To advance USI’s women’s basketball game Sunday at home against Marygrove College, I write in Sunday’s Courier & Press about Nicole Hazemi. She’s a 6-1 junior forward who has suddenly become a scoring threat this season after two years of mostly unexceptional play. What I wasn’t able to work into the story was how Hazemi shoots.
She uses her left hand. But she’s naturally right-handed. Her explanation for why this came about: “When I was younger, I shot with both hands. Then they (her coaches) told me to shoot with one hand, and I picked my left hand even though I’m right-handed. I even shoot free throws with my left hand.” USI coach Rick Stein, though, likes that she shoots left-handed and that it was a plus when he was recruiting her. “You have a left-handed player that can throw off a defense,” he said, meaning that because most players are right-handed, guarding a left-handed player would necessarily be a little more difficult because it’s different. “I think it’s a strength of hers, being a left-handed post player.”
She also shoots with an odd fadeaway style, falling away from the basket as she shoots. What makes it especially unusual is she is 6-1, taller than most female players at the Division II level; she should have no reason to fall away from the basket since few players are tall enough to block her shot. Yet, even her hook shot is a “fader,” as she puts it. The result is, quite frankly, a rather awkward-looking shot. Sometimes she even seems to contort her body to get one of these “faders” off.
But now it’s working. She’s averaging 6.8 points and has already scored 15 points in one game (against Notre Dame College). Suddenly, Hazemi has added even more depth inside for a team that already starts two outstanding players, sophomores Anna Hackert and Mary O’Keefe, in the paint.