When searching for that winning formula, a coach will try just about anything. One coach recruited some players who are unique to the rest of the team. Some coaches know defense others may be offensive specialists. The University of North Dakota’s Women’s Head Basketball coach Gene Roebuck recruits not only women to play on his team but men as well. “[The men] help us so much. They are quick, they anticipate well. We want them to be aggressive and really battle with our players,” explains the coach.
The “Practice Squad,” is the name given to this group of guys who routinely practice against the women. The players agree that the Y chromosome in practice really helps. “They’re definitely quicker, like it’s a whole other level,” says Nicole Smart, UND women's basketball team guard.
The men who play against the women are also in for a surprise. “When the guys step on the floor early in the season I think they are intimidated to a certain extent,” says Coach Roebuck. However, if you think there is chivalry going on during any of these practices you have come to the wrong court. “Once I realized how physical it was and how good they were, if I were to hold back now I’d get my butt kicked,” says Ryan Horn, member of the women’s basketball practice squad. Coach Roebuck admits it takes a special kind of person to be a member of the practice squad, “you have to be really dedicated to want to help us and make us better.”