UM’s Flaherty already program’s all-time leading scorer
Given her small, 5-foot-7 frame, Katelynn Flaherty doesn't strike you as a Division I basketball player, or any Division I athlete for that matter.
"People don't believe me when I say it," Flaherty said, with a laugh. "I really have to prove it to them."
And prove it she's done, over and over, bucket after bucket — so much so that on Thursday night, in just the third game of her senior year, she became Michigan's all-time leading scorer.
With her third 3-pointer early in the game against Louisville, a beauty of a shot from the top of the circle, Flaherty broke Diane Dietz's record of 2,076 points, set from 1978-82.
Flaherty finished with 23 points in the 74-49 loss to No. 5 Louisville, and now has 2,091 points.
Flaherty, 21, didn't think about the record much at the time, given there was a game to be played — but she allowed herself a bit of time to reflect at halftime, and then after the game. Coming off a loss, she wasn't exactly in a celebratory mood, but a cake from her teammates cheered her up.
"I mean, it's crazy to think about. It shows how much my hard work has paid off," Flaherty said. "Probably looking back, you wouldn't think I could do it.
"I really trusted this process coming into college."
Flaherty scored 499 points as a freshman, earning Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year honors. As a sophomore, she scored a program-record 774. Last season, she scored 746 in helping the Wolverines to the WNIT championship.
Breaking the record was just a matter of when, not if, this season.
Quickly, it's out of the way, and she can get on to focusing on her team — her main priority — which is ranked No. 24 in the nation and a legitimate Big Ten contender.
Flaherty, a New Jersey native, was recruited by Kim Barnes-Arico when Barnes-Arico was at St. John's. When Barnes-Arico got the Michigan job in 2012, she asked Flaherty to join her. That was a no-brainer.
"A school like Michigan, I knew it had so much to offer," Flaherty said. "What an opportunity it would be to come to a major Division I program, as well as one of the best schools academically."
It took one step on campus to know Michigan was the place for her.
Four years later, Flaherty has left quite an imprint — passing a scoring legend in Dietz, a Farmington Hills native and an All-American at Michigan who is the deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Big Ten. She's third on the conference's hierarchy, just below commissioner Jim Delany and deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia. Flaherty calls Dietz “an influential woman” who is “really inspirational.”
Dietz's record stood for more than 30 years, and Flaherty's could last longer, given she still has nearly a full season to go.
That's something to ponder, though probably another day, months down the road.
"The main thing," said Flaherty, "is to win here."
Flaherty always was destined to play basketball. Her father, Tom, was a star at Seton Hall in the 1970s. Her mom, Lynn, played at The College of New Jersey.
In high school, she also scored more than 2,000 points, despite missing a chunk of her senior season with an injury.
She was an impact player the moment she took the floor for Michigan, in the 2014-15 season opener, against Detroit Mercy.
Her first box-score mention came nine seconds in, and was actually on a foul — "That's right, I was in foul trouble that game," she said — and then there was a missed 3-pointer.
Finally, 6 minutes, 29 seconds in, Flaherty made her first basket, a 3. She finished with 14 points, and has been a big-time scorer ever since — scoring in double figures in all but 12 of her 110 career games at Michigan.
"It's crazy to think about," said Flaherty, who makes a point to give a lot of credit to her teammates, especially her point guard the three previous seasons, Siera Thompson, who fed her so many assists.
GETTING TO KNOW ...
Katelynn Flaherty, G, Michigan
Hometown: Point Pleasant, N.J.
Accolades: Michigan's all-time leading scorer (2,091 points). ... 2017 WNIT Most Valuable Player. ... Two-time All-Big Ten first-team (2016-17, 2015-16). ... Owns program's single-season scoring record (774 points, 2015-16). ... Set freshman record for 3-pointers made (78; 2014-15). ... Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year (2014-15).
Family: Parents Tom and Lynn