That's what the Green Bay women's basketball team and Head Coach Kevin Borseth are battling following their earliest Horizon League loss in 10 years, and first to Milwaukee 18 games. Overall the Phoenix, who have dominated Horizon League competition to the tune of 52-2 over the past three seasons, have started this year with just an 8-6 record.
If there's one thing that's been consistent this season, it's the last name Lukan. Sisters Kaili, a sophomore, and Megan, a junior, lead the team in points and assists, respectively.
And it's their toughness and tenacity that was forged in years of playing high school rugby that could help lay the groundwork for a turnaround for Green Bay.
"I don't even understand rugby," admitted Borseth Wednesday. "But those two kids really have a little edge about them in a physical type sense, where they aren't afraid to get after it, and not afraid to work hard."
"There completely two different sports," says Kaili when asked if rugby helped shape any of her current basketball game. "I guess the aggression you can take. I wouldn't go out and tackle someone on the basketball floor, but I think aggression comes from it."
"We'll be kind and stuff off the court, but we got to get it done," older sister Megan said of the sisters' demeanor. "We don't want to hurt anyone, but just playing physical."
The Luken sisters thought they left one of their former sports in the past, but recently Megan was presented with the idea to potentially play rugby again after college with the goal of making the Canadian Olympic Team. The sisters are from Barrie, Ontario.
"When I left high school and came to college I got rid of the cleats, got rid of the shoulder pads, the mouth guard," said Megan. "Then this past summer. I got in touch with them. Rugby sevens is now going to be an Olympic sport, so they're kind of pursuing me a little bit. They're trying to draw the best athletes, so it's something I'm considering. I'm going to finish out my years here, but I mean the door is open."
So while the team continues to search for ways to improve, the toughness brought by the Lukan sisters is much needed consistency for a young team learning how to win together.
"I think we've learned through the course of time," said Borseth about his program. "That 'physical' is a very big part of being successful in sports."
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