On the court, the Nebraska women’s basketball team unleashes its competitive side. Off the court, the players are a tight-knit group.
“On and off the court, we are always together,” Maddie Krull said in a recent Sports Nightly interview. “It’s really not just a basketball team, it’s a huge group of friends as well.”
The women’s basketball team added three new names to its roster for this upcoming season. Callin Hake and Maggie Mendelson are incoming freshmen, and Krull is a transfer from the University of South Dakota.
Both Krull and Hake spoke about how welcoming the rest of the team was when they arrived in Lincoln. Hake came from Minesota, and she said the coaching staff and her Husker teammates are some of the most genuine people she has met.
“I couldn’t ask for better people,” Hake said on Sports Nightly. “They just welcomed me with open arms, taking me under their wing, showed me around campus cause there’s a lot of things that I would not know where they are if it wasn’t for them, so it’s been awesome.”
Although Krull transferred this year after two seasons at South Dakota, she is originally from Nebraska. At South Dakota, Krull started all 35 games last season and helped the team advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Finally getting to put on a Husker uniform and represent her home state has been a blessing for Krull.
“This has been a dream for a long time,” Krull said. “Thing’s have a funny way of working out.”
Even with Krull’s experience playing at the collegiate level, she’s found it beneficial to learn in summer workouts with Hake and Mendelson at her side.
“She’s had that college experience, but we’re also going through this new chapter together, learning new systems,” Hake said.
Krull has seen the two freshmen immediately fit into the collegiate atmosphere. Hake is constantly wanting to go to the gym to shoot some hoops. Mendelson is a two-sport athlete for the Huskers, in both basketball and volleyball.
“I can’t even imagine playing two sports at the highest level possible,” Krull said. “She doesn’t complain, she never complains, not for a second.”
Hake scored more than 2,000 points in her high school career before coming to Nebraska. For her, the biggest transition from high school to college basketball has been the physicality and speed of play.
She has spent countless hours working on her shooting and three-pointers.
“You know a lot of shots have gone up, and a lot of credit to my parents for countless hours of rebounding, and my brother, because without them there are shots (that) would not have been put up,” Hake said.
The court is also a place to calm down and think for Hake.
“I think there’s nothing more therapeutic than throw on a little music and give me a ball,” she said. “Even if it’s quiet, it’s like therapy.”
Both Hake and Krull commented on how competitive the team gets during practice. That competitiveness has motivated both of them, but it doesn’t hinder the team’s bond off the court.
“We get competitive, and when we go head-to-head in practice, but we get off the court and we’re laughing with each other because what happens here, we know that we’re just trying to get the best out of each other,” Krull said. “No one takes it personal. We get off the court, we’re smiling and laughing and we’re joking about the play that just happened.”
Hake sees the competition as an opportunity to learn from other guards and watch how her teammates react to different situations.
Looking forward, both Krull and Hake are focused on continuing to learn throughout the summer. The three newcomers are discovering how to jell with the rest of the team, with summer workouts helping set a foundation for team chemistry both off and on the court.
“I think right now it’s a lot of learning to play together, like mending with each other and finding out how to best communicate with one another and how that’s going to help us down the road,” Krull said. “I think that learning what everyone needs as their motivation and kind of their fire to fuel is going to help us come when season starts.”