By Randy York
If you're waiting for that magic moment to check out the Nebraska women's basketball team, wait no longer than Friday night. The Huskers are hosting all kinds of Tinseltown star power with the University of Southern California visiting the Devaney Center for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff. Buy your tickets and print them yourself. Just make sure you reach your seats in time to see Butch Hug and his crew check the juice in the scoreboards.
The Women of Troy feature more glitz and glamour than you could possibly want. Winner of two NCAA women's national basketball titles in the 1980s, USC features eight first-team high school All-American players on its 2011-12 team. What's more, those superstar prospects now wearing the Cardinal and Gold were named prep All-Americans in six different years ... 2006-07-08-09-10 and '11. With three seniors in their starting lineup, the Trojans are considered definitive favorites to beat a talented but young, scrappy Nebraska team that starts only one senior.
Talk about a perfect game for fans to skip normal Friday night entertainment to see something that promises to be full-throttle, high-energy, high-pace, high-action basketball. Pitting the Cardinal and Gold's athleticism against the Scarlet and Cream's work ethic and conditioning produces its own share of intrigue.
Four State High School Players of the Year
Remember, your Nebraska Cornhuskers may be underdogs in this one, but they have some fairly bright bulbs in their own marquee lineup. Did you know, for instance, that Nebraska features four players who were high school players of the year in four different states? Louisiana's Brandi Jeffery, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper, Washington's Lindsey Moore and Arizona's Rebecca Woodberry are also considered elite recruits with Hooper winning that honor twice in Nebraska. She's leading a Husker offense that has averaged 97 points in two lopsided wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State.
Something may have to give Friday night, especially since both coaches are obsessed with red lights and stop signs on basketball floors. Those who know Connie Yori understand her impulse to run and use team speed on offense at the same time her teams try to clamp down with ball-hawking defense. Yori will play an interesting game of chess against a well-known and highly popular Michael Cooper, in his third season as USC's head women's coach. Yes, he's the same Michael Cooper who played on five NBA championship teams with the Los Angeles Lakers and made eight all-NBA defensive teams. He, in fact, was the NBA's 1987 Defensive Player of the Year, so expect his brake lights to go on just as quickly as Yori's do. Cooper also spent eight seasons as head coach of the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, guiding them to seven playoff appearances and five Western Conference championships.
After playing at Nebraska Friday night, the Women of Troy fly to the Bahamas to play the likes of Notre Dame and Duke. Ranked No. 23 this season, the Trojans won 23 games last season and were runner-up in the National Invitation Tournament.
Yori: Young Huskers Could Use a Good Crowd
"USC has some of the most talented players in the country," Yori said. "I think they might have more high school All-Americans on their roster right now than Nebraska has had in the history of our program. I've seen a number of the players compete for USA Basketball, so I know first-hand how talented they are. We could really use a good crowd to come out and support us. We think it's going to be a pretty high level of basketball, and we think we play a really fun and exciting style to watch."
Tickets are available at Huskers.com. During regular business hours, fans also can contact the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-8-BIG-RED. Free live audio for Friday's game will be available from the Husker Sports Network on Huskers.com with Matt Coatney calling play-by-play and Jeff Griesch providing color commentary. Coatney and Griesch also provide regular women's basketball updates on Husker Blog Jam.
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