COLUMBIA — Around 7 a.m. Sunday, Amanda Hanneman was headed to Mizzou Arena to get some extra shots in before the Missouri women’s basketball team played a 1 p.m. exhibition game against Central Missouri.
“Up early for shoot around, time to get some shots up! Let’s light it up, let’s get it,” Hanneman posted to her Twitter account.
The Tigers will open regular season play against Northern Iowa at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15 at Mizzou Arena.
And light it up she did, scoring a team-high 20 points en route to a 80-59 Tigers victory.
The senior shooting guard was 8 of 11 from the field, including 2 for 3 behind the 3-point arc.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Hanneman said. “They were going in. I just kept shooting them.”
Finally healthy after an injury-riddled first three seasons, Hanneman is poised for a breakout year. When asked how it feels to finally be healthy and playing again, Hanneman said: “Words can’t describe it. This is the chance I’ve been waiting for for three years now.”
Hanneman spent two weeks in Las Vegas over the summer rehabbing and trying to get back to full strength. She lost a lot of hip mobility and had trouble with her footwork as the result of having two surgeries on each foot last year. In addition to the Las Vegas trip, her workout regimen over summer break helped strengthen her hips and core and restored her quickness and footwork.
“Being healthy just affects my mindset,” Hanneman said. “Last year, not having my feet right, it was just one big head game.”
Being healthy has allowed her to play up to her potential.
“I think Amanda’s going to have a great opportunity to show why we recruited her,” coach Cindy Stein said. “I think that she did show that, especially in the first half. She’s a great shooter.” Hanneman scored 18 of her 20 points in the first half, going 7 of 8 from the floor.
“There’s times we could probably get her the ball a little more,” Stein said. “That’s the great thing about her 20 points. We really didn’t set her up for anything. That was all Amanda right there creating her own opportunities.”
If Hanneman continues to produce as she did Sunday afternoon, she will help pick up some of the slack that was left when last season’s leading scorer, Alyssa Hollins, graduated. Stein said Hanneman is similar to Hollins in that she has an uncanny ability to read defenses.
“We are very confident with the ball in Amanda’s hands,” Stein said. “She can do a lot more things than she even got time to do today.”
Stein’s praise didn’t end there.
“She’s probably got a little quicker release (on her shot) than Alyssa did,” Stein said. “We look forward to her having a great senior campaign.”
After averaging 7.6 points per game and shooting 41.4 percent behind the arc as a sophomore, Hanneman slid to 1.7 points per game last season. Being a senior, Hanneman wants to go out with a bang. That’s why she spent a considerable amount of time in the gym over the summer taking extra shots and continues to do so before and after every practice this year. And while she has no set number of shots she takes everyday, she shoots at an exhausting pace.
“I don’t count them,” Hanneman said. “Just until my arm gets tired.”
Hanneman’s work ethic has been noticed by her teammates.
“Amanda’s heart and passion have always been there regardless of whether she was hurt or healthy,” said junior guard RaeShara Brown.
Hanneman said she hopes her hard work will lead to her shooting the lights out every game for the remainder of the season.
Game Notes: Junior forward Shakara Jones added 16 points and five rebounds, highlighting a strong game by Missouri’s post players. Kendra Frazier and BreAnna Brock made significant contributions as well, scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Tigers turned the ball over 19 times against a Central Missouri team that didn’t put much defensive pressure on Missouri.
Jessra Johnson and Christine Flores were held out of Sunday's contest for precautionary reasons. Stein said both had minor "tweaks" and would have played if it was a regular season game.