Middleton, Nkumu looking to put forth lessons from last season into action

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Redshirt first-year guards Rose Nkumu (left) and Danyel Middleton (right).

For many first-year student-athletes, the transition to college can bring challenges. For some it is living away from home for the first time, while for others it is adjusting to the difference in level of competition between high school and college.

Marquette women’s basketball redshirt first-year guards Rose Nkumu and Danyel Middleton are no exception to that.

“Coming in from high school last year to college it’s a different mindset of how fast the game is and how much you have to control on the court,” Nkumu said.

Nkumu has worked a lot on moving the ball around the court and her play-making skills.

“Rose brings a lot of intangible things that are unseen, she’s going to do some good things for us and we’re excited to see Rose play this season,” Taylor said.

Like Nkumu, Middleton saw limited action in her true first year with the Golden Eagles.

Middleton, who saw eight minutes across five games off the bench last season, said she is eager to show her game and skills this season.

“The biggest lesson I learned last year was to wait for my time,” Middleton said. “Time always comes and just (from) working hard, you will start to see the hard work on the floor. I want to be a role model to our freshman and am looking forward to supporting the girls throughout the season.”

Taylor said Middleton is a huge competitor.

“Danyel will get out there, fly around, get deflections, she plays hard but she’s going to be special for us,” Taylor said. “We need her competitiveness.” 

Marquette women’s basketball head coach Megan Duffy said among the team’s redshirt first-year class Middleton is the most improved from last year.

“She’s practicing better and just focused on this team,” Duffy said. “Whatever role we give her, she’s really excited about it.”

In Marquette’s 96-35 win over Alcorn State Nov. 9, Middleton finished with two points, four rebounds, two steals and a block.

“Thought she played extremely hard and did a lot of intangibles,” Duffy said. “When I looked at the stat sheet I was surprised she didn’t have more numbers but her voice, she took a charge and had some deflections. Those little things with role players if we can buy into that, we love that about her.”

Taylor said on the offensive end, she has worked with both Nkumu and Middleton on passing and coming open for shots.

Meanwhile on the defensive side, the focus has been on movement and communication.

 “The last thing is defense. We’re improving tremendously as a team defensively so that’s something we’re building on this year up until the end of the season,” Taylor said.

Middleton worked a lot last season on waiting her time and staying out of her head. She aims at staying patient this season to improve her playing time while encouraging the others.

“Staying out of my head was a huge growth I’ve made from last season and believing in what I can do,” Middleton said. “I plan on putting it all out there on the floor and forgetting everything that goes on in life and making sure I do what’s necessary for the team and myself.”

From the sideline last season, Nkumu plans on executing what she has learned in practice and applying it into games.

“Last year I wasn’t very vocal and got talks with Coach Duffy and Jordan on how important it is for a point guard to be vocal,” Nkumu said. “Just continuing to build on my leadership skills and communicate with my teammates are some of my main goals for the season.”

This story was written by Hannah Freireich. She can be reached at hannah.freireich@marquette.edu or on Twitter @Hannahhnicole14.