NORMAL — An Illinois State women's basketball team that struggled to score points last season lost its top scorer to graduation.
The Redbirds' quest to locate and cultivate more offensive production takes to a public forum Wednesday as Division II Maryville visits Redbird Arena for a 7 p.m. exhibition game.
"I think last year was just inexperience. We were very young," said senior guard Katy Winge. "We're still young. But the experience has helped a lot. We're recognizing roles a little bit better this year and knowing what opportunities are there for us."
Second-year ISU coach Barb Smith, whose Redbirds finished 10-20 in her debut season, believes Winge and junior college transfer Kelli Tolar will help improve ISU's dismal 28 percent 3-point shooting of a year ago.
"That wasn't Katy's role in the past. This year she is going to take those shots," Smith said. "She's going to have the green light to take outside shots and create, and Kelli will be on the other side of that."
Smith plans to start Winge and junior Stekara Hall at the wings, sophomore Taylor Stewart at point guard with junior Sue Crump and sophomore Zenobia Bess at the forwards against Maryville.
"We had a scrimmage about two weeks ago. That was a starting point, and this is another measuring stick," said Smith. "We were kind of sloppy in that game. We want to shore up our passing and be a little more organized."
Maryville returns four of its top five scorers from a 20-12 team.
Shelby Miller, 5-foot-7 senior, averaged 15.4 points last season. Alex Hillyer is a 6-3 junior who contributed 12.0 points. Other returning starters are 6-0 senior Rita Flynn and 5-9 junior Jordynn Martin.
"We scouted them a little bit," Smith said. "But we're really trying to fix some things we need to get better at. We're taking baby steps right now. I would like to see a big step (Wednesday)."