The Nebraska women’s basketball team is set to begin its season on Friday.
At Tuesday’s press conference, NU coach Connie Yori said her team was chomping at the bit to stop running conditioning drills and start running with basketballs.
Last season the Cornhuskers finished 21-12 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before suffering a 76-64 to No. 1 Maryland.
In the 2007-2008 campaign, NU finished with a 9-7 record in Big 12 Conference play and was one of three teams to finish league play with a record above .500.
This year Nebraska returns four starters and 12 letterwinners, which Yori believes will give the squad an edge.
This year Yori and Co. will face another top-rated strength of schedule. They are slated to play 21 teams that participated in the NIT or NCAA.
“Our schedule – very difficult,” Yori said. “We’re really excited about who we have returning, but the schedule in itself is going to be a challenge.”
After losing only senior Danielle Page, junior Cori Montgomery is poised to fill in the role Page played last year for the team.
Coming off the bench, Montgomery was NU’s third-leading scorer, averaging 9.4 points per game.
Together, Page and forward Kelsey Griffin were a one-two punch down in the paint, frustrating teams with their offensive and defensive tenacity.
Last season, Griffin played despite injuring her ribs in an exhibition game against Creighton. The Eagle River, Alaska, native led the team in scoring, averaging roughly 15 points per game.
However, Griffin is injured again and hasn’t been able to participate in any basketball-related activities the past eight weeks due to a severe bone bruise on her ankle.
“Every time I look at our schedule, I get this big lump in my stomach,” Yori said. “Especially when I think about playing that schedule without her.”
Yori said Griffin is one of the top three players in the conference and that her absence from the hardwood would significantly change NU’s outlook on the season.
“We’d have to have a number of other kids do a lot more than they already have, just to be somewhat competitive,” Yori said. “We need to get her back, and that’s going to be the key for us.”