Ask Yianna Nadeau what she brings to the Dickinson State women’s basketball team and her answers have little to do with the traditional aspects of the game.
“Energy, intensity, a positive attitude,” she says without skipping a beat.
Yes, the 5-foot-10 senior forward from Portland, Ore., can shoot the ball and is one of DSU’s best defenders.
But Nadeau’s greatest attribute, players and coaches agree, is the way she can lead the team through her actions and words.
“She brings a great attitude,” DSU first-year head coach Caleb Harrison said. “She’s winner. She competes extremely hard every practice, every game. She’s brought a lot of leadership to the table this year. She’s done a really good job of building the trust of her teammates. That’s allowed her to hold her teammates accountable, when needed.”
Nadeau transferred to DSU from Casper (Wyo.) College last season to play for former head coach Andre Goldberg.
Since then, she has done a little bit of everything for the Blue Hawks, who host Montana Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday at Scott Gymnasium in a Frontier Conference game.
Nadeau, who has come off the bench just five times this season and started every game last year, averages 6.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game with 26 assists and 14 steals. She shoots 74 percent from the free-throw line.
Despite shooting under 30 percent from both the field and 3-point range, when Nadeau has the hot hand, it’s hard for Harrison not to turn her loose.
In a 71-63 win over Montana Western last Saturday, she shot 5 of 10 from 3-point range and scored a season-high 18 points. She was a big reason why DSU held on for its firstever Frontier victory.
After being held below double figures in scorings for five consecutive games, Nadeau has bounced back the past three weeks and is averaging 11 points in DSU’s last four games.
“I’ve been pretty cold here up until these last couple games,” Nadeau said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world, once you feel your shot come back.”
Harrison said when Nadeau is on the court, she is typically guarding the opponent’s best perimeter shooter not only because of her intensity on that side of the floor, but because her size and long arms give her range to defend.
“She takes a lot of pride in her defense and I think she takes a challenge really well,” Harrison said. “We can tell her to guard the best scorer on the other team and just work her tail off to get it done. She doesn’t back down to anyone and she just responds well to a challenge.”
DSU sophomore Janae Moore, however, said Nadeau is about more than just bringing energy to games.
Nadeau, she said, is the player who has no qualms about getting in her teammates’ faces if something isn’t going the way it should.
“One of her values is ruthlessness, and this isn’t meant to be taken negatively toward Yianna at all, because she plays the role so well on our team of being the ruthless one, of holding people accountable and being the enforcer,” Moore said. “That’s what our team has lacked the whole first part of the season, was somebody to hold each one of us accountable.”
The Blue Hawks are 6-15 overall with a 1-5 record in the Frontier. They could very much use a win today if they have any hopes of finishing in the top six of the conference, which would qualify them for the postseason tournament. DSU has four consecutive games on the road after this before returning home in late February for its final two games of the regular season.
Nadeau said she has no plans of ending her final season without a postseason bid.
“We can keep up the intensity and the energy and do the little things right, like we have been doing so far, and hopefully get those W’s on the road and come back and get the last couple home wins and get to the tournament,” she said.