The Nebraska women’s basketball team only added two freshmen to the team, but both should be able to play a lot this season.
Freshman guard Taylor Kissinger has certainly turned some heads in practice with her good perimeter shooting.
“There are times where our scout guys are astonished in practice,” Nebraska coach Amy Williams said on Monday. “She’s got depth, we’ll just say that. She’s in range most of the time when she steps in the gym, and that’s going to be just huge to have another perimeter threat like Taylor. And she’s working very hard to make the adjustment defensively and rebounding-wise to this level.”
As a senior at Minden, Kissigner averaged 24.2 points per game. As a junior she averaged 28.8 points per game.
The other freshman, Kate Cain, is 6-foot-5 and the only player listed as a center on the Huskers’ 12-player roster. She was a late addition to the Huskers’ recruiting class, and was ranked as the No. 82 player in the nation by ESPN.
The Huskers began official practice last week, but Cain hasn’t been able to participate due to an injury. Williams is hopeful Cain will be back soon.
“I really think those freshmen we’ll lean on right away,” Williams said. “They’re both capable players to be able to step in and bring something to the table.”
Blackburn may be able to play: Williams is hopeful that sophomore forward Rachel Blackburn will be able to play this season.
Blackburn played during the 2015-16 season, but sat out all of last season due to chronic knee pain.
Blackburn has been participating in practice about half the time, Williams said.
“Rachel has been working herself back in, and we’ve been very gradually returning her to play,” Williams said. “We’ve just been thrilled to death with what we see out of Rachel when she’s out there.”
Senior guard Janay Morton, who sat out last season as a transfer, has also missed all of practice with an injury. She may be able to return by the time the regular season begins Nov. 11.
Focus on finishing: During the offseason, Williams said the Huskers were focusing on effort, energy and enthusiasm, coming off Williams' first season, when the Huskers finished with a 7-22 record.
“I think our kids are really figuring out how to play hard and finish plays,” Williams said. “That was a big obstacle and hurdle of something that we really wanted to establish within our culture.”
Working with new women’s basketball strength coach Stuart Hart, Williams said the players made a commitment in the weight room.
She thinks that has helped the players’ confidence, and she hopes it will help the Huskers be more competitive on the basketball court.
“We really feel like that’s one of the biggest pieces that was just kind of missing was just our ability to finish plays and finish quarters and to finish strong, so we think that increased conditioning and strength is really going to translate,” Williams said.