A Perfect Fit

Maddie Krull Is Bringing Her Versatility And Tenaciousness Back to Nebraska

By Shawn Ekwall

It was a tournament run player’s dream about for Maddie Krull and her South Dakota teammates.

It started with the Coyotes’ knocking off seventh-seeded Ole Miss 75-61 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. A 61-47 upset of second-seeded Baylor on its home floor followed, propelling USD to the Sweet 16, before falling to Michigan 52-49. The loss ended the most successful women’s basketball season in school history.

For a mid-major Summit League school to flex its muscle in the NCAA tournament is rare, to say the least.

“Gosh, it was incredible,” Krull said of the historic run. “You dream as a kid to go to college, win a conference championship, play in the NCAA tournament. But beating Baylor was a feeling I can’t even explain. We just kept going and it didn’t even feel real. It was new to everybody and we enjoyed every second of it.”

The Yotes’ 29-6 record and epic tourney run made USD coach Dawn Plitzuweit and her staff a hot commodity. Plitzuweit was named the new head coach at West Virginia in late March, taking the majority of her staff with her. That led Krull, an Omaha native and 2020 Millard South graduate, to enter the transfer portal.

Though her stats weren’t eye-popping, Krull was the model of consistency since setting foot on the Vermillion, South Dakota, campus two years ago. She started every one of the teams’ 60 games over two years. Known for her unwavering defensive tenacity, she averaged 6.8 points per game during the past season. Many suitors came calling once she entered the portal, but ultimately, after a visit to Nebraska, the choice was clear. It came down to fit, culture and proximity to home.

“Definitely culture,” Krull said. “It’s something so valuable and when I took my visit I wanted to have a connection with my teammates. I follow Nebraska and Al (Allison Weidner) and the chemistry there is not faked. It’s real on and off the court, and that was important to me.

“Also, being close to home. Family is important and being 45 minutes away from home was a no-brainer.”

A strong family bond was mentioned several times during Krull’s interview with Huskers Illustrated. Krull grew up playing YMCA and early club basketball for her dad, Keven. The father-daughter combination continued with the Krush club team and her fifth-grade year with the Grizzlies, before they both joined the Nebraska Attack organization, which started when Maddie reached eighth grade.

“My dad is such a great advocate for girls basketball,” Krull said. “It’s fun to see him continue coaching. He can’t get away from it, he loves it so much. Our early years were … interesting. I kept thinking, ‘He yells at me the most, this sucks.’

“But I can’t take it for granted. I can talk basketball with my dad all the time. And my mom (Brenda) has been my biggest supporter. Both my mom and dad have always told me two things you control are your attitude and effort. They’ve both played such a big part in helping me become a leader.”

A self-described competitor, Krull hopes to bring that edge to NU, to learn from and push teammates to continue to achieve at a high level.

“I’m competitive, no matter what,” Krull said. “My teammates know I’m going to give it my all. I’m extremely excited to play with and learn from the returning players at Nebraska.” Zach Isherwood, Krull’s coach with Nebraska Attack, talked about her high motor and competitive nature.

“Maddie goes 100% in every practice, drill, game and shooting workout. Her constant energy makes everyone around her go harder. And not many kids have the ability to lead both by example and verbally, but Maddie does.”

Isherwood said those traits, along with playing against the nation’s top players on the summer circuit, have more than prepared Krull for the leap to a Power Five conference. Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Paige Bueckers (Connecticut) and Cameron Brink (Stanford) are a small sample of the many top-end players Krull and her Nebraska Attack teammates went toe-to-toe with over the years.

Weidner, who Krull played with in Krull’s final AAU season, is someone Krull is especially excited about being reunited with.

“That summer we played together on the circuit was kind of eye-opening,” Krull said. “To play against some of the best players in the country helped us so much. The sky’s the limit with Al, and I can’t even wait.”

And although Alexis Markowski played in the Nebraska Lasers AAU program, Krull knows what a force she can be.

“Alexis is a pain to play against. Let’s just say I’m excited to be on the same side as her. I’m excited to grow with them both.”

Success has followed wherever Krull has been. In her four seasons at Millard South, as a four-year starter, the Patriots went 99-13. However, a state title eluded the Patriots each year. And although Krull has regrets about not cutting down the nets in Lincoln, the close calls provided extra fuel and motivation.

“It makes my stomach turn just thinking about it,” Krull said. “But I realize now it was just part of my journey. Part of how I grew into the player I am today.”

Patriots coach Bryce Meyers calls Krull the consummate two-way player. One that can push pace on offense and lock opponents up on the defensive end.

“She can control the tempo of the game by herself,” Meyers said. “She sets the tone defensively with a tone of energy and pressure. Her leadership on and off the floor is what makes Maddie, Maddie. She is an absolute fierce competitor and off the floor is an absolute delight to be around. Her personality is contagious and so is her work ethic.” Meyers believes the match between Krull and Nebraska will be ideal.

“Maddie will fit in perfectly at Nebraska. From the outside looking in she seems to be exactly the kind of kid they are looking for in their program. She will compete for everything, not take anything for granted and do it with a smile on her face.”

Although Krull is ecstatic to be joining the Huskers, she took time to delightfully reflect on her two years in Vermillion.

“I was challenged immediately at USD. The coaches put me in tough positions with experienced players and without that I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in. In two years, I’ve grown a remarkable amount in terms of knowledge, skill and understanding the game. I’ll cherish everything about my time here and I’m so thankful. It’s bittersweet.”

Though reopening the recruiting process for a second time wasn’t originally in Krull’s plans, she credits the help of both Meyers and Isherwood for making it a seamless experience. Isherwood said he heard from more than 40 Division I schools within the first 36 hours of Krull joining the portal. The list included multiple schools ranked in the Top 10 in 2022.

“They both helped me navigate the portal and had faith in me,” Krull said. “They’ve always had faith in me and helped me believe I could do anything I put my mind to. “My parents are both from Hastings (Nebraska). Originally my goal was to work as hard as I could to get a scholarship to play at Hastings College. When this all started I didn’t know if any of this was possible.”

Needless to say, Krull has exceeded those original aspirations. And as she turns her attention to the future, she joins a Nebraska team that returns its entire starting five. She aims to add depth and help the Huskers move deeper into the tournament in 2023.

“I’m hoping this year I can learn from Sam (Haiby) and Jaz (Shelley). That they can teach me what it’s like to play at this level week to week. And I want to help the team win and be successful.

As far as topping this past season? Anything is possible.

“I hope we have an incredible season. Because I know it’ll be tough to beat last year.”

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Ted Kirk is a Lincoln-based photographer who has been a photojournalist since 1970. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native covered Nebraska Athletics from 1973 through 2018. During that span he covered thousands of Husker Athletic competitions around the United States. His work is being donated to the University of Nebraska Library Photo Archive.

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Ted Kirk is a Lincoln-based photographer who has been a photojournalist since 1970. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native covered Nebraska Athletics from 1973 through

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