Elliott brings toughness to court

Back when Eddie Sutton was the head men’s basketball coach at Oklahoma State, he would have his players practice in football pads. The idea was to make them physically and mentally tough as well as learn how to take a charge.

Washburn University’s football coaches might need to look on the basketball court for their next star recruit.

And no she is not on the men’s basketball team.

“I actually played tight end when I was in junior high,” said Washburn junior forward Dana Elliott. “I made a couple of touchdowns.”

Don’t be deceived by the slender 5-foot-11 frame, the Wamego, Kan. standout loves to punish players on the court.

“I’m not really the best player out there, but I’ll push people around,” says Elliott. “I’m the person who will make you mad on defense.”

Elliott was a gifted athlete in volleyball, basketball and softball in high school. Her first love was actually softball, not basketball. The former short stop participated on the United States junior softball team traveling to play in Holland and Italy.

Elliott intended to play both basketball and softball at Washburn, but there was just to much on her plate.

As a result, she decided to stick with basketball. Elliott played limited minutes her freshman year, playing in 15 games as a forward and scored nine points on the year.

“I had a big head as a freshman,” says Elliott.

The swagger Elliott carried was not necessarily a bad thing. Head coach Ron McHenry was aware of his junior forward’s cockiness but saw it as a positive, not a negative.

“She was a winner and a really good athlete,” said McHenry. “Always had a little savviness to her.”

A more mature Elliott saw much more action her sophomore year, playing in 28 games. In her junior year, she continued to step up and became a integral part of the team. Elliott started 12 games in her junior campaign, averaging 3.9 rebounds per game. It’s the little things that Elliott does that make her a good player.

“She’s a physical kid. She doesn’t mind hitting you hard on screens,” said McHenry.

Junior forward Sierra Moeller went down with a hand injury during the first game of the MIAA conference tournament. Elliott stepped in and took her spot as the starter and fared well, scoring seven points and pulled down seven boards against Central Missouri in her first start since November.

“It’s different because at the start of the game you have to have the energy right away,” says Elliott. “I get a lot more tired starting than I did coming off the bench.”

Her defining moment of the MIAA tournament came behind the arc, something unfamiliar for the former high school post. Up by one with 1:37 left in the game against UCM, Elliott sank a big time three to give Washburn the momentum. The Lady Blues went on to defeat UCM and eventually Emporia State in the championship game.

“She’s gotten more comfortable this year,” said McHenry. “She’s a lot more confident in herself.”

Elliott and the Lady Blues saw their season come to an end in the second round of the Division II tournament to the pesky Lady Hornets of Emporia State. In her final game as a junior Elliott shot 2-for-7 with seven points. She had a a team high seven rebounds. Elliott still has another year of eligibility.

The grind it out punisher on the court has a much softer side off the court. She may cause bruises to her opponents but soon it will be her job to heal.

“I knew I wanted to go to nursing school,” says Elliott. “My mom actually graduated from Washburn and I wanted to stay close to home.”

The nursing major keeps busy with school and basketball but does manage to watch a movie or two here and there.

“I like a plethora of movies,” says Elliott.

It does not matter if it is an action movie, comedy, drama, or even a sappy love movie, Elliott loves them all. Simply put, she just loves to have fun.

After her senior year at Washburn, Elliott would like to move to Colorado with good friend and teammate senior center Cassie Lombardino.

“We really liked Colorado when we went there,” said Elliott. “I want to be a mountain woman.”

The mountains will have to wait one more year. The Washburn punisher has some unsettled business to finish her senior season as the Lady Blues look to reload and go after another MIAA title and possibly a Division II National Championship.