Women's Basketball

Netherlands native Slim provides Syracuse with outside threat

At the 2013 FIBA U19 Women’s World Basketball Championships in Lithuania, Isabella Slim was the Netherlands’ sharpshooting two-guard with a knack for knocking down the outside shot.

Syracuse women’s basketball head coach Quentin Hillsman was the Dutch’s assistant coach.

Four months removed from those World Championships, Hillsman is once again coaching Slim, who is now a freshman shooting guard for the Orange.

“Once I saw her I knew she was a very good player and had the ability to step out and shoot the ball,” Hillsman said. “With her being here now, she’s really given us another shooter and scorer. She’s going to be a very productive player for us in the next four years.”

At Syracuse (1-0), Slim’s bright orange Netherlands jersey will turn a darker shade and her number will change from 11 to 10, but Hillsman envisions Slim playing the same brand of basketball she played for her national team — one that centers on stretching the floor and shooting from the perimeter.

But it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that she would join her international coach in the United States. Slim had other college options, which didn’t make the recruiting process easy for Hillsman.

“Because she knew me she had a chance to be brutally honest with me, and she was,” Hillsman said. “She let me know the concerns she had about coming to college and playing here.”

Once Slim made her campus visit last December, though, she knew Syracuse would be a good fit. And having a pre-existing relationship with Hillsman didn’t hurt either.

“We have a really good connection and I can talk to him about everything, which is important because my family isn’t here,” Slim said. “If I ever need anything I know I can always go to him.”

On Sunday, the freshman started the Orange’s season-opener against Washington State, scoring three points in 10 minutes. Slim converted 1-of-2 attempts from beyond the arc, but did not shoot from inside the 3-point line.

If Hillsman continues to surround center Shakeya Leary with four guard lineups, Slim may receive more playing time than the 10 minutes she played on Sunday.

“Her decision was about her understanding she could come here and play and be effective right away,” Hillsman said.

Shooting guard Brittney Sykes said Syracuse has been anxiously waiting for Slim’s arrival because they knew she could come in and make a “big impact,” especially to complement someone like Sykes, who thrives on penetrating and kicking the ball to open shooters.

Sykes is glad that the team has another shooter in the fold. She also has an advantage because defenders can’t leave Slim, allowing Sykes a clearer path to the basket.

“You can give it to her and she’ll knock down the shot,” Sykes said. “She can also put it on the floor. When teams try to run her off her spot, she can actually dribble into the paint and draw the defense in to pitch it out again.

“It’s really good to have someone like that who’s a double threat.”

Hillsman has helped coach the Netherlands team for three years now. Last season, he brought Netherlands-product Karen van den Nieuwendijk to Syracuse. But van den Nieuwendijk didn’t see any game action.

It won’t be that way for Slim.

“She’s a stretch the floor shooter who can get up and down the floor,” Hillsman said. “She’s a very smart technical basketball player, and she’s doing the same thing here as she did with the national team.”

And Slim knows what she has to do to stay on the floor.

“I just have to shoot the ball.”

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