2008-09 Women's Basketball Season Review
Huskers Earn Sixth Straight Postseason Bid
- School-record sixth consecutive postseason tournament appearance
- One of five Big 12 Conference teams to post winning record in second half of Big 12 season
- One of nine Big 12 Conference teams to advance to postseason
- Top 25 Strength of Schedule according to CollegeRPI.com
- Big 12 Conference ranked as No. 1 RPI league in the nation (CollegeRPI.com)
- One of 16 postseason teams honored by NCAA for Academic Progress Rate (APR)
- Honorable-mention All-Big 12 - Cory Montgomery, Jr., Forward
- Big 12 All-Defensive Team - Yvonne Turner, Jr., Guard (second straight selection)
The Nebraska women’s basketball basketball team battled through a challenging 2008-09 season to extend its school-record postseason tournament streak to six seasons by advancing to the second round of the Postseason WNIT. Over the past 12 years, Nebraska has earned nine postseason appearances, including five trips to the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers finished with a 15-16 overall record that included a 6-10 Big 12 Conference mark, but Nebraska’s final record tells only a small part of the story of NU’s season. After making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008, the Huskers had high hopes for the 2009 campaign. Those hopes were tempered with the loss of two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin to a season-ending ankle injury in late-August.
Despite playing without Griffin, the Huskers fought their way to a 9-3 record early in the season that included a dramatic come-from-behind win over No. 24 Arizona State on Dec. 28. Nebraska, which had received votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 for five weeks, knocked off a Sun Devil squad that went on to advance to the 2009 NCAA Elite Eight.
However, just days after defeating ASU, the Huskers took another hit inside with the loss of junior center Nikki Bober to a season-ending knee injury. Without two of their most experienced post players for a final non-conference game at five-time NCAA Final Four participant LSU, the Huskers closed non-conference play at 9-4 with all four setbacks coming to 2008 NCAA Tournament teams, including three on the road.
Nebraska opened conference play with 2009 NCAA Final Four participant Oklahoma, before heading to Texas to take on a Longhorn squad that had climbed into the top five in the national rankings in mid-December. Eventually, Nebraska slipped to 1-8 in Big 12 play with six of those losses coming to top-25 teams. But the Huskers regrouped to finish 5-2 down the stretch, including a win over No. 20 Kansas State on Feb. 25. The Huskers joined Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas A&M and Iowa State as the only schools to finish the second half of the 16-game Big 12 season with a winning record.
Nebraska’s success came despite playing one of the nation’s top 25 schedules, including 19 games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 11 games against NCAA Tournament squads. In fact, the Huskers played four games against 2009 NCAA Elite Squads (Iowa State (2), Oklahoma, Arizona State) and six games against NCAA Sweet 16 clubs (Texas A&M, Ohio State).
Huskers Earn Sixth Straight Postseason Appearance
Nebraska claimed its sixth consecutive postseason tournament bid when the Postseason WNIT announced its 48-team tournament field on Monday, March 16. The Huskers claimed three straight bids in the WNIT in 2004, 2005 and 2006, winning at least one game in all three trips.
Nebraska advanced to 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.
Husker Schedule Filled with 2009 Postseason Foes
Nebraska completed the 2008-09 regular season with one of the strongest schedules in school history. NU went head-to-head with the No. 23 Strength of Schedule nationally according to CollegeRPI.com, while finishing at No. 71 in the RPI.
Overall, Nebraska played 19 of its 31 games against 2009 postseason qualifiers, including 11 against NCAA Tournament teams and eight more against WNIT foes.
The Big 12 sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament as top-six seeds, as 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.
Nebraska played a total of eight games against those teams, with home-and-home series against Big 12 North foes Iowa State and Kansas State. The Huskers knocked off KSU, 52-47, in Lincoln on Feb. 25.
