Friday, 11 November 2016

Huskies start running with next generation

Summer Masikewich is one of the Huskies bright young players.
    Lisa Thomaidis can already see the light at the end of the tunnel for her young team.
    The veteran head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team knows her squad this season is much different than the one that claimed a U Sports national title in March. Last season, the Huskies hit the court with a veteran roster that included four key players in their fifth and final years of eligibility in Dalyce Emmerson, Laura Dally, Kelsey Trulsrud and Taya Keujer.
    This season, the Huskies take the court with a roster that contains six players in their first years of eligibility. On Friday at the Physical Activity Complex, they dropped their regular season home opener 66-63 to the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, who have three players in their fifth year of eligibility, two players in their fourth year of eligibility and no rookies.
    The Huskies were scrappy, and you got a glimpse of their potential, but the Wesmen’s experience showed through.
    In defeat, Thomaidis found a number positives to build on against a foe that likes to press on defence and pointed out her side isn’t too far off from being really good again.
Libby Epoch is turning heads as a rookie.
    “I didn’t think we did a terrible job handling their pressure,” said Thomaidis. “I thought we did a good job with that.
    “It was just a matter finishing. We had a number of open looks that we couldn’t knock down. We missed a number of free throws.
    “We had our opportunities. The game was right there in hand.”
    If the Huskies had shot just a little better of a percentage from the free-throw line, they would won Friday’s encounter with the Wesmen. U of S went 20-of-32 from the charity stripe, and that small detail played a big factor in the end result.
    During the setback, the Huskies, who fell to 1-2, still received strong outings from a number of players. Third-year guard Sascha Lichtenwald led the Dogs with 17 points and came up with three steals.
    Rookies Summer Masikewich and Libby Epoch, who both played for Canada’s under-18 women’s basketball team, showed they are ready for the university level chipping in 14 and 12 points respectively. They looked like they were just scratching the surface of their potential.
    Second-year point guard Sabine Dukate was playing her first game after returning from injury, and she did show some rust. Dukate, who is from Latvia, was a standout last season, and you can expect it won’t take her long to return to top form.
    Fourth-year guard Antoinette Miller led the way for the Wesmen, who improved to 3-0, with 26 points and seven rebounds.
Sascha Lichtenwald topped the Huskies with 17 points on Friday.
    “She (Miller) was great tonight,” said Thomaidis. “She made a lot happen for them.
    “She scored a lot at the rim. She got high percentage shots. We need to do a better job of taking care of her.”
    Overall, Thomaidis knew her team would experience some bumps.
    “It was kind of what I expected,” she said. “Having said that, the game was right there for the taking. We weren’t able to finish it off.
    “Hopefully, we have a better effort tomorrow and better efficiency in terms of finishing around the hoop.”
    The Huskies and Wesmen go at it again at 6:15 p.m. at the Physical Activity Complex.

Forbes back in the fold

Matt Forbes nails a three for the Huskies.
    Welcome back Matt Forbes.
    The U of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team missed you.
    In Friday’s 76-68 regular season win over the U of Winnipeg Wesmen at the PAC, Forbes showed how important an experienced big man can be. He didn’t led the way statistically but had sound numbers scoring 13 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. With Forbes on the court, the Huskies seemed to be a little more settled in their overall team game improving to 2-1.
    Originally, Forbes was supposed to play out his fifth year of eligibility last season, but he was sidelined for the whole campaign after suffering a foot injury in the Huskies first pre-season game. Without Forbes, the Huskies posted an 8-12 regular season record and missed the playoffs.
    In 2014-15 with Forbes in the lineup, the Huskies finished with a 15-5 regular season record, made it to the Canada West championship game falling to U of Victoria Vikes 70-67 and made an appearance at nationals.
    While Forbes often faces forwards who are bigger than his 6-foot-6 and 235-pound frame, he wins the physical battle inside on a regular basis. Unlike most big men, Forbes can also stretch the defence due to his ability to hit the three-point shot. He nailed two baskets from beyond the arch on Friday.
    Forbes’s presence on the floor helps take pressure off the rest of his teammates and allows them to take advantage of more favourable one-on-one match ups.
Matt Forbes (#13) organizes a post-game huddle for the Huskies.
    Against the Wesmen, sophomore guard Chan De Ciman led the way with 21 points. Fourth-year forward Shane Osayande netted 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while point guard Alex Unruh chipped in 14 points.
    Rookie guard Narcisse Ambanza led the Wesmen with 23 points as they dropped to 2-1.
The Huskies and Wesmen face each other again at 8 p.m. at the PAC.
    With Forbes back in the fold, the Huskies chances of winning on any single night got a whole lot better.

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