#13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-0) vs. Albany Great Danes (6-4)
Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595) • Lincoln, Neb.
Wednesday, Dec. 30 • 3:05 p.m.
Promotion: Hometown Husker Dominique Kelley
Radio: Husker Sports Network (105.3 FM-KLNC-Lincoln, 93.3 FM-KTWI Omaha)
Live Internet Audio: Huskers.com (Free)
Live Internet Video: HuskersNside (premium subscribers)
Tip-off between the Huskers (11-0) and Great Danes (6-4) at the Bob Devaney Sports Center is set for 3:05 p.m., which was moved up from its original 7:05 p.m. start after the Nebraska football team was invited to play Arizona in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, which kicks off Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Live radio coverage will be provided by the Husker Sports Network on WOW 105.3 KLNC in Lincoln and Twister 93.3 KTWI in Omaha. Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch will have the call free world-wide on Huskers.com, and a live video stream will also be available to HuskersNside subscribers.
Nebraska is off to the best start in school history, reeling off a school-record 11 straight wins after an impressive 77-63 pounding of previously unbeaten and then-No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. All-America candidate Kelsey Griffin produced another amazing performance, pumping in 30 points while pulling down a career-high matching 14 rebounds against the perennial power Tigers, who have appeared in five of the past six NCAA Women’s Final Fours.
Griffin’s fourth double-double and second 30-point scoring effort of the season helped her earn Big 12 Player-of-the-Week honors for the first time this season and fourth time in her career on Dec. 21. The 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, leads the Huskers with 17.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals. She also ranks 13th nationally with her 61.0 field goal percentage, and leads the Huskers with nine charges drawn this season.
Fellow senior Cory Montgomery gives Nebraska a devastating 1-2 punch inside. The 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., is averaging 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game after her 16-point effort against LSU. Montgomery is also shooting 50 percent (12-24) from three-point range on the year.
The Huskers, who are 7-0 at the Devaney Center this season, also own an 11-game home winning streak dating back to last season. All seven home wins this year have been by double digits, as 10 of NU’s 11 wins overall have been by double figures.
#13 Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-0)
23 - Kelsey Griffin - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 17.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg
40 - Cory Montgomery - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 12.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg
00 - Lindsey Moore - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 4.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
22 - Yvonne Turner - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg
24 - Dominique Kelley - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 11.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
The Next Wave
44 - Catheryn Redmon - 6-3 - Jr. - C - 5.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg
11 - Nicole Neals - 5-6 - Sr. - G - 4.3 ppg, 0.9 rpg
13 - Kala Kuhlmann - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 4.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
12 - Layne Reeves - 5-11 - RFr. - G - 2.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg
21 - Harleen Sidhu - 6-1 - So. - F - 2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg
35 - Jessica Periago - 6-4 - Jr. - C - 1.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg
5 - Kaitlyn Burke - 5-7 - Jr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg
20 - Katya Leick - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 1.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
10 - Meghin Williams - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 0.7 ppg, 0.5 rpg
42 - Nikki Bober - 6-4 - Sr. - C - Injured
Head Coach: Connie Yori (Creighton, 1986)
Eighth Season at NU (132-97); 20th Season Overall (327-237)
Albany Great Danes (6-4)
23 - Charity Iromuanya - 5-8 - Sr. - G - 10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
22 - Felicia Johnson - 5-4 - So. - G - 9.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg
21 - Keyana Williams - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 4.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg
5 - Ebone Henry - 5-10 - Fr. - G/F - 9.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg
11 - Julie Forster - 6-0 - Fr. - F - 9.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Off the Bench
3 - Melia Basavand - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 5.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg
33 - Tabitha Makopondo - 6-1 - So. - F - 3.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
31 - Delany Cohan - 6-1 - So. - F - 2.8 ppg, 0.9 rpg
14 - Kim Clements - 5-10 - Jr. - G/F - 2.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg
20 - Kate Cronin - 6-0 - So. - F - 1.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
24 - Adrienne Jones - 5-7 - So. - G - 0.6 ppg, 0.4 rpg
Head Coach: Trina Patterson (Virginia, 1987)
Eighth Season at Albany (77-138); 17th Season Overall (178-286)
At 11-0, Nebraska owns the best start and longest winning streak in school history, surpassing a nine-game winning streak to open the 1996-97 campaign. The Huskers passed their stiffest test of the young season with flying colors in a 77-63 pounding of No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. A win over Albany on Wednesday would increase NU’s school-record streak to 12 straight wins.
Not only have the Huskers been winning, they have been doing it in impressive fashion, with 10 of their 11 victories by double digits. Nebraska’s lone single-digit win came with a 76-71 victory at previously unbeaten Miami on Dec. 5.
The Huskers won each of their first seven games by double digits, including the first four games by 20 or more points. NU added a 13-point win over Creighton on Dec. 9, and rolled to a 25-point win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 13 to achieve the school-record streak. The Huskers have led all 11 opponents by at least 11 points in the second half.
Nebraska’s current 11-game winning streak is just the seventh streak of eight or more victories in school history. Three of Nebraska’s eight-game winning streaks have come in Yori’s eight seasons with the Huskers, including 2003-04 and 2005-06.
Nebraska Jumps to No. 13 in AP Poll
Since beating No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20, Nebraska has climbed seven spots to No. 13 in the Associated Press Top 25, which was announced on Monday, Dec. 28. The 11-0 Huskers gained 199 points in the poll, increasing their total to 461 after ranking 20th on Dec. 14 with 262. NU entered the poll for the first time this season at No. 24 on Dec. 7 with 131 points after a road win at previously unbeaten Miami.
The last time Nebraska was ranked as high as 13th in the AP poll came on Dec. 7, 1997. The Huskers achieved their highest ranking in school history at No. 12 a week earlier.
Nebraska is one of six Big 12 teams in the rankings and the only unbeaten team remaining in the league. Baylor is ranked No. 5 in this week’s poll, while Texas A&M is No. 10. Oklahoma is ranked 14th, while Texas is No. 17. Kansas is ranked No. 21, while Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Iowa State all received votes.
Nebraska Fighting to Be One of Last Unbeatens Standing
Nebraska entered the week of Dec. 28 as one of just seven unbeaten teams left among the 345 NCAA Division I women’s basketball teams.
Here is the list of NCAA Division I unbeatens as of Monday, Dec. 28: Nebraska, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Georgia, Syracuse, Kentucky and UW-Green Bay.
Huskers Own Success Against Top 25 Foes
Nebraska has made a habit of knocking off top-25 opponents during Connie Yori’s eight seasons at the helm. In fact, the Huskers’ win over No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20 marked the 13th victory over a ranked foe during Yori’s tenure. The Huskers notched two wins over top-25 foes in 2008-09, including a victory over No. 24 Arizona State on Dec. 28, and a win over No. 20 Kansas State on Feb. 25.
Included in those victories is a 103-99 triple overtime win over No. 2 and eventual national champion Baylor on Jan. 12, 2005, which marks the highest ranked team Nebraska has ever defeated. The Huskers also posted an 18-point win over No. 9 Kansas State in 2004, and a 29-point win over No. 14 Iowa State in 2005 - NU’s largest victory margin in history over a top-25 foe. Nebraska’s 56-45 win over No. 15 Texas at the Devaney Center in 2008 also marked the lowest point total ever allowed by the Huskers against a ranked opponent. Before Yori’s arrival at Nebraska in 2002-03, the Huskers had not defeated a top-10 team since a 73-67 win over No. 9 Iowa on Dec. 8, 1996, and had never beaten a top-five opponent.
