Alysha Devine's daily basketball routine is all about monotony. She walks onto the court, stands inside the key and fires up 100 shots.
Then, on many days, she moves outside the key and takes 25 mid-range jumpers from four different spots. After that she moves back a couple of steps and launches 25 3-pointers from four different spots.
It's a routine that has driven her to frustration. It's a routine she has honed to a science. It's a routine that has taken her from defensive standout to scoring threat as the UAA women's basketball team prepares for Monday's NCAA Division II national championship game.
A year ago, Devine was urged to change her shot by UAA coach Ryan McCarthy. She accepted the challenge and the monotony that came with it.
"I have always been like, kind of a shooter, but very inconsistent," said Devine, a 6-foot-1 junior forward from Wasilla. "One game I'd make them all, and the next game I'd miss every single one.
"Coach McCarthy said, 'Devine. We gotta change your shot so you can be a more consistent shooter.' I was all for it."
And so a year ago, at the end of her sophomore season, Devine began the task of modifying her shot. It was a chore built around routine and repetition.
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Her objective was to change where she released her shot. She had always started her shooting motion with the ball near her waist. The goal was to begin her shot with the ball closer to her face, or what McCarthy calls her shooting pocket.
"He said it was going to be a very tedious and long process," Devine said. "He said I was going to hate it at times and feel like a terrible basketball player.
"…More than anything, it was really tedious and frustrating. I had to take a while on my shot and I'd miss every time. Coach would say, 'You're gonna want to go back to your old shot, because you're not gonna see the ball go through the hoop.
"I started working on it in April, and it had to be the end of July or August when I finally started seeing it go through the hoop."
It's OK to miss, McCarthy would tell her. It will pay off eventually, he would promise.
The coach was right. A 35.6 percent shooter during her first two seasons (80 of 225), Devine is shooting 48.4 percent this season (124 of 256).
She has shown even greater improvement from 3-point range. After hitting 24.1 percent of her long-range shots as a freshman and sophomore (13 of 54), she's connecting on 45.3 percent this season (34 of 75).
Her 8.7 points per game ranks fifth on a team known for its depth and balance. And she remains a force defensively and on the boards, where her 5.0 rebounds per game rank second on the team.
At the West Region tournament last month in Azusa, California, Devine was named the MVP after shooting nearly 50 percent to finish three games with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
"She had an unbelievable tournament," McCarthy said. "She shoots the ball so well and is playing very confidently now, so when she makes a mistake she just knows that the next one's going in."
To develop that confidence, Devine toiled long and hard last summer. She ignored the boredom and battled through the frustration.
"It's very hard to change your shot mechanics when you're 20 years old, and she did that in the summer," McCarthy said. "It's kind of like growing out your hair – you have to go through an ugly phase. She just stuck with it, stuck with the routine."
Devine is aided by a shooting machine at UAA that keeps track of shots taken and shots made and that rebounds the ball.
"Today I was able to take 300 shots in 40 minutes," she said the day before the Seawolves traveled to Indianapolis, where they will face top-ranked Lubbock Christian at 11 a.m. ADT Monday. "It's really awesome. More than anything it really helps because you're getting a lot of reps and you're seeing the ball go through the hoop. You can really focus on the form instead of having to go get that rebound."
Last April when Devine began modifying her shot, her goal was to make 80 of her 100 mid-range jumpers and 72 of her 100 3-pointers. By the end of the summer, she was hitting that goal with consistency.
"Five days a week I'd make sure to get in the gym," Devine said. "That was my main focus – get a lot of reps. I did lifting and cardio too, but in the gym, I was there to get shots up.
"It has become automatic finally. It's an awesome feeling. January was when I finally started hitting them in games, when I felt the confidence to hit that shot."
Before, when Devine found herself with the ball in 3-point range, her instinct was to pass or drive. These days she has a viable third option – to shoot.
"I love shooting," she said. "One of my favorite things is just to go into the gym by myself, get on the machine and focus on that. Now I love it because I can actually make some shots. In games, I want to shoot that 3, I want to get that shot up. I see myself more as a shooter.
"I think I'm starting to be one of those players who wants the ball at the end of the game."
Alysha Devine's shooting percentage shot up after she modified her shot during her sophomore and junior seasons.
Freshman year -- 3.9 points per game
39-114 field goals (34.2 percent)
4-24 3-pointers (16.7 percent)
Sophomore year -- 5.3 points per game
41-111 field goals (36.9 percent)
9-30 3-pointers (30.0 percent)
Junior year -- 8.7 points per game
124-256 field goals (48.4 percent)
34-75 3-pointers (45.3 percent)
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