BOWLING GREEN — Kadie Hempfling may don the Orange and Brown of Bowling Green State University now, but the Ottawa-Glandorf product is still delivering on the basketball court.
Against Detroit Mercy Tuesday night, it is classic Hempfling. The red-headed freshman fireball is grabbing rebounds, producing precision passes and flying to the floor for loose balls.
As always, Hempfling makes it look easy as she seems to have made the effortless transition to Division I college basketball.
But behind her god-given talents and her love for the game, Hempfling, who has started in eight of the Falcons’ first nine games, said it has taken a lot of hard work to get to become a starter as a freshman for the Falcons.
“Definitely not. It has not been easy,” Hempfling said. “Everyone knows coach (Robyn) Fralik works hard and that stems down to us, so we work hard every day in practice or shootaround or whatever we do, and I think you can see that on the court.”
On the court, Hempfling’s number are quite impressive for a freshman. Despite her size, 5-foot 9-inches, she leads the club in rebounding with a 9.2 carom per game average and she is second on the team in assists, dishing out 4.1 a game.
Against Detroit Mercy, her line reads 3 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. The 11 boards matches the season high for the team and it was the fifth time this season Hempfling has grabbed 10 or more rebounds
But to Hempfling, the most important stat is the final score: Bowling Green 79, Detroit Mercy 73.
While the scoring is down, Hempfling, who is averaging 6.2 points a contest, is happier to share than to score and understands her role and when to fill it.
“If we win and I don’t have to score that much, that does not matter to me,” Hempfling said. “ A win is a win. I am a team player so I actually like passing more than scoring because it is more fun. I really look for passing but I also look for my own chances. It just depends.”
First-year head coach Robyn Fralik said versatility is what got Hempfling into the starting lineup and what makes her such a tremendous asset on the court.
“She is fierce,” Fralik said. “She is a great competitor and a kid that everyone wants on her team. She is a good passer. She is a good rebounder and she is an unselfish player. She really will do anything that the team needs.”
Fralik said it has been fun to watch how Hemplfing has put in the time and effort to earn a starting spot and added she has already made an impact in the first nine games.
“She really understands how to play,” Fralik said. “Her feel is just so high and that has really helped her transition to the college game. Her ability to rebound, and from a post position to start the break is pretty unique, and helps our transition game. Her passing makes everyone on the court look better.”
Fralik is looking for continued development from Hempling and said one area on which to focus would be being more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor and putting up more points.
“Her ability to pass is so special but it also creates opening for her and she needs to advantage of those when she can,” the Bowling Green head coach said. “What makes her unique, and I know I keep saying this, is that she can do so many things. She is not just a one-tool player or plays one side of the court. She plays both sides of the court and she does multiple things. You can play her in so many spots. She can essentially play a one through five if you needed her to.”
Even though Fralik was not the coach that recruited Hempfling, the two seem to have it off primarily due to each other’s hard work ethic.
“I coouldn’t be more thankful that coach Fralik came in and is the coach. She is an amazing coach,” Hempfling said. “Coach Fralik is so easy to work with.”
When she first came to BGSU, Hempfling said she wanted to work on her speed and defense. She also looked to gain a rapport with her teammates.
Hempfling is one of two freshmen who start and she said she worked hard to make the starting lineup.
“I think I worked hard enough to be able to earn that spot and it is definitely earned” Hempfling said. “No one spot is for sure right now even though we are nine games in, anyone can be taken out of the starting lineup on a given day so I think that is awesome because it makes it really competitive in practice and that is what we need. A competitive edge.”
Hempfling added that the support she has received from the coaching staff, teammates and BGSU community has also been a major factor in her feeling comfortable on and off the court.
As Hempfling and the Falcons, who are 5-4 for the year, enter the meat of the schedule and Mid-American Conference action, the former Titan wants to continue to work on her game, team chemistry and getting more wins.
“I am definitely looking to keep playing really, really hard and tough,” Hempfling said. “I don’t really know how the MAC looks or anything like that because I am a freshman. It is not like I can go watch like I was in junior high. We just trust the scout.”