Eight players average between six and 13 points a game for the Marian University’s women’s basketball team. This allows the Knights to frustrate opponents from a variety of angles.
Candace Danz is one of them.
Danz, a 5-foot-9 freshman guard, is making an impact this season for the Knights, who are the defending NAIA national champions and currently ranked fifth with a 19-3 record.
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Utilized primarily as a backup ‘2’ or ‘3’, Danz, a four-year starter at Indian Creek High school, is averaging eight points and 2.4 rebounds.
Rarely is adapting to college life a seamless transition for student-athletes. They must adjust to a new environment, more difficult classes and better competition in practices and games.
Danz, a nursing major who carries a 4.0 grade-point average, is no different.
“It was a little rough at first,” said Danz, whose career point total of 1,650 ranks fourth all-time among girls basketball players at Indian Creek. “Honestly, it was right before Christmas break when everything clicked and it all became smoother.
“It’s perfect. I love it here. My teammates and coaches are awesome.”
Fourth-year Marian coach Katie Gearlds brings impressive credentials of her own, having been named Indiana’s Miss Basketball in 2003 after scoring 2,521 career points at Beech Grove High School (ninth all-time in Indiana).
She later played at Purdue University. A two-time All-Big Ten selection, Gearlds is fourth on the Boilermakers’ career points list with 1,974.
As Marian’s coach, Gearlds owns a record of 95-31. Her Knights teams have won 84 percent of their games since the start of her second season (2014-15).
“(Gearlds) just cares so much for us,” Danz said. “She’ll get out on the court with us during practice, and she still has the touch.”
With four starters and five of her top reserve players returning from the 2016 national championship team, Gearlds initially wasn’t sure how much court time Danz would see this season.
Turns out it’s been quite a bit.
Even playing primarily in a backup role (she has started twice), Danz averages 19.7 minutes per contest — fifth overall for the Knights and tops among the three freshmen on Marian’s roster.
She has struggled somewhat with her shooting touch, with a .358 field goal percentage and .254 on 3-point attempts. However, she’s made 36 of 45 free throw attempts and is third on the team in blocks with eight.
She’s also fifth in assists and tied for fifth in steals.
Like she did at Indian Creek, Danz just does a lot of things really well.
“If you watch Candace play, you understand the feel she has for the game. You can’t teach that,” Gearlds said. “She just knows how to play basketball and does a lot for us.
“I love having Candace on our team. She’s a great kid and one of our hardest workers.”
Name: Candace Danz
Family: Parents Tom and Margi; sisters Stacey, 30, Maggi, 21, and Raven, 20; brother Jacob, 23
High school: Indian Creek (2016)