The biggest fear, for Emporia State women’s basketball coach Jory Collins, is that he won’t do his job. That somehow he won’t help 6-foot-3 sophomore center Merissa Quick maximize her potential.
It can make for some tense moments between teacher and pupil — moments that can make or break a relationship.
Quick, to her credit, refuses to be broken.
“I got after her pretty good last year as a freshman and I got after her pretty good this year,” said Collins, who is in his third year as coach after nine years as an ESU assistant. “And I plan on doing it the next two years. With that much potential, the biggest fear is that they don’t become what you think they can be. And I think she can be an All-American.”
“She’s never said anything back to me but ‘yes’ or ‘OK’ … I’m actually kind of interested to see what she thinks of all of it.”
What Quick thinks doesn’t quite tell as much as what she does. She led the Hornets to the MIAA Tournament championship Sunday with a 22-point performance against Central Missouri in the title game and earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament.
The Hornets face No. 8 Washburn on Friday at 6 p.m. in Topeka in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament.
“I get a little upset when I get yelled at, but more than that I use it as motivation,” said Quick, a Cheney native. “I don’t open my mouth too much. (Collins) expects me to perform at a high level, I understand that.”
Quick averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds as a freshman, but she had microfracture surgery after the season on her right knee. It was her second microfracture surgery in four years following one after her freshman year of high school.
“It’s about 6 to 8 months of rehabs, but that kind of depends on a lot of different stuff with the knee,” Quick said. “(The knee) was about 60 to 75 percent when the season started but now it’s pretty much fully recovered. It’s always difficult to come back from surgery, but especially a major one like that. I just tried to go as hard as I could in rehab.”
As Quick’s knee got better, so did her numbers. She averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds — good enough to be named honorable mention All-MIAA — but Collins wants her to rebound better.
“She’s at around 6 per game, I think she can get around 10,” Collins said. “She just doesn’t realize it yet.”
Quick’s signature moment during the regular season came on the boards — 20 rebounds in a 61-48 win over Washburn on Feb. 27.
Friday is the fourth meeting this season for the MIAA rivals. ESU is up 2-1, with the last win coming in the MIAA Tournament semifinals last week.
Washburn and ESU also played four times last season, with the Hornets only win coming in the NCAA Tournament.
“Washburn knows everything about us and we know everything about them,” Quick said.
The ESU-Washburn winner plays Minnesota State-Mankato or Arkansas Tech on Saturday.