Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Amy Williams Talks Strong Start To Season, Tournament Trip To San Diego

November 22, 2021

The Nebraska women’s basketball team has enjoyed a strong start to the season, winning its first five games by an average score of 95-50. The Huskers have topped 100 points in three of the five outings.

“We’re excited about how we handled the five-game home stand,” Williams said. “After a year of not playing in front of our fanbase, sure, we’ll schedule five straight home games and enjoy the friendly confines of Pinnacle Bank Arena. Now we’ll have to take the show on the road.”

Williams’ crew will now head to San Diego over the Thanksgiving holiday to play in the two-day Dana on Mission Bay Holiday Tournament. The Huskers will play Drexel (3-1) on Friday at 6 p.m. and either San Diego (3-1) or Fresno State (2-1) on Saturday. Drexel was an NCAA tournament team last season.

“We’re going to be playing teams in San Diego that have three super-seniors, fifth-year starters, and then two other seniors, fourth-year players—just really experienced basketball teams,” Williams said, “so we’re expecting a much tougher competition. And just going on the road presents its own challenges. I think we’ll learn about ourselves over the next few days and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Rather than looking at the triple-digit scoring and blowouts against overmatched opponents to gauge her team, Williams said she credits the team’s balance as an indicator that the team has grown from what it was last year.

“I look more at the ten different players on our roster who have scored doubles figures so far this year already,” she said.

The expectations have been high from the get-go, Williams said.

“They set some pretty lofty goals, and I think that they’re striving to achieve those, and that’s why we’re seeing an elevated confidence, focus and they’re continuing to find ways to improve and not just settle,” Williams said.

The Huskers are playing with pace and tempo. It starts with pushing tempo, and a player like Sam Haiby has always been a player who can do that. Haiby is averaging 9.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and is third on the team in assists with 19.

“Sam’s been kind of in and out a little bit here with our first five ballgames,” Williams said, “but I really think with Jaz Shelley and Allison Weidner coming in, they both really kind of aggressively hunt in transition that paint, which creates a lot of offense for our team and gives us more possessions and allows us to play at that pace that is producing higher points.”

Shelley, a transfer from Oregon, has enjoyed the best start of her college basketball career—she’s averaging 11.2 points while shooting 54% from 3-point range. It’s not just the scoring with Shelley, though. The 5-foot-9 guard from Australia is showing she can defend and rebound the ball well as she’s averaging a team-best 8.6 boards per game with eight blocks.

She’s letting the game come to her and not trying to force anything, Williams said.

“That’s what’s special, to be able to play with pace and tempo, but not be sped up,” Williams said of Shelley. “We talk a lot about playing with pace and space and we also talk about pace and poise, and she has those naturally, instinctively. She’s played a lot of basketball at a high level and I think that leads to that confidence.”

More news and notes:

>> Williams snagged highly-touted dual-sport recruit Maggie Mendelson, who will come to Lincoln with the goal of playing both volleyball and basketball. Williams said her staff and John Cook’s volleyball staff staggered the recruiting trips when visiting Mendelson.

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