At just over the midway point in coach’s final season, senior basketball leaders focus on season goals

The+SIU+women%E2%80%99s+basketball+team+participates+in+a+pre-game+team+breakdown+on+the+court+before+the+game+against+the+Illinois+State+Redbirds+Jan.+20%2C+2022+at+the+Banterra+Center+in+Carbondale%2C+Ill.%0A

Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography

The SIU women’s basketball team participates in a pre-game team breakdown on the court before the game against the Illinois State Redbirds Jan. 20, 2022 at the Banterra Center in Carbondale, Ill.

After a dominant win over Illinois State, the first place team in the MVC at the moment, the realization that the end of the road is approaching sunk into the minds of senior basketball forwards Abby Brockmeyer and Mackenzie Silvey.

Silvey was closing in on the all-time leading scorer mark for the Salukis, previously held by Cartaesha Macklin with 1779 points. Silvey eventually broke that record on Jan. 22 against the Bradley Braves.

Silvey currently holds the record with 1780 career points and counting. Head Coach Cindy Stein said Silvey’s excellent play over her years with the program has helped SIU reach its full potential year in and year out.

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The basket she scored to break the record came at a crucial time for the Salukis to distance themselves from Bradley.

“You can’t say enough about Mack, right?” Stein said, “It was neat for her to get that shot here and at that time. We really needed that basket.”

Before she broke the record, Silvey said she had been trying not to think about it too much.

‘I’ve just been trying to win honestly. I haven’t really thought about it because it made me nervous a little bit. I really just want to do what helps our team win,” Silvey said.

While Silvey has been cutting through defenders on the perimeter in her senior season, Brockmeyer has been holding down the pa0int during her tenure with the Salukis.

Brockmeyer is currently averaging 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds on the season. Stein said she is incredibly impressed with Brockmeyer’s play this season as well.

“Abby does so much. She challenges and changes shots, she’s tough on the boards, she’s tough to guard down low and she still takes charges,” Stein said. “Those are things that a seasoned veteran does and she does all of them.”

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Brockmeyer usually lands the opponents’ best interior defender nearly every game. Brockmeyer said the fact she is a veteran helps handle that burden because she can use the tips that she has learned from Stein over the years.

“Every post I go against in the valley is going to be very good. But I just need to be ready, focused and not let one mistake get the best of me,” Brockmeyer said.

Not only have these two seniors been playing well, but other seniors like center Gabby Douglas and guard Caitlin Link have helped the team tremendously, too. Stein said Walker is incredibly important when Silvey and Brockmeyer can’t get their shots to fall.

“Obviously, Gabby is a big part of our offense, and she and the rest of the team know it,” Stein said.

Link and sophomore point guard Quierra Love have been the defensive force on the perimeter for the Salukis this season. Link’s veteran awareness and Love’s non-stop tenacity can give their opponents major issues on offense.

“I’m really proud of our depth on defense. We have Quierra pressuring the ball the whole time, while Link and Payton (McCallister) get out in the passing lanes,” Stein said, “Our defensive grittiness can keep us in games.”

Most of these players will be graduating in the spring. They are not alone. Stein announced before the season she would be retiring alongside her senior class.

“I know in my heart it is time and I want to be open and honest in this decision as we move into the academic year,” Stein said, “I want this year to be focused on this team, the great group of seniors and returners and the talented incoming freshmen,”

Stein said she tries not to think too much about this being her last season. She wants to remain focused one day, and game, at a time.

“We just gotta get better every day,” Stein said, “We have to focus on improving or else you can’t even get there [conference championship].”

That message is echoed throughout the program. Brockmeyer said the team needs to be more efficient shooting the basketball. If players could improve their three-point percentages, it could open up the entire offense even more.

“We definitely could get better at knocking down the three. That’s not a strong suit of ours right now,” Brockmeyer said, “we need to have a better outside presence.”

While the players want to improve their percentages, Stein said the team does little things as well.

“Our team has done a great job of really reading all the scouting reports and studying their (opponents’) personnel,” Stein said.

However, the conference championship is very present in their minds. Brockmeyer said winning the conference championship would mean the world to her and her teammates.

The Salukis have put themselves in a position to do so. The Dawgs are currently 10-6 and 5-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Silvey said although her team has lost a few this season, the Salukis have the confidence that they could win every game the rest of the way.

“We can run the table the rest of the way. Everybody is going to give us their best shot because they know we have been playing well,” Silvey said.

The talent in the Missouri Valley runs very deep this season. Illinois State sits at the top at 10-8 (MVC 6-1) right now, with Indiana State and Missouri State close behind. Southern Illinois is tied for second with the Sycamores.

According to Stine the Salukis believe they have the special recipe of chemistry, leadership, skill and potential that will make them a conference opponent’s nightmare come March.

“We can’t relax. The players and coaches in this league are just too good so you can’t overlook anybody,” Stein said, “Someone is bound to throw something at you that you aren’t ready for. But the secret for us is staying humble, and staying salty.”

Sports Reporter Cole Daily can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at cdaily_de. To stay up to date on all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter

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