With the departures of some familiar faces in the front court, there are a lot of minutes available for grabs, and sophomore center Maud Huijbens might be one player to see a sizable role increase.
Huijbens, a sophomore who transferred from Syracuse after her freshman year, doesn’t have a whole lot of collegiate tape to go off of. In very limited minutes last season, 21 games and just 6.5 minutes per game, she averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds. However, extrapolating beyond such shallow amounts of playing time isn’t a fruitful endeavor.
Luckily for us, Huijbens, a native of Netherlands, has international playing experience—both with the U18 and, more recently, with the U20 national team. In the European Championship games this summer, Huijbens averaged 8.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. Nothing eye-popping per se, but more than serviceable numbers to fill a role of head coach Lisa Fortier’s squad.
To a certain extent, as opposed to its men’s counterpart, it is important to acknowledge one of the key coaching differences Fortier employs—a deep bench. Fortier often runs, at minimum, nine players, if not more. Last season, six players averaged more than 20 minutes per game, with Anamaria Virjoghe nearly making it seven (18.9 minutes per game).
With the departures of both Virjoghe and forward Melody Kempton, as well as forward/guard Abby O’Connor, the front court needs a bit of retooling. Yvonne Ejim will definitely step into a starting role, and she will largely be the focal point for the Zags in the post.
Huijbens, listed at 6’3, is the tallest Zag alongside redshirt junior Eliza Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth is ahead of Huijbens on the depth chart, at least as far as minutes went last season, but there is room for both of them, especially, if Huijbens is able to replicate some of her performances from the U20 games this summer, such as an 18 point, 11 rebound effort against Ireland and an eight point, 12 rebound game against the Czech Republic.
With the back court largely established behind the senior Truong twins, the front court is the question mark for the Zags. There are plenty of players who are good enough to make a mark, and Huijbens is one of them. She will just need to demonstrate that value in practice and in games to earn those minutes.