Dec. 19, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - Shay Weaver wears jersey No. 10 for Marshall women's basketball.
Perhaps the sophomore should switch to 3.
The 5-foot-9 Weaver has the top-scoring game for first-year Coach Matt Daniel's team - 19 points twice - and also has taken 28 more shots than any teammate. But she's not just a shooting guard.
Weaver ranks among the top 25 in Division I in 3-point goals per game (2.9), as the Herd (5-5) faces an old Southern Conference foe, Furman (3-6), in a 2 p.m. Thursday matinee at the Cam Henderson Center. She leads Conference USA in the category, too.
In 39 career games, Weaver has 68 baskets from behind the arc. She said one of her goals when she came to Marshall from Arlington, Texas, was to set the Herd record for 3-pointers.
She's well on her way. Her 68 threes already ranks tied for 10th in Herd women's history. This season, with 29 in 10 games, she's only played one-third of the season and can challenge the single-season mark of 68 by Kizzy Hart (2007-08).
"I didn't start shooting 3s until my sophomore year (at Euless Trinity High)," Weaver said. "My junior year, I became a good shooter. Before my sophomore year I couldn't shoot a 3 to save my life, I'd airball all the time.
"I hated it, honestly. My coach would make me shoot 3s in practice ...worst thing in the world to me. Then my AAU coach said, `You'll have to shoot 3s, and work on ball handling.' So, I started taking lots of shots. It definitely got better, because it had been really horrible."
Weaver had five 3s in each game in the Herd's appearance at Eastern Kentucky's tournament three weeks ago - 5-of-11 against Jackson State and 5-of-6 against Presbyterian ... but she had no inkling.
"Honestly, at Eastern Kentucky, I thought it be an off game because my shot was off in warmups and I didn't really like the goals," said Weaver, the Herd's only double-figure scorer on the season (11.9 ppg). "Then surprisingly, I started hitting. Usually, when I have a good 3-point game, my shot goes in a lot in warmups. When I know it's going to go in, I have more chance for it to really go in. The more confident I am, the more it seems to go in."
Funny how that works, huh?
"When I just only focus on 3s, they're completely off," she said. "If I think about something else, like defense or getting rebounds, I don't know how, but it helps my shot. Also, when I wait a little bit to shoot, get set, I have more chance of making it."
Weaver's stat line is a 50-50 proposition. She's 29-of-78 behind the arc (.372). From two-point range, she's 12-for 30 (.400). She's averaging 3.1 rebounds, but knows she has to cut down on her 2.7 turnovers per game on a team that is averaging 18.8 turnovers - "too many," Daniel said - while transitioning to a more uptempo attack with a coaching change."
Last season, Weaver averaged 6.1 points, started nine of 30 games, and was a Conference USA All-Freshman Team pick for former MU coach Royce Chadwick, who moved to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Enter Daniel, from Central Arkansas, leaving Weaver somewhat worried, she said.
"At first, it was hard because it seemed like it took me the whole season last year to finally get how Coach wanted me to play," Weaver said. "Finally, I thought, `OK, I know how to play; I know what he wants me to do.' And it took almost all the way to the end of conference (play) to get it.
"Then we change (coaches) and it's like, `Oh my gosh, what am I going to do, I don't want to repeat last year, take that long.' It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. I thought, with the different plays we run, I thought I'm not going to get this, but I did."
Weaver also has found Daniel's offense to her liking because it enhances her ability to get better shots.
"There are more open looks now," she said. "I think it's the change in the offense because we play a lot faster than we did (in 2011-12). Last year, it was a lot more stationary stuff. I like this a lot better.
"I get open better in this offense. Say there's a double screen and I'm coming from baseline to the other baseline? The ball's being moved so fast now, I don't have to get there and wait on it. Sometimes before I had to wait on it, and then the defense gets there. Now, the fact that the ball's already there, I can set and shoot."
Weaver said she thinks because of her perimeter play, sometimes other aspects of her game are overlooked. She said she "rebounds pretty well, especially for a two-guard."
Daniel said Weaver, like the others of his 10-player roster, continues to figure it out.
"I think Shay has adapted as well as anybody, obviously, because she's having success," Daniel said. "We're 5-5. We've all got room to grow."
And he said Weaver's increased open looks behind the arc are about more than the offensive scheme.
"I think she competes, competes every day," Daniel said. "She cuts harder than anybody we have and when you cut harder and get into a spot, as aggressive as we are and we want to be, you're probably going to get good looks.
"And the harder you cut, the quicker you can get set, which equates to success behind the arc. Shay's a competitor, one of the most competitive kids we have. Now, she's got potential to grow and get a lot better. She's just a sophomore, only 40 games into her career."
That's plenty of time to rewrite that Herd record book behind the arc.