In addition to the eight games against NCAA Tournament foes inside the conference, Nebraska took Big Ten champion and NCAA No. 3 seed Ohio State down to the wire in a 69-65 loss on Dec. 6. NU also knocked off NCAA No. 6 seed Arizona State, 62-58, in Lincoln on Dec. 28. The Huskers also fell to NCAA No. 6 seed LSU in Baton Rouge on New Year’s Day, giving the Huskers a 2-9 record against NCAA Tournament teams in 2008-09. All 11 of the games came against top six NCAA seeds.
The Huskers added games against Postseason WNIT qualifiers New Mexico (2), Oklahoma State, Kansas (3), Creighton and Butler.
Powerful Big 12 Produces Postseason Success
The Big 12 was rated as the No. 1 RPI league in the nation for the third consecutive season by CollegeRPI.com. When the field of 64 teams for the NCAA Tournament was announced on Monday, March 16. 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.
Montgomery, Turner Earn All-Big 12 Honors
Juniors Cory Montgomery and Yvonne Turner were both honored by the Big 12 Conference on March 9 for their efforts throughout the season for the Nebraska women’s basketball team.
Montgomery, a 6-2 forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 accolades from the conference coaches after averaging 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Montgomery, who was in her first season as a starter, was even better in Big 12 action, averaging 16.2 points and 7.8 boards per game.
Over her last seven games, Montgomery averaged 19.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, including a career-high 30 points to go along with 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the year in NU’s victory in the regular-season finale at Oklahoma State on March 7.
Turner earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team, as chosen by the league coaches, for the second straight season. The 5-8 guard from Omaha, Neb., ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 2.2 steals per game. Turner also improved her offensive production during her second season in NU’s starting five, averaging 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. She erupted for a career-high 26 points to go along with five rebounds and a pair of steals to help the Huskers knock off Oklahoma State on March 7.
Montgomery Produces in Big Way in First Season as Starter
In her first season as a starter, Cory Montgomery was a force inside for the Huskers. The 6-2 junior forward from Cannon Falls, Minn., led Nebraska in scoring and rebounding with 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, including 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 (Butler, 22; Southern Utah, 21; Denver, 21; Oral Roberts, 20, in non-conference action).
Montgomery owns eight career double-doubles with seven coming as a junior. She produced back-to-back double-doubles to end the regular season, including 30 points and 11 rebounds at Oklahoma State on March 7, after notching 12 points and 10 boards in a win over Colorado on March 3. She added a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds in NU’s win over Texas Tech on Feb. 14. She also posted double-doubles against Baylor (22-14), UTEP (11-10), Oral Roberts (20-11) and Butler (22-11).
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.
Montgomery earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Classic after notching her first double-double of the year with 22 points and 11 boards in a win over Butler. She added 17 points and eight rebounds in a loss to New Mexico in the title game.
In Nebraska’s win over Kansas on Jan. 21, Montgomery had 18 points and six rebounds. She contributed 17 points and nine boards in a head-to-head battle with 2008 Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender in a 69-65 loss to No. 18 Ohio State on Dec. 6. Montgomery had 15 points and eight boards at No. 16 Texas (Jan. 14).
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).
Turning it Up A Notch in Big 12 Play
Yvonne Turner continued to increase her production as a junior, and took her game to another level during Big 12 action in 2008-09. The 5-8 guard averaged 12.7 points per game in league play after ending the regular season with a career-high 26 points in a win at Oklahoma State on March 7. She opened Big 12 play by hitting 13-of-28 (46.4 percent) of her three-point attempts, but missed 19 straight attempts after suffering a recurring shoulder injury in the second half against Iowa State. She bounced back in the second half against No. 8 Baylor, knocking down three straight three-pointers to lead a furious comeback. Immediately following the season, Turner underwent shoulder surgery.
She led the Huskers with 57 three-pointers on the year to rank as the second-highest total by a junior in NU history, trailing only three-time All-Big 12 pick Kiera Hardy’s 81 in 2005-06.