Scouting the Albany Great Danes
Albany comes to Lincoln with a 6-4 record riding a three-game winning streak after a 63-52 win over Fairfield on Dec. 23. The Great Danes have already matched their season victory total from the entire 2008-09 campaign. Albany started its current streak with a 63-56 win over Wagner on Dec. 12, before notching a 53-49 win over Army. The Danes, under the direction of eighth-year coach Trina Patterson, also own home victories over Cornell (80-55) and St. Francis. (N.Y.), along with a 52-49 road win at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Danes have been extremely competitive in nearly all of their losses, including a 65-61 overtime loss at Siena, a 52-41 setback at Canisius and a 62-49 loss at Hofstra, while also suffering a 76-56 road loss at Fordham in their season opener.
Lincoln native Charity Iromuanya leads the Danes with 10.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. The senior out of Lincoln Northeast was a high school teammate of Husker junior guard Dominique Kelley. The duo combined to lead the Rockets to the 2005 Nebraska Class A state title, before adding a runner-up finish in 2006.
Iromuanya is the lone senior on an extremely young Danes roster that includes freshman starters Ebone Henry, Julie Forster and Keyana Williams, along with sophomore starter Felicia Johnson. Henry, a 5-10 swing player, has averaged 9.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, coming off the bench for the first seven games this season before earning a start Wagner. She came off the bench again in wins over Army and Fairfield. Forster, a 6-0 forward, has started four straight games after coming off the bench in the Danes’ first six contests, and is tied for second on the team in scoring with 9.6 points, while leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per game, and 13 blocks on the year.
Williams, a 6-2 forward, has contributed 4.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while Johnson provides stability in the backcourt with 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and a team-leading 3.8 assists per game.
Tabitha Makopondo, a 6-1 sophomore forward, started Albany’s first six games and adds depth with 3.5 points and 3.9 boards per contest. Kim Clements, a 5-10 junior swing player, started Albany’s first seven contests and last two games, splitting time with Henry. Clements has averaged 2.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Melia Basavand, a 5-5 junior guard, has also been a steady producer with 5.6 points and 1.0 boards per contest.
As a team, the Danes are averaging 58.8 points per game, while allowing 56.5 per contest. They have been outrebounded 41.0-39.5, but own a plus-2.7 team turnover margin (20.3-17.6). Albany is shooting just 35.9 percent from the field, including just 29 percent from three-point range and just 61.4 percent at the free throw line.
Three Huskers Celebrate Graduation on Dec. 19
Senior forward Cory Montgomery, senior guard Nicole Neals and former Husker guard Tay Hester all received their bachelor’s degrees during Commencement at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday, Dec. 19.
Montgomery and Neals both earned their degrees in just 3 1/2 years. Montgomery carries a 3.289 grade-point average as a business administration major. She is a two-time academic All-Big 12 selection, and plans to continue her education to earn a teacher’s certificate from Nebraska.
Neals graduated as a management major with a minor in marketing, and plans to begin pursuit of her master’s degree in business administration from Nebraska.
Hester, who spent the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons as a starter for the Huskers, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. Hester started her collegiate career at UTEP before transferring to Mt. San Antonio College.
Huskers Producing Massive Margins to Open Season
Nebraska’s average victory margin of 24.5 points per game through the first 11 contests is the best in school history, leading the 23.0 points per game margin produced by the 1996-97 Huskers.
The 2009-10 Huskers are averaging 78.9 points per game (868 total points) on the offensive end, which trails only the 1987-88 Huskers who averaged 84.7 points per game (932 total points) to produce the best offensive start by an NU squad through 11 games in Nebraska history.
Huskers Dig Defense
NU is surrendering just 54.4 points per game through the first 11 contests, which is the lowest opponent scoring average through the first 11 contests of any season since the first full season of varsity women’s basketball at the University of Nebraska in 1975-76.
The 1975-76 Huskers surrendered just 50.3 points through the first 11 games, which came against almost an entirely non-Division I schedule. The only contest against a Division I foe came at Creighton, when the Huskers allowed the Bluejays just 31 points. The 1975-76 Huskers allowed a school-record 56.0 points per contest over 30 games on their way to a 21-9 record. Twenty of NU’s 30 games that season came against teams that are not currently in NCAA Division I.
Nebraska Forcing Fresh Look at Levels of Production
Basketball fans are accustomed to charting individual statistics by game, but the depth, experience and style of play of the Huskers this season may cause some folks to take a fresh look at the numbers.
For example, only freshman point guard Lindsey Moore (26.1 mpg) is averaging more than 25 minutes per game through the first 11 contests, but the Huskers’ individual numbers still rival all-conference levels of production.
Kelsey Griffin, a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection makes the strongest case for considering production per minute, rather than per game. Griffin enters the week tied for sixth in the Big 12 with 17.9 points per game, while leading the league with 9.9 rebounds per game. Those numbers become significantly more impressive considering she has played just 24.2 minutes per game - just over one 20-minute half of basketball per game.
Taken over 40 minutes, Griffin would be averaging 29.6 points, 16.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game. In addition to her team-leading 22 steals this season, Griffin has added five blocked shots and drawn a team-leading nine charges in 11 games for the Huskers. She is also shooting 61 percent from the field, which ranks 13th nationally.
Compare that production to current Big 12 scoring leader Andrea Riley, who entered the week averaging 23.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Through 10 games, Riley is averaging 38.3 minutes per game, and her 40-minute production is 24.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 2.2 steals.
With 197 points and 109 rebounds in 266 minutes, Griffin is averaging 0.74 points per minute and 0.41 rebounds per minute. Riley averages an impressive 0.62 points per minute, but just 0.10 rebounds. In 2007-08, Griffin led the Big 12 in point production in conference games only with 0.62 points per minute, while ranking second in rebounding with 0.30 rebounds per minute - trailing only 2007 National Player of the Year Courtney Paris on the glass.
The following is a brief listing of Nebraska players and their averages taken over 40 minutes:
- Kelsey Griffin - 29.6 points, 16.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 3.3 steals
- Cory Montgomery - 21.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists
- Dominique Kelley - 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals
- Yvonne Turner - 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 steals
- Catheryn Redmon - 12.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.0 blocks
- Layne Reeves - 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.3 steals
- Nicole Neals - 10.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.9 steals
- Kala Kuhlmann – 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.7 steals
- Lindsey Moore – 7.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.8 steals
- Jessica Periago – 7.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.6 blocks
Griffin Closing in on 1,600 Points, 800 Rebounds
Kelsey Griffin continues to cement her place among the best players in Nebraska women’s basketball history as a senior for the Huskers.
The 6-2 senior forward from Eagle River, Alaska, has pushed her career totals to 1,545 points and 774 rebounds as one of just six players in NU history to reach 1,500 points and 700 boards in her career. Griffin joins Karen Jennings, Maurtice Ivy, Anna DeForge, Deb Powell and Kathy Hagerstrom on that distinguished list of Huskers.
With 14 rebounds against No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20, Griffin moved within just four rebounds of 1988 Big Eight Player of the Year Maurtice Ivy in fifth on the Husker rebounding chart with 778.
Griffin enters the Albany game needing 55 points and 26 rebounds to become just the third Husker in history to produce 1,600 points and 800 career rebounds. If she can achieve those levels, Griffin will join 1993 National Player of the Year Karen Jennings (2,405 points, 1,000 rebounds) and two-time WNBA All-Star Anna DeForge (1,859 points, 804 rebounds) in that elite group.
