Competitive relationship between veteran and rookie leads to Huskie basketball success

Competitive relationship between veteran and rookie leads to Huskie basketball success

After starting the season 1-3, the Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team seems to have finally found its groove. In their last three games, they’ve taken down two of the top three teams in the Canada West conference.Before breaking for the holidays, the Huskies split with Regina. Then in their first weekend back in 2017, they swept the previously undefeated UBC Thunderbirds. Story continues below

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READ MORE: Scott Flory, Brian Guebert named interim co-head Sask. Huskies football coachesPart of the reason for their recent success is the eager determination of the Huskie rookies. So much so, that Sabine Dukate, the lone started from last year’s championship winning squad, has had her position taken by first year Libby Epoch.“I kind of knew that would happen,” laughs the second-year, who played point guard last season. “At the start, it was more, me and coach were talking that we would be half and half. I would be starting point guard and then she would sub in and I would be a guard. But it changed pretty fast.”It’s shifted, so that Epoch is now the point guard and Dukate is playing the two guard position. This means both players are on the court at the same time, but Epoch is running the offence.“I was just hoping to get a few minutes here and there and give Sabine rest every now and then. Being able to come in and start most of the games and have a lot of minutes … I’m taking it step by step and just working really hard,” Epoch, who hails from Moose Jaw, Sask., said.“None of us have doubted Libby’s ability this season,” Megan Lindquist, who scored 18 points on Saturday’s win over the T-Birds, said.“To have a first year player basically run the show and be your point guard and quarterback out on the court and be leading someone who is five to six years older, I think it’s a pretty cute dynamic,” Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis said.READ MORE: Sask. Huskies share culture with Japanese volleyball team in exchange for tune-upThe shift happened in pre-season when the team was having success with Epoch feeding Dukate, who is now the team’s leading scorer. She even missed the first two games at the season due to injury.But it’s not an easy feat for a rookie to come in and earn such a leadership role. Especially considering Dukate has somewhat of an intimidating air about her, something that doesn’t go unnoticed by Thomaidis.“She’s very intense. She’s very competitive so for a first year kid to come in and really try to develop that friendship with her, I think Libby say an opportunity where she can learn from someone who’s played professionally, whose won a national championship.”The best part, Epoch is pushing the veteran.“She’s forcing me much more on my left side, because I’m much stronger on the right side. It makes me better because I get out of my comfort zone,” Dukate, who moved to Saskatoon from Latvia to play for the Huskies, said.READ MORE: Hughton calling it a career after nine years as Sask. Huskies athletic directorHaving both talented players on the court will prove to be a major asset for the Huskies, who still have Alberta and Calgary ahead on the calendar. Lindquist, in her fourth year, recognizes the threat the guard duo poses.“Being able to have both of them an option on the court is huge for us. Because if Sabine is getting pressured, Libby can bring up the ball and then when Libby started getting pressured this past weekend, Sabine just brought it up no problem.”The Huskies head to Lethbridge to face the Pronghorns this weekend.

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