Every day after the Michigan women’s basketball team finishes practice, Katelynn Flaherty stays on the court and takes 1,000 extra shots.
“I’m like, ‘Katelynn, we just had a three-hour practice,’ ” said junior center Hallie Thome at the team’s Media Day. “But no, it’s Katelynn. I mean, it speaks to her.”
Flaherty’s work paid off last Thursday, when she passed Diane Dietz – who had held the record since 1982 – as the program’s all-time leading scorer in just the third game of her senior year. Coming into the season, this was an inevitability, but Flaherty blitzed to the finish. She not only averaged 24 points per game over the Wolverines’ first three contests, but on Thursday – just nine points from the record – Flaherty came out and nailed her first three 3-pointers of the night.
A few minutes later, she hit a fourth for good measure. She isn’t the type to leave things unfinished.
“The record was not on my mind,” she said Monday. “I was just kind of taking what was wide open and I just knew that’s what we needed to do to score and get points on the board. And usually I don’t get looks like that right away, so I just felt good taking them.”
In the heat of the game, there wasn’t even time for it to sink in. Michigan was scrambling to keep up with No. 5 Louisville, a task the Wolverines ultimately weren’t up to as the Cardinals pulled away late to win 74-49.
“But after the game it definitely set in,” Flaherty said. “And it was pretty cool just to reflect on past years and think about it.”
Added coach Kim Barnes Arico to WTKA after the game last Thursday: “I had heard about Katelynn since she had been in the third grade. We lived in the same state and it was going around that there was this third grader who was going to be special. And now here I am today, she was eight then and 22 now, and I am just lucky to be her coach.”
Now, when Flaherty walks into Crisler Center and looks up into the rafters, behind the basket where Michigan hangs its retired numbers, it comes with the realization that her #3 will likely join Bill Buntin, Cazzie Russell, Phil Hubbard, Glen Rice, and Rudy Tomjanovich. Flaherty would be the first women’s basketball player to join that club, but it’s hard to imagine a reason why it wouldn’t happen.
“It’s just crazy to think about,” Flaherty said. “Even just thinking when I walk in the gym, I’m the all-time leading scorer on the women’s side, and I think that’s just crazy and still doesn’t feel real as of right now.”
With the Wolverines looking at their best chance to make the NCAA Tournament since Flaherty has been in Ann Arbor, don’t expect her to slow down this season. After all, practice is over and there are still 1,000 shots left to take.