CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The McCook Community College Lady Indian volleyball team’s season ended Friday with a four-set loss to 18th ranked Laramie County Community College. The Golden Eagles won 25-19, 25-14, 21-15, 25-23.
Friday’s loss was the final games for seven sophomores: setter Ashley Carson (Ord); middle blocker Hannah Emerson (Greeley, Colo.); libero Brooklyn Evans (Ogden, Utah); middle blocker Hayley Jacobsen (Littleton Colo.); outside hitter Ty Johnson (Conroe, Texas); outside hitter Ryan Maddera (Evans, Colo.); and libero Onyessah Rocha (Topeka, Kan.).
Simpson had 12 kills and three assist blocks. Johnson had eight kills and four assist blocks, Maddera had six kills. Emerson had five assist blocks and one solo block.
"Not the way we wanted to finish, but I told the girls they will always be a part of the team that has turned MCC volleyball around." Coach Hayley Kobza said.
This group of sophomores helped lead the Lady Indians to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time this century and also helped MCC capture its first Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference Championship in 38 years.
MCC finishes this season at 21-14, which included wins against to top-20 ranked opponents in Central Community College and Otero Junior College.
The Golden Eagles (27-8) move on to face the winner today’s other loser’s bracket matchup between Western Wyoming (15-17) and Northwest (Wyo.) (15-13). Tonight’s Region IX winner’s bracket will pit Western Nebraska (28-7) vs. Northeastern Junior College (24-6). The winner of that game will win the Region IX Champion and qualify for National JUCO tournament. The loser of that game will play Saturday (5 p.m. CST) against the team that emerges from the loser’s bracket. That match winner will also qualify for the National JUCO tournament.
The McCook Community College men’s basketball team opens the season this weekend in the MCC Tip-Off Classic.
The Indians open play at 7 p.m. Friday against Louisiana Christian Prep and follow that Saturday with a 5 p.m. game against a team of MCC all-stars.
Last season the Indians finished the season 18-13 under Coach Brandon Lenhart. The Indians were 10-5 at the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center but just 6-10 in Region IX South Division play. With eight freshman and a sophomore transfer, the team on the floor will be much different than a season ago.
“We are going to get after it defensively for 94 feet and 40 minutes,” Lenhart. “We want to be disruptive on defense and push the pace. It’s back to ’94 Feet of Fury.”
With the high tempo Lenhart believes that every given night he has the potential to play 13 players.
“This is the deepest team that I’ve had at MCC. I think they will be able to score in a multitude of ways and their basketball IQ is one of the highest I’ve had to start the season.”
MCC’s top returner is 6-3 guard Peanut Cunningham (Louisville, Kent.) who was named to the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference team. Cunningham averaged 11.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
“He’s worked hard to improve his game, his body, and his skills a ton since the end of last season,” Lenhart said. “We really look for him to lead us, we need him to lead us.”
Ron Rice, 6-3 guard, (Hudson H.S. New York, N.Y.) enters his third year at MCC after season-ending knee injuries limited his time the past two years. He was able to gain of third year of eligibility with a medical redshirt.
“He’s finally in a good place health-wise and has earned his status as a starter with his defense, his rebounding and a knock-down shot,” Lenhart said
Guards Antonije Petrovic (Pancevo, Serbia), 6-3, and Andy White, (Wareham, Mass.) 6-1, both saw action a year ago and Lenhart expects them to contribute even more this season on game day with their experience on the court and “all aspects of what it means to be part of our college basketball family.”
The coach also looks for AV Banks (Portageville, Mo.) a 5-10 redshirt freshman guard, to be a high-level contributor at both point guard and the off-guard position for the Indians. Jacob Boden, a 6-4 guard (Stockholm, Sweden) comes to MCC as a transfer from New Mexico Junior College and brings a wealth of experience and can play all three guard positions.
MCC’s lone returning forward is 6-5, 225-pound Amadou Dieye (Collegiate Prep Academy, Senegal). He saw limited duty a year ago but in the 11 games he played, shot 54.4 percent from the floor and scored 16 points with 16 rebounds in 54 total minutes of playing time.
Richard Gray 6-5 forward (Oklahoma City) is a redshirt sophomore who sustained a knee injury two years ago and has worked hard to get himself back and be a part of the team. “He’s at the stage where he just keeps getting better and he will play right away,” Lenhart said.
Lenhart is pretty excited about the depth of players joining the MCC family this year.
“Coach Brandon Pritchett, our recruiting coordinator, has done a great job of recruiting and is a huge reason why we were able to have this solid group of freshmen,” Lenhart said. “This group is still in the process understanding how to play and what we want from them but this group – the guards especially – can all really go at a high level both from a scoring and guarding standpoint.”
That guard group includes Miles Black (Jonesboro, Ga.); Tyrek Battle-Holley, (Jersey City, N.J.); Kailee White Jr. (Henrietta, N.Y.); Mardrez McBride (Augusta, Ga.); Zavion Mitchell (North Platte).
“As a group they have the capability to catch-and-shoot, to finish at the rim and put it on the floor with good mid-range game.”
The lone freshman forward is Anani Ikechukwu (Abuja, Nigeria), 6-8,
“Collectively this squad has a chip on their shoulder and we’re hoping to let that guide them in a good way,” Lenhart said.
For developmental purposes, two freshman will redshirt. They include: Alton Turner 6-6 guard (Queens, N.Y.) and Ngoye Bobmanuel, a 6-6 froward from Pourt-Harcourt Nigeria.
