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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘She’s so relentless’: how Daniela Abies went from limited minutes to women’s basketball’s leading scorer

Mia Hennen
Sophomore forward Daniela Abies looks for a teammate to pass to during the game against Houston on Dec. 4.

Last summer, Daniela Abies was invited into new women’s basketball head coach Terry Nooner’s office to talk about her role on the team in the upcoming season.

Coming off of a freshman year where she played only 10 minutes a game, Nooner told Abies that he believed she could average a double-double in the 2023-24 season.

“I remember when I told her, her mouth kind of dropped, her eyes got kind of big,” Nooner said. “It was probably more so because she didn’t get as much playing time as she felt she should have gotten last year.”

Abies didn’t quite average a double-double this season, but she came exceptionally close, with a team-high 12.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Abies got a double-double in 10 games, including three in a row against Memphis, Tulsa and The University of Alabama at Birmingham in January.

In American Athletic Conference play, Abies averaged 13.3 points and 10.9 rebounds. She had the second-most rebounds in the AAC with 267 and ranked 14th in points with 373. On Friday, Abies was named to the All-Conference third team.

Abies said when she was stuck on the bench for much of last year’s season, the leaders on the team told her to keep working hard.

“Seniors used to tell me last year, ‘Just be patient, your time will come,’” Abies said. “So now I’m having the time to play almost 30 minutes per game. So it’s just the chance that coach Nooner is giving me. I’m really grateful for this.”

Nooner said Abies is vital to the team on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

“Offensively … we don’t go up possession without her touching the ball,” Nooner said. “We play through her on each possession, so she’s a major part of everything we do across the board.”

Abies, who stands 6 feet tall, isn’t the tallest player on the roster. Nooner said her rebounding ability is less about height, and more about her “natural neck for reading shots.”

“I think she’s naturally gifted in just her ability,” Nooner said. “She’s a quick leaper and the way she gets up off the floor, even though she’s not tall in height, I think her reach, may be … 6-(feet)-3 or 6-(feet)-4. So she has these super long arms and she just knows she’s strong, so she just knows how to go up and get rebounds.”

Abies said she tries to stay physical on the court.

“My mentality when I’m on the court is you have got to be strong and be physical, and don’t let them make you look like you’re not strong,” Abies said.

Abies also has mental toughness. She suffered a concussion near the end of the Feb. 17 game against Tulsa, but immediately wanted to re-enter the game.

“When I got hit in the Tulsa game, I fainted for like five seconds, and I was like, ‘I need to get back because we need to win the game,’” Abies said.

Nooner said Abies’ desire to fight through injury shows up in practice as well.

“Even in drills, it’s times where I had to pull her out … because she wants to go so hard,” Nooner said. “She just loves to play the game of basketball, and she wants to be a great player. She has big-time goals for herself.”

Abies said confidence is a huge part of her improvement this year, especially in post scoring.

“I’m still working on some movements that I need to keep developing,” Abies said. “It’s just the little things that I used to do, but I didn’t have a chance to do last year.”

Abies said she wants to work on her passing and average more assists next year. Nooner said she draws attention from the defense in the form of double teams, which she breaks with her passing ability.

“She’s a willing passer and she’s a very unselfish player,” Nooner said. “So once she gets two people on her, that means we’ve got to have somebody wide open, which I think is why our 3-point percentages improved.”

Off the court, Nooner said Abies is also loved in the locker room.

“She plays so hard and is so aggressive and she’s so relentless, but off the court, she’s funny,” Nooner said. “She has jokes, and we love just hearing her speak.”

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

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