When Nebraska women’s basketball center junior Kate Cain takes the floor, she is automatically a candidate to host a block party in the paint. Cain entered the season fourth in school history in career blocks, and that and her all-around defense has translated to the entire Nebraska team.
Averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and a team-leading 3.8 blocks per game this season, Cain has established herself as a key player yet again, starting at the center position for the Huskers. Those 3.8 blocks per game are impressive, but do not tell the entire story of her defensive prowess.
“It is such a luxury to have, and with Kate it is not just her size, she has incredible timing and is able to anticipate and move in the interior and get those blocks,” head coach Amy Williams said. “With her it is not just blocks either it is also countless contested, challenged and adjusted shots that really give the rest of the team a chance to be more aggressive and play up on the perimeter.”
Cain also holds the season record for blocks as a Husker with 100 and the single-game record with 11 blocks. In her freshman season, when she had her 100-block season, she was a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the Big Ten All-Defensive Team.
“I feel like growing up, defense was always a focus, I know I am not a great on-ball defender but help defense and blocks, that has always been something that I focused on,” Cain said. “I take pride in being able to help the team defensively in the paint and have that translate to the defenders on the perimeter and allow them to be able to take chances and gamble for steals and be more aggressive.”
A huge focus for Cain entering the year was keeping herself out of foul trouble and on the floor for the Huskers. Williams believes that Cain improved in her ability to sense when to go for the block and when to back off and play for the contest.
“It has been an incredible focus for her and that hasn’t always been the case,” Williams said. “We have really stressed some of the other fouls she picks up as well such as hedging a ball screen or poke and reach around in the post. I feel that has really helped her be able to be more aggressive playing with less fouls each game.”
Cain’s interior defense also helps the perimeter defenders, as they are able to take gambles on steals or deflections since they know they can rely on Cain inside.
“I think that it really helps when we have a defender playing up on the ball carrier and they are able to do something a little extra like go for a steal or poke,” Cain said. “It helps them feel more comfortable doing that and I think that we have done a great job developing ourselves as a defensive team.”