CARBONDALE — When she did pull up behind the arc, SIU sophomore forward Abby Brockmeyer made 39.4 percent of her 3-pointers last season, the best percentage for anyone on the team who attempted more than 10.
The Salukis want to see Brockmeyer, the reigning Missouri Valley Conference freshman of the year, develop that part of her game after losing 3-point leader Kylie Giebelhausen. Giebelhausen, the team's only senior last season, made 60 of 200 behind the arc (30 percent) for a 17-14 squad that finished fourth in the league. Sophomore guard Makenzie Silvey (52 of 161), a member of the MVC All-Freshman Team with Brockmeyer, was the only other player on the squad to sink more than 20 3-pointers.
"When we scrimmage, I definitely go straight into my shot. I'm trying not to hesitate more," Brockmeyer said. "Freshman year I was a little timid shooting the 3 because it wasn't something I did in high school, but, getting into the scrimmages, I'm definitely looking for my shot."
Sixth-year coach Cindy Stein believes the 6-foot-1 Raymond native can be a threat there but doesn't want to pull her too far from the basket. Brockmeyer was the Salukis' leading rebounder (6.9 per game), leading shot blocker (38) and best overall shooter for players that attempted at least 100 field goals (49.5 percent) last season.
"Sometimes she second-guesses herself, and that's where we gotta get her more comfortable with that, but I do see her shooting more 3s," Stein said. "Our 4 faces the basket a lot, so it's really not any different than what she's been doing. It's a little different in our scheme, where we want to put her in a position where she's a little bit more of a go-to player, and moving her to an off-guard position will probably get more touches than the 4 would."
Brockmeyer is one of four returning starters on what appears to be Stein's deepest team since she came to Carbondale. Junior forward Nicole Martin (12 ppg., 5.5 rpg., 39 steals) was a preseason all-conference first team pick after starting 23 of 31 games last season. Silvey (10.4 ppg., 2.9 apg., 35 steals) averaged 28.1 minutes a game with 28 starts in 31 games.
Kristen Nelson (5.9 ppg., 80 assists, 82 turnovers), a 5-9 junior combo guard, could return to her more natural position at the off-guard spot with the addition of freshman point guards Payton McCallister and Caitlin Link. Both played extensive minutes during SIU's two exhibition victories and will share time with starting point guard Brittney Patrick (3.6 ppg., 2.2 rpg., 2.94 apg.).
Patrick's 91 assists last season led the team. The 5-6 junior was one of five Salukis with 30 or more steals, with 32 in 31 games.
Past replacing Giebelhausen's 3-point production, SIU's biggest question for the 2018-19 season lies at the 5. The Salukis' only three seniors are all forward/centers, 6-foot Celina VanHyfte, 6-1 Ashley Hummel and late addition Kezia Martin, Nicole's older sister. Lauren Hartman, a 6-3 junior that only played in 11 Valley games last season, also returns. None of them averaged more than four points a game.
"Our 5s need to be a presence in the paint, and I think that's something that Nicole's always brought, and now we've gotta get other people complementing her, and us being able to use her more facing," Stein said. "Our whole offense is around our 5s. We want to feed the ball inside. We want to score inside the paint, so, having that post presence is huge for us, and I think we've got a great group of post players that can do that."
SIU opens the regular season Friday night at Tennessee-Martin. The Salukis' home opener is Nov. 14 against Southeast Missouri State.
Fans can purchase season tickets to women's basketball games by calling 877-SALUKIS. SIU offers a Paw Pass for $90 that will get you into all home women's basketball, volleyball and softball games in 2018-19. SIU students get in free with valid ID.