Montgomery Becomes 16th Husker with 1,000 Points, 500 Boards
Senior Cory Montgomery became just the 16th Husker in history to produce 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds after putting up nine points and nine rebounds in Nebraska’s win over Creighton on Dec. 9.
The 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., heads into the Albany game with 1,089 points, which is tied for 17th in Husker history with Nafeesah Brown (1992-94). Montgomery needs just seven points to match Ann Halsne (1988-91) in 16th place with 1,096 points and 27 points to catch Meggan Yedsena (1991-94) in 15th on the NU all-time scoring list with 1,116 points.
Montgomery crossed the 500-rebound plateau in the first half against Creighton. She has increased her career total to 514 rebounds. She enters the Albany game ranked 20th on NU’s all-time rebound list and needs just four rebounds to match Margaret Richards (2001-04) in 19th with 518.
Turner Draining Threes at Record Rate
Senior Yvonne Turner has hit 26-of-56 three-point attempts (46.4 percent) to lead an impressive Husker three-point barrage through the first 11 games. Turner’s 2.4 threes made per game are tied for seventh in the Big 12 and are on track to challenge the school-record pace set by Amy Stephens with 2.9 threes per game in 1988-89. Stephens hit 85 threes in 29 games in 1988-89, while Kiera Hardy hit a record-tying 85 threes in 32 games in 2004-05.
Turner has increased her career total to 127 made threes, while improving her career numbers to 33.8 percent (127-376). Turner ranks sixth in Nebraska history in career three-pointers and needs just two more to catch Husker greats Nicole Kubik (1997-2000) and Amy Stephens (1986-89) on the Husker career chart.
Last season, Turner led the Huskers with 57 three-pointers in 2008-09. She hit 44-of-116 three-point attempts (37.9 percent) over the last 22 games, despite missing 19 consecutive long-range attempts following a shoulder injury in the second half against Iowa State. The recurring injury required surgery at the end of the season.
Before the three-game slump, Turner had connected on 47.7 percent (21-44) of her attempts dating back to the Long Beach State game on Dec. 12. After missing her first three attempts against No. 8 Baylor, she knocked down three straight three-pointers in the second half against the Lady Bears.
In Big 12 Conference action, Turner finished in a tie for second with KU’s Danielle McCray with 2.1 made three-pointers per game, trailing only Iowa State senior Heather Ezell’s 2.4 per contest.
Turner finished second on the Husker junior single-season three-point made list, trailing only three-time All-Big 12 selection Kiera Hardy’s 81 in 2005-06. As a junior, Turner averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. A two-time Big 12 All-Defensive Team pick, Turner is ranked among the top 10 active Big 12 players in both career three-pointers (127) and career steals (182).
Huskers Cleaning Up the Glass
Coming into the 2009-10 season, Nebraska focused much of its attention on improving its performance on the glass. Last season, playing without two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin for the entire year, and without center Nikki Bober for the entire Big 12 season because of injuries, the Huskers owned a negative-1.5 team rebounding margin. In Big 12 play, that number dipped even lower to negative-4.4.
Through 11 games this season, Nebraska’s focus is paying dividends, as the Huskers carry a plus-7.5 team rebounding margin, which ranks third in the Big 12. Nebraska outrebounded its first seven opponents in 2009-10, before being outrebounded, 34-30, by a Miami squad that was plus-12 on the glass heading into the Dec. 5 game in Miami. The Huskers bounced back to outrebound Creighton, 38-36, on Dec. 9, and outboarded Northern Illinois, 44-43, on Dec. 13. NU was outrebounded, 36-34, by an LSU squad that entered the game plus-12 on the glass.
Last season, Nebraska outrebounded only 12 foes in 31 games. NU outrebounded only five foes after Christmas.
NU was plus-23 on the glass against Idaho State and plus-21 against Washington State, after opening the season plus-12 against Davidson and plus-seven at UNLV. The Huskers were plus-11 (37-26) against South Dakota after posting a plus-10 margin (37-27) against UALR, giving NU five double-digit rebound margins through 11 games. Last year, Nebraska managed only three double-digit rebound margins all season (vs. Butler, at UTEP, at Kansas).
Nebraska’s best rebounding season in school history came with a plus-8.6 margin in 1997-98, which is the only season that NU has posted a plus-6.0 margin or better.
Griffin has led the Huskers on the glass this season by averaging a Big 12-best 9.9 boards per game, including six double-digit rebound efforts.
Catheryn Redmon is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game off the bench, after averaging 5.5 boards per game as a starter a year ago. Cory Montgomery is contributing 5.2 rebounds per contest.
Huskers Firing Off to Fast First-Half Starts
Nebraska’s high-powered offense is averaging 39 points per game in the first half, including a school-record tying 59 first-half points against Washington State at the Devaney Center on Nov. 22.
The Huskers’ big first-half scoring average has come despite putting up just 22 first-half points against a UALR team that ranked third nationally in scoring defense a year ago.
Nebraska has also been stingy on defense in the first half, surrendering just 24.3 points per first half, as the Huskers have headed to the locker room with an average lead of 14.7 points (39.0-24.3) and have allowed only two foes to score 30 first-half points (Miami, 36, LSU, 34).
Creighton managed 29, while Davidson and Saint Mary’s each produced 26 first-half points. The Huskers held South Dakota to one of the lowest first-half totals in school history with just 14 points on Dec. 3, and surrendered just 17 first-half points to Northern Illinois on Dec. 13.
In their seven home victories, the Huskers are averaging 41.7 points in the first half, while allowing just 22.7 points per first half for an average home halftime lead of 19.0 points.
It hasn’t gone much better for Nebraska opponents in the second half through the first 11 contests, as the Huskers have averaged 39.9 points after halftime, while the opposition has managed 30.1 points per second half.
Nebraska’s success has allowed its starting five to get plenty of rest early in the season, as Kelsey Griffin, Cory Montgomery, Yvonne Turner, Dominique Kelley and Lindsey Moore, are all averaging 26 or fewer minutes per game. Nebraska’s starters are combining to play an average of 122 minutes while the deep Husker bench has seen an average of 78 minutes per game of playing time.
Nebraska Knocking Down Triples at Record Pace
As a team, NU ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 6.9 threes per game, well ahead of school-record pace, which was set last season with 5.5 threes per game. Nebraska knocked down eight triples in the opener against Davidson, before hitting nine on the road at UNLV and 10 against Idaho State.
Nebraska hit 11-of-23 three-pointers against Washington State, which was just one shy of the school record of 12 set in last year’s season opener against Weber State. UALR held Nebraska to just 3-for-11 from three-point range, and NU connected on just 6-of-25 threes at Saint Mary’s, before coming back home to hit 8-of-22 three-pointers in a win over South Dakota. The Huskers knocked down 9-of-23 threes in a road win over previously unbeaten Miami on Dec. 5, before being held to just 3-of-12 shooting from long range by Creighton on Dec. 9. NU added 5-of-12 threes in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 13, and 4-of-12 shooting in a run past No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20.
At the Devaney Center Nebraska has hit 7.0 threes per game, connecting on 49-of-131 shots from long range for a 37.4 percent success rate.
Griffin Earns Spot on Naismith Trophy Watch List
Nebraska senior Kelsey Griffin was one of 50 players around the country named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List on Nov. 18.
