Nebraska returns six starters and 11 letterwinners for the 2009-10 campaign.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Sixth in Big 12 Preseason Poll

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln - Nebraska was picked to finish sixth in the powerful Big 12 Conference in voting by the league's coaches announced on Thursday, Oct. 15, by the conference office in Irving, Texas.

Baylor, which lost four All-Big 12-caliber starters from last year's team that won the conference tournament title, was the preseason pick to win the league. The Lady Bears, who will feature consensus 2009 national high school player-of-the-year Brittney Griner and one of the nation's top recruiting classes, earned five first-place votes and 109 total points. Kansas and Texas were tied for second with 106 points, as each team earned three first-place votes.

Texas A&M earned 87 points and the remaining first-place vote as the No. 4 pick in the Big 12 preseason poll, while defending Big 12 regular-season champion Oklahoma was right behind the Aggies with 86 points in fifth place. OU, which won or shared three of the last four Big 12 titles with four-time All-American center Courtney Paris on the court, will enter 2009-10 without Paris and her twin sister Ashley for the first time since 2004-05. That season, the Sooners tied for sixth in the league race.

Nebraska sat alone in sixth place with 80 points, well ahead of seventh-place Iowa State (59 points) and eighth-place Kansas State (44 points). Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Colorado and Missouri rounded out the preseason ballot in the Big 12, which has been the nation's No. 1 RPI conference the past two seasons.

In Connie Yori's seven previous seasons as Nebraska's head coach, the Huskers have met or exceeded the preseason expectations of the league coaches. In five of the seven votes, Nebraska has achieved a higher final position in the standings than its preseason ranking, and last year the Huskers met their preseason No. 7 ranking despite suffering season-ending injuries to two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin, center Nikki Bober and shooting guard Layne Reeves before Big 12 play began.

Nebraska, which has advanced to a school-record six consecutive postseason tournament appearances, owns the best record of the six Big 12 North Division schools against North foes over the past four years.

The Huskers enter the 2009-10 campaign with six returning starters, including three-time preseason All-Big 12 selection Kelsey Griffin, who owns the most career rebounds (665) and third-most career points (1,348) of any active conference player.

She is joined up front by 2009 honorable-mention All-Big 12 forward Cory Montgomery. The 6-2 senior from Cannon Falls, Minn., ranks in the top 10 among active conference players in career points and rebounds, and averaged nearly 20 points and nine rebounds during the second half of league play in 2008-09.

Two-time Big 12 All-Defensive team pick Yvonne Turner returns to lead the Husker backcourt. The 5-8 senior guard from Omaha ranks high among returning Big 12 players in both career steals and career three-pointers. She averaged nearly 12 points per game as a junior for the Huskers.

Turner will be joined in the NU backcourt by junior Dominique Kelley. The 5-7 guard from Lincoln has started 64 consecutive games with Turner in the backcourt heading into the 2009-10 campaign. Kelley averaged nearly 10 points per game a year ago, while hitting nearly 40 percent of her three-point attempts.

Junior center Catheryn Redmon and junior guard Kaitlyn Burke also return for the Huskers, along with key upperclass supporting players Nikki Bober, Kala Kuhlmann, Nicole Neals and Jessica Periago. NU will also mix in sophomore Harleen Sidhu and redshirt freshman Layne Reeves, along with a three-player true freshman class that includes 2009 Parade High School All-American point guard Lindsey Moore, and forwards Katya Leick and Meghin Williams.

Nebraska officially opens practice on Friday, Oct. 16, before traveling to Big 12 Women's Basketball Media Day at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The Huskers open exhibition play against Pittsburg State at the Devaney Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 7:05 p.m.

2009-10 Big 12 Conference Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll

   1.       Baylor (5)                        109

T2.       Kansas (3)                      106

T2.       Texas (3)                        106

   4.       Texas A&M (1)                 87

   5.       Oklahoma                         86

   6.       Nebraska                          80

   7.       Iowa State                         59

   8.       Kansas State                    44

   9.       Oklahoma State              41

10.       Texas Tech                       38

11.       Colorado                           22

12.       Missouri                            15

(first place votes in parentheses; coaches not allowed to vote for their own teams.)

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