Seems only fitting that Nebraska would recognize one its most decorated players in women’s basketball history on a night the Huskers play a team they’ve played more times than any other.
Nebraska, playing its first home game since Nov. 11, will host former Big Eight and Big 12 Conference rival Kansas on Wednesday night, and will also honor Karen Jennings on the silver anniversary of her winning the 1993 Wade Trophy.
Jennings was a first-team All-American (1993), a two-time Big Eight Player of the Year (1992, 1993) and a three-time first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American (1991-93). Her No. 51 jersey was the first retired by Nebraska, and she is a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame.
Kansas, meanwhile, marks the most frequent opponent in Nebraska women’s basketball history. While the Jayhawks lead the all-time series, 50-32, the Huskers are 22-10 against the Jayhawks since 1997-98 – the senior season for guard Amy Williams, now in her third season coaching the Huskers.
Nebraska defeated Kansas on the road last season en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. This time, Kansas brings a 6-0 record into Lincoln, while the Huskers are looking to get back on a track after starting 2-5, with four of those losses coming against teams in the NCAA Tournament last season.
Williams stressed this is an important time for her team to stay together and stay positive. She is most certainly being patient, what with four freshmen on the roster, and wants her players to remain patient, too, while working through growing pains and finding more on-court chemistry.
“When 45 percent of your roster is new, that’s going to be an issue early,” Williams said, “and particularly with the tests we’ve faced early, it’s just finding, ‘Where is my role?’ We have a lot of freshmen who are really talented and capable of really contributing to this team, but they’re not 100 percent sure how to do that within the flow of what we’re trying to do.”
One such freshman is 5-9 guard Sam Haiby, who is leading Nebraska in scoring, at 12.3 points per game, while coming off the bench.
Haiby has led the Huskers in scoring in four games, including against nationally ranked Drake (13) and Miami (14), while also scoring a career-high 20 points at Washington State and adding 17 points at Creighton.
“We’ve always known her as an explosive scorer, and people have a hard time being able to stay in front of her,” Williams said. “She’s done a good job of filling in and finding ways to create sparks for our team when we’re having a little lull scoring wise.”
Nebraska is returning home after a five-game road trip (that included one neutral-site game). The Huskers lost four, but now begin a stretch of three straight home games.
“Our messages is always, ‘Can you stand the rain?’ and in times of adversity how are you going to handle yourself?” Williams said. “Our character as a team will be defined when you go through some of those struggles. For us, it’s don’t panic, stick with the process. We’re right there. We’re seeing flashes of some good things against Top 25 programs on their home court.”