Griffin, a 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and ranks No. 1 among active career rebounders and No. 3 among active career scorers in the Big 12 Conference.
She earned her third straight selection to the Preseason All-Big 12 team chosen by the league coaches this season, becoming just the third player in history to earn that honor, joining former All-Americans Courtney Paris (Oklahoma) and Tiffany Jackson (Texas).
Griffin, who has been projected as a high WNBA draft pick, will also contend for national honors off the court this season. The biological sciences major owns a 3.4 GPA and is expected to be a candidate for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. She was also included among the 30 preseason candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, recognizing student-athlete achievement on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
Griffin Comes Back Strong As Senior
Senior forward Kelsey Griffin has put together an impressive start to the season in her return to the court after missing the 2008-09 campaign with a foot injury.
The 6-2 All-America candidate from Eagle River, Alaska, has averaged 17.9 points and 9.9 rebounds in just 24.2 minutes per game in powering the Huskers to a school-record 11-0 start. Griffin has had four of the best efforts of her career through the first 11 games of her senior season.
Griffin is coming off a 30-point, 14-rebound performance in the Huskers’ 77-63 win over No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. That followed a 31-point, 11-rebound, two-assist, two-steal, one-block effort in a win over Creighton on Dec. 9, when she hit 12-of-16 shots from the field. Her 31 points tied her career high, which was set in the fourth game of her career on Nov. 27, 2005, against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Her 12 field goals were a career high, which she matched in the win over LSU.
Her effort in the win over Creighton followed a pair of big performances in California. She opened the Saint Mary’s Hilton Concord Thanksgiving Tournament with 27 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds, while adding three steals against UALR (Nov. 27). She produced 28 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high matching four steals in a win over Saint Mary’s (Nov. 28).
Griffin added a 15-point, nine-rebound effort against Washington State, when she played just 14 minutes. She opened the season with 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in just 18 minutes in an 86-62 win over Davidson on Nov. 13. Griffin followed that performance with nine points, 13 rebounds, two assists, a block and two steals in a road win at UNLV. She added 14 points, three rebounds and a career-high matching four assists in Nebraska’s run past Idaho State, and pitched in 13 points and nine boards in a win at Miami on Dec. 5. She also pitched in nine points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 13.
Taken over 40 minutes, Griffin would be averaging 29.5 points, 16.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game. She has averaged 0.74 points and 0.41 rebounds per minute.
In addition to her team-leading 22 steals this season, Griffin has added five blocked shots and drawn a team-leading nine charges in 11 games for the Huskers. She is also shooting 61 percent from the field, which ranks 13th nationally.
Montgomery’s Hot Shooting Helps Huskers
Senior Cory Montgomery put up a season-high 16 points, including a career-high matching three three-pointers, to help shoot the Huskers past No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. Montgomery enters the Albany game averaging 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, while ranking 31st nationally with her 56.0 field goal percentage. She is also hitting 50 percent (12-24) of her three-point attempts and 78.3 percent (18-23) of her free throws.
The 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., notched her ninth career double-double and first of the season with game highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds in Nebraska’s 88-41 win over Idaho State on Nov. 19. She hit 7-of-12 shots from the field, while adding an assist and a steal in a strong all-around effort.
She just missed her second double-double of the year with nine points and nine rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor in NU’s win over Creighton on Dec. 9, before adding 13 points in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 13.
An honorable-mention All-Big 12 pick as a junior, Montgomery earned a spot on the Saint Mary’s Hilton Thanksgiving all-tournament team by averaging 15 points and five rebounds in a pair of Husker wins over UALR and Saint Mary’s. She has produced double figures in nine of NU’s 11 games. She also pulled down a season-best 10 boards against Idaho State.
Kelley Cranks Up Production to Start Junior Season
Junior guard Dominique Kelley has put up big numbers in Nebraska’s first 11 games by averaging 11.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 23.4 minutes per game. The 5-7 hometown favorite out of Lincoln Northeast High School had a season-high 18-point performance in Nebraska’s win at Saint Mary’s on Nov. 28. She led NU at the line against the Gaels by hitting 10-of-13 free throws. She also grabbed four rebounds, while dishing out two assists and grabbing two steals.
She had another big effort on the road for the Huskers with a game-high matching 17 points in NU’s win at UNLV on Nov. 15. Kelley scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers, to help shoot Nebraska to a 36-23 halftime lead.
Kelley came up big again in Nebraska’s road win at Miami, leading five Huskers in double figures with 16 points, while knocking down a pair of three-pointers and 8-of-12 free throws. She also drew two charges and had a game-saving steal in the closing seconds to knock off the previously unbeaten Hurricanes.
She added a game-high 14 points while matching her season high with seven rebounds in NU’s run past Northern Illinois on Dec. 13. Kelley had 10 points and five boards in the first half to help shoot the Huskers to a 34-17 halftime lead.
Kelley had 13 points, including 11 in the first half, in Nebraska’s win over No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20. Going head-to-head with All-American Allison Hightower from LSU, Kelley held the Naismith Trophy candidate to 15 points on just 7-of-21 shooting. Kelley’s points came on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Kelley put up 13 more points in NU’s win over Creighton on Dec. 9, when she scored NU’s first four points of the game, and nine second-half points to help power the Huskers to victory. She hit 6-of-8 shots from the field against the Jays and dished out two assists to go along with one steal.
Kelley added 12 of her 13 points in the first half against Washington State, when she helped NU race to a 59-20 halftime lead. She added another strong effort with 12 points and a season-best seven rebounds to help her celebrate her 21st birthday a day early with a win over Idaho State.
Kelley, who owns eight double-figure scoring efforts this season, is shooting 48.7 percent (38-78) from the field and 31.6 percent (6-19) from three-point range, while connecting on 78.7 percent (48-61) of her free throws.
Taken over 40 minutes, Kelley is averaging 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Kelley averaged 9.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game as a sophomore starter in 2008-09.
Big Four Bury Big Shots for Big Red
Nebraska’s big four scorers of Kelsey Griffin, Cory Montgomery, Yvonne Turner and Dominique Kelley have all put up solid numbers for the Huskers through the first 11 games.
Each of NU’s most experienced players have averaged double figures in points and have combined to hit 51.9 percent (205-395) of their shots from the field, including 47-of-107 (43.9 percent) of their three-point attempts.
Griffin (13th) and Montgomery (31st) both rank among the top 50 players in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage, making Nebraska one of only five teams in the country with two players among the NCAA leaders in that category.
Connecticut has three players (Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Kalana Greene) ranked among the top 50 in field goal percentage, while Stanford (Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Jayne Appel), Maryland (Tianna Hawkins, Lynetta Kizer), and Xavier (Ta’Shia Phillips, Amber Harris) also have a pair in the top 50.
Cat Smash Fever
Junior Catheryn Redmon has picked up where she left off last season in the blocked shot department. Although Redmon has moved to a reserve role with the return of two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin from injury, Redmon still leads the Huskers with 25 blocks through 11 games. With 2.3 blocks per game, Redmon is tied for 23rd nationally in the most recent NCAA Division I statistical rankings.
The top returning shot-blocker in the Big 12 this year, Redmon produced 67 blocks in 31 games last season to average 2.2 blocks in 23.2 minutes per contest. Through 11 games in 2009-10, Redmon is averaging 2.3 blocks in just 18.1 minutes per game and continues to climb Nebraska’s career block chart. She has moved into a tie for sixth with Katie Morse at 101 blocks. Redmon, who has blocked two or more shots in eight of NU’s first 11 games, needs just three more blocks to join the top four shot-blockers in Husker history.
