Courtney Fredrickson can’t remember the last time she missed a free throw in a game.
That’s understandable considering that it’s been almost two months since she missed the third of four foul shots in the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team’s victory over Southern University.
Since then, Fredrickson has made 19 consecutive free throws, slow-walking her way into the UW record book.
“Don’t jinx me,” said Fredrickson, who will try to extend her streak tonight when the Badgers (7-10, 0-4 Big Ten) take on Northwestern (8-10, 1-3) in Evanston, Illinois.
Fredrickson’s free throw streak, accumulated over a 15-game span, matches the fifth-longest in UW history. Jessie Stomski needed just three games to make 19 straight free throws in 2000. Michele Kozelka set the school record of 29 consecutive free throws over three games in 1989.
“I feel like I’ve always been a good free throw shooter but, knock on wood, I have never been as good as this year,” said Fredrickson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward. “We practice free throws a lot and I still want to be more consistent.”
Consistency, like that free throw streak, has been slow in coming for Fredrickson. But after struggling with her shooting touch as a freshman and early this season, she has emerged as a consistent scoring threat of late.
She has scored in double figures in six consecutive games, the last five of those coming after she moved back into the starting lineup when senior Cayla McMorris missed three games for personal reasons. She’s averaging a modest, but team-leading 11.7 points during that stretch and is shooting 50 percent in the past three games to boost her season shooting percentage to .367.
A small step, but a definite improvement over last season when she shot just .294 from the field.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to try to be more consistent,” she said. “Granted, I’m not shooting perfectly, nor will I ever. I’m still going to miss shots but I’ve been in the gym a lot more, trying to shoot more consistently.”
Coach Jonathan Tsipis welcomes the offensive uptick for his scoring-challenged team, but he also continues to prod Fredrickson to improve her consistency in other phases of the game.
“When we were without Cayla she had that next-person-up mentality, knowing she was going to have to do more,” Tsipis said. “I think you see the consistency in the scoring. We talk all the time about being a consistent rebounder and I think Courtney will tell you that there’s an advancement she has to continue to make defensively.”
Fredrickson, who led her Minnetonka High School team to the Minnesota Class 4A state title as a senior and played for the elite North Tartan AAU program, is determined to do whatever she can to help the UW program achieve success.
“Coming from such successful programs, to be honest, I wasn’t used to losing as much as we have in the last couple years,” she said. “Obviously, I don’t like it at all and we’re trying to change the culture as much as we can. We’ll get there. By no means do we enjoy it, but we’re working hard and learning lessons.”
Fredrickson and teammate Abby Laszewski share some of those lessons with their roommates, UW volleyball players Sarah Dodd and Mallory Dixon.
“We talk about our sports a lot,” Fredrickson said. “We actually talk about how our coaches are very similar. I think that’s why coach (Kelly) Sheffield and coach Tsipis have bonded so much, because they are so similar. We laugh about it because we’ll come home and say something after a game and my roommates will be like, ‘That’s exactly something that Kelly would say.’ It’s really funny.
“We’ve really bonded and I’d recommend people to room not only with your teammates but with people from different sports. I’ve learned a lot from their sport and their culture. They were saying it was kind of an off year for them and yet they still made it to the Sweet 16. I kind of laughed a little at that. Nice off year.”