Turner also averaged 2.2 steals per contest on the season to rank fourth in the Big 12. She had two or more steals in nine of NU’s 16 league games, including four steals at Texas and Colorado. She added a season-high six steals in the Big 12 Tournament loss to Kansas on March 12. She has earned a spot on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team each of the past two seasons and was named Nebraska’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.
In 2007-08, Turner led the conference in league games with 2.6 steals per contest. She also made a splash on the offensive end, averaging 9.8 points per game while ranking second in the league with her 39.3 three-point percentage during Big 12 action.
As a junior, Turner ranked second on the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game, while adding 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and a team-leading 2.2 steals per contest. She produced a pair of 20-point scoring efforts, including the 26 points at OSU and a 21-point effort at No. 16 Texas.
She produced a 17-point effort against No. 8 Baylor (Feb. 4), and added 17 points in NU’s win over Kansas (Jan. 21). She pumped in 17 points in NU’s win over Colorado on March 3. She scored 13 points in a win over No. 20 Kansas State (Feb. 25), after contributing 13 points in a win over Missouri (Feb. 21). She had 12 points in a win over Texas Tech (Feb. 14). She also had a dozen in losses at Missouri (Jan. 17) and to Iowa State (Jan. 24).
Turner earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament. She capped a breakout sophomore season with a career-high 23 points and six assists against No. 5 Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Going head-to-head with Terrapin All-America guard Kristi Toliver, Turner hit a career-best five three-pointers. Turner also forced Toliver into six turnovers and limited the National Player-of-the-Year Finalist to 6-of-20 shooting from the field.
VT for Three
Yvonne Turner (nickname VT) led the Huskers with 57 three-pointers in 2008-09. Turner 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 of the Iowa State game. 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. Turner cracked NU’s career top 10 in three-pointers at Texas and sits in sixth with 101 career triples. She needs 28 more three-pointers to catch Husker greats Nicole Kubik (1997-2000) and Amy Stephens (1986-89) on the Husker career chart.
No Denying Turner Can "D" It Up
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 earning 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 in league games in 2007-08 with 2.6 steals per contest.
Her 81 steals a year ago ranked as the second-best total by a Husker sophomore in history, while ranking eighth overall on NU’s single-season steals list.
With 166 career steals, Turner is approaching Nebraska’s all-time top 10 on that list, needing 22 steals to catch three-time first-team All-Big 12 guard Kiera Hardy (2004-07) in 10th at 188.
In 2008-09, Turner produced a steal in each of the first 23 games before going without a theft at Iowa State and against Missouri. She had two or more steals in 20 contests, including a season-high six steals against Kansas at the Big 12 Tournament on March 12. Turner owns career highs of eight steals against Florida (Nov. 17) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Jan. 2) during the 2007-08 season. 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.
Take Cover When the Big Cat Roars
Sophomore center Catheryn Redmon produced one of the best single-season block efforts in school history with 67 rejections 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 player in history to record 60 or more blocks in a season.
Redmon’s single-season mark is 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).
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. Her amazing shot-blocking season catapulted her into eighth place on Nebraska’s career block list with 76, eight more than two-time All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin (68).
Redmon Provided Solid Production as Starter
Sophomore center Catheryn Redmon started NU’s final 24 games in 2008-09 and averaged 6.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in the lineup. Twenty of Redmon’s starts came against teams that qualified for 2008 postseason play, including 13 2008 NCAA Tournament squads.
Redmon made a name for herself as one of the best shot-blockers in NU history. With 67 blocks, Redmon produced the second-best total by a sophomore in school history and jumped to eighth on Nebraska’s career list with 76.
She produced arguably the best game of her career with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots at Missouri (Jan. 17), for her third career double-double. She just missed her fourth double-double, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds at Colorado on Jan. 31.
Just two days after two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin underwent season-ending ankle surgery (Dec. 4), Redmon made her first career start against two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Jantel Lavender and No. 18 Ohio State. In the first half against the Buckeyes, Redmon outscored Lavender, 8-6, to help the Huskers to a 10-point halftime lead. The Buckeyes rallied for a late victory against NU, but Redmon posted the first double-figure scoring effort of her career. Three days later, Redmon earned her second career start and provided a memorable effort in a win over Cal State Bakersfield.
