Lincoln - Nebraska women's basketball coach Connie Yori earned a two-year contract extension after leading the Huskers to their fourth NCAA Tournament in the past six years and a trip the 2012 Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne announced on Tuesday, June 12.
Yori, who led Nebraska to the second-highest victory total in school history with a 24-9 campaign in 2011-12, had her current contract extended to 2017. The Huskers went 10-6 in their first season of Big Ten Conference competition and produced a runner-up finish at their inaugural Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska also earned a spot among a Big Ten-record seven schools in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field in 2012. The Huskers closed the season in the final Associated Press Poll for the second time in the past three seasons, ending the regular season at No. 22 in the rankings.
"Although Connie still had three years left on her contract, we felt it was the right time to reward her for another strong season," Osborne said. "We are continuing with Coach Yori to make a long-term commitment to the success of our women's basketball program. We feel with the coming of the new Pinnacle Bank Arena and some talented young players already on our roster, the stability of our program could help attract even more talented student-athletes in the future. We also appreciate that Coach Yori recruits young women of high character who are interested in serving the Nebraska community while also performing well academically."
Yori previously received a three-year contract extension in May of 2010, after leading Nebraska to the best season in school history in 2009-10. Yori earned 2010 National Coach-of-the-Year honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, the Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, along with being named the Naismith Coach of the Year and the winner of the inaugural Kay Yow Award. She was also the 2010 Big 12 Coach of the Year after leading Nebraska to a 32-2 record that included a perfect 16-0 conference mark and a Big 12 regular-season crown.
Yori's Huskers were the first Big 12 men's or women's basketball team to complete an unbeaten regular season (29-0), Nebraska achieved the highest national rankings in school history (No. 3 AP/Coaches) and earned the program's first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers also advanced to the first NCAA Sweet 16 in program history.
"I am extremely appreciative of the commitment Coach Osborne, Marc Boehm, our administration and the entire state of Nebraska have shown to our program," Yori said. "After winning the Big 12 title in 2010, we opened the new Hendricks Training Complex in the fall of 2011, which has provided a tremendous atmosphere for our players. We believe it is one of the best practice facilities in the nation, and it definitely helped our players and our program as we transitioned into our first season in the Big Ten Conference in 2012. As we get ready to move into a new arena in 2013, we are excited about the direction of our program."
Nebraska will enter Yori's 11th season at the helm of the program in 2012-13 with a pair of National Player-of-the-Year candidates in senior Lindsey Moore and junior Jordan Hooper. Moore, who was also one of eight finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award presented to the nation's top point guard in 2012, joined Hooper on Naismith Trophy Midseason 32 in 2011-12. Hooper, a 6-2 forward from Alliance, Neb., also earned a spot on the Wade Trophy watch list. Hooper became the first sophomore in school history to earn AP All-America honors in 2011-12, after claiming one of five spots on the first-team All-Big Ten team.
Hooper and Moore were joined on the All-Big Ten teams in 2012 by freshman sensation Emily Cady. The 6-2 forward from Seward, Neb., claimed honorable-mention All-Big Ten accolades while earning a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. She was one of two true freshmen, joining 6-1 forward Hailie Sample, to start all 33 games for the Huskers in 2011-12.
In 10 seasons with Yori as Nebraska's head coach, the Huskers have captured nine first-team all-conference awards. Before Yori's arrival, Huskers had earned first-team all-conference awards only 12 times in 28 years.
Over the past nine seasons, Yori has guided Nebraska to its most successful stretch in history by claiming eight postseason tournament appearances, including four NCAA Tournament trips in the past six years. The Huskers have averaged more than 20 wins per season during that span.
Yori has led the Huskers to 25 victories over top-25 opponents over the past 10 seasons, including five victories against ranked teams in 2011-12 and eight in 2009-10. Fifteen of those 25 victories have come against top-15 foes, including six over top-10 opponents, surpassing Nebraska's total in the 28 seasons before Yori's arrival in Lincoln.
In addition to success at Nebraska, eight of Yori's Huskers have advanced to professional basketball careers, including five active players. Following the 2009-10 season, first-team All-American and National Player-of-the-Year finalist Kelsey Griffin was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. The 6-2 forward went on to earn one of five spots on the WNBA All-Rookie team as a member of the Connecticut Sun in 2010. She is in her third season with the Connecticut Sun in 2012, while also continuing to play professionally overseas. Forward Cory Montgomery, a first-team All-Big 12 choice in 2010, was chosen with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft and has spent the past two seasons playing professionally overseas. Fellow 2010 first-team All-Big 12 pick Yvonne Turner has also found success playing overseas the past two years.
Forward Chelsea Aubry, a 2007 NU graduate, has continued to thrive professionally in Australia and as a member of the Canadian Senior National Team. Forward Danielle Page, who led the Huskers to the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament as a senior, enjoyed her best professional season in France in 2012, after beginning her pro career as a member of the Connecticut Sun in 2008. Kiera Hardy, Elena Diaz and Jelena Spiric also continued their basketball careers in the professional ranks after graduating from Nebraska.
Yori's women's basketball program also has been recognized for its growing success off the court. Nebraska was one of only 22 teams in the 2012 NCAA Tournament field to post a 100 percent Graduation Success Rate. In 2009-10, the Huskers were one of just 19 teams in the 2008 field and one of only 17 teams in the 2007 tournament with a perfect GSR. The 2011-12 team also ranked among the top 10 percent of NCAA Division I women's basketball programs by posting an approximate 3.2 combined grade-point average on the year. The Huskers produced five academic All-Big Ten picks in 2011-12.
In 2010, Griffin became Nebraska's first-ever Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner in any sport for her performance on the court, in the classroom and in the community. In 2012, Husker senior Kaitlyn Burke was also a candidate for the award before being named Nebraska's first female award winner of the a prestigious Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Burke also served as the President of Nebraska's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Yori's Huskers also captured Nebraska's inaugural Life Skills Team Award in 2003-04, before becoming the first NU team to win the award on two occasions by claiming the title again in 2005-06.