Traditionally, a basketball team uses one point guard at a time.
Last year, Carroll College women’s basketball experimented with two.
Saints coach Rachelle Sayers said it worked out pretty well.
But, she certainly wouldn’t experiment with a third point guard, would she?
Sayers found herself doing just that when she had the opportunity to sign Montana State sophomore transfer Kamden Hilborn.
Hilborn saw minutes over the span of 26 games for the Bobcats last season. Prior to that, she saw plenty of success with Helena High School, having been named the Class AA state tournament MVP twice.
“This is a kid that is going to help us achieve the goals we set and help us win,” Sayers said.
But there were questions.
How would she fit in with the two already established point guards? How would Lyman and Swannack react to bringing in another point guard? Would there be enough minutes for all three of them?
Sayers knew she couldn’t jeopardize team chemistry, so she set to work on a game plan. Five months later, the three had no problem finding each other on the court.
“As a coach, my job is to field the best team possible,” Sayers said. “You work out the kinks afterwards.”
AN OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF
Even before speaking with Hilborn about signing with Carroll, Sayers brought Lyman and Swannack into her office and told them what was going on.
“She is going to make us better, but the only way this is going to work is if you two are brought into this and you two want the same thing,” Sayers said.
It didn’t take much convincing before they were on board.
“It says a lot about them and their commitment to this team,” Sayers said. “I wasn’t recruiting Kamden because they couldn’t do the job, we recruited her because it would help us be a great team. It was hard not to turn that down.”
During Hilborn’s official visit, Lyman and Swannack met up with her and Sayers over dinner. Before too long, Hilborn decided to sign with Carroll.
“Coach was straight up with me and said she didn’t know if I was going to play or whatnot, but that’s fair,” Hilborn said. “I don’t think I wanted to go to a program that handed me things. You have to compete every day in practice and you are not going to get better if you aren’t playing with high quality players.”
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In Sayers’ eight years as a head coach, she said she never had to figure out how she would manage three experienced points guards.
But she wasn’t complaining.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Sayers said. “We just have to keep those three on the floor as much as possible. They play well together and that gives us a lot of options.”
WORKING WITH THREE
Last season, Lyman started all 34 games at point guard with Swannack backing her up.
There were times, however, that the two played alongside each other.
“It definitely takes a lot of pressure off of you when you have someone else handle the ball,” Lyman said. “With another point guard out there, you know what the other is thinking.”
Not only did Lyman receive a break from orchestrating the offense, it gave Swannack the opportunity to gain some experience during her first year playing college basketball.
“Having Jaidyn above me was probably the best thing I could have experienced,” Swannack said. “Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t want to redshirt; I wanted to play. Competing with her was great. It was Jaidyn versus Sienna all the time and I learned from her every day.”
Now, with the addition of Hilborn, Sayers said not only does her team have another weapon, but it also creates more depth. She has three point guards who are all different.
“Sienna probably can score in the paint more. Kamden is more of a facilitating point guard, loving to create for her teammates, and Jaidyn is a little combination of both of them,” Sayers said. “All their strengths complement one another. It makes it easy to slide one of them over to play the off guard position.”
The University of Calgary enters the PE Center on Sunday as the Saints’ first test this season.
Sayers said 95 percent of the time, at least two of the three players will be on the court together.
But that doesn’t mean she won’t play them all at once, too.
“Our defense is going to improve, our transition is going to improve and we can start the offense quickly,” Sayers said. “We don’t have to depend on just one person.”
So will Sayers look for a fourth point guard after the season is over?
“Well I don’t know about that,” Sayers chuckled. “If we get a really good one, you might be surprised.”