In addition to her shot-blocking success, Redmon is averaging 5.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, after putting up eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks in a win over Northern Illinois on Dec. 13. She dropped in a career-high 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Nebraska’s win over South Dakota on Dec. 3, and 12 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals in a win at Miami on Dec. 5.
Redmon also just missed a pair of double-doubles early in the season. She had an eight-point, 10-rebound effort against Washington State, after finishing with eight points and nine boards at UNLV on Nov. 15. Redmon owns 20 offensive rebounds through NU’s first 11 games.
Redmon is one of several Huskers with outstanding 40-minute production averages. Through 11 games, she is averaging 12.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per 40 minutes.
Freshman Moore Helps Huskers to 11-0 Mark as Starter
Lindsey Moore has helped the Huskers to an 11-0 record as Nebraska’s starting point guard in her first 11 collegiate games. The 5-9 freshman from Covington, Wash., made an immediate impression in the Huskers’ season-opening win over Davidson on Nov. 13 by scoring Nebraska’s first two points of the year on a 15-foot jumper off the opening tip. She finished with five points and a game-high eight assists. She also committed just one turnover against the Wildcats.
Last season, Kaitlyn Burke was the only Husker to produce eight assists in a game, which came at Long Beach State on Dec. 12, 2008. Over the three previous seasons, (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09), a Husker had produced eight or more assists on only three occasions, including nine from Yvonne Turner at Kansas State on Feb. 27, 2008, and eight from Kiera Hardy at Minnesota on Dec. 5, 2006.
Moore produced her second eight-assist effort in her first 10 games by dishing out eight assists in NU’s win at previously unbeaten Miami on Dec. 5. She added three points, including Nebraska’s final two free throws with less than three seconds left to seal the win. She also snagged a pair of steals.
She followed a strong effort at Miami with a career-high 11 points in NU’s win over Creighton on Dec. 9. Moore’s big night included a three-pointer midway through the second half that put the Huskers up 51-45. She added nine points and seven assists, while committing just one turnover in NU’s run past No. 5 LSU on Dec. 20.
A 2009 Parade All-American and the Washington High School Player of the Year last season, Moore leads the Huskers with 4.3 assists per game, which ranks eighth in the Big 12, while adding 4.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. She also leads Nebraska in minutes played.
Moore produced the first double-figure scoring effort of her career with 10 points, four assists, three rebounds, a steal and her first career block in NU’s win over Washington State on Nov. 22.
Griffin’s 30 Powers Huskers Past No. 5 LSU, 77-63
In a battle of unbeaten top-20 teams and two Naismith Trophy candidates, Kelsey Griffin produced another dominant performance with 30 points and 14 rebounds to carry No. 20 Nebraska to a 77-63 win over No. 5 LSU at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Dec. 20.
Playing in front of the largest home non-conference crowd (7,717) in Nebraska history, the Huskers posted their second-ever win over a top-five opponent to extend the best start in school history to 11-0 by running to a 14-point win over the Tigers, who slipped to 9-1.
Nebraska never trailed in the game and forced LSU to play from behind for 40 minutes, as the Huskers jumped out to a 21-4 lead and never looked back. The Tigers got no closer than five points the rest way, that coming on an Allison Hightower layup to start the second half. Hightower led LSU with 15 points, but after Hightower’s second-to-last basket of the game, Nebraska ripped off a 9-0 run in the next 2:10. The Tigers never got within single digits in the final 18 minutes, as Nebraska built the lead as large as 19 and cruised to a victory.
In addition to her second 30-point game of the year, Griffin, a 6-2 senior forward from Eagle River, Alaska, matched her career high with 14 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Fellow senior forward Cory Montgomery added 16 points, including a trio of three-pointers, while adding four rebounds. Junior guard Dominique Kelley, who went head-to-head with Hightower, answered with 13 points and three rebounds of her own.
Freshman point guard Lindsey Moore also supplied a major contribution with nine points and seven assists, while senior guard Kala Kuhlmann contributed seven points on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the field.
"That is a great win for our program, and we really want to thank the fans for coming out and making a difference in the game today," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "Hopefully, we gave them a pretty good reason to come back. Kelsey Griffin was great today, and she showed why we think she is one of the best players in the country. We also felt that we have some pretty good players around her, and today, we were the better basketball team."
In a first-half duel between two of the nation’s premier players, Griffin carried Nebraska to a 41-34 halftime lead by scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds. Griffin was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field in the opening half. Although she missed her first shot of the second half and finished the game 12-of-19 from the field, Nebraska scored on every possession that Griffin shot the ball until the 6:52 mark left in the game. Overall, Nebraska scored on 17 of NU’s 19 attempts in the game.
"I have great teammates, and I’m just fortunate that we have all put in the work in the offseason to become a better basketball team," Griffin said. "I’m excited about the way we played and about beating a top five team. I also think our team is focused on continuing to get better and we know we still have a long way to go this season."
As a team, Nebraska shot 50 percent (27-54) and scored 77 points against an LSU defense that had been surrendering just 44 points per game in its first nine contests. The Huskers also connected on 4-of-12 three-pointers, while holding the Tigers scoreless from beyond the arc. NU also hit 19-of-25 free throws and forced 16 Tiger turnovers, while committing just 14 miscues of its own, including just five in the second half. LSU did outrebound Nebraska, 36-34. However, the Tigers hit just 24-of-61 (39.3 percent) of their shots from the field, while hitting 15-of-18 free throws.
Hightower, like Griffin a Naismith Trophy and All-America candidate, led LSU with 11 first-half points but hit just 5-of-13 shots from the floor. Kelley actually matched Hightower’s first-half production in a head-to-head matchup, pitching in 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting while knocking down all five of her free throw attempts.
Montgomery added 10 points and a pair of rebounds in the first half, while Moore and Kuhlmann each contributed two first-half points. Other than Hightower, no Tiger scored more than six first-half points.
Led by Griffin, Kelley and Montgomery, who combined to go 13-for-15 in the first half, NU hit 63.6 percent (14-22) of its field goal attempts, including 2-of-4 shooting from three-point range. Montgomery hit both of NU’s threes in the opening half. The Huskers also knocked down 11-of-13 free throws, but were outrebounded 18-14 by the Tigers, who yanked down 11 offensive boards.
LSU’s first-half board work resulted in 17 second chance points, exactly half of the Tigers’ halftime point total. The rebounding kept LSU within striking distance despite hitting just 13-of-35 shots, including 0-for-2 shooting from long range. The Tigers were 8-for-8 at the foul line, and committed just five turnovers, compared to nine for NU.
Huskers Seek Seventh Straight Postseason Appearance
Nebraska claimed its sixth consecutive postseason tournament bid with a trip to the 2009 Postseason WNIT. The Huskers claimed three straight bids in the WNIT in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning at least one game in all three trips. Nebraska qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008, advancing to the second round of the Big Dance in 2008 with a win over Xavier in College Park, Md.
Before Coach Connie Yori’s arrival at Nebraska for the 2002-03 season, Nebraska had never earned more than three consecutive postseason berths.
Nebraska made its sixth trip to the postseason WNIT in 2009, joining bids in 1992 and 1976. The Huskers have also advanced to seven NCAA Tournaments in school history (2008, 2007, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1993, 1988), dating back to the first full season of varsity women’s basketball at Nebraska in 1975-76.
