ORANGE CITY, Iowa | As the old saying goes, giving is better than receiving and nobody typifies that mantra more than Northwestern College point guard Renee Maneman.
Although soft spoken and small in stature, the 5-foot-5 junior from Fonda, Iowa, lets her performance on the floor do the talking.
Maneman leads NAIA Division II in assists by a wide margin, averaging 7.91 per game. Her closest pursuer checks in at 6.24 a contest while Maneman’s 166 total assists are 51 ahead of No. 2 on the list.
Aside from her uncanny ability to find an open teammate, Maneman makes playing basketball look easy. She goes about her business as relaxed and under control as you could possibly be while in the heat of a hardwood battle.
“I have a lot of great teammates out there who make me look good,” the ever-modest Maneman said. “I feel blessed to be surrounded by a bunch of great teammates.”
A scorer by nature – Maneman averaged 15.2, 17.4 and 15.4 points per game in her final three seasons at Newell-Fonda High School – she is now more content to dish off to somebody else.
In other words, Maneman is the engine that makes the Red Raiders roll. Northwestern is ranked No. 25 in the country, 15-6 overall and 7-6 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
“Coach and I have talked about that, just being a threat shooting the ball and penetrating and trying to look for my teammates and getting the best shot,” Maneman said. “I love it here, my teammates and coach are awesome.”
Northwestern Coach Chris Yaw said fans who see his team play are sometimes awed by a pass that Maneman can make and she is capable of some special ones.
“As a coach I’m really spoiled,” Yaw said. “I get to see every day how she directs and runs the ship. From a little slight turn left, a little slight turn right, we need a little more on the gas pedal, we need a little break, she is just controlling so many things. They go unnoticed to the average eye because you’re awed by some of the passes and special plays.”
Maneman equaled her career high with 12 assists in Northwestern’s 71-60 win over Briar Cliff Wednesday at the Bultman Center. It was her fifth game this season with 10 or more and she is on pace to break the single-season school record of 204 set by Miranda (Boekhout) Riedeger in 2007-08.
“Renee is amazing and makes our team better, she’s just awesome,” said Anna Kiel, the newest member of the Northwestern team. “She is a great player. We played her in high school and I can remember our coaches saying ‘she is a good passer, she’s a good player, she’s fast.’ Now to be able to play with her is even better.”
Former Orange City Unity Christian standout Kiel recently transferred to Northwestern from Iowa State University.
“When I watched her play in high school I knew that she had some pretty good gifts with the ball,” Yaw said. “What excites me the most about Renee is to watch how much she’s grown up. I know that’s a buzz phrase, but to me that means there’s a ton of mental toughness that’s grown in that young lady.
“She’s quiet by nature but she’s influencing people in a great way. The physical tools were all there but what she’s done to elevate herself with a tough mental focus and being a great leading teammate is really fun and special.”
Maneman is capable of putting up a double-double each time she takes the floor. She’s averaging 9.1 points per game and despite playing point guard, has had a couple of games when she fell just short of grabbing 10 rebounds and averages 4.4 per contest.