Redmon erupted for her first career double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds against the Roadrunners, while also adding three blocked shots and two steals. She produced a double-double in the second half alone, going off for 11 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and two steals after halftime, including seven points, seven boards and both blocks in the final seven minutes.
Redmon added her second straight double-digit rebounding effort with 10 boards to go along with six points, two blocks and a steal in NU’s run past Long Beach State. She added her second career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds at UTEP on Dec. 20, her third straight double-figure rebounding effort.
In NU’s win over No. 24 Arizona State on Dec. 28, Redmon scored 10 or her 12 points in the second half to help fuel the Huskers’ comeback from a 16-point first-half deficit. She added six rebounds and added three blocks against ASU.
Redmon added solid numbers in her 2009 Big 12 debut against All-American Courtney Paris. Redmon scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and had three blocked shots going head-to-head with Paris.
Hometown Husker Kelley Stepped Up as Sophomore
Dominique Kelley stepped up her game in every area in her second season with the Huskers. The 5-7 sophomore guard out of Lincoln Northeast High School ranked third on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, while adding 3.3 rebounds per contest. Kelley also led the Huskers with 2.5 assists per game while adding nearly one steal per contest.
Kelley produced a strong 16-point, six-rebound effort in NU’s win over Missouri on Feb. 21, just a week after going for 15 points and five rebounds in a win over Texas Tech (Feb. 14). She also added three assists and a career-high three steals in a career-high 35 minutes against the Lady Raiders. Kelley produced double figures in four of NU’s last seven games, including 10 points in NU’s win over Oklahoma State on March 7, when she added a game-high five assists and tied her career best with three steals. She had 13 points in NU’s win over Colorado on March 3.
Kelley produced 16 double-figure scoring efforts in 31 games as a sophomore, after managing double-digit point totals just seven times in 33 starts as a freshman. In 2007-08, Kelley set a school record by starting all 33 games as a true freshman. She finished the year averaging 6.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
She was honored as a "Hometown Husker" during NU’s win over Kansas on Jan. 21. As part of the festivities, Kelley’s younger sister, Taneah, a freshman at the University of Nebraska, sang the national anthem during pregame ceremonies. Kelley, who has made 64 consecutive starts to open her career, had a 16-point, four-assist effort at Colorado on Jan. 31. It was Kelley’s highest scoring performance of her career in a Big 12 game, which she matched in a win over Mizzou (Feb. 21).
Kelley produced the best all-around game of her young career with a career-high 21 points to help NU to a 67-54 win over Butler (Nov. 28). She hit 5-of-8 shots from the field and set career bests by going 11-for-12 at the line. She added five rebounds, three assists, two steals and her first career blocked shot against the Bulldogs.
Kelley’s effort in Albuquerque came a week after two solid performances against Creighton and Southern Utah. She tied her then-career high with 16 points, while adding four assists and three rebounds to shoot the Huskers to victory at CU. Kelley hit 7-of-11 shots from the field, including both of her three-point attempts against the Bluejays. Her second three of the night put the Huskers ahead for good with 3:10 left in the game.
After celebrating her 20th birthday on Nov. 20, Kelley finished with 14 points and a career-high six assists, while adding four rebounds and two steals in a win over Southern Utah (Nov. 22). She added 12 points against Oral Roberts, before contributing 16 points and 9-of-10 free throw shooting against Cal State Bakersfield on Dec. 9.
Griffin Redshirts in 2008-09 After Dec. 4 Ankle Surgery
Two-time first-team All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin underwent surgery on her injured left ankle on Dec. 4 and missed the entire 2008-09 season. The 6-2 senior from Eagle River, Alaska, injured the ankle on Aug. 28, and did not practice or play for NU in 2008-09. She was one of five preseason first-team All-Big 12 players chosen by the league coaches this season, and will enter her final season with 1,348 points and 665 rebounds. She has not previously redshirted at Nebraska, opening her career with 74 consecutive starts from 2005-06 to 2007-08.