Griffin Ranked Among Nation’s Top Five Power Forwards
Nebraska senior Kelsey Griffin was recognized by ESPN.com as one of the country’s top five power forwards in an article published on-line on Nov. 11. Griffin, a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection and 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award candidate, joined Xavier’s Amber Harris, Gonzaga’s Heather Bowman, Arizona’s Ify Ibekwe and Florida State’s Jacinta Moore on the listing of the top power forwards in the country. Harris and Ibekwe are juniors, while Bowman, Monroe and Griffin are all seniors.
Against Davidson, the 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, made her first regular-season appearance since the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament at College Park, Md. Interestingly, Griffin went head-to-head with a two of the nation’s top 10 big players in College Park.
In the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, Griffin took on Xavier’s Harris, who was ranked as the No. 1 power forward, and center Ta’Shia Phillips, who made the list as one of ESPN.com’s top five centers.
Griffin dominated the game with the Musketeers, erupting for 26 points, while adding four rebounds and three steals. She also took three charges against Xavier despite playing with a protective vest around her mid-section to protect a broken rib. Griffin alone outscored Harris (14) and Phillips (9) who combined for 23 points, as Nebraska posted a 61-58 victory. Like Griffin, Harris missed the 2008-09 season with an injury.
Griffin, who became just the third player in Big 12 history joining Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris and Texas’ Tiffany Jackson to earn three preseason first-team all-conference honors, is one of four current players from the league to earn spots on the ESPN.com power rankings.
Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson was chosen as the nation’s top point guard, while Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley also made the list at the point. Kansas’ Danielle McCray, the 2009-10 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, was selected as one of the country’s top five small forwards.
ESPN.com’s selection panel of Mechelle Voepel, Charlie Creme, Melanie Jackson and Graham Hays picked Stanford’s Jayne Appel as the nation’s top center, while Connecticut’s Maya Moore was the country’s top small forward. Virginia’s Monica Wright was tabbed the best shooting guard in the nation entering the 2009-10 season.
Griffin To Contend for National Honors in 2009-10
Two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin will contend for All-America honors on the court, in the classroom and in the community in 2009-10.
After redshirting in 2008-09 while recovering from a left foot injury, Griffin returns as the No. 1 active rebounder (774) and No. 3 active scorer (1,545 points) in the Big 12 Conference. After becoming only the third player in Big 12 history to be named a three-time preseason first-team all-league selection, Griffin will contend for All-America honors on the court. She also earned a spot on the Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List.
The two-time first-team academic All-Big 12 honoree will also contend for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in the classroom while carrying better than a 3.4 GPA as a biological sciences major. In the community, she is a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award candidate after being named to the 2007 Big 12 Winter Good Works Team.
A projected 2010 WNBA first-round draft pick, Griffin was dominant down the stretch for the Huskers as a junior, averaging 19 points and nine rebounds per game over the Huskers’ last 12 contests in 2007-08.
Griffin finished 2007-08 as the No. 7 scorer (15.3 ppg) and No. 12 rebounder (7.2 rpg) in the Big 12 Conference, despite playing with a cracked rib the entire season, which limited her playing time to just 25.9 minutes per game. Despite being limited by the injury, Griffin ranked among the top three players in the Big 12 in points per minute and rebounds per minute, joining 2006 National Player of the Year Courtney Paris. Griffin trailed only Andrea Riley in points per minutes, while trailing only Paris in rebounds per minute across the league.
In NU’s last 12 games of 2007-08, Griffin scored 20 or more points on six occasions, including a 26-point effort against Xavier’s inside duo of Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips to lead the Huskers to their first NCAA Tournament win in 10 seasons. Griffin notched four double-doubles in those 12 games, including a season-high 14 rebounds at Texas Tech.
Griffin was at her best in Big 12 play, ranking fifth with 16.8 points per game and sixth with 8.2 rebounds per contest, despite being the focus of every opposing defense. She also ranked among the top 10 players in the league in both field goal and free throw percentage. She had season highs of 26 points against Xavier, at home against Colorado and at home against Missouri, carrying NU to victories in all three games.
She opened February as the Big 12 Player-of-the-Week on Feb. 4. She produced 23 points and nine rebounds in a win at Missouri on Feb. 3, after going for 19 points and 11 rebounds against No. 18 Kansas State on Jan. 30. She added 25 points in a comeback win at Colorado on Feb. 6, producing 17 second-half points.
Defensively, Griffin led the Huskers with 20 charges drawn in 2007-08, while adding a career-best 40 steals. She also blocked 25 shots on the year.
Griffin ranks ninth on Nebraska’s all-time scoring list with 1,545 points, sixth on NU’s career rebounding list with 774 and ninth on the Husker career block chart with 73.
Montgomery Aims for Memorable Senior Season
Nebraska Coach Connie Yori likes to call senior Cory Montgomery the forgotten player in the Big 12. Yori also believes the 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., is the most underrated player in the league.
Last season, Montgomery was overlooked by league coaches for first- or second-team All-Big 12 honors despite ranking among the top 10 players in the league in both scoring and rebounding with 15.2 points (7th) and 7.8 rebounds per game (8th).
Entering the 2009-10 campaign, Montgomery was again passed over by the Big 12 coaches for preseason All-Big 12 honors, not earning a vote for either first-team or honorable-mention honors despite ranking sixth among active Big 12 players in career rebounding and ninth in career scoring.
Montgomery is out to prove that she belongs among the league’s elite players in 2009-10, while making it a memorable campaign for the Huskers.
Last year, in her first season as a starter, Montgomery was a force inside for the Huskers, averaging 16.2 points and 7.8 boards in Big 12 action. She was at her best over the last seven games of the season, as the honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection increased her production to 19.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Her efforts earned her Nebraska’s Offensive Player-of-the-Year Award at the conclusion of the season.
Montgomery capped the regular season with a career-high 30 points to go along with 11 rebounds in a win at Oklahoma State on March 7 for her seventh double-double of the year. She added 20 points and nine boards against Kansas on March 12, before pitching in 17 points and seven rebounds while tying her career high with a trio of three-pointers in a second-round WNIT loss at New Mexico on March 25.
Montgomery produced double figures in 15 of NU’s last 17 games, including seven 20-point efforts. She had a 20-point, nine-rebound night at Kansas on Feb. 28, which followed a 21-point, eight-rebound effort in a win over No. 20 Kansas State on Feb. 25. She also scored 21 points in the first meeting with KSU on Jan. 27. She notched a then-career high with 24 points, while adding nine boards at Colorado on Jan. 31. She added 22 points and a career-best 14 rebounds against No. 8 Baylor (Feb. 4), while playing a career-high 38 minutes. She notched 24 double-figure scoring efforts on the season.
Overall, Montgomery owns 13 career 20-point efforts, including 11 in 2008-09. She also owns nine career double-doubles, including seven in 2008-09, and one this season.
One of the best free throw shooters in the Big 12 and the nation, Montgomery finished second in the league with her 85.6 percent accuracy at the stripe, which ranked 20th in the final NCAA Division I statistical rankings. She also finished fifth on NU’s single-season free throw percentage list.
Although 2008-09 marked her first year as a full-time starter, Montgomery is one of the most experienced Huskers. In 2007-08, she averaged 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game as one of the most productive reserves in the Big 12, while also starting four games in place of an injured Kelsey Griffin at the end of the non-conference season.
