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Nebraska womens basketball team sits sideline with coach Amy Williams
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How Nebraska Women’s Basketball Is Managing a Return to Campus

June 09, 2020

Kate Cain wasn’t the only one with a wild travel story this summer. The Husker women’s basketball center drove from her family home in New York to Lincoln in April to move out of an apartment, then turned around and drove right back. Twenty hours here, 20 hours there. 

Ashley Scoggin made a similar trip, though from the opposite coast. A member of NU’s 2020 signing class, Scoggin played ball for two years at Salt Lake City Community College in Utah after growing up in Dallas, Oregon. Her move to Lincoln featured a 13-hour drive to Salt Lake City to move her belongings out of an apartment overnight, and then another 13-hour drive to UNL’s campus. 

“Lots of road-tripping for Husker women’s basketball players,” head coach Amy Williams said on the latest Varsity Club Podcast. 

Gives you a new appreciation for air travel. 

Nebraska’s team is, along with other programs at the university, making its way back to campus. Summer classes began Monday, and players were allowed to return beginning on June 1. Not everyone is back, as Nebraska staggered its arrival times. Williams is also bringing two players to Lincoln from Australia: sophomore forward Issie Bourne and freshman guard Ruby Porter. 

“Issie Bourne will be joining us sometime soon,” Williams said. “Ruby Porter is a little different because as an incoming athlete, getting an I-20 issued now, it’s kind of all been pushed off to fall semester, so she’ll be maybe a little more delayed but we expect her to be sometime in mid to late July.”

The following is a portion of our chat on the podcast (edited) about schedules this offseason and various other COVID-19 related topics. For the full conversation, give the pod a listen.

On what the schedule looks like in the coming months

AW: We’ve just had to really be adaptable in that area. Normally we love to plan, we’re creatures of habit and wanting to have schedules mapped out, have calendars, have a pretty stringent plan of attack on what that’s going to look like, but it always changes. Every day, every week it seems like things are changing. We’ll get a little more information and something happens to adjust that. 

We know that for the month of June, just getting our kids through all the medical clearances, through the adjustment academically and getting off to a great start in their summer classes. That’s a huge priority here in June. Then being able to get them back into our weight room and back into our facilities with a ball in their hands, I think that’s something we’re just excited to work through some of the kinks in the month of June with the hopes that maybe by the time July comes our coaching staff will be able to do more organized activities with our team. We don’t know that to be certain at this time, we’ll have to kind of wait and see but that’s our hope.

On the size of workout groups being limited to 10 people, and the impact that could have on her team

AW: I think right now, for us, it’s not a super concern. We’re very, very blessed to have the resources and support people available to our program at Nebraska, but we’ve spent a lot of time talking with our staff at the NAPL, our strength and conditioning coach, our athletic trainers, kind of our extended performance staff team about understanding that we need to really ease these young ladies back into activity and being very smart with that. 

Dr. Chris Bach, who’s the director of the NAPL (Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab), said, ‘You know, Coach Williams, we’re not going to get them back after months off of not playing, just the rigors of even playing basketball, playing pickup, the pressures and things that puts on joints and ligaments, we’re not going to get all that back in one month, but we very easily could, in that one month, take a huge step backward if we try to do too much too fast.’

So from that standpoint, it’s not super concerning. We could split our group into two different groups and have them come in and lift and be in the gym, and then have them flip-flop. At this point, I think being able to work more on skill development, really spend time on ball-handling, shooting, doing some things that are not necessarily having to be 5-on-5 is productive for our kids as we’re working back into it.

On plans for when a player tests positive

AW: There definitely is a protocol for that. Fortunately we have medical professionals in our athletic department that can help us monitor and mandate all of the details for that. One thing I know for sure is they would be quarantined as well as the roommates they live with, and they would immediately cease to use the facilities.

On the attitude of the team returning, and if she expects there to be a new sense of determination after having the 2019 season cut short the way it was

AW: We do expect (a fire). This particular team, there’s enough new faces that it’s created an excitement from our returning players just to feel like there’s new energy. I think the new players are just excited to come and make their mark. They’re very appreciative of the opportunity to put on a Husker uniform. I just think there’s kind of an energy that goes along with that that we have sensed and we’re excited to build on. So I feel really good about that. 

It was disappointing to not have the opportunity to play in the postseason. One of the most challenging things, and I’ve learned this throughout my career. . . the year our coaching staff was able to take our team to the WNIT championship, the biggest challenge that has to happen to do something like that and make a run like that is you have to first get over the disappointment of not making your initial goal, which is the NCAA tournament. And that was something that our team here at Nebraska this past year spent a lot of time discussing and preparing for. I think the group was really bought in and focused on how making a run, even in the WNIT tournament, could really help our program and help the future and make a mark. There were a lot of very excited and motivated practices that were happening when we found out we would not have that opportunity. 

That was a disappointment, but I think now after a couple of months of uncertainty and all the things that are going on outside of the basketball realm, I think it’s allowed an avenue for our kids to really want to focus and lock in on bringing a group with a lot of new faces together and find a way to make a run.

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