Before tournament decisions, coach Amy Williams and Huskers still have work to do

Before tournament decisions, coach Amy Williams and Huskers still have work to do
Nebraska coach Amy Williams will attend two state tournaments this week. “Recruiting is like laundry,” Williams said. “It’s just never done.” (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Amy Williams is trying to have fun while the Nebraska women’s basketball team waits to see if it’s in the NCAA tournament. Williams’ idea of fun is watching tape from recent games, finding flaws in the Huskers’ play, and then working on them in practice.

Oh, and recruiting. She will attend two state tournaments this week.

“Recruiting is like laundry,” Williams said. “It’s just never done.”

Williams knows NU — at 21-10 overall and possessing five wins against top 50 RPI teams — is bouncing on the NCAA bubble. But come Monday night, when the women’s selection committee announces the 64-team field, Williams expects Nebraska to be in.

As of Friday afternoon, ESPN expected the same. Its bracketologist had the Huskers as the last team in thanks to a loss by Williams’ old team, South Dakota, in the Summit League tournament final. USD’s loss to South Dakota State, which may have taken a NCAA at-large bid , paved the way for Nebraska to move up one spot.

“It’s tricky situation,” Williams said. “Obviously I love all of those young women in that program. I would have loved nothing more for them to win. My heart hurt for them at USD. It was tough.”

Williams thinks Nebraska is safer than being the last team in.

“We really feel strongly we’re going to be in the NCAA tournament,” Williams said. “We really feel very strongly about that. At this point, if it doesn’t happen, it’ll be disappointing for sure.”

Still, NU won’t hold a media watch party Monday. The team will gather at Williams’ house instead. If the NCAA delivers bad news, Nebraska will almost certainly be a top seed in the NIT, which Williams won at South Dakota in 2016.

Either way, the Huskers’ season carries on. They have things to fix, especially on offense, where they averaged 63.7 points in their past eight games — five fewer points than their Big Ten average.

“We’re not really setting and using our screens as effectively as we can,” Williams said.

In other notes:

» Only one of Nebraska’s four 2018 signees is still alive in her high school tournament: Kayla Mershon, who plays for Minnetonka (Minn.) High. The other three — Leigha Brown, Sam Haiby and Ashtyn Veerbeek — have concluded their senior years with big numbers.

Veerbeek , who played at Hull (Iowa) Western Christian , averaged 25.8 points and 14.4 rebounds per game and was recently featured on Iowa Public Television. ESPN rated her the nation’s No. 68 overall recruit. Haiby, who suffered and recovered from a knee injury during Moorhead (Minn.) High ’s season, averaged more than 25 points per game and roughly five steals. Brown, out of DeKalb, Indiana, may have had the best season, averaging 28 points 11.5 rebounds and five assists. The Indianapolis Star named Brown an all-star on Tuesday.

» One hot news item in college basketball is the potential that Colorado State could hire a woman , San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon , to coach its men’s team. Williams played against Hammon in high school — both are from western South Dakota — and in one NCAA tournament game in 1996, when Williams was at Nebraska and Hammon played for Colorado State.

Williams said she is a fan of the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich, who offered Hammon an assistant spot on his staff.

“I think it’s fantastic what he’s done for Becky and fantastic what she’s shown she’s capable of doing in that system and at that level as an assistant,” she said. “If she had an opportunity and felt like it was the right move, I’d be thrilled to watch her have that opportunity.”

Williams said it’s overdue for a woman to coach a men’s basketball team.

“There are some very, very good minds who coach this game and by not considering women to coach men, you’re certainly missing out on some qualified and capable candidates,” Williams said. “I’d like to see that change.”

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