BILLINGS – Rylee Kane just helped Montana State Billings to a weekend sweep — the Yellowjackets’ first since Thanksgiving. But she had to really bail on her comfort zone to do it. In this case, shoot the ball.
“I think that, for me, scoring comes second but right now it’s a priority for us,” said Kane after at Monday workout at MSUB.
Kane says she’s never seen herself as a shooter. But she’s been forced into that fire with season-ending knee injuries to fellow guard Taylor Edwards and to reigning GNAC Player of the Year Alicia Breen.
“She always distributes the ball, but now she is a threat,” said Breen. “And I told her before, I think it was Thursday night’s game, she can shoot from anywhere in the key, I mean she’s got a great cross over step-through move. She can hit a cross over, she can hit a 3.
“She’s pretty much unguardable. Whatever somebody gives here, but she just has to take it.”
“She’s had to change her role,” added Yellowjackets head coach Kevin Woodin. “She’s trying to look for shots more and it’s not a natural thing for her. She would really rather distribute, I think, first.”
They told her to shoot and she did. A career-high 17 points in Thursday’s win before blasting that with a new career-high 25 on Saturday. But she’d take 25 assists over scoring any night of the week.
“I’m becoming more comfortable doing it,” Kane said. “But you know, I think whatever helps our team win, that’s the best thing.”
It’s not the first time she’s been thrown into the fire. That was pretty much the moment she walked through the door at MSUB.
“We really didn’t have a plan for the next year,” said Woodin, “so Rylee was going to be it right from the beginning, and I don’t think she was quite ready for that.”
“As a freshman it was pretty stressful,” admitted Kane with a laugh. “I felt like I was in over my head a little bit.”
“Sometimes trial by fire is good and I think we’re reaping those benefits now,” added Woodin. “And I think she’s established herself as one of the better point guards in our league.”
Kane agreed: “Having to be thrown in there like that, it actually worked out and it helped me in the long run.”
What also helps, is what most of us don’t see.
“She watches film — on herself, on everybody,” Breen said. “And I think a lot of the girls just don’t understand that, how much time she’s put in because she’s here shooting extra every day. She puts in the time. And in the weight room, the girl is a beast.”
Kane is also a Red Lodge girl, meaning this wintry time of year can catch her attention.
“I did grow up skiing,” she said. “In high school I kind of had to stop a little because of basketball. You know, I miss it a lot. I can’t wait to get back out there but it’ll be a little while.”
That translation may not mean ‘more shots fired.’ But you can bet, one way or another, she’ll be accounting for Yellowjacket points.