Winning the silver medal is nobody’s ultimate goal. But although the Nebraska women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Big Ten this season, it says something about the talent of the Husker program.
Even with senior workhorse Lindsey Moore, All-American Jordan Hooper and a more experienced team overall, Nebraska has plenty of work to stay a relevant power in the Big Ten. Come March, the Huskers will aim to take home the Big Ten title, as they should. But it won’t come easy.
Last year, the Big Ten sent seven teams to the NCAA tournament, yet this season the Huskers have a tougher strength of schedule, Nebraska coach Connie Yori said.
“When you play in a league that’s really good, it’s hard just to win one game,” Yori said in a press conference before Nebraska’s first conference game. “I mean, literally every single game is hard to win. Just to win one is a challenge, so you have to be a great preparation team and you’ve got to perform on gameday.”
So far the Huskers are 2-2 in the conference, turning away Wisconsin and Indiana while dropping games to Purdue and Penn State. That sets Nebraska seventh in the Big Ten standings. But don’t take too much stock in rankings yet, Yori said. Not only has conference play just begun and Nebraska’s two conference losses are possibly the two toughest in the league, but it’s also a position they’ve been in before.
Last year, Nebraska entered the Big Ten tournament in sixth place in the league. Then the Huskers took Purdue to double overtime in the conference championship before losing 74-70. The Huskers nearly took a conference championship, which may seem like a major upset for a sixth seed, but Nebraska was just one game out of second place entering the tournament.
While Nebraska’s finish in the Big Ten may have surprised some last year, they are definitely not being overlooked this season, according to Yori.
“Last year, we were a little more of the hunter and this year we’re a little more of the hunted,” Yori said.
A close race will again be the case for the Big Ten this season. So far, the top eight teams in the conference all look solid enough and capable of making a splash in Indianapolis. With a new role in the league and a target on their back, Nebraska needs to build consistency, a struggle they had throughout their non-conference schedule, in order to survive their daunting schedule ahead, senior guard Lindsey Moore.
“The Big Ten is a tough conference,” Moore said following a win against Wisconsin. “With each team that we play from this point on, any team can put together a run.”
Stopping those runs means being consistently strong on defense. If they can control that, Nebraska can do better than silver this season.