When Desiree Elmore arrived on Seton Hall’s campus in August, her teammates noticed something different about her. The women’s basketball transfer still had her upbeat personality from the year before and still had the same hairstyle, but her appearance was different.
Elmore worked hard in the offseason to cut weight and get back to the playing shape she was in before her injury at Syracuse, which caused her to miss the entire 2017-18 season.
The former five-star recruit felt that last year she struggled at times to play to the best of her ability because of her stamina. After the weight loss, which Des says was around 20 to 25 pounds, she feels a lot better on and off the court.
“I’m skinny, I look different,” Elmore said. “It feels good because a lot of people are seeing that I’ve been working hard, but I know I can’t stop here; it’s still not good enough. I felt a lot of times last year I couldn’t be consistent because I was in bad shape. I tried to make sure during the offseason I worked on that, I want to help my team have an outlet to open up the offense and keep the court spaced.”
After the season opener against Sacred Heart, in which the forward logged 23 minutes as a starter, Elmore scored 20 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double. She followed up that game with a 18-14 stat line and saw 29 minutes against Fairfield. This was good enough to earn Elmore Big East Player of the Week alongside Markus Howard on the men’s side.
Elmore’s offseason ranged from doing shooting drills from every spot inside and outside the arc to running whenever she had the opportunity to.
Senior forward Shadeen Samuels, who was picked as the Preseason Big East Player of the Year, will become the focal point of opposing defenses. Due to this, the Pirates will need those secondary scorers to play well. Elmore knows that she will be in a larger role but does not want to focus on herself too much. Knowing that she will get her fair share of touches, she would like to see other succeed in the offense, too.
“I don’t really like scoring,” Elmore said. “I score because I obviously like basketball and like playing. I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to. I don’t mind making that extra pass because I want my teammates to know I have confidence in them – we’ll need everyone on this roster to play well to win a Big East Championship.”
Last year’s team was in the middle of the pack in the Big East in terms of percentage of points that came from three-pointers and three-point shooting rate. Senior guards Inja Butina, Nicole Jimenez and Kaity Healy were 40% of the Pirates offense. Seton Hall’s depth and incoming talent must find ways to make up for those departures.
“I think the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is that we have a lot of players that can play inside and outside,” Elmore said. “I think that we can always get a three pointer. But, because we’re so skilled at attacking the basketball, it will give us time to get up threes at the same time. We’re more versatile.”
The potential upside to Elmore being effective in a bigger role is there for the taking. Seton Hall women’s basketball team, picked to finish third in the Big East Preseason Poll, become much stronger with a healthier Des.
Evando Thompson can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @ethmps.