A three-year starter in Nebraska’s lineup, Griffin led the Huskers to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2007 and 2008, including a first-round NCAA Tournament victory over Xavier last year in College Park, Md. Griffin is also a two-time first-team academic All-Big 12 selection and earned a spot on the 2007 Big 12 Good Works Team. She ranks 11th on NU’s career scoring list, seventh in rebounding and eighth in blocked shots.
Griffin is expected to return for the Huskers next season to lead a team that will feature a six-player senior class, including 2009 honorable-mention All-Big 12 forward Cory Montgomery and two-time All-Big 12 Defensive Team member Yvonne Turner, along with Nikki Bober, Nicole Neals and Kala Kuhlmann. The 2009-10 Huskers also expect to return current sophomore starters Dominique Kelley, Catheryn Redmon and Kaitlyn Burke.
Bober Lost for Season After Dec. 30 ACL Tear
Nebraska’s inside game suffered a second major hit in December when junior Nikki Bober tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during practice on Dec. 30. Bober missed Nebraska’s game against LSU on Jan. 1, and underwent season-ending surgery on her knee on Jan. 2. Bober is expected to rejoin the Huskers’ inside game as a senior along with Kelsey Griffin and Cory Montgomery in 2009-10.
Bober, a 6-4 center from Murdock, Neb., appeared in NU’s first 12 games in 2008-09, making her first career start against Southern Utah. She averaged 1.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in 11.2 minutes per contest. Although Bober’s numbers don’t jump off the page, she was expected to make greater contributions against the larger post players in the Big 12 Conference.
In the last game before her injury, Bober played a career-high 25 minutes and was a major player in Nebraska’s dramatic come-from-behind win over No. 24 Arizona State on Dec. 28. Bober blocked a career-high four shots and pulled down five rebounds to go along with two points and an assist against the Sun Devils.
In 2007-08, Bober appeared in all 16 Big 12 Conference contests, averaging 1.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. Bober’s loss left the Huskers with only four active players taller than 6-0 on their roster, including Cory Montgomery (6-2), Catheryn Redmon (6-3), Jessica Periago (6-4) and freshman Harleen Sidhu (6-1).
Young Huskers Battled More Experienced Big 12 Foes
Nebraska’s starting lineup for most of the 2008-09 combined for just over 200 career starts by season’s end - easily the fewest of any Big 12 Conference team. In fact, by the end of the season, the Big 12 featured eight teams with starting fives who had combined for 300 or more career starts.
Kansas State’s starting five ended the season with nearly 450 career starters, while Iowa State’s starting unit also surpassed 400 career starts. Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas all had starting fives with well over 350 combined career starts.
The Big 12 is expected to take on a drastically different appearance in 2009-10, and the new look could swing in Nebraska’s favor. The Huskers lose only 51 career starts from Tay Hester, who was a part-time starter in NU’s lineup in 2008-09. At the same time, Nebraska will gain 94 career starts from two-time All-Big 12 forward Kelsey Griffin, whose return is expected to join projected 2009-10 senior starters Cory Montgomery and Yvonne Turner in NU’s lineup. Junior-to-be Dominique Kelley has also started each of the first 64 games of her career in the NU backcourt, while juniors-to-be Catheryn Redmon and Kaitlyn Burke combined for more than 40 starts in 2008-09 for the Huskers.
While Nebraska will begin the 2009-10 season with approximately 40 more career starts than it ended 2008-09, other Big 12 schools will suffer major losses in experienced starters. Kansas State and Texas A&M will be the hardest hit in the starting lineup with each losing more than 300 career starts next season. Baylor and Iowa State will not be far behind, as both teams lose more than 270 combined starts from 2008-09. Oklahoma and Texas both lose more than 200 career starts from their 2008-09 starting fives, while Oklahoma State will shed nearly 200 starts of its own. Missouri (Alyssa Hollins), Kansas (Ivana Catic) and Colorado (Kara Richards) also lose starters with multiple years of starting experience.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Nebraska has embraced a never-say-die attitude during Coach Connie Yori’s seven seasons in Lincoln. The Huskers’ comeback from a 16-point first-half deficit against Arizona State was NU’s second-biggest comeback under Yori, trailing only a 19-point second-half deficit at San Diego on Dec. 28, 2002.
