It isn’t every day that a positional matchup in basketball features an 11-inch height difference, let alone at the point guard position.
Consider the Red Hawks’ recent game against Brooklyn College when 5’11” Kate Tobie, Montclair State’s captain and point guard, matched up against Brooklyn College’s 5’0” Taylor George. This kind of height advantage is typical for Tobie, as most point guards she matches up against are much closer to George’s height than Tobie’s.
“I definitely have a height advantage seeing over the defense so that’s something that we really try to utilize, putting me at the top of the press to try to break it. Same thing with my passing, I can see over a lot of people and defensively I guard the other team’s point guards who are a lot smaller than me. So I just try to disrupt them and make them uncomfortable,” Tobie said.
This unique height advantage allows Tobie to play a unique brand of basketball that many other point guards can’t. She is often among the team leaders in points, assists, rebounds, and steals, which is very rare to see. This versatility makes matching up against Tobie difficult for opponents to prepare for, since she finds success in so many different aspects of the game.
“Because I’m so versatile, sometimes I can have 8 rebounds and 15 points one game and just keep switching it up so it’s hard to know what I’m going to do in each game,” Tobie said.
Montclair State’s head coach Karin Harvey is very grateful to have such a well-rounded player in Tobie, especially at a position that runs the team’s offense. It helps when this ability to be a floor general comes naturally and doesn’t have to be forced.
“Her basketball IQ is tremendous. She is so smart. She understands how to play the game of basketball. She is a tremendous defender, has great vision, and now she’s even a great scorer. She can shoot the three, she can get to the rim, and she can handle the ball. She knows every position of every play and is telling everyone where to go at all times. We don’t win basketball games without her,” Harvey said.
With the talent and versatility that Tobie possesses, the knowledge of the game is essential to bring everything together and be successful in so many different skillsets at once. This basketball IQ also is essential to the way the team is run on the court, as Tobie and Harvey are always working together to figure out what plays to run in which situations. This coach-point guard relationship is vital to a team and the strong one developed between Tobie and Harvey is a big part of why they’ve won three conference championships together and are currently shooting for a fourth in as many seasons.
“Ever since I was a freshman we’ve had a pretty good relationship on the court. We’re always on the same page as to what we’re trying to do. I give her suggestions and she gives me suggestions. So we’re both very open about our relationship and suggesting things to each other,” Tobie said.
As is to be expected, Tobie’s passing ability is especially appreciated by her teammates. Her nearly six assists per game last season were good for fourth-most in the NJAC. Junior forward Domonique Wirsing is a common beneficiary of Tobie’s passes and values this skill to help her improve her game.
“Kate does a really great job passing to everyone fairly equally. She has an eye for the court that no one else has. She’s able to get the ball into places that you don’t think are possible. She really benefits our offense because she can see things a lot of other point guards can’t,” Wirsing said.
Tobie recognizes that her passing is and always has been a strong suit, but adding more scoring ability in the offseason enhances her other abilities and makes her even more of a matchup nightmare for opponents.
“I think that passing is the biggest part of my game. I used to not really score at all so I’m used to setting up my teammates. I’m trying to pick up my offensive game myself which will help me to be able to distribute even more,” Tobie said.
For a player with so many strengths, it is hard to imagine the possibility of her adding more, but this is exactly what Tobie has done consistently over her four-year career at Montclair State. Now in her senior year, she looks to use these skills to lead her team to a sixth straight NJAC championship and NCAA tournament appearance, which would give her a clean sweep of all four seasons. Even with a young team, a natural leader like Tobie makes that possibility seem more and more like a reality every game.