ahead to what will no doubt be another exciting season of Drake Women's Basketball.
I'll be previewing this upcoming season by taking a look back at the 2019-20 campaign. We'll dive into each class and each player, beginning with the seniors.
2019-20 marked the second full season for Monica Burich at Drake, and it did not disappoint. The Roseville, Minnesota native used her experience and athleticism to make big strides in several categories. As a result, the 6'2" forward gained even more confidence.
Let's begin on the glass, where Burich was tremendous. She averaged 4.7 rebounds per game (third on team) and snagged 55 total offensive rebounds (second on team). In addition, Burich recorded five-or-more rebounds in 16 games, which included a season-high nine boards at Loyola on February 28.
Offensively, Burich saw her overall scoring and shooting numbers improve, setting single-season career marks (at Drake) in points per game (4.8), field goal percentage (56.8%), three-point field goal percentage (36.4%) and free throw percentage (81.8%). She scored in double-figures in three contests, including a season-high 12 points against Evansville on January 19.
Let's go back to that nine rebound performance at Loyola. In addition to her nine rebounds, Burich also notched nine points in a season-high 21 minutes. What stood out in that performance was her play in crunch time (scored five points, tallied four rebounds in fourth quarter). It was part of an impressive, five-game stretch for Burich who averaged 8.2 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game and shot 61.5 percent from the field in that span.
Monica Burich certainly got better last season. Now that she's a graduate senior, look for her to make an even bigger splash in her final campaign at Drake.
Hannah Fuller's on-court presence and leadership continued to shine in her junior season at Drake. Fuller set single-season career high's in minutes per game (13.9), total rebounds (54) and assists (32), while tying single-season marks in free throw percentage (71.4%) and steals (26).
The former standout at Valley High School has always had a knack for making momentum-shifting plays. On defense, Fuller maintained her aggressive play. She nabbed two-or-more steals in six contests, which included a career-high five steals in the Bulldogs' victory over Waldorf. Even more impressive was her ability to grab key defensive rebounds, setting a single-season career mark in that category (35).
Fuller's role as a facilitator also grew last season and saw herself as the point guard in several situations. She dished out two-or-more assists in nine contests, including passing out a career-high six dimes in Drake's win over Indiana State on February 15. One of Fuller's complete games came against Southern Illinois at home on February 7. In a back-and-forth affair with the Salukis, her play helped guide the Bulldogs to victory, scoring five points, collecting five rebounds, tallying two assists and collecting a steal for good measure. Not to mention she also created not one, but two jump balls for the Bulldogs.
Fuller has garnered the nickname, 'Turbo', during her time at Drake and its fitting. On the court, she's quick to make plays, dive to the floor and press on defense. Off the court, she's quick to pick up her teammates and bring the energy. This is shaping up to be a memorable senior season for No. 22.
Everyone faces adversity. Some more than others. For Mya Mertz, she has faced adversity numerous times throughout her career at Drake. A knee injury sidelined the Overland Park, Kansas native for the 2017-18 season. Nagging injuries have limited Mertz in various moments since then. Despite all of those emotional and physical hurdles, it never wavered Mertz, who continued to provide encouragement, leadership and laughter to the Bulldogs in 2019-20.
Mertz appeared in 13 total games for Drake last season, and reached two impressive milestones. In the Bulldogs' victory over Loyola on February 2, she collected her 100th career rebound. On December 5 in the Knapp Center, Mertz decided to throw her own 'block' party, recording a career-high six blocks in just 12 minutes in the win over Waldorf. That tied her with the likes of Tammi Blackstone, Carla Bennett and Whitney Pegram for the fourth-most blocks in a single game in Drake history. Not bad company.
The future beyond basketball is very bright for Mya Mertz. She currently is going after her MBA at Drake. But for one final ride, it'll be fun to watch "Myrtle" play a special role for the Bulldogs.
Maddie Monahan's role and production grew exponentially in her junior season. The guard set single-season career high's in minutes per game (27.1 - led Drake), points per game (8.8), field goals made (84), three-point field goals made (33), free throw's made (64), assists (127) and steals (45 - led Drake).
Monahan really hit her stride in Missouri Valley Conference play, averaging 10.1 points per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent from behind the arc. She scored in double-figures in 11-of-18 total MVC contests, which included a career-high 21 points against Indiana State on January 17. In her last four games of the season, Monahan averaged 14.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor, 43.8 percent from downtown and went 26-of-30 from the charity stripe. In addition, Monahan led the Valley in assists in conference action, dishing out 4.9 per game.
For the second consecutive season, Monahan played and started in every game for the Bulldogs (made 96 consecutive starts). The Silver Lake, MN native has been described as "steady" by the coaching staff and her teammates since arriving on campus. Along with her steady presence, Monahan pushed the envelope more often and became more of a vocal leader for Drake. Expect even bigger things from the senior in her final campaign for the Bulldogs.