Freshmen finding footing at college level

Freshmen finding footing at college level

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Incoming freshmen may need some time to find their footing in the college game. That’s even more true for athletes who go from being local stars in high school to just another player in college. 

SIU women’s basketball freshmen guard Olivia Bowling and center Ashley Hummel are finding this out firsthand.

Through 17 games for the Salukis, Bowling has seen action in 14 contests, and Hummel has played in six.


“It’s hard to come from high school where I played every minute of the game, and then come here,” Bowling said. “I get down on myself. It’s all mental.”

Bowling averages 1.8 points and 0.6 assists in 5.9 minutes per game. Hummel averages 1.0 point and 1.3 rebounds in 5.7 minutes per game. 

Another freshman, forward Tiajaney Hawkins played in each of SIU’s first five games this season before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. She averaged 3.0 points and 1.0 rebound in 6.8 minutes per game.

Hawkins is taking a medical redshirt this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining.

As for the other newcomers, they are spending their first year doing more watch than playing. 

Hummel said she came to SIU with high confidence in herself, but has since had to regain her composure.

“I didn’t know the players on the team, so I didn’t know they were going to be as good as they are,” she said. “I was confident and I was hanging with them, but when they started to really play their game, it started to bring my confidence down a little bit because they’re such good players.” 


Hummel said a combination of extra work outside of practice to get stronger and faster, and positive self-talk have helped improve her confidence. She played an average of seven minutes in the Salukis’ first two games this season but did not see action in the next six.

While they are not exactly seeing a glut of playing time, Hummel and Bowling have the advantage of learning the game from some of the best players in SIU history. Junior guard Rishonda Napier, senior guard Cartaesha Macklin and senior center Dyana Pierre are all 1,000-point scorers for the Salukis.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Bowling said. “I hate sitting on the bench, but I’ve learned it’s actually a good thing because I get to watch the leading scorer in SIU history play, and what I’ve learned from them is ‘Don’t take nothin’ from anybody. Take it at ‘em.’”

Bowling and Hummel combined to play less than one minute Friday night. Bowling was injured chasing a loose ball shortly after entering the game for the first time. Hummel did not play.

“I think they’re each getting better in their own way,” coach Cindy Stein said. “They’re doing solid things for us. It’s a huge learning curve for them still, but they’re doing everything they can to help us in practice and games.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307