Kat Hanks: A Leader and Complete Player
What is the best way to start building a championship-winning basketball team? While having a competent point guard to serve as a floor general or a lights-out shooter to provide instant offense are keys to fashioning a good squad, the real key is having a strong presence in the middle.
Big Green junior center Katharine Hanks provides such a dominating inside game. Hanks can score effectively in the post while collecting rebounds and playing tough interior defense.
Hanks burst onto the scene with a highly impressive freshman campaign, during which she averaged 15.4 points and a team-best 7.1 boards per game. Hanks also paced the Big Green in blocks with 42 for the season.
Hanks emerged as a full-fledged star in the 2000-2001 campaign. She led the Big Green in scoring with 15.7 points per contest and paced the squad in rebounds per game (8.7), blocks (40) and field goal percentage (49.6).
Now, as a junior co-captain on a team devoid of seniors, her role on the team expands beyond just putting up big numbers every game.
"[Co-captain] Keri Downs '03 and I are hard workers, and we want to win," Hanks says. "We want to be leaders both on and off the court."
Her teammates have responded to Hanks' invaluable leadership.
"Kat is a great leader and is one of the hardest working players on the team, always challenging everyone else to play to her tempo," says guard Jamie Librizzi '04. "We can always count on Kat to get the score, rebound or defensive stop no matter what the situation."
Hanks attended high school with former Duke standout and current Memphis Grizzlies forward Shane Battier. Her quickness, versatility and all-around court intelligence mirror that of the reigning NCAA Player of the Year.
Hanks says that she strives to be "always moving" on the court, and her exceptional quickness serves her well against slower centers. As a result of her great athleticism, she has the ability to extend her game beyond the paint to knock down mid-range jumpers, handle the ball on the outside or drive to the hoop.
Since Hanks frequently draws a double or triple-team down low, her ability to distribute the ball is key to Dartmouth's offensive success. Such an inside-outside game perfectly suits the Big Green, as the team boasts such outside threats as Downs, Librizzi and Katie Skelly '03, who will nail the outside shot if left open.
"Kat is a force," says Jennifer Johnston '03. "She dominates the inside game and is now doing the same on the outside. She is an extremely smart player and has conditioned herself to make that court intelligence instinctual."
Hanks holds high expectations for the team this year, even with such a young squad.
"We expect to win the Ivy League," she says. "After that, we want to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament."
As for Hanks, does she have any aspirations of a pro career following her days in Hanover?
"Maybe I could play overseas," Hanks says with a grin. "I'd love to see the world, and it would be great to do so while doing something I love."
One thing is for sure; by the time Hanks finishes her career with the Big Green, she will have made a tremendously lasting impact on the program and the school.
"I have never played with a teammate so composed, so confident, and so talented as Katharine Hanks, and I appreciate every practice I have with her," says sophomore center Samantha Burnham. "She has so much mental toughness, and her enthusiasm for the game is contagious. I am so lucky to be able to still have two years with her on my team."