Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Monday, September 03, 2018

WNBA Playoffs: Princeton Grad Blake Dietrick Living the Dream With Atlanta




WASHINGTON – About two hours before game time on Sunday, as ushers placed placards on chairs, Blake Dietrick fired shots, sprinted to a spot on the floor, received the ball and released it again during pregame warmups at the Charles E. Smith Center on George Washington’s campus. 


The former Princeton standout was in her sneaker-squeaking zone, oblivious to all of the pregame commotion around her of technicians meticulously moving wires across the floor, arena personnel methodically checking equipment and reporters snapping photos and shooting video as the loud music of Drake and Fetty Wap piped throughout the arena.


The only noise that mattered to Dietrick was the sweet sound of the ball consistently whistling through the nets as she worked up a sweaty lather. 


It was as if she was the only one in the gym.


Dietrick is already living her dream.


“It’s incredible,” Dietrick said following pregame warmups Sunday prior to the Dream’s 97-76 loss to the Mystics. “I never imagined being in this position when I talked to (Dream head coach) Nikki Collen on the phone when I was in Greece and they were thinking about bringing me into camp. 


“I told her I loved her by the way she was up front with me with what my role would be on this team and the vision she had for the team. I couldn’t be happier with how everything is going. My teammates are best group of people you could ever imagine.”


Dietrick and the rest of her Atlanta Dream teammates are one victory away from reaching the WNBA Finals for the fourth time in franchise history when they host the Washington Mystics Tuesday night in a decisive fifth game at 8 p.m. (ESPN2). 

The winner advances to the WNBA Finals against the survivor of the Phoenix-Seattle series. The fifth game in that series is in Seattle beginning at 10 p.m. (ESPN News and NBA-TV).


Dietrick’s journey from Princeton to the precipice of the finals is already a terrific story of the power of perseverance, dedication, heart and faith.

 The 2014-15 Ivy League Player of the Year was undaunted despite being undrafted following a memorable collegiate career for the Tigers. 

Ivy stars have been a rarity in the WNBA, the previous one with the most staying power was Harvard’s Allison Feaster while in recent years the Crimson’s Temi Fagbenle, who also played at Southern California, is with the powerful Minnesota  Lynx.


I was invited to training camp here in D.C.,” Dietrick said. “It was a great experience and a little bit of a shock changing from the college to the pro game. I had a year overseas in Italy and then I made the team in Seattle.

“That extra experience at the pro level playing with older, wiser and more athletic players helped. I’ve been grinding overseas, got a chance to come to training camp and made the team.” 


The 25-year-old Dietrick competed for the Bendigo Spirit of the Australian National Basketball League after her WNBA stint with the Seattle Storm and then moved on to AO Dafni Agioy Dimitrioy of the Greece League. 

She averaged 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and shot 47.7 percent for Bendigo. She was better in Greece as her performance caught Collen’s attention. She scored 18.5 points a game for AO Dafni Agioy Dimitrioy along with 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists.


“Every good team has a Blake,” Collen said. “She truly understands the team first mentality. She’s first in the gym and prepares herself. I trust her whether she plays one minute or 15 minutes, and I know she’s going to be prepared. 

“Coaches get themselves in trouble when the 11th and 12th players don’t understand what their role is. Blake is better than a 11th or 12th player. She’s helped us win some games. If you make this team, it will be because you do all these little things and there’s a consistency about you whether you play or don’t play.”


Dietrick has played in two of the games in this heated series that’s knotted at two games each. She played six minutes in the Dream’s 78-75 win in game two. Then in Sunday’s setback, Dietrick had two rebounds and handed out an assist in five minutes.


She had big moments during the regular season like scoring 12 points in 23 minutes in a loss to Chicago in June. 

However, Dietrick’s impact goes beyond the numbers. Collen uses Dietrick late in games for defense, to inbounds the ball or defend an inbounds play. 


While Dietrick had a good base coming out of Princeton, she knew she had to enhance her game and improve specific aspects in order to fulfill her dream of playing in the WNBA. She put in the work behind the scenes in the gym and it’s paid off. 


“I think what I really needed to improve on was playing out of a ball screen,” Dietrick said. “We did it at Princeton but we were more of a motion offense and so I think improving on attacking off of a ball screen, attacking bigs, finishing at the rim and improving my three-point percentage were personal goals.

“I might not be the most athletic, but if you have to guard me on the three, then I can probably get by you to the rim. That’s always been my game. You have to keep working. I don’t think there’s a point where anybody in this league is ever content with where their game is.”


With a vivacious spirit, Dietrick is also beginning to prepare for life after basketball. She completed a Harvard Business School online course while in Greece. She is also planning to participate in the WNBA-affiliated business program with Harvard University in their esteemed business school next spring. 


That’s the future.


The present is one game at home for a trip to the WNBA Finals. 


“I knew I deserved to be here as long as I kept working hard and doing my best,” Dietrick said. “It’s exciting to be in this position.

 “You can’t be an imitation of somebody else to be exactly who they are. Just work on being the best version of yourself and you’ll be successful. If we focus on ourselves and our style of play, we will be successful. Playing our best basketball is what needs to happen for us to win.”



Anonymous Mr. Netter said...

I love Blake Dietrick or BD as I call her. She is that unsung player who is always in attack mode and giving her all for the cause. I'm always rooting for her to get a three pointer but will settle for any score out of her if she doesn't. I am disappointed if she doesn't score though but happy that she gets in the game.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Carol Smith said...

Blake is always prepared when she enters the game. She is also a great cheerleader when on the bench, showing her enthusiasm and support for those on the court. She really works hard on defense and eventually will become more consistent with her shot.

5:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home