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Photo Credit: John Peterson

In Increased Role, Freshman Guard Callin Hake Looking to Keep Stepping Up

January 24, 2023

On New Year’s Day in Bloomington, Indiana, Callin Hake isn’t playing like a somewhat unheralded true freshman. 

The 5-foot-8 guard wasn’t without significant praise coming out of high school — multiple recruiting services ranked her as a top-100 prospect — but her immediate role may not have been expected to be too major on a preseason top-25 team filled with returning players. 

Through the first half of the season, that held up, as Hake often didn’t play significant minutes. She didn’t see the floor at all in overtime games against Mississippi State and Kansas. 

But to start 2023, that’s clearly changed. Hake crosses over in the third quarter, stepping back behind the 3-point line to hit a shot that gives the Huskers a lead against the No. 4 team in the country. In the middle of the fourth quarter, she makes another go-ahead shot. She drives on Sara Scalia, an all-conference level senior guard, puts up a tough layup and nails it. 

Nebraska lost that matchup in overtime, and Hake finished with 10 points on 12 shot attempts. However, she recorded season-highs in minutes and shot attempts, the latter mark exhibiting a confidence that had yet to be seen previously. 

Since Christmas, the guard has taken her play to a new level. In the last seven games, Hake has scored in double digits four times. The bigger role has been necessitated by the injuries the Huskers have faced, and she said she’s embracing the challenge of “not just being a freshman.” 

“In high school, I always played up in athletics,” Hake said. “So kind of just not playing like a freshman. And with injuries, with Allison [Weidner] going out and everything, how can I maybe try to play to Allison’s level as a sophomore and just kind of taking that next step In my game?”

In a way, everything started working at the right time for the Minnesota native. After putting up a season-high 16 points against Penn State on Jan. 11, Hake said postgame that head coach Amy Williams told her that things start to click for a freshman around the holidays. 

“Coming back after Christmas break, I think I really started to just feel confident,” Hake said. “I feel like the game kind of slowed down for myself.”

That timing was advantageous for the team given Allison Weidner suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s Dec. 21 win over Kansas. Weidner had been enjoying a strong season, averaging 10.2 points per game on 54.1% shooting. 

A still-recovering Sam Haiby was pushed into the starting lineup, leaving Hake, Kendall Moriarty and guard/forward Kendall Coley as the backup guards. The Huskers are 2-5 since that game, but Hake has often risen to the task.

For her, the biggest adjustments have been the pace of play and the physicality. She said that being able to play through contact is “imperative” at this level, something she and the team are making a priority. Weidner attacked the rim at a high volume in the first 13 games, driving through contact and finishing efficiently. Out of the guards, only Haiby takes a similar volume of 2-pointers.

The rest of the guard group takes almost half or more of their shot attempts from beyond the arc. That hasn’t always been advantageous, as the team’s 3-point shot hasn’t been falling recently. Williams has expressed a desire for the team to be capable of scoring in other ways when the threes aren’t hitting, and Hake wants to help accomplish that. She’s taken 70% of her total shots from three, but has been getting into the paint with more frequency.

“I think just able being able to play with pace and be a three-level threat,” Hake said of where she wants to improve. “Right now, I think a ton of my looks are coming from the 3-point line and as people are starting to respect me from beyond the arc, how can I implement my pull up game or finishing at the rim, but also getting my teammates involved.”

As the team looks to figure that out, Hake is still learning. She mentioned taking advice from Haiby on the defensive end, as the fifth-year guard has averaged 2.6 steals per game over the last five contests. Along with that, she said she appreciates being able to ask “nonstop questions” to other experienced guards, such as Shelley and Weidner.

Hake has seen a wide variety of roles this season, from going full games without seeing the floor to making her first start against Purdue with Maddie Krull coming off the bench due to illness. She praised the team’s flexibility through all the different rotations they’ve had to employ, and said she wants to be able to make some type of contribution regardless of her role.

“Every time I get to wear Nebraska across my chest is a great honor,” she said. “Whatever role that is, I want to fill that to my fullest.”

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