The Husker women’s basketball team opens their season in the Preseason WNIT this Saturday. They play Texas Rio Grande Valley this Saturday, November 12 at 1 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Live audio will be carried on huskers.com.
It is a new era for Nebraska women’s basketball. This will be the first time in 14 years that Connie Yori will not be coaching the Huskers. New head coach Amy Williams coached the last four seasons at South Dakota, where she guided the Coyotes to a 32-6 record and the WNIT Championship last year.
A Young Nebraska Team
She takes over a roster that is short on experience. There are only three seniors on the roster, and one of those is a transfer. With the departure of Yori after the investigation into her mistreatment of players, the Huskers’ best player from last season, Natalie Romeo, transferred to Washington. The best returning player on the team is sophomore Jessica Shepard, who scored 19 points per game and won Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season. Shepard just scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Huskers to a narrow 73-71 win over Southwest Baptist in their only exhibition game this season.
Junior guard Jasmine Cincore is another returning player who Coach Williams can count on to provide some leadership for the team. She shot 40 percent from behind the arc last year, and she worked hard this offseason to add a pull-up jumper to her game to make herself more of an offensive threat. Transfer senior Janay Morton comes from Eastern Michigan, where she was Third-Team All-Mac last season.
Another important transfer player for the Huskers is Bria Stallworth. The talented sophomore scored 13 points per game last season for UMASS, which was the highest scoring average of any freshman in the Atlantic 10. Unfortunately, she will not be able to lend a hand until next year as she is forced to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer requirements.
One of the young players on the Nebraska roster that should make a big impact is sophomore Maddie Simon. The 6’2” guard started some games last season but was limited due to injuries. She should thrive in Coach Williams’ fast-paced offense. Senior center Allie Havers will provide some experience and leadership in the frontcourt.
First Game Against University of Texas-Rio Grande
The sole exhibition game of the year made it clear that this is Shepard’s team. She was a force all over the court, dominating play and striking fear into opponents. Two worrying things were also apparent in the exhibition game. The Huskers turned the ball over too much and shot very poorly from the three-point line. They were only three of 13 from deep, and their 12 turnovers in the second half fueled a furious Southwest Baptist comeback that almost erased Nebraska’s 17-point lead they had built with 6:48 left in the third quarter.
Coach Williams will look for her team to continue to push the pace on offense while getting the turnovers under control. The three-point shooting will improve, and hopefully that will start in the first regular-season game against UT-Rio Grande Nov. 12 at 1:00 PM.. As the players become more comfortable in the new system, the offense should flow more smoothly and turnovers will fall.