After surprising many, including themselves, by winning a second straight Canada West championship last season, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team is excited about the future for their current roster.
The Huskies lineup is virtually unchanged from a season ago with all five starters returning, four of whom are still only in their second or third year of eligibility.
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“It is exciting of course, having everybody coming back and not losing any players and just gaining some good players,” said third-year guard Sabine Dukate, who led the Huskies with 16.2 points per game in 2016-17.
The Huskies were supposed to be in rebuild mode last year after graduating four starters from the team that won the first national championship in program history in 2015-16.
Instead, they finished 15-5 and claimed their third conference banner in four seasons.
“It wasn’t in the plans. We knew that we were going to be fairly talented a couple years down into this roster’s career and we happened to be very successful very early on, and credit to them. I thought we played some really good basketball when we needed to in February and March,” head coach Lisa Thomaidis said.
Now that the current roster has tasted success expectations will be higher but the Huskies are wiping the slate clean.
“Maybe outside people put us (under) pressure more than inside, because our coach never puts pressure on us as like, ‘oh, you guys are good,'” Dukate said. “We start from zero and we grow.”
The Huskies host the Manitoba Bisons to open the season Friday night. Prior to the game they’ll raise their latest championship banner, a vivid reminder of what happens when they pull together.
“That’s obviously a huge thing,” said second-year forward Summer Masikewich. “That was a lot of hard work that we put in and I know it’ll motivate us.”