Amy Williams

Amy Williams walks off the court with the Husker women's basketball team after winning over Illinois on Feb. 1, 2018, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Head coach Amy Williams spoke about the women’s basketball team heading into preseason workouts at the weekly press conference Monday.

Nebraska women’s basketball started practice last week in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We’re really excited to get the season kicked off,” Williams said. “We’ll have to rely pretty heavily on some of our new players, but we feel confidently that they’re working hard and will be able to make that transition pretty smoothly.”

This season, the Huskers will need players to step into leadership roles after the departure of Jasmine Cincore. Senior forward Maddie Simon and junior guard Hannah Whitish are two players Williams will look to for leadership on the court. Whitish and Simon were first and second on the team in scoring, respectively, last season. Whitish also led the team in steals with 41 in 2017.  

“[Maddie] has been here the longest, and she’s worked really really hard,” Williams said. “She’s been through some downs and ups, and I think she’s leaning on that experience to become a great leader.”

“With the success that [Whitish] has had, she’s shown great leadership for us,” Williams said.

Williams said senior transfer guard Kristian Hudson from Florida International will be another valuable veteran leader for the team.

Hudson started 87 games at FIU, amassing over 1,000 points and playing over 36 minutes per game for the Panthers.

“She’s probably our most natural leader,” Williams said of Hudson. “She’s a great communicator on the court and off the court, and we’re excited to be able to add that piece to the mix.”

Nebraska also signed a top-20 recruiting class for this year. The new crop of freshmen include forwards Ashtyn Veerbeek, Kayla Mershon and Leigha Brown and guard Sam Haiby.

“They’re all very high-IQ players,” Williams said of her newest recruiting class. “They’ve picked things up quickly, which has allowed us to advance.”

Williams said Veerbeek and Mershon could have an immediate impact on defense this season.

“Both of those young ladies can go out of area and get rebounds, and that’s a point of emphasis,” Williams said.

Brown, on the other hand, has shown flashes on offense, Williams said.

“She has a real nose for the ball,” Williams said. “We’ve had a lot better pursuit of the ball for offensive rebounds.”

Williams said sophomore center Kate Cain greatly improved her game over the summer, but it was non-physical traits, such as confidence, where Cain made the biggest jumps.

“Cain has been working her tail off all offseason,” Williams said. “She’s way more vocal on the court, and as we continue to work with her to build more and more confidence, I think that will greatly help our team defensively.”

Nebraska has about a month of practice before an exhibition game against the University of Nebraska-Kearney on Nov. 3. The Huskers officially start the season on Nov. 7 versus Drake at Pinnacle Bank Arena.