NU’s win over the No. 24 Sun Devils marked the eighth time the Huskers have battled back from a double-digit deficit under Yori, including the sixth time Nebraska was able to overcome a double-digit second-half deficit.
Huskers Have Success Against Top 25 Foes
Nebraska has made a habit of knocking off top-25 opponents during Coach Connie Yori’s seven seasons at the helm. In fact, the Huskers’ most recent win over No. 20 Kansas State marked the 12th 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.
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 last season at the Devaney Center 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.
Huskers Set Three-Point Record in Season-Opening Win
Nebraska connected on a school-record 12 three-pointers to open the 2008-09 season in a 96-47 win over Weber State at the Devaney Center on Nov. 14. NU’s 12 triples surpassed the previous school mark of 11 threes set Jan. 19, 2008, in a win over Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.
The game with Weber State marked the ninth time in school history that a Nebraska team hit 10 or more three-pointers in a game, but just the second time the Huskers had ever hit double-figure threes in a non-conference game (Ohio State, Dec. 12, 2003).
Nebraska made it 10 games with 10 or more threes in history by connecting on 10-of-22 three-point attempts in a loss at LSU on Jan. 1.
The Huskers continued to fair well from long range throughout the season, ranking second on Nebraska’s single-season three-point field goals made chart (171) and three-point field goals attempted list (516).
Husker Schedule Filled with Top 25 Foes
Nebraska’s 2008-09 carried a strong resemblance to the final USA Today/ESPN Top 25. In fact, the Huskers played nine games against top-25 teams, including seven contests against the top 12 teams in the nation.
The Huskers opened Big 12 Conference play against No. 4 Oklahoma, before battling No. 6 Baylor and No. 7 Texas A&M. NU tackled No. 9 Ohio State in early December before playing a Big 12 home-and-home series with No. 11 Iowa State. Nebraska also knocked off No. 12 Arizona State in the final home non-conference game of the season. The Huskers also split a pair of games with No. 20 Kansas State.
In addition to the teams that ended the year in the top 25, the Huskers also played LSU on the road to end non-conference play. The Tigers finished in a tie for second in the SEC and received votes in the poll at the end of the season, along with Big 12 Conference foe Texas. The Longhorns were ranked as high as fourth nationally in December and were 16th at game time with Nebraska. The Tigers and Longhorns joined NU opponents Oklahoma State and New Mexico in being ranked in at least one top 25 during the season. Texas Tech and UTEP also received votes in the polls during the course of 2008-09.
NU Earned Votes in USA Today/ESPN Poll For Five Straight Weeks
Nebraska received votes in five regular-season USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 polls in 2008-09, most recently earning four votes on Dec. 16. The Huskers are one of eight Big 12 Conference schools that have received votes in the coaches poll this season, joining Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Texas Tech.
2008 Huskers Claimed Third NCAA Tournament Victory
The Huskers notched their third NCAA Tournament win in school history with a 61-58 victory over ninth-seeded Xavier at College Park, Md., on March 23. Nebraska made its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance, joining trips in 1988, 1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2007.
Nebraska, which earned the No. 8 seed in the Spokane Regional, led the Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament champion Musketeers from start to finish. The Huskers’ last win had come against New Mexico (76-59) on March 13, 1998 in Norfolk, Va. Nebraska earned its first NCAA Tournament victory against San Diego (81-58) on March 17, 1993, at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.
NU Shows North Division Dominance over Last 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.
