By Casey Dulson, U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Correspondent
Katie Polischuk practiced her shot over and over.
“For long as I can remember, my summers were spent shooting in the driveway and when I came (to Regina), every chance I had, I would be in the gym putting shots up,” says the fifth-year Regina Cougars guard. “Being confident in my shots has helped as well.”
That confidence has taken the Regina veteran this season – her final U SPORTS campaign – to heights she might not have imagined.
Early beginnings and sister bond
Polischuk first starting playing basketball when she was five along with her older sister, Andrea.
“Basketball runs in the family, so it made sense for me and my sister to get involved as early as we could,” says Katie, having followed in her sister’s footsteps after the elder Polischuk played five seasons of U SPORTS women’s basketball for the Brock Badgers and McMaster Marauders from 2010 to 2015.
“She was a different player then I am. With that being said there are some aspects of her game that I admired and I would watch her doing those aspects and learn from what she did.”
Today, Polischuk only has a few weeks left of being a Regina Cougar and her final season has been an up and down journey.
In mid-November, fifth-year and All-Canadian forward, Charlotte Kot went down with a right-knee injury. Kot was deemed out for the rest of the season.
“I spoke to Katie and told her that she need to take more of offence load with Charlotte out,” says Cougars head coach Dave Taylor.
Polischuck has been pulling the weight on offence ever since. Her impact was felt in the month of January, when the Brantford, Ont., native averaged 18.4 points per game over eight contests, and recorded the game high on six occasions on 44 per cent shooting. She also averaged 4.5 rebounds per contest.
“It has been a crazy final season because as a team we need to battle some adversity, which caused us to change how we do certain things on the court,” says the Cougars guard, who has been named U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Month for January.
For Polischuk, the change in her game had to do with her shot selection.
“In the past few seasons, if my three-point shot was not going in, I used to get angry at myself and continue to shoot them until it went in,” she says. “ Lately if my threes are not going in, I’ve found other ways to score and be effective.”
The highlight of the month came on January 14, when Polischuk became the 11th player in school history to record 1,000 points in a 92-59 win over Manitoba Bisons. That night, Polischuk recorded a double-double, scoring a game-high 26 points while setting a new career-high in rebounds with 12.
“It is a pretty elite group especially when you look at other ten names who have done it.” Taylor says.
“It was huge honor because I remember watching (former Cougars star) Lindsay Ledingham do it in my first year and I remember thinking that I would love to be in the same position as her,” Polischuk says of her ex-teammate, who played for Regina from 2008 to 2013.
Polischuk scored her 1000th point from her favourite spot – from beyond the arc, as she’s considered to be one of the best three-point shooters in the conference. Her 259 triples are a school record, and she is ranked second all-time in Canada West history, behind only Calgary’s Ashley Hill, who played for Dinos from 2006 to 2011.
“She makes it easier for her teammates when she is shooting three-pointers,” says Taylor. “Opposing teams always try to create a game-plan to stop her on defense which allows for others to score.”
In her final season with Regina, Polischuk is averaging 15.9 points, and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 38.4 per cent from three-point range, good for second in the conference and 11th in the nation. The three-point efficiency has earned Polischuk the nickname KP3.
Last October, the kinesiology and health studies major added some international experience to her resume, competing in the second annual 3×3 basketball FISU World University League in Xiamen, China along with three of her Cougars teammates. The team captured a silver medal, falling 21-14 to Lithuanian Sports University in the finals.
“It was an experience of a lifetime to see a different side of the world and witnessing different players from across the world on how they play their games as in some cases, it was different than how we played ours.”
Taylor explains that Polischuk leaves a strong legacy at Regina.
“From day one, she has impacted us on offence with a certain edge and her excellent work ethic of being in the gym all the time,” he says, noting that Polischk has also been involved in the community, coaching high school teams.
With a week left in the Canada West regular season, the Cougars sit second in the standings with a 13-5 record, and the No.4 ranking in the nation. With an eye on the conference playoffs and upcoming U SPORTS ArcelorMittal Dofasco Women’s Final 8 Basketball Championship, Polischuk hopes to lead the Cougars to their third Canada West title and first nationals appearance since her rookie campaign in 2012-2013.
“It crazy to think that five years ago, I was a rookie,” says the three-point threat, reflecting on her U SPORTS journey, with the potential for her career to come full circle. “As I look back on my time, I am glad that I choose Regina as my new home.”