#EagleNation Spotlight - Dackin Strong On Both Offense, Defense

#EagleNation Spotlight - Dackin Strong On Both Offense, Defense


She is the first player you see on Ashland University's women's basketball team's high-pressure, full-court defense, making it tough for teams to inbound the ball.

She keeps the defensive pressure up once a team gets over half-court.

At the offensive end of the floor, she is second on the Eagles in both 3-point field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage.

She is junior guard Maddie Dackin, and in her first season as a collegiate starter, Dackin has been a key cog in the top-ranked Eagles' continuation of the sixth-longest winning streak in NCAA basketball history at 68 games.

"I think the one word that consistently describes Maddie is tough," said Ashland head coach Robyn Fralick. "She'll out-work you. She'll do it the whole game. She's going to track down offensive rebounds out of her area, she's going to get deflections, make every entry hard for the point guard, and she's going to be locked in to doing it the entire time.

"That makes her really special. It allows us to guard the way we guard."

A second-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and All-GLIAC Defensive Team selection this season, Dackin has made the transition from reserve to starter successfully. She is averaging 11.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game, while hitting 50.7 percent from the floor, 43.3 percent from beyond the arc and 87.4 percent from the foul line.

"Maddie's improved every year she's been here," Fralick said. "She's always locked in to what the team's needed, and she's always improved. And when she's improved, she been ready for the next level for her, the next role, the next expectation."

Not included in those 2017-18 statistics are the number of inbound passes Dackin deflects, forcing an opponent to try to get its offense started more than once.

"I take some pride in it, because I know our defense jump-starts our offense," she said. "I like being the person who causes turnovers, so we can get quick, easy baskets. I enjoy doing it."

Dackin's development at Ashland started to accelerate at the end of her freshman year, when she worked her way into a regular rotation off the bench for the season's final 11 games.

"Getting the opportunity to play always boosts your confidence," Dackin said. "We had a good team that year, and being a part of it…really boosts your confidence. Going into the following year, you know you can play college basketball."

During last season's national-championship run, Dackin played in all 37 games off the bench, averaging 16.8 minutes and 8.4 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from downtown and 80.2 percent from the foul line.

While teammates Laina Snyder, Andi Daugherty, Jodi Johnson and Julie Worley all have reached the 1,000-plus-point mark in their AU careers, Dackin is next in line to get into the club, as her 352 points this season put her at 759 for her career.

Dackin, like the rest of her teammates, puts statistics aside and enjoys the team aspect of the journey.

"It's been so much fun, especially being at home," she said. "The atmosphere is much different here than in any other gym in the country."

Dackin and fellow junior guard Brooke Smith have taken similar paths to success at AU, joining the regular rotation at the same time as freshmen, and playing regular minutes in helping the Eagles to where they are now.

"She pushes me every single day," said Dackin. "She's an unbelievable shooter, and she pushes me to be a better shooter every single day. It's cool to have that person that's able to push you, and I can push her."

Ashland will begin the NCAA Division II postseason on Friday (March 9) at 5 p.m. at Kates Gymnasium vs. Hillsdale in a Midwest Regional quarterfinal. It will be Dackin's sixth home NCAA playoff game, so she knows what to expect once the game is at hand.

"It will be amazing," she said. "We always love playing in front of the 'Purple Swarm,' and it will give us a lot of energy."