Liz Bart’s home on the basketball court is about 20 feet away from the basket.
She is so comfortable beyond the 3-point line that after missing three layups in a recent game, Bart was questioned by her coach at Olivet Nazarene University, Lauren Stamatis, about the misses.
“I came to the bench and she said, ‘What’s going on?’” said Bart, a Cary-Grove graduate who is a senior guard for the Tigers. “I said, ‘I’m sorry for missing the layups.’”
Stamatis reminded Bart that the most dangerous part of her game is shooting 3-pointers.
“I said, “You mean I can just stop at the 3-point line and shoot instead of taking a layup?’” Bart asked.
Bart is such a threat that she entered this week as the national leader in NAIA Division II in total 3-pointers (64) and 3s a game (4.57).
“If she’s indoors, she’s open,” Stamatis joked. “We let her shoot from anywhere.”
Bart, a 41 percent shooter from long range, has helped ONU to a 10-6 record and seven wins in its past eight games. She averages a career-high 16.4 points a game, which ranks second on a fast-paced squad that scores 109.6 points and shoots almost 50 3-pointers per game.
To sharpen her shooting eye, Bart said she added an extra duty to her offseason workouts, which included five days a week of running and three weightlifting days.
“I’m not much for dribbling, so I focused on making 100 3s a day after each workout,” Bart said. “My brother, T.J., rebounded for me, so it didn’t take long.”
Bart scored her 1,000th career point Dec. 20 against Madonna University and had a season-high 33 points – including 10 3-pointers – in a 133-92 victory Nov. 22 against Mid-Continent University. She is on pace to demolish her career-high total of 98 made 3-pointers from last season.
“She’s been a real consistent leader for us,” Stamatis said. “And, she’s such a positive person. She’s always happy.”
Stamatis said the Tigers have benefited this season from having a group of male athletes to practice against each day.
“They really work on running at Liz and our shooters from all different angles – from the side, from behind,” Stamatis said.
With the men’s practice team simulating defenders during game conditions, Stamatis has noticed more confidence in Bart.
“I see the confidence in how much space she needs to get a shot off and the focus she has when the guys are running at her,” Stamatis said.
Bart’s confidence, in turn, has grown, thanks to playing with almost the same “shift” of players through her career.
The Tigers regularly substitute five players at a time to keep fresh athletes on the floor and wear down opponents.
“From year to year, you learn more about the people you play with,” Bart said. “That gives you a lot more confidence. There are four seniors and one freshman on my shift, and we’ve done really well. That gives you confidence in everybody on the team.”
Lake Forest leader Madson: McHenry’s Brian Madson is the leading rebounder this season for D-III Lake Forest College’s men’s basketball team.
Madson, a junior forward, is averaging 5.8 rebounds to go along with his 10.2 points a game for the Foresters (3-7). In a 71-68 win Nov. 30 against Ripon, Madson pulled down a season-best 11 rebounds. His season-best total of 20 points came Nov. 23 in a 92-89 loss to Macalester.
Signs of spring: The nation’s first D-III baseball preseason poll was released last week, and two Illinois schools were recognized.
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s poll included Concordia University Chicago at No. 13 and Augustana College at No. 22.
Concordia is coming off a season in which it posted the highest winning percentage (.848) in D-III and won three NCAA regional games, a first in school history. The Cougars (39-7) are the defending Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference regular-season and tournament champions.
Among Concordia’s top returnees is junior third baseman Steve Zubrzycki of Marian Central, who batted .338 last season with 24 RBIs and posted a .419 on-base percentage.
Augustana (34-11) won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin tournament and was two wins shy of qualifying for the NCAA’s D-III World Series.
Among the returnees for the Vikings is sophomore pitcher Jamie Rammel (McHenry), who was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA last season.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.