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Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Women’s Basketball 2022 Big Ten Media Days Recap

2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Nebraska Cornhuskers women’s basketball team was up today in Minneapolis speaking before a number of media outlets and officials at the 2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days.

There was plenty of great insight into the squad heading into a big 2022-’23 season shared all around. For all of that wisdom, you can find head coach Amy Williams’ remarks during her press conference in the morning and then the separate sit down with Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network with Williams, Jaz Shelley, and Alexis Markowski below.

Nebraska women’s basketball season kicks off with an exhibition game against Washburn on Oct. 30 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The team’s first regular season game is at home against Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 7. The full 2022-2023 tv schedule can be viewed here, the full 2022-2023 Big Ten game schedule can be viewed here, and the non-conference schedule here.

KEVIN WARREN: Also want to take a moment to thank TIAA for being a great partner of our men’s and women’s Basketball Media Days, but also our upcoming tournaments. We appreciate their partnership.

The next coach that we want to introduce is Amy Williams from the University of Nebraska. Amy has a lot of energy. She’s a member of the Nebraska Athletics Inclusion Council, which meets to develop and deal with diversity and inclusion efforts for the Nebraska athletes.

She’s a noted speaker, speaks regularly. Has spoken to the rotary club, Cornhusker Boys & Girls Club. She has a really, really exciting team, made the NCAA tournament last year. We’re excited in the Big Ten to be able to see her team play this year. We’re so grateful and blessed to have head basketball coach Amy Williams as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

Welcome to the stage the head basketball coach at the University of Nebraska, Amy Williams.

AMY WILLIAMS: Good morning and thank you to Commissioner Warren and Megan Kahn and the rest of the Big Ten staff that’s worked so tirelessly to make this event possible. Thank you to everybody that’s sitting out here today for covering our amazing, bright, talented, intelligent, creative, young student-athletes and telling their stories. We really appreciate you taking the time to shine some light on them.

I’m incredibly blessed to be here today representing the University of Nebraska and this women’s basketball program. It’s such an incredibly fun team to coach on a daily basis. I pinch myself at how just awesome it is to come full circle after playing at the University of Nebraska, to now be leading this program and getting to spend every day representing this amazing university.

Looking forward to the upcoming season. We feel like we’ve raised the bar for our program and want to continue doing so moving forward.

I am excited to answer your questions here today.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Basketball Media Day Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Q. We’ve talked about how important Sam Haiby has been for your program. What have you seen from her through everything she’s been through the last couple of weeks?

AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, Sam Haiby has been an incredibly important piece to our program. She came and chose to come to the University of Nebraska at a time where she had to really believe in the vision that we had, and then has just grinded through with us and stuck through a lot of ups and downs to really elevate and get us back into the NCAA tournament.

Obviously it was quite disappointing for us that she would have to miss this upcoming season with injury. But I’ve just been so pleased with the way she’s handled herself. I can’t hardly put into words how proud of her I am. Her approach, she has great mind space right now, great mental spirit. She’s just approaching it the right way.

The other day I was having an academic meeting with Allison Weidner, and she told me that she had had lunch with Sam Haiby. They’d gone out to eat, and Sam was talking to her about the ways she can step up in that point guard position and elevate her game. Just showed incredible leadership. I’m just so proud of Sam for stepping into that leadership role.

I know the rest of our team really wants to lean into playing hard just out of respect for Sam Haiby.

Q. What does this platform mean to you and your team? What can you do to spread the message about your program today?

AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like this type of event, it’s really immeasurable. It’s kind of setting the bar and the standard for women’s basketball across the country for how to shine light on the incredible student-athletes that we have competing in the Big Ten Conference.

I’m just so grateful for today and the opportunity. Today Jaz Shelley and Alexis Markowski to be here, but for all the really incredible student-athletes that are a part of this event, to be able to shine their light bright and show some personality, and see why these young women are so special, not just because of what they do between the lines every day, but who they are as people.

First up in the sit down with Mike Hall was Williams who was asked about the reasons behind the team’s success last year.