Over the last four years, Nebraska leads the North Division with a 26-14 regular-season record against the other five Big 12 North Division opponents. Entering 2008-09, Iowa State and Kansas State had produced matching 17-13 North Division records over the previous three seasons. Iowa State is 7-2 this season against the North heading into a home finale with Kansas, while Kansas State is 6-3 before Saturday’s road finale at Colorado.
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 Kansas (67-58) on Jan. 21, before notching a 52-47 win over No. 20 Kansas State in Lincoln on Feb. 25.
Griffin Earns Preseason First-Team All-Big 12 Honors
Nebraska senior Kelsey Griffin claimed one of five spots on the Preseason All-Big 12 team named by the league’s women’s basketball coaches and announced on Oct. 15. Griffin, a 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, joined Preseason Big 12 Player-of-the-Year Courtney Paris from Oklahoma, Kansas State’s Shalee Lehning, Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley and Texas A&M’s Takia Starks on the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
A two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection (top 10 players in the league), Griffin averaged 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season, while leading the Huskers to a 21-12 overall record, a 9-7 league mark, and the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. She ranked among the top 10 players in the Big 12 in both scoring and rebounding and was at her best in Big 12 play, when she averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds despite playing the entire season with a cracked rib.
Griffin carried the Huskers to their third NCAA Tournament victory in a decade by scoring 26 points in Nebraska’s win over Xavier in the first round at College Park, Md. In her three-year career as a starter, Griffin has amassed 1,348 points and 665 rebounds. She also ranks in the top 10 on the NU career chart with 68 blocked shots.
Griffin, who was also a preseason first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2007-08, has extended Nebraska’s streak to four straight seasons with at least one first-team All-Big 12 selection. Kiera Hardy was also a two-time preseason first-team all-league choice in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
The Huskers join Oklahoma as the only other school to have at least one preseason first-team all-conference pick each of the past four years. Eight of the league schools have had one or fewer selections during that span.
Huskers Face Nation’s Best in 2008-09
Nebraska faced arguably the toughest regular-season schedule in school history in 2008-09, ranking among the top-25 teams in the nation in Strength of Schedule according to CollegeRPI.com for the second straight season.
The Huskers played 19 games against teams that advanced to the postseason in 2009, including 11 games against NCAA Tournament qualifiers. Nebraska played nine games against teams that finished the season in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 released on April 6 after the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps most impressively, the Huskers played seven games against the top 12 teams in the nation, including No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Baylor, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 11 Iowa State (2) and No. 12 Arizona State. The Huskers defeated the Sun Devils, along with final No. 20 Kansas State.
Nebraska’s home schedule featured big names nearly every night in 2008-09. NU’s home schedule featured a date with 2009 Big Ten champion Ohio State, which advanced to its seventh straight NCAA Tournament and went on to the 2009 NCAA Sweet 16. After battling the Buckeyes on Dec. 6, the Huskers knocked off perennial Pac-10 power No. 24 Arizona State, 62-58, on Dec. 28. The Sun Devils have advanced to at least the second round of five straight NCAA tournaments, including the NCAA Elite Eight in 2009.
The Big 12 featured a postseason atmosphere every night at the Devaney Center. Oklahoma, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State all joined NU in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament, while Colorado, Texas Tech and Kansas all advanced to at least the third round of the Postseason WNIT. Oklahoma advanced to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, while the Huskers played a pair of games against 2009 NCAA Elite Eight qualifier Iowa State. Texas A&M also advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 out of the Big 12.
While the Huskers’ 15-game home schedule featured nine contests against 2008 postseason clubs, the road offered even more challenges. Nebraska played 12 road games against 2008 postseason qualifiers, including a New Year’s date with LSU in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers had advanced to five consecutive NCAA Final Fours, before settling for a trip to the NCAA second round in 2009. NU also traveled to UTEP, which advanced to the 2008 NCAA second round, and played 2008 NCAA qualifier New Mexico twice on the road. In Big 12 action, NU’s road schedule included trips to postseason qualifiers Iowa State, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
Huskers a Fixture on FSN in 2008-09
Nebraska was featured four times on Fox Sports Net national television games in 2008-09. The Huskers battled Arizona State, Iowa State, Colorado and Texas Tech in national television matchups this season.
