The Nebraska women’s basketball team has had some big comeback wins under coach Connie Yori, and that’s certainly admirable.
Earlier this season, the Huskers rallied from 21 points down to defeat Creighton.
But while getting off to a 0-2 start to Big Ten Conference play, Nebraska hasn’t had great starts to the game. In an 85-62 loss to Northwestern on Sunday, the Huskers gave up a 17-0 first-quarter run and trailed by 22 points at halftime.
In the Big Ten opener, Iowa outscored Nebraska 24-11 in the second quarter, and the Huskers’ second-half comeback came up six points short.
NU faces a third difficult challenge to open conference play with Thursday’s game against eighth-ranked Maryland in College Park, Maryland. The Terrapins joined the Big Ten last season and won 22 straight league games over two seasons before an 80-71 loss to then-No. 9 Ohio State last week. Maryland has made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Final Four.
Yori knows the Huskers will need to start games better to win in the Big Ten.
“First, I've got to do a better job of making sure our team is ready to play,” Yori said in a radio interview. “And secondly, I think some of it has to do with our youth and just not knowing and not feeling comfortable yet with the speed of the game. When you’re young, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
Part of being ready to start a game is to be prepared for the game's speed, Yori said, and the Huskers haven't been a great practice team yet as they adjust to losing four senior starters from last season.
“I think our practice expectations were really pretty much built in for our group of seniors last year, and then before that you think about Jordan Hooper was a four-year starter, and then before that Lindsey Moore, who was a four-year starter,” Yori said. “So we’ve had some real consistency in our starting lineup, and kids that have played a lot of minutes.”
NU's start to league play has also been hurt by having several players out with injuries or not playing at full strength. Freshman Maddie Simon, the Huskers’ top guard off the bench, has missed six games with a broken arm.
“We would like to be deeper than we are right now, there is no question,” Yori said. “Allie Havers is playing not completely healthy, and Rachel Theriot is not completely healthy, and Rachel Blackburn is not completely healthy, and Maddie Simon has been out for a considerable amount of time. Those players are all kids that we want on the court healthy and able to contribute, and they’re not healthy yet.”