“There’s a lot of reasons,” said Williams, “but mostly because this team committed to competing and to connecting and staying connected. All season long we watched this team celebrate each other’s successes. We had some great contributions to the program and couple that with great returning leadership, and it clicked. They played their hearts out for each other.”

Jaz Shelley was up next on the same question. “We had a team that wanted to come out to compete” stated Shelley. “We had a genuine belief that we could achieve incredible things and I think that everyone bought into that. We all had that common goal where we wanted to make a name for ourselves and everyone contributed very nicely all season.”

Last, but not least, Alexis Markowski added her own thoughts on the question. “Going off what Jaz said, it was a competitive, fun environment we all really thrived in it. I think this year we’re expecting more than last year.”

Speaking of Markowski, Hall pressed her next on her breakout freshman season last year that saw her win Big Ten Freshman of the Year and preseason All-Big Ten honors.

“Looking back on last year,” explained Markowski, “I had this mentality that every area of my game I want to improve and I want to be the best that I can be. Taking the offseason very seriously, putting in the work, hopefully is going to pay off this year. I’m really excited for this year.”

2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

However, not everything topic wise was happy when it’s the case a teammate is already out for the season with an injury. Hall asked about what it means for the team to miss guard Sam Haiby this season. Shelley took point on the answer for this one.

“She’s one of my best friends” said Shelley. “It was really hard to see her go through that. She’s super strong and everyone gathered around her and helped her out. We’ll be okay. We have people that can fill in those spots. We have people who have had enough time without her to try and fill in those spots. It’s going to be hard, but she’s on the sideline and she’s an incredible leader already.”

Hall next pressed Williams for who will be filling in for the key guard on the roster this season. “You know, we’re going to burn through a lot of different people to come in and try to contribute,” stated Williams. “Sam did so much for our team and she wasn’t just a scoring threat and somebody who brought points to the table.

“She facilitated so much, she was one of our main rebounders, she would handle the ball under pressure, so many different things. Defensively she’d pick up the ball in the backcourt and really try to slow people down. There’s going to be a lot of different people on our team that are going to have to take over those areas.

“When you have a versatile guard like that, it’s going to not just fall on one person to step in and really fill in for her, but everybody can contribute a little bit. That’s the special thing about Sam, this team has really rallied around her and really wants to elevate the bar for our program in her honor.”

Next asked about the two newcomers to the squad for this season, Maddie Krull and Maggie Mendelson, and what they offer the team, Williams had high praise for both.

“Maddie Krull came from a team that played in a Sweet 16 a year ago,” explained Williams. “She’s had a lot of college experience playing at a high level. She’s just a competitior, knows how to complete, and she’s a winner. We want that in our program.

“Maggie Mendelson, what a special athlete. If you have somebody that is USA Basketball and USA Volleyball caliber athlete, she just is really special. Now that we’ve had a chance for her to work out with us a little bit this summer, we’ve learned that she’s incredibly coachable. We’re just eager to have her as long of a possible season as she can with Husker Volleyball, but then we’ll be eagerly waiting for her with open arms when she’s ready to come over.”

2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days Photo by David Berding/Getty Images
2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Later, Hall asked Shelley about the chemistry the team had being it has such heavy continuity on the roster compared to the other competition in the Big Ten this year.

“Chemistry has never been an issue for our team” said Shelly, “which is something really special. We have to try and build relationships early on in the season, but we don’t have to do that this year. We have some incredible people that come in here and want to be a part of it straight away. And they’re so willing to do everything they can to be a part of this special group. I think having this chemistry carryover is really awesome that we can just pick up where we left off and go into practice and work that much harder.

2022 Big Ten Basketball Media Days Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Hall pressed Markowski about her breakout freshman year next. Asked about when she knew she could play and compete in the Big Ten, “I think Creighton kind of started a spark in me” explained Markowski. “They’re a really good team and program, and I had one of my better games in the earlier part of the year. I thought ‘yeah, let’s do this.’ I started building my confidence and then we had a starter go out against Michigan. My teammates were like ‘we believe in you, you can do it!’ Going out there knowing that my teammates believed in me helped me to believe in myself.”

That’s a wrap for the Huskers women’s coverage on the day. The season will be here before you know it.