At this time last year, the Nebraska women’s basketball team was not considered an NCAA Tournament team, and that’s the case again for this season.
The Huskers have had a disappointing start to the season with a 5-6 record, and they haven’t won a road game.
Of course, at this time last year, most people weren’t thinking Nebraska would be an NCAA Tournament team. The Huskers had won just seven games the previous season, then had a 9-4 record in the nonconference season.
Nebraska had a stretch in December, January and February where it won eight of nine Big Ten Conference games and soon became an NCAA bubble team.
Nebraska will probably need another great start to the Big Ten season to have a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament. Nebraska starts the second portion of the schedule on Friday when the 18-game Big Ten Conference season begins with the Huskers hosting Michigan at 6 p.m.
After Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament last season, coach Amy Williams said the goal now is to not be a one-hit wonder. The Huskers are currently ranked No. 111 in the RPI.
When Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament last season, it had a 21-10 record, and its RPI ranking was No. 60.
With four Big Ten teams ranked — No. 4 Maryland, No. 12 Minnesota, No. 16 Iowa and No. 21 Michigan State — Nebraska will have several chances to pick up quality wins over the next three months. Michigan (9-3) is just outside the top 25.
Williams isn’t happy with how the season started but is hopeful that Nebraska learned enough lessons that will lead to a better conference season.
“If I’m 100 percent honest, I think overall, we’re fairly disappointed recordwise where we sit,” Williams said. “But I do think that we went through some challenges with tough scheduling and road games and tough opponents, and I think our young players have learned quite a bit. We know kind of where our weaknesses lie after that nonconference schedule. There have been some things where if we use it right can really help us here in season No. 2.”
What are the Huskers’ weaknesses?
“I think the biggest thing right now is just defensively, being able to have some consistency, and having somebody that’s going to really set the tone for us on defense,” Williams said. “I think that’s been the biggest sore thumb is at times we’ll have four people out on the court doing exactly what they need to do defensively and one breakdown. We need to get on the same page with being able to do a better job of keeping the ball in front and contain penetration, and then if and when we don’t, we just have to have better team defense.”
Nebraska has been able to score enough to win in a few of its six losses but hasn’t been good enough on defense. Opponents have scored at least 80 points in five of Nebraska's six losses.
Nebraska ranks 39th nationally in scoring offense (77.8 points per game), but 305th in scoring defense (71.3).
One thing Nebraska has this season is more scoring depth, with eight players averaging at least eight points per game, led by freshman guard Sam Haiby with 11 points per game.
Senior guard Kristian Hudson had foot surgery and will miss the remainder of the season. Hudson joined the program in July as a graduate transfer from Florida International. Nebraska will apply to the NCAA for a medical redshirt in hopes that Hudson will be able to play next season. Hudson played in seven games for the Huskers, with one start, and averaged 2.4 points per game.