Buck closes in on 1,000-point mark

North Dakota senior forward close to capturing new mark in college career.

Senior Madi Buck dribbles the ball in last Saturday’s game against Montana State at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center — a game that halted UND’s five-game win streak. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

UND senior basketball team captain Madi Buck is quickly approaching her 1,000th collegiate point.

She’s at 970 points, and the power forward isn’t even half-done with her final season.

After reaching the 1,000-point mark as a senior at Century High School in Bismarck,  Buck knew she wanted to do it again — only the next time would be in Division I women’s college basketball.

“It was always one of my individual goals, coming into college as a freshman,” Buck said. “I didn’t worry about it, I just kind of played and did whatever I could to help the team, but it was always a target.”

Buck’s athletic success runs in the family. The Bismarck native grew up surrounded by athletes. Both her parents played ball, and Buck’s sisters and cousins almost all participated in sports, including basketball.

“It was just kind of the culture in my family,” Buck said. “Both my sisters played sports and my parents played sports, it was just how I was brought up. I started playing when I was around four or five, but competitively when I was around third grade.”

And ever since, the 6-foot leading scorer for UND has been hooked on the rush of competition.

“My favorite thing about playing is the whole competitive side of it — playing in games, going to the Betty and being in front of a crowd that loves watching us and is really supportive,” she said. “Just that feeling of everyone rooting for you, there’s not any other feeling like it. It’s a blast.”

Close to home

Buck knew in her first year as a high schooler she wanted to play at the college level eventually.

“Colleges started contacting me my freshman year and that made it more real,” she said.

After multiple offers, Buck decided to stay close to home in the Midwest, where her family could travel to home games in about four hours.

“I like the location,” she said. “My parents are here for every home game and my sisters come whenever they can.”

But family wasn’t Buck’s only reason for choosing to play for UND.

“A big part of picking UND was the team,” she said. “I felt like I fit right in and it was home almost … I mean I got along with the girls really well, it just felt right, and the coaching staff too. I felt really comfortable.”

Buck was set to redshirt her freshman year, but that changed when Gene Roebuck, the coach at the time, saw the freshman’s ability to perform on the court.

“He approached me after practice and asked me if I’d like to pull my redshirt and that the team could use me at the power forward position,” Buck said. “I agreed to it. It was a hard decision, but I’m glad I decided to play.”

Buck’s debut performance saw double-digit scoring that led the Sioux in its game against Green Bay, and that set the tone for Buck’s next four years in the No. 13 jersey.

The senior has racked up 2,670 minutes of playing time so far in her collegiate career, and, along with her many points, has accumulated 651 rebounds, 137 assists, 127 steals and 76 blocks.

Leadership role

This year, Buck is one of four seniors named team captains, and said she feels comfortable in the role of leader.

“I’m always trying to be consistent with my leadership and be there for my teammates,” she said. “If one of them is having a tough game, just being there for that. Also being a senior, it’s my time to step into that leadership with all of my experience. It just comes with the territory.”

Buck’s nearly reached 1,000th-point goal notwithstanding, the senior is pleased with the past years spent in Grand Forks.

“Obviously there have been some ups and downs and it’s been hard, but I’ve met some of my best friends and had a really good time,” she said. “I’m happy with my time here so far.”

Buck continues to major in human resource management and plans on graduating in May 2015.

“I’d really love to work for a sporting goods company, just because I’m really familiar with the culture and love being around that,” she said.

But UND may not be the end of Buck’s basketball career.

“Playing overseas isn’t out of the question,” Buck said. “I’ll focus more on it after the season is over. If I get the opportunity to, I may (play), but it all depends on whether or not my body can handle it I guess.”

Recently, UND (11-5, 6-1 Big Sky) lost its first Big Sky Conference game of the year against Montana State — though still holding its No. 1 conference ranking — but Buck isn’t fixated on the loss and remains optimistic about the team’s success.

“Obviously that was a tough loss,” she said. “But now we don’t have as much pressure on ourselves to stay undefeated. It’s tough that the loss was at home, but we’ll just take it game by game and build from there, just learn from it, and move on.”

Buck and her teammates suit up Saturday on the road against Northern Arizona at 7:30 CST.

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].