Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Amy Williams Talks Minneosta Win, Kendall Coley’s Development, Sam Haiby’s Fourth Quarter and More

December 09, 2021

Before Amy Williams talked about her undefeated women’s basketball team during a media appearance at Devaney Sports Center on Thursday morning, she wanted to give a shoutout to John Cook and his Nebraska volleyball team, which plays Illinois tonight at 8:30 p.m. in a regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament.

“I think sometimes I’m like, ‘Can we just stop and pause for a second and recognize that they’re playing in however many Sweet 16s in a row it’s been.’ Sometimes we have a tendency to take that type of success for granted,” Williams said, “and when I stop and think about that, how special that is, and just how exciting of a day it is today, we’re excited to watch and support them tonight.”

Williams has a special team herself, one that toughed out a 70-67 win on the road at Minnesota last Monday. Nebraska is now 9-0 and has a three-game homestand in front of it against non-conference competition in Indiana State, Drake and Wyoming, who are a combined 12-11 this season.

For the Huskers get a hard-fought win against the Gophers makes it that much more meaningful. It makes the plane ride back to Lincoln all the more enjoyable. It raises the level of energy at practice.

“I think the biggest place that we feel like that’s going to show some payoff for us is when we get to that point where we are in that position again,” Williams said of what the win over Minnesota meant, “and you know there are going to be opportunities where you’re going to be on the road, in a hostile environment, down in the Big Ten Conference. And to know that we can do this if we come together, we can overcome this. That experience of having done that before really helps in those moments.”

The hot start is getting the team more exposure. Williams said she and her players will always appreciate the attention to the program. They want to embrace it. That’s a no-brainer, especially after going through a season where there weren’t fans in the arenas they played in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams wants her players to embrace the attention, but also focus on what they can control and remember to lock in on the process and the things that matter on the court and in the locker room.

“We’ve spent a lot of time here lately talking about the fact that, sometimes with increased success or wins and losses, comes increased pressure, increased expectations and things like that,” Williams said. “We’ve just tried to block all of that stuff out and stay focused on what needs to happen in this moment for our team to continue to be the best team that we’re capable of, for us individually. What, in the course of a ball game, needs to happen on this defensive possession for us to have success. Today, what needs to happen at this two-hour practice.”

Up next for Nebraska is a 1 p.m. Saturday contest against Indiana State, which will come to Lincoln with a 3-5 record. If the Huskers can get past the Sycamores and improve to 10-0, it would give them their first 10-game winning streak since 2013.

There’s a Nebraska connection with Indiana State. Sycamore assistant coach LaKale Malone was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for former Husker head coach Connie Yori from 2003-07.

More news and notes:

>> Kendall Coley was the top-ranked player in a top-25 recruiting class for the Huskers. She arrived at Nebraska at an odd time a year ago, graduating high school early, in mid-January, when the start of her senior basketball season was pushed back a couple months due to the pandemic. Coley, a 6-foot-2 wing, joined the Husker roster on Jan. 19 and was immediately eligible to play. She played in 12 games and scored a total of 23 points.

Williams loves the fact that the long and athletic Coley has embraced her role on the team as she changed positions and develops her game for the college level. She’s averaging 14.6 minutes per game this season and scored eight points in the win over Wake Forest, where she also went 2-of-3 from 3-point range. Coley also has 11- and 10-point outings against North Carolina Central and Prairie View A&M, respectively. She’s also shooting 54% (6-of-11) from 3 this season.

While her offense is coming along during an adjustment period, Coley’s defense is something that makes her an asset to have on the court.

“I think there’s been several ball games where she completely changed or impacted the game with her defense, and that may not had been what our expectation was originally with her coming in, but to see that is just such a, wow, what an added benefit that is to have a player who’s capable of shooting at the caliber she is,” Williams said. “I think right now she’s just gaining confidence about where her scoring opportunities are coming from in the new position we’ve asked her to play. So as that continues to become comfortable for her, then I think she’ll look to be a little more aggressive offensively.”

>> Sam Haiby’s veteran presence and experience really kicked in during the fourth quarter at Minnesota, where she scored 10 of her 13 points to help propel the Huskers to the win. But the competitor in Haiby really showed, too, which isn’t surprising considering her background playing baseball and hockey.

Haiby—who’s a native of Moorhead, Minnesota—pushing her team to victory in her home state, where she had family and friends at the game watching, meant a little extra, too.

“She loves to compete,” Williams said of Haiby. “If I really want to see her raise to the next level at practice, I need to put a number on it, or make it a competition. And I think in that moment there, she really wanted to win at Minnesota.”

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap