A look at the future of Saluki women’s basketball


Brian Mu–oz

Freshman guard Makenzie Silvey looks to pass the ball Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, during the Salukis’ 74-63 victory over the Valparaiso University Crusaders at SIU Arena. (Brian Mu–oz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Dillon Gilliland

Only one senior remains on the  SIU women’s basketball team.

Ten of the 14 women on the roster are either freshman or sophomores. Prior to the start of the season, a question for fans is, who of the young players will step up and take control?

Coming into the season, head coach Cindy Stein said she had a team with plenty of talent; however, she had a “guarded optimistic view” of the season due to having many young players.


Stein also said with a young team there comes a possibility of an “up and down roller coaster” and the young team needs to take care of the ball.

Since then,the team struggled to take care of the ball but proved they have the talent to contend for the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Salukis currently sit on a 6-2 MVC record that puts them in third behind Missouri State and Drake.

Along with the solid season start, the Salukis discovered hidden gems on the team as freshman forward Abby Brockmeyer and freshman guard Makenzie Silvey stepped up and earned starting spots in the lineup.

Silvey proved that she could handle Division I basketball early in the season as she showed off her 3-point shot with confidence.

The Saluki guard reigns from Glen Carbon and attended Edwardsville high school, where she earned several all-state honors. She also led her team to the 4A state championship game.

Coming out of high school, Silvey had several D-I scholarship offers, including SIU,  SIU-Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri State.

“[SIU] was the first school that started recruiting me,” Silvey said. “That really meant a lot to me.”


The guard also said that SIU allowed her to have a little more freedom while not being too far away from home.

“SIU was the perfect distance from home,” Silvey said. “It’s close enough for me to still visit home on the weekends, but still far enough to let me be on my own.”

While many expect the most significant change between high school and D-I basketball is an increased pace of play, Silvey said that aspect is not much different.

She said the biggest change for her was the conditioning and lifting that is required.

“The strength, physicality and speed of these girls are just so different from high school,” Silvey said.

Silvey hit the ground running in  D-I ball, averaging 10.8 points game, scoring 205 points at the time of writing while shooting .351 from beyond the arc.

Stein stated time and time again her respect for Silvey’s 3-point shot, as well as her confidence.

“Makenzie is fearless,” Stein said following the victory against Northern Iowa on Jan. 5. “She could miss ten shots in a row and she will still believe that she’s going to make the next one, and she usually does.”

Makenzie recently had her season-best game in SIU’s victory over Valparaiso on Jan. 21. Silvey posted a team-high, career-best 19 points along with a career-best six rebounds. She shot 5-10 from beyond the arc in the contest.

Silvey’s performance against Valpo earned her the honor of MVC Newcomer of the Week.

For now, Silvey said she just wants to continue to improve her defense and overall quickness. The guard also stated that she wants to have a career in which she can work with the statistical side of sports.

While Silvey continues to dominate the Saluki backcourt, Brockmeyer is providing a consistent force as the leader of the frontcourt.

Brockmeyer is from Raymond and attended Lincolnwood High School where she averaged a double-double all four years. She also received several all-state honors.

“I grew up in a small town,” Brockmeyer said. “Moving to a big college town was quite an adjustment, to say the least.”

In Abby’s little free time, she likes to nap and hang out with her friends along with playing other sports such as golf and tennis.

While in high school, Brockmeyer also played softball and golf, but basketball was her calling because she enjoyed the fast pace of the sport.

Brockmeyer received several scholarship offers out of high school including SIU, SIUE, SEMO, Illinois State, Bradley and several other Division I colleges.

“SIU really takes care of its athletes,” Brockmeyer said. “The professors really work with us and I love the coaches.”

Abby also said that SIU is “relatively” close to her hometown so it allows her family to come and visit at her games.

Coming into her first year as a Saluki, the forward said that the transition was not entirely difficult but Division I did provide some new challenges.

“I had to get adjusted to the quickness of the game and how much better the opponents are,” Brockmeyer said.

The forward averaged 10.7 points a game on 204 points. She also averages 7.2 rebounds per game.

In her freshman year, Brockmeyer has already posted four double-double games along with her season-best game at Evansville where she put up 27 points, 14 rebounds and three steals — all career-highs.

Brockmeyer has been writing her name in the history books since the moment she stepped on SIU Arena’s floor.

Earlier in the season, Brockmeyer was named the Newcomer and Player of the Week by the MVC, becoming the fifth player in MVC history and first in SIU history to sweep both honors in the same week.

In Southern’s first two conference games of the season, the forward combined for 43 points — the most of any MVC player through two conference games this season and the most by a freshman to start Valley play in program history.

Brockmeyer’s 27 points against Evansville also tied the record for most points in a single game by a freshman in program history.

“When you start to earn accolades, teams start to take you more serious,” Brockmeyer said. “It does add more pressure.”

For now, Abby wants to continue to work on her 3-point game to add to her arsenal of weapons on the court.

The forward said that she does not plan to play ball post-collegiately for now. Instead, she wants to focus on school and find an area to major in so she can get a “good job.”

“So far this season has been great,” Brockmeyer said. “I’ve had a lot of fun and I can’t wait for the next few years.”

Overall, Southern has proven that despite its youth and inexperience, it can still hang with the best of them. The young Salukis show great promise for the future seasons ahead.

“The best part about being a young team is we get to spend the next three years together,” Brockmeyer said.

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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