Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Addie Budnik from Highland Park shines in Richmond’s remarkable journey to NCAA Tournament.

Addie Budnik’s time with University of Richmond women’s basketball may or will not be over, however the memories will linger endlessly.

The 6-foot-2 senior forward from Highland Park played a starring role throughout the Spiders’ historic season, which ended with a 72-61 loss to Duke on March 22 in the primary round of the NCAA Tournament.

It was only Richmond’s fourth appearance in the large dance and its first in nearly 20 years (1995). Richmond finished 29-6 on the season and as Atlantic 10 regular-season and tournament champions, a primary for the Spiders; though, they won the CAA in 1991. Richmond was also 14-0 at home and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time.

Budnik was named the Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 tourney, and the ultimate moments of the Spiders’ 65-51 title-game win against Rhode Island are something she’ll always remember.

“That final minute of that game … the last minute all of us just hugged,” Budnik said.

The subsequent, and last, time the Spiders were on the court was the season-ending loss to Duke.

“An unbelievable experience to play in March Madness and all the pieces that comes with it,” Budnik said. “We embraced that, enjoyed every second.”

Even within the result, Budnik and the Spiders took some consolation. They’d lost by 51 (100-49) to Duke in December 2022 and by 30 (83-53) on this yr’s season opener.

“That shows the maturity and the way much we improved as a bunch,” Budnik said.

It began with the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, when Budnik was named A-10 Rookie of the 12 months and led the league in blocks because the Spiders went 13-9.

“Coming in freshman yr, the coach (Aaron Roussell) sold this vision to us of how (good) this system could possibly be,” Budnik said. “Yearly we’ve made strides.”

The Spiders reached the A-10 final and played within the WNIT last season, ending 21-11. That raised expectations for a special season this winter.

“We knew with everyone returning we had a probability,” Budnik said. “It’s an incredible feeling to see all our labor repay.”

Budnik averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and a pair of.3 assists per game this season, shooting .385 from 3-point range and .803 from the foul line. She also led the league and was top-10 nationally in blocks en path to being named the A-10 Defensive Player of the 12 months.

Budnik also has taken on the sort of role one would expect for a four-year veteran.

“Coming in freshman yr, I used to be just a little more shy, not super vocal,” Budnik said. “As time has gone on, I’ve develop into more confident, having the ability to speak up when it’s needed.”

As a senior at Highland Park High School, Budnik averaged 20 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks per game, and one thing she’s joyful to discuss is her sport’s surging popularity since those days.

“If there’s a time to be a women’s basketball player, it’s at once,” Budnik said. “Iowa played in a sold-out football stadium. Viewership is on the rise. I’m seeing that in our own fan base.”

She noted one game this yr when the seats at Richmond’s Robins Center were crammed with red-shirted fans 40 minutes before tipoff.

“That wasn’t happening 4 years ago,” Budnik said.

With the season wrapped up, Budnik is checking out her future. She’ll graduate in June with a business degree and has one yr of eligibility remaining due to the COVID exemption, which the NCAA offers to varsity players who competed throughout the COVID-impacted seasons.

Remaining at Richmond is a possibility and so goes elsewhere.

“Academics is the predominant priority,” she said.

Navigating the brand new world of faculty athletics could be a bit disorienting.

“I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Budnik said. “It’s definitely a weird time seeing the (players with extra) COVID years and the transfer portal, happening social media and seeing someone latest has entered the portal every hour each day.”

She doesn’t expect the method to take long.

“I’m hoping to figure this out in the subsequent couple weeks,” Budnik said. “I’m doing research.”

And he or she’s savoring the memories of a season for the ages.

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