Montgomery scored in double figures 15 times in 2007-08. She set a season high with 21 points in a win over USC (Dec. 8, 2007), before matching that effort with 21 points and eight boards in 23 minutes off the bench in a victory at Iowa State (Jan. 19, 2008). She also produced her first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Robert Morris (Dec. 2, 2007).
Turner Trying to Turn Up Nebraska’s Pressure
Yvonne Turner solidified her spot as one of the Big 12’s best defenders in 2008-09 by earning her second straight appearance on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team and NU’s Defensive Player-of-the-Year Award. She ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 2.2 steals per game, after leading the Big 12 with 2.6 steals per league game in 2007-08.
Her 81 steals in 2007-08 ranked as the second-best total by a Husker sophomore in history, while ranking eighth overall on NU’s single-season steals list. She registered just 67 steals last season, while playing much of the year with an injured shoulder. She also spent more minutes on the floor, and without Kelsey Griffin and Nikki Bober in Nebraska’s inside rotation, the Huskers were forced to back off their defensive pressure because of a lack of depth.
This season, the Huskers have their deepest and most experienced lineup in at least a decade, and Turner and the Huskers are hoping that means more steals and easy transition baskets.
Last season, Nebraska totaled just 208 steals on the year, including just 93 in Big 12 action, after producing 266 steals overall and 121 thefts in Big 12 play in 2007-08.
With 182 career steals, including 16 in 11 games this season, Turner is approaching Nebraska’s all-time top 10 on that list, needing six steals to catch three-time first-team All-Big 12 guard Kiera Hardy (2004-07) in 10th at 188. Turner owns career highs of eight steals against Florida (Nov. 17, 2007) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Jan. 2, 2008). Those totals rank among the top-10 single-game marks in NU history. She is one of only three Huskers to notch eight or more steals twice in a career.
Huskers Geared Up for Another Strong Schedule
The past two seasons, Nebraska has faced the two strongest regular-season schedules in school history with both ranking among the top 25 nationally.
Last season, the Huskers faced the No. 23 Strength of Schedule in the country according to CollegeRPI.com, while finishing No. 71 nationally in overall RPI. The 2008-09 Huskers played 19 of their 31 games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 11 against NCAA Tournament teams
This season, Nebraska will face another challenging schedule that will feature 15 regular-season games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 10 games against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams.
The highlight of Nebraska’s non-conference schedule came with a 77-63 win over No. 5 LSU at the Devaney Center on Dec. 20. A Nebraska home non-conference record crowd of 7,717 saw the Huskers roll past the previously unbeaten Tigers, who were the preseason pick to win the SEC. LSU has advanced to five of the past six NCAA Final Fours. With the win over LSU, Nebraska climbed to No. 8 in the power rankings on CollegeRPI.com.
Nebraska powered past preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Creighton, 69-56, on Dec. 9 at the Devaney Center, and will also square off with preseason America East favorite Vermont at Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 4. The Catamounts lost to 2009 national champion Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament first round a year ago. The Huskers faced their first tough test against defending Sun Belt champion UALR in the first game of the Saint Mary’s Hilton Tournament in Moraga, Calif., on Nov. 27. UALR returned four starters from a team that finished with a 26-7 record a year ago, but Nebraska still rolled to a 17-point win.
The Huskers also faced a stiff test at unbeaten Miami on Dec. 5. The Hurricanes entered the game with a 7-0 record and four starters averaging in double figures, but NU held on for a 76-71 road win.
Once Big 12 play begins, Nebraska will be faced with an NCAA Tournament-caliber atmosphere every night. The Big 12 sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament as top-six seeds in 2009, and all six teams (No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Baylor, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Iowa State, No. 5 Kansas State, No. 6 Texas) closed the regular season in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25.
In addition, Kansas returns five starters from a team that advanced to the WNIT championship game, while Oklahoma State also advanced to the WNIT and Texas Tech was postseason eligible.
Powerful Big 12 Produced Postseason Success in 2009
The Big 12 was rated as the No. 1 RPI league in the nation for the third consecutive season in 2008-09 by CollegeRPI.com. When the field of 64 teams for the NCAA Tournament was announced, six league teams (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas) earned top-six seeds into the tournament. Three more teams, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma State, claimed spots in the 48-team WNIT field.
The Big 12 matched the Big East Conference by sending four teams to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009, while Oklahoma and Iowa State both advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight. OU went on to the Final Four. In addition to the league’s success in the NCAA Tournament, Nebraska earned a bye to the second round of the WNIT, while Oklahoma State went 1-1 in the tournament. Kansas advanced all the way to the WNIT championship game.
All 12 conference teams closed the 2008-09 regular season among the top 126 teams in the CollegeRPI.com rankings of the 341 teams in NCAA Division I. Only Missouri and Colorado ranked outside the top 100.
Nebraska Hopes to Benefit From Big 12 Changes in 2009-10
Last season a Nebraska team that was hit hard by injuries battled to a seventh-place tie in the Big 12 Conference standings, finishing with a 6-10 league record against the nation’s strongest conference.
Entering the 2008-09 campaign, the Big 12 returned 48 starters from the 2007-08 season. Overall, only 35 letterwinners were lost from the Big 12 schools from the 2007-08 season, while 98 letterwinners returned for 2008-09.
This season, just 38 starters return for the 2009-10 season across the 12 league schools, including a league-leading six Huskers. A total of just 53 letterwinners are gone from the conference, including just two Huskers, while 96 letterwinners return, including 11 Huskers.
Last season, the top five Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Iowa State) all featured lineups with more than 375 career starts, while Nebraska ended the year with far and away the most inexperienced starting five, which had just 202 combined career starts.
Baylor loses more than 350 career starts from its lineup last year, while Kansas State and Texas A&M must compensate for the loss of more than 300 combined career starts. Iowa State must replace nearly 300 starts, while Oklahoma needs to not only make up for the more than 200 career starts and the amazing scoring and rebounding production of Courtney and Ashley Paris, but also the unfortunate loss of sophomore shooting guard Whitney Hand to a season-ending knee injury in late-November of this season.
While those five Big 12 teams have drastically new looks in their lineups in 2009-10, the Huskers have been bolstered by the return of Kelsey Griffin to its starting five. Griffin has started 104 games in her NU career. Nebraska also features junior guard Dominique Kelley, who has started 75 straight games to open her career, while senior forward Cory Montgomery made her 43rd straight start against LSU and her 46th career start.
Yvonne Turner started her 72nd career game against LSU after coming off the bench the first three games this season. Freshman point guard Lindsey Moore has started the first 11 games of her NU career, and gives the Huskers a starting five with 308 career starts.
Nebraska’s experience doesn’t end at the starting lineup. Junior Catheryn Redmon gives the Huskers a dominant defensive presence inside. The 6-3 center from Texas started NU’s final 24 games last year, while fellow junior guard Kaitlyn Burke started 19 contests a year ago. Senior guard Kala Kuhlmann earned starts in each of NU’s first three games this season to give the Huskers 46 additional games of starting experience.
Take Cover When the Big Cat Roars
Center Catheryn Redmon is flying up Nebraska’s career blocked shot chart as a junior. With four blocked shots against Northern Illinois on Dec. 13, the 6-3 native of Grand Prairie, Texas, moved into a tie for sixth with Katie Morse on Nebraska’s career block list with 101.
