Jory Collins leading the charge towards a new era for Bison women's basketball
In only his second season in charge, the Bison are already off to its best start in years.
FARGO-- After winning five division two national titles between 1991 and 1996, the North Dakota State women’s basketball team has struggled in recent years. Last season the Bison brought in Jory Collins, a coach with nearly two decades of experience, who says confidence is key to getting back on top.
“We’re here now and we’re ready to go,” said Collins.
Change is inevitable, but it’s not always bad.
“It’s very refreshing, change is a good thing. Sometimes it's hard to adjust to, but I’m confident this change is for the good,” said senior forward Emily Dietz.
In this case at North Dakota State, change is already turning out to be great.
“You have to believe. If you want to go out and win you have to believe that you’re actually going to do it and that you’re capable of doing it. Confidence comes from you have to do something to earn the confidence, you can’t just talk about it,” said Collins.
In April 2019, Jory Collins made the move from the University of Kansas to North Dakota State. He also spent 11 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Emporia State. When coming to Fargo, Collins was taking over a Bison team that had only won a combined 40 games over the past five seasons.
“He came in last year and he’s like this is what I’m here to do and we followed his plan. I mean we saw just with the little time that we all did have together, we made a pretty big jump, so with it being his second season I think it’s going to be really impactful,” said sophomore guard Ryan Cobbins.
Even with Collins taking over the change wasn’t immediate.
“Last year we started 0-7 and we finished our last 20 games roughly around .500 and were much more competitive. There was some games last year early where it got tight in the third and fourth quarter and I could see it in our players eyes that there was a little bit of doubt there and I’m not used to that. I’m used to believing the best thing is going to happen and we’re good enough to make the best thing happen,” said Collins.
“I’d sure not like to start in the hole like we did last year, but I would like to start off this year competing at the level that we did last year and then obviously improve that throughout. This year the communication is better, the understanding of what we’re doing is a year later and a year more experienced with it,” Collins added.
As the 2019 went on though, Collins’ changes were already starting to show.
“It’s a new era here and that’s what we’re here for is to build this foundation and win games,” said Cobbins.
That new era is already underway. The Bison are off to a 3-0 start to the season for the first time since 2017. The Bison also have nine new players on this season's roster.
“We brought them in to impact our team, we’re going to expect them to impact our team.”We’re going to have a lot of different people be able to impact our team. Last year we were kind of counting on two or three to do the heavy workload, and I think that’s going to be able to be a little bit more spread out this year, just the depth wise we're able to put out there. We’re young and green, but the expectations are that they’re going to contribute.”
Senior and Shanley grad Emily Dietz has been involved with the Bison since the beginning of those woes.
“It’s been an experience, I have grown a lot as a person just going through different challenges and changes. Like I said, change is a good thing and it’s hard to adjust to right away. But it was difficult at first coming from a winning program at Shanley and then kind of coming into something that was kind of struggling, but I have just been so glad and confident that I’m right where I need to be,” said Dietz.
Over the last 12 seasons either South Dakota or South Dakota State has won the Summit League Tournament title. Now North Dakota State is ready to be brought into the conversation of conference contenders and it starts with Coach Collins.
“Jory definitely does have a big part to do with it. I think when your coaching staff believes in you and you start making shots in practice and you start making plays and you’re seeing everything put together, it really is a confidence booster,” said Cobbins.
“I think it’s just the confidence. Jory has done a great job of instilling confidence in this team and we’re able to walk into a game and really truly believe that we have a chance to win it. So I think that has been the biggest area of growth even personally for me just having the confidence going into a game that I could be a competitor in that game and be a difference marker and I think that they have done a great job of instilling that in everybody in our team,” said Dietz.
In a time with so many changes, the Bison are embracing theirs, in the first steps towards that new era.
“We’re not going to put any numbers on we’re going to win this many or we’re going to finish here. We’re going to go out and compete every day, we’re going to try and win every single game and I think if we do that the wins will come where we need them to and we’ll be a better basketball team,” said Collins.
The Bison are back home on December 16th to open conference play with North Dakota.