Nebraska’s marquee non-conference matchup with Pac-10 power Arizona State at the Devaney Center on Dec. 28 was one of only two out-of-conference games in the Big 12’s 26-game national package for women’s basketball this season. The other was defending national champion Tennessee’s showdown at Texas on Sunday, Dec. 14.
Nebraska’s second appearance on FSN came on Saturday, Jan. 24, when NU took on Iowa State at the Devaney Center. FSN also followed the Huskers to Boulder for a clash with Colorado at the Coors Events Center on Jan. 31.
Nebraska wrapped up its regular-season FSN national television appearances on Saturday, Feb. 14 at noon, when the Huskers defeated Texas Tech, 62-56, at the Devaney Center.
In addition to Nebraska’s national telecasts on Fox Sports Net, the Huskers appeared frequently on Fox Sports Midwest. The Huskers debuted on Fox Sports Midwest on Saturday, Jan. 17, when they traveled to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers. NU appeared on Fox Sports Midwest on Tuesday, Jan. 27, when they took on No. 14 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. On Wednesday, Feb. 18, the Huskers’ clashed with Iowa State in Ames in a game televised on Fox Sports Midwest, before wrapping up their scheduled Fox Sports Midwest appearances on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Kansas. Nebraska also played on Fox Sports Southwest during its road game at Texas on Jan. 14.
Nebraska’s History of Success at Home
Since the Bob Devaney Sports Center opened in 1976-77, the Huskers are 335-118 (.740) in games played in the arena, including 125-77 (.619) in conference games. NU finished 2007-08 with a 14-2 home record, tying for the second-highest home victory total in school history. Nebraska has added an 11-4 record at the Devaney Center in 2008-09, marking NU’s sixth consecutive season with 10 or more home wins, the longest stretch in school history.
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 owns top-25 wins over No. 20 Kansas State and No. 24 Arizona State in 2008-09.
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 a postseason tournament, including 2008 NCAA Elite Eight qualifier Texas A&M. Included among the five Husker home foes that did not advance to postseason play in 2008, were traditional powers USC and Ole Miss, which was coming off a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2007.
Since 2003-04, NU is 71-22 (.763) at the Devaney Center, with no more than four losses in any season.
Six Huskers Earn Big 12 Honor Roll Spots
Kala Kuhlmann posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during the fall semester to lead a contingent of six Nebraska women’s basketball players on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll.
Kuhlmann, a junior from Charter Oak, Iowa, posted a perfect GPA as a psychology and Spanish double major. It was her fifth straight appearance on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. A first-team academic All-Big 12 selection in 2008, Kuhlmann will be a leading contender to repeat those honors again this season.
Kuhlmann was joined on the honor roll by senior forward Kelsey Griffin, junior center Nikki Bober, sophomore guard Kaitlyn Burke, sophomore center Jessica Periago and freshman forward Harleen Sidhu.
Griffin, who is redshirting with an injury this season, earned her seventh consecutive appearance on the honor roll. A two-time first-team All-Big 12 performer on the court and in the classroom, the native of Eagle River, Alaska, is a biological sciences major with a chemistry minor. Bober, a native of Murdock, Neb., claimed her third spot on the Big 12 Commissioner’s honor roll. The management major suffered a knee injury in late-December and is out for the season. Burke and Periago joined Bober as three-time honor roll selections. Both Burke and Periago are excelling at Nebraska as international students. Burke, a starter on the court, is a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while Periago came to NU from Toulon, France.
A third international student, Harleen Sidhu, claimed her first appearance on the honor roll. A native of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, Sidhu has played in all 22 games in her first season at Nebraska.
A total of 324 Nebraska student-athletes earned spots on the 2008 Fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, including 38 Huskers who posted perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. In order to earn a spot on the honor roll, a student-athlete must post a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the semester.