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The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University

The University News

A Shaky Start or Marked Improvement?

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(Emma Duman/The University News)

    SLU’s Women’s basketball just got back from Laie, Hawaii where they posted a 1-2 record during the North Shore Showcase. The Billikens are currently sitting at 4-3 after a close win over the Illinois-Chicago Flames. 

     A point of emphasis for the Billikens has been their hustle or as Coach Tillett calls them “unselfish” stats. These stats generally do not show up in the box score, but are imperative; not only to on-court success but contribute to building team chemistry. They offer an impressive look into the overall cohesion of the squad. The team keeps track of dives for possession, and-ones, charges drawn, deflections, double assists and screen assists. Over theses seven games the Bills have averaged 10.29 dives, 1.43 and-ones, 2.29 charges drawn, 23.14 deflections, 1.86 double assists and 3.14 screen assists per game. Almost every name on the roster appears on each list at least once, a great sign that the players have bought in and are dedicated to Head Coach Rebecca Tillet’s program.

     Coach Tillett is in her second year heading the Billikens. When she came to SLU from Longwood, she knew that she was leading a rebuild, and some might even say she has already completed it. She led the Billikens to their first ever National Tournament appearance last season. Tillet can be described in many words but none of them would be complacent. Seven players have started for the Bills over there first seven games, with the only three constants being junior point guard Kennedy Calhoun, senior power forward Peyton Kennedy and graduate wing Kyla McMakin. In the five games she played Julia Martinez started at the 2-guard but has not played since getting injured during her outing against Wake Forest. In that game, she totaled seven points, nine rebounds and two steals. Her impact last season was crucial for SLU’s conference championship, and it remains to be seen how long she will be out. 

     Kennedy and McMakin currently lead the Atlantic 10’s highest scoring offense, which scores 79.7 points per contest and are first and fourth in the conference in scoring with 17.1 and 16.4 respectively. McMakin entered the season as the NCAA’s third active leading scorer, with 2,233 career points. She currently sits at 2,348 and will only add to that as the season continues. She is on pace to eclipse 2,740 by the end of the season which would put her into the top 25 all-time, just ahead of former WNBA All-Star Chiney Ogwumike. 

      The most notable position in flex is the center position. After four consecutive starts for junior transfer Marcavia Shavers, she started sophomore Brooklyn Gray, then Shavers again, and then junior Tierra Simon. All three were healthy over this three-game stretch and played significant minutes. In fact, Gray took McMakin’s place as the starting small forward when she slid to shooting guard following Martinez’s injury. They have been impressive contributors, and it remains to be seen who Tillett will start once the squad is back to full health. 

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     Coach Tillett is no stranger to slow starts. The Billikens entered conference play last year 4-11 before taking the conference by storm, going 10-6 and winning the conference tournament. Tillett proved most of the doubters wrong last season and is looking to show the few that remain that last season was no fluke and is in fact the new standard for SLU’s women’s basketball program.

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About the Contributor
Ismael Domin, Sports Editor
Ismael Domin is a sophomore majoring in Data Science. Born in Nashville and raised in Chicago, Ismael currently holds the role of Co-Editor of Sports alongside Nora Kotnik.
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