We have reached the last home game of the season, a Saturday Manitee against the Roos of Kansas City. After a wild and crazy game against ORU, UND is looking keep up with NDSU for the 2 seed, however this post is meant for something else.
Today’s post is to celebrate the 5 UND Women’s Basketball players who will be honored during Senior Day against Kansas City. Claire Orth, Joli Daninger, Tara Bieniewicz, Juliet Gordon, and Maggie Manson.
When you look back at the career of Claire Orth, you will recognize someone that has grown each and every year as a player, but someone who has really taken off in the last two years. She has turn into the master of the backdoor cut and the run out in transition. She has expanded from role player, to a starter, to a captain, and to a important weapon in her final season. She always had a knack of being able to carry a team for key stretches on both ends of the floor. She also showed that you didn’t need to step out and hit 3s to make a major impact. She will have played the most games in UND program history and has an outside shot of getting to 1000 career points when it is all said and done. She certainly has carved out her place in UND history.
If you asked me, the best story of the season has to be the Aussie. Juliet played sparingly in her first season before suffereing a knee injury in the 2019-2020 season. She was one of the bright spots in a tough COVID year, averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds a game during that season. Then, another knee injury knocked her out of another season. Two years lost to injury can be tough for a player to take, but Juliet took it in stride and with a season where she finally could play, brought her best. Despite playing undersized at the 5 spot, she has never backed down from a challenge and has provided a unique matchup for the opponent to guard. She not only could back her defender down, she could step out and nail the outside shot, and be the lead point guard in transition when needed. Even a recent nose injury where she had to wear a mask has seem to inspire even better play, averaging 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game during that stretch. It is so great to see her put it all together and prove UND an excellent weapon down low.
The in-state product from Fargo has showed her 3 point prowless in many occassions through her UND career. She has seen her role change from starter in her junior year to coming off of the bench and provided UND a sharpshooter off of the bench. While sometime it was a struggle, she kept with the old montage: Shooter keep shooting, and her recent play has shown that she has found her shot again. She is shooting nearly 38% from distance this year and that number continues to climb. Her recent shooting performance has allowed her to climb into the Top 10 career list for made 3 points. She is certainly ending her UND career on a high note. While she does have a COVID year to use, it sounds like she is off the next part of her life.
Joli joined the team in the 2021-2022 season after spending the first 3 years of her career in the Big East at DePaul. It was quite the find for this staff. In her first season, she made most of her impact off of the bench, giving UND some much needed punch, especially from outside. Eventhough she was only 5’7, she was tough has nails as a rebounder, capable of grabbing double-digit rebounds in a game. She also had a knack of getting steals on the defensive side of the basketball as well. This year, she saw her role grow into the starting lineup and she has continued her stellar play. She has increased her points and 3 point shooting, but has still maintained her rebounding prowless.
Tara joined the squad this season as a grad student after spending 4 years at D3 Trine University, where she was a sharpshooter from 3 point land. While she hasn’t see the court as much as the other seniors listed here, she has made the most of her time and always proved to be ready to play every time she stepped onto the court, and provided a few big shots that UND needed.
These seniors, particually Manson, Orth, and Gordon, have been through a lot. These 3 have been through a coaching change, a rough COVID season, injuries, shooting slumps, and everything in-between. However, they stuck together and started to build the program back. The addition of Daninger helped to provide more leadership and this group began the clime. The Bieniewicz addition also added more leadership and a weapon from outside.
Of course, their final chapter has yet to be written. There are still 3 games left in this season, the conference tournament in Sioux Falls, and any potential postseason. Let us all hope that this chapter, ends up happy.
If you have a chance to come out tomorrow afternoon, please do. Let us honor these seniors and send them off with a win.
So: Claire, Joli, Maggie, Tara, and Juliet
We thank you for everything that you have done for the program.