Lenhart believes this is the toughest schedule they’ve seen with the addition of some Kansas opponents.
MCC will play Cloud County CC and Garden City CC in the Region IX vs. Region V shootout at home Nov. 16 and 17. The Indians will also take on some Region IX north division teams Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in the Gillette (Wyo.) Classic taking on Casper and Gillette.
With some re-alignment in the Region IX teams, the Region IX South division will include Western Nebraska, Northeastern Junior College, North Platte, Lamar, Otero and Trinidad. Eastern Wyoming and Laramie County Community College moved to the north but MCC will play home-and-home games with both schools.
Other than this weekend’s tournament and the Nov. 16-17 games with the Kansas schools, the Indians only play two other times at home before the holiday break and only one more before the end of January. MCC plays York College Nov. 28 and hosts Laramie County Community College Dec. 8. After break MCC will host Air Force Prep Jan. 15 before North Platte comes to town Jan. 29.
In February, the Indians will be at home seven times.
For complete schedule, roster, photos and more please visit the McCook Community College Indian Athletics website at: https://mccindians.com/index.
Lincoln – Behind 12 points and 10 rebounds from Isaiah Roby and a solid defensive effort, Nebraska cruised to a 75-40 win over Wayne State Thursday evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Roby, who nearly had a double-double in the first half with eight points and eight boards, led a balanced attack that saw James Palmer Jr. reach double figures with 10 points. In addition, four other players had at least eight points while all 12 players who saw action Thursday broke into the scoring column.
The Huskers, who are ranked 25th in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, limited Wayne State to just 23.5 percent shooting, including 5-of-22 from 3-point range and enjoyed a 56-35 advantage on the glass
Wayne State was within 14-9 midway through the first half before Glynn Watson Jr. sparked a 7-0 spurt with a 3-pointer to give NU a 21-9 cushion after a basket from Amir Harris. The Wildcats pulled to within 30-19 after a basket from Nate Thayer, but Nebraska closed the half on a 9-2 run to build an 18-point halftime cushion.
In the second half, the Huskers quickly pushed the lead to 22 after baskets from Palmer and Roby before the Wildcats trimmed the lead back to 19, the last time at 45-26 after a Kendall Jacks basket. NU took over, using a 9-1 run capped by consecutive baskets from Watson, the last of which doubled up the Husker lead at 54-27 with 13:05 left.
Trevin Joseph led Wayne State with eight points, as no other Wildcat had more than five points.
The Huskers open the season next Tuesday evening against Mississippi Valley State in the Lincoln Regional of the Hall of Fame Classic Powered by ShotTracker. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets or calling 800-8BIGRED.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The Lady Indian volleyball will play Laramie County Community College (26-8) today in the Region IX tournament.
Friday’s game will be at 1 p.m. (CST). The host school recently cracked the national rankings at No. 18 but had its 15-match win streaked snapped Thursday by Northeastern Junior College 27-25, 25-15, 24-26, 20-25, 11-15). With a win today, MCC would continue at 1 p.m. Saturday with a second game at 5 p.m. -- for a berth in the national tournament.
NJC (24-6) goes in to play Western Nebraska (28-7) at 5 p.m. for the first of two Region IX berths in the NJCCA National Tournament.
The other spot goes to one of the four teams remaining in the loser’s bracket: In addition to the MCC- Laramie County game, the other two teams still alive are Western Wyoming (15-17) and Northwest College (15-13). Those teams play at the conclusion of the MCC-LCCC game.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The McCook Community College Lady Indian volleyball team beat Otero Junior College Thursday in five sets to advance to Friday’s stage of the Region IX double-elimination tournament.
Thursday’s win over the Rattlers came 26-24, 28-26, 25-27, 19-25, 15-11.
“I just kept telling the girls it doesn’t matter – win or lose – we walk off this court saying we gave everything we had” MCC Coach Hayley Kobza said. We did just that in four of the five sets,”
Freshman Faith Simpson (Wauneta-Palisade) led MCC with 18 kills and seven assist blocks. Freshman Mallory Brown (Colorado Springs) had nine kills, five assist blocks and two aces.
A trio of sophomores had a big game at the net. Ryan Maddera (Greeley, Colo.) had seven kills and eight assist blocks, Hannah Emerson (Greeley, Colo.) had eight kills and eight assist blocks and Ty Johnson (Conroe Texas) had eight kills and nine assist blocks.
“This was by far the best blocking game this team has ever had,” Coach Hayley Kobza said.
When the Lady Indians lost to Otero at La Junta, Colo. on Sept. 28, it came one night after allowing Trinidad State its only Region IX win of the season (in five sets). That Otero match also marked the beginning of seven straight matches where the Indians played into a fifth set – and a string where MCC lost four of those five, fifth-set matches.
MCC Coach Hayley Kobza hoped the pressure of five-matches would help the team improve come post-season. Those close matches also demonstrated the importance of every point. When the Rattlers returned to the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center Oct.12, the Lady Indians were able to pull out an 18-16 win in the fifth set. Thursday’s win was the third straight win when MCC pushes a match into a fifth set.
“They clearly like to keep me on my toes,” Kobza said.
Otero (once 19 ranked in the JUCO ratings) finished the year at 24-7.
MCC records 21 wins for the second straight season and enters Friday play 21-13.
The Lady Indians will play the loser of Thursday’s