Redmon will tie Kathy Hagerstrom for fifth in school history on her next block, and with just three more rejections, Redmon will move into a tie for fourth with Maurtice Ivy at 104.
Redmon is off to a great start in the blocked shot category in 2009-10, with 25 rejections in 199 minutes through the first 11 games. Last season, Redmon did not record her 25th block until the 16th game of the season at Missouri when she had five against the Tigers to push her season total to 25 on Jan. 17. Redmon needs just three more blocks this season to match Charlie Rogers (28, 1998-99) for the fifth-highest block total by a junior in Nebraska history.
Last season, Redmon produced one of the best single-season block efforts in school history with 67 rejections as a sophomore in 2008-09. She ranked second on the sophomore single-season list, trailing only Janet Smith’s 69 blocks in 1979-80. Nebraska’s overall single-season mark was set by Danielle Page with 78 in 2007-08. Redmon is just the third Husker to record 60 or more blocks in a season.
Redmon’s 2008-09 single-season mark was even more amazing considering she blocked 64 of her 67 shots on the year in her 24 games as a starter, after blocking just three shots in limited action through NU’s first seven games of the season. As a starter, Redmon averaged 2.7 blocks per game, including 2.8 in Big 12 Conference action.
Her conference blocks trailed only All-Americans Courtney Paris from Oklahoma (3.1 bpg) and Danielle Wilson from Baylor (3.0 bpg). In fact, Redmon is the only top-five shot-blocker returning to the Big 12 in 2009-10, as Kansas State’s Marlies Gipson and Texas’ Ashley Lindsey both departed the league as seniors. Paris was also a senior in 2008-09, while Wilson left the Baylor team following her junior season.
Redmon continued to increase her defensive dominance inside throughout the 2008-09 season, blocking 30 shots in NU’s final nine games (3.3 bpg), including one of the top single-game block performances in NU history with a career-high seven rejections in the win over No. 20 Kansas State on Feb. 25. Redmon’s total tied for the second-best mark in school history, trailing only Page’s nine blocks against Baylor on Feb. 3, 2007. Redmon added five blocks in a win over Colorado on March 3 and five more rejections at New Mexico in the second round of the WNIT on March 25.
Huskers a Fixture on FSN in 2009-10
Once Big 12 play heats up in January, Nebraska will become a regular on the Fox Sports family of networks.
The Huskers will play three nationally televised games on FSN during the first half of the 16-game Big 12 Conference schedule. Nebraska makes its national TV debut at Baylor on Saturday, Jan. 17, when the Huskers take on 6-foot-8 dunking machine Brittney Griner and the Lady Bears.
Six days later, Nebraska will be back on FSN at the Bob Devaney Sports Center when the Huskers play host to the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 11 a.m.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, Nebraska travels to Boulder to take on Colorado in a game that will be televised by Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, with a 4:30 p.m. central time tip-off. NU’s next contest with Oklahoma State on Feb. 3 at 7:05 p.m. will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest as part of the Huskers’ third-tier television agreement.
Nebraska plays its third national TV contest in its first eight Big 12 games when the Huskers square off with Texas A&M at the Devaney Center on Saturday, Feb. 6, at Noon.
The Huskers return to Fox Sports Midwest for road action at Kansas on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.
Both of Nebraska’s contests on Fox Sports Midwest will also feature a free live video stream on Huskers.com. As many as five of NU’s games will appear for free on Huskers.com throughout the season, while all of Nebraska’s non-nationally televised home games will be available to premium subscribers of HuskersNside.
Many of Nebraska’s road games will also be available through the premium service on HuskersNside.
All of Nebraska’s games will be available with free live audio on Huskers.com.
Nebraska’s History of Success at Home
Since the Bob Devaney Sports Center opened in 1976-77, the Huskers are 342-118 (.743) in games played in the arena, including 125-77 (.619) in conference games. NU has posted double-figure home victory totals in six consecutive seasons, including an 11-4 mark last season and a 14-2 record in 2007-08.
Nebraska’s success at home is even more remarkable considering the strength of the Huskers’ home schedule the past two years. Nebraska’s only losses at the Devaney Center in 2008-09 came to top-25 foes Oklahoma, Ohio State, Iowa State and Baylor. NU also put up top-25 wins over No. 20 Kansas State and No. 24 Arizona State.
In 2007-08, 11 of NU’s 16 home games came against teams that advanced to the postseason in 2008, with the Huskers rolling to an impressive 9-2 record. Not only did Husker foes advance to postseason play, 10 of the 11 opponents won at least one game in the postseason, including 2008 NCAA Elite Eight qualifier Texas A&M.
Since 2003-04, NU is 78-22 (.780) at the Devaney Center. The Huskers own 11 straight home wins dating back to a loss to then-No. 8 Baylor last season.
NU Shows North Division Dominance over Last Four Years
Over the last four years, Nebraska leads the North Division with a 26-14 regular-season record against the other five Big 12 North foes. Kansas State and Iowa State are both 25-15 over the past four years.
Despite suffering multiple season-ending injuries to key contributors in 2008-09, Nebraska still battled Big 12 North Division foes with success. During the second half of the league season, the Huskers posted a 3-2 record in Big 12 North rematches to finish the season with a 4-6 regular-season mark against North opponents.
Nebraska closed 2008-09 North Division play with a 75-64 win over Colorado on March 3. The Huskers managed season splits with Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, while surrendering a sweep to Iowa State. The Huskers suffered a 67-66 loss at Missouri on Jan. 17, and a 75-73 loss at Colorado on Jan. 31. In the rematches in Lincoln, NU posted double-figure wins over both the Tigers (65-52) and Buffaloes (75-64). NU also posted a nine-point home win over KU (67-58) on Jan. 21, before notching a 52-47 win over No. 20 KSU in Lincoln on Feb. 25.
2009-10 Fastbreaker Backboard Banquet Schedule
The Fastbreakers will host their final Backboard Banquet of 2009-10 on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m., before Nebraska’s home battle with Colorado. Premier Catering will serve the meal. For more information, please visit the new booster club website at NUFastbreakers.com. or call Connie Renken at 450-1785.
Backboard Banquet Schedule - Dinner
-Saturday, Feb. 20 (Colorado) - 11 a.m.
Join Fastbreaker Bus Trips to Colorado, Missouri, Kansas
The Fastbreakers are planning three bus trips to Nebraska women’s basketball road games during Big 12 Conference play in 2010. Make plans now to join the Fastbreakers’ trips to Colorado (Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 30-31), Missouri (Saturday, Feb. 13) and Kansas (Saturday, March 6).
The two-day trip to Colorado tips off the booster club’s road trip schedule. The cost of the trip to Boulder is $95 per person, plus the cost of the hotel room. The Huskers and Buffaloes tip off at 4:30 p.m. Central time on Jan. 30.
Two weeks later, the Fastbreakers will head to Missouri for a 1 p.m. tip-off in Columbia against the Tigers. The cost of that trip is $65. The road schedule wraps up with Nebraska’s regular-season finale at Kansas State on Saturday, March 6, at noon. The cost for the trip to Manhattan, Kan., is just $50 per person.
To sign up for the bus trips, Fastbreakers can visit the booster club tables in the Northeast corner of the upper concourse before home games or at halftime. All costs must be paid in advance of the trip, and the club’s cancellation policy will be carefully explained at that time.
For more information on the Fastbreaker Booster Club bus trips this season, please contact Connie Renken (450-1785), Donna Boone (429-9563) or Doug Fry (476-5183).