On Oct. 16, junior guard Katelynn Flaherty tweeted a photo of a Shot Tracker placed below a basketball net at Michigan’s practice gym.
The machine had three numbers written on it: 517 shots attempted. 500 shots made. 97 percent made.
Flaherty posted this astonishing practice feat as a countdown to the Michigan women’s basketball team’s first game of the season, but through the Wolverines first seven games, it has become representative of Michigan’s dominant 3-point shooting.
At 45.5 percent, the Wolverines currently hold the nation’s best 3-point field goal percentage. They're also scoring at a high volume, making the fifth-most 3-pointers in the country — trailing fourth-place Sacramento State by just 2 with 82 fewer attempts.
Most of Michigan's 3-point prowess comes from Flaherty and senior guard Siera Thompson, who are second and first, respectively, on the Wolverines’ all-time 3-point list with 205 and 209 shots made from behind the arc.
Thompson’s talent beyond the arc has been subtle and hard to defend, as the starting point guard and season assists leader also has an arsenal that extends beyond her outside shooting, posing a difficult test for opposing point guards.
“Siera’s been terrific all season long,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Coming into this year we talked and said, 'Siera you have to score for us a little bit more, you can really knock down shots and take some of the pressure off of Katelynn.’ ”
Though Thompson’s place atop the 3-pointer list is noteworthy, Flaherty is well on her way to becoming the greatest shooter in Michigan’s history less than a quarter of the season through her junior campaign.
In fact, Barnes Arico and the rest of the team are more surprised when she misses.
“Any time she shoots the ball, we know there’s a good chance it’s going in,” Barnes Arico said. “She makes it really hard for other teams to defend us because she’s such a great scorer."
While Flaherty and Thompson are the main 3-point threats — knocking down 33 of the Wolverines’ 65 3-pointers this season — Michigan has displayed its depth of long-range shooters.
Off the bench, sophomore guard Nicole Munger and freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick have shown veteran poise from the 3-point line.
Munger already has 10 3-pointers to her name this season after hitting 21 in 34 appearances last year. Her shooting proved to be vital against No. 25 Gonzaga last Thursday. After the Bulldogs tore off an 8-0 run to bring Michigan’s lead to four with 3:19 in the final quarter, Munger stymied their momentum with a 3-pointer and a drew a charge on the following play to seal the victory.
Gondrezick was a highly touted recruit because of her scoring abilities, and her transition to the college game has looked seamless, as she has averaged 2.3 3-pointers a game as the first player off the bench.
While the Wolverines are confident in their game from deep, they also like to emphasize improvements on defense so that they don’t have to live and die by the 3.
“Our defense has gotten better, and that is something we really stressed in the offseason,” Barnes Arico said. “But our ability to shoot the ball and go in transition is something we did pretty well last year. We are continuing in that same direction this year with a little bit more experience and more confidence.”