Imagine a rookie receiver showing up at Notre Dame and being asked to start at quarterback for the Fighting Irish.
That’s pretty much what happened when Jorri Duxbury arrived at TRU in August 2010 to play for the WolfPack women’s basketball team.
Duxbury, 20, is enjoying a fantastic third season with the WolfPack, which takes a 4-2 record into a pair of weekend home games. TRU will play host to the Regina Cougars on Friday, 6 p.m., and the Brandon Bobcats on Saturday, 5 p.m. — both games are at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The WolfPack boasts two of the top scorers in Canada West, with centre Diane Schuetze first (21.7 points per game) and guard Jen Ju sixth (17.7). As good as Ju and Schuetze have been, both seniors are benefitting from the solid play of Duxbury, who runs the show at point guard.
No one would have seen that coming two-and-a-half years ago, least of all Duxbury.
“I wasn’t even a point guard in high school,” says the Salmon Arm native. “I came here thinking that I would be more of a shooter, an attacker, then I was moved to the point guard position.”
As shocking as that was, she barely had a chance to learn the position — she was pressed into starting duty almost immediately.
“I like the point guard position better, but it was definitely tough,” she says, “I wasn’t really comfortable with it at the beginning — I was ready to let other people take the ball.”
What has happened since — with Duxbury at the point and Ju at shooting guard — is pretty much the opposite of what was supposed to happen when Duxbury arrived before the 2010-11 season.
Ju was supposed to play at point guard, with Duxbury beside her. Head coach Scott Reeves immediately saw an obvious flaw with that plan.
“Jen needed to go to (shooting) guard because she’s an explosive scorer,” he says. “That was a great transition for us.
“Yeah, we were kind of throwing (Duxbury) into the fire, but I thought she did well in her first year and she’s continued to do well since.”
Reeves had an idea that Duxbury could be a point guard, even while watching her play high school for the Salmon Arm Jewels. While watching a game, he tried to get inside the young guard’s head.
“A lot more goes through your head than, ‘Can she pass or shoot?’ ” Reeves says. “I’m trying to see if they can think the game, and I saw when she had the ball that she made extremely good decisions.
“I saw the IQ was there and that she probably could be a point guard.”
Reeves is looking like a genius nowadays, especially when you consider the numbers Duxbury is putting up.
She is tied for the Canada West lead in average assists (5.8) and is tied for second in steals (3.2), behind only Regina’s Michelle Clark.
Duxbury also is tied for 20th in the conference — and third on the WolfPack — in points, with an average of 13 per game, and, despite being only 5-foot-7, she is among the top 30 rebounders, with 5.5 per game.
“I always knew she had it in her to be an elite point guard in this league,” Reeves says. “She had the basketball IQ coming in, but she needed a little seasoning.”
If you ask Duxbury, she needs to improve her consistency.
She has had two monster games — she was close to quadruple-doubles in victories over the UNBC Timberwolves on Nov. 3 and the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday — along with what could be considered four average performances.
But she’s still doing what is asked of her, dishing the ball, making shots and playing tough defensively.
“I’ve been on and off — working on consistency,” she says. “I definitely have to be more consistent hitting shots . . . but it’s going well.”
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The WolfPack men will be looking to improve on their 2-4 record in a pair of home basketball games.
TRU is to play the Cougars on Friday, 8 p.m., and the Bobcats on Saturday, 7 p.m., at the TCC. Both of the WolfPack’s opponents are 1-5.
TRU’s Blaz Bozinovic, a second-year St. Ann’s grad, leads Canada West in average rebounds (11) and defensive rebounds (8.8) and is second in blocked shots (1.8).
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TRU’s women’s volleyball team is heading east in search of its first victory of the season.
The WolfPack is 0-8, and will play the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday. Manitoba (4-3) is an honourable mention in the CIS rankings.
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The WolfPack men’s volleyball team has another tough weekend ahead, as it will face the Bisons, the fourth-ranked team in the nation, in Winnipeg.
Manitoba is 6-1 and tied for third in Canada West. TRU is 3-5, and ranked ninth in the nation.
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TRU’s hockey team is off this weekend, but forward Alessio Tomassetti has been named the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s player of the week.
Tomassetti, who played for the Kamloops Storm and Merritt Centennials during his junior career, helped the WolfPack to a three-point weekend with the host Eastern Washington Eagles in Cheney. He had three goals and two assists in an 8-2 victory on Friday, and then had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss the next night.
Tomassetti is fifth in BCIHL scoring with 15 points.
The WolfPack next plays Nov. 30, when Simon Fraser visits Memorial Arena.