Hiedeman plays with confidence, improved shot selection

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Hiedeman plays with confidence, improved shot selection

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

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With Marquette leading by 31 in the fourth quarter of the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinal, senior guard Natisha Hiedeman pulled up for a 3-pointer deep enough to make former men’s basketball player Andrew Rowsey blush.

“I just felt like I was open, so I just shot it,” Hiedeman said. “I think it was the dagger.”

The outcome of Sunday’s quarterfinal was decided long before Hiedeman’s 3-pointer made it a 34-point game, but her confidence has given Marquette plenty of daggers.

St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella, who saw Hiedeman score a double-double before halftime, said Hiedeman’s confidence is not a new phenomenon.

“She’s been like that since (she was) a freshman,” Tartamella said. “She shot it well. She’s attacking. She is playing with confidence. She’s really good.”

Kieger said much of the confidence comes from her teammates. Hiedeman is part of a six-person senior class that has five 1,000-point scorers.

“She’s really confident right now, but it also stems from her teammates,” Kieger said. “It lets the pressure get off her a little bit, so she can play free and play with that green light that we’ve given her.”

While her confidence has always been there, the results have increased significantly this year. She has already scored  over 100 points more this season than in previous seasons. Her field goal percentage has increased by more than 5 percent.

“She’s always been a really confident shooter,” Kieger said. “Where she’s really elevated her game this year is she’s taking smarter shots.”

Her 3-point percentage has increased by 6 percent, which Kieger attributed to Hiedeman’s driving ability.

“She’s penetrating a little bit more, which is opening up her 3-pointer a little bit more,” Kieger said. “They have to pay attention to her penetration as well as the three-ball.”

Her improvement, which resulted in her receiving the BIG EAST Player of the Year trophy Sunday, has gone beyond shooting as her rebounding numbers have almost doubled.

Kieger has also noticed an improvement in Hiedeman’s consistency. Sunday’s 20-point performance was Hiedeman’s 26th game this season with at least 14 points.

“Her biggest thing is consistency,” Kieger said. “When she figures out it’s all based on energy, she’s really hard to stop.”

Tartamella attributed that increased energy back to her improved shooting.

“When she’s hitting shots, she seems to have a lot more energy,” Tartamella said. “She’s the (BIG EAST) Player of the Year for a reason.”

With these improvements, Kieger said Hiedeman should be in consideration for All-American honors. The last Marquette player to be an AP All-American was Krystal Ellis, who played from 2005-’09.

“I’ve been saying it all year. When Natisha is locked in, I think she is an All-American candidate,” Kieger said. “She’s playing at a really elite level.”

Hiedeman is quick to share credit with her coach.

“(Kieger) fed us a lot of confidence,” Hiedeman said. “We use it as fuel.”

As Hiedeman exited the press conference after Sunday’s win, Kieger gave her a high-five and said six words.

“You played like a true veteran,” Kieger told Hiedeman.

Hiedeman will return to action Monday against Georgetown for the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals. In the meantime, there’s at least one coach happy to see Hiedeman leave after this season.

“She’s just a really good player,” Tartamella said. “I’m certainly happy she’s graduating.”

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