Michaela Dapprich isn’t quite sure what to make of the celebration over her three-point shooting.
The Wichita State freshman thinks its great people are saying her shooting stretches the floor and gives the Shockers, a senior-laden, defensive-minded No. 14 seed, enough of a threat on offense to make for a dangerous first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament.
But she doesn’t understand why it’s a surprise.
“I’ve always been able to shoot three,” Dapprich shrugged.
Surprise or not, Dapprich has become one of WSU’s most valuable pieces as it embarks on its first NCAA Tournament trip to College Station, Texas, to play No. 3-seed Texas A&M on Saturday.
It didn’t take long for WSU coach Jody Adams to identify Dapprich’s most unused skill in high school.
“She has one of the best shots I’ve seen in my career,” Adams said.
More times than not, Dapprich is matched up with a slow-footed post on the other team. Because she has shown she has the sturdy base in a 5-foot-10 frame to combat taller player, Dapprich’s touch from the outside makes her a matchup nightmare.
“She makes them have to adjust to us,” Adams said. “We want to put her in situations where she can use that shot. Being an undersized post, she’s going to stretch bigger, maybe not as mobile posts to the three-point line.”
Those situations typically arise in transition offense when the ball is sent to the corner and swung back to a trailing Dapprich at the top of the key. More times than not, posts gravitate toward their comfort zone — the lane — instead of staying with Dapprich on the perimeter.
In the last seven games, Dapprich has been a sniper, making 15 of 29 three-pointers, good for 52 percent, and at least one in every game.
“I tell Dap every time she’s open to shoot it,” senior point guard Jessica Diamond said. “We have 100-percent confidence that she’s going to knock it down, so we’re always looking for her.”
Sophomore Alex Harden’s takeover on offense had Wichita State headed in the right direction. Dapprich’s emergence advances it even further.
No longer does Wichita State only win games when it holds teams under 65 points. No longer is Wichita State dependent on Diamond for offense.
Dapprich’s averages of 16.4 points and 2.6 three-pointers the last five games has had ripple effects. That will be important going against a Texas A&M frontline that goes 6-1, 6-1 and 6-4.
“It pulls those posts out and it opens up the driving lanes for the rest of us,” said Harden, the main beneficiary. “They’re a lot bigger than us, so we’re going to need all of the driving room in the paint we can get so we don’t get our shots smacked.”
After a little prodding, Dapprich finally began to see how her evolution into a sharpshooter in college could be unforeseen.
But it’s not a secret anymore.
“I guess I have gotten more consistent in college,” Dapprich said. “I’ve always been able to shoot, but now I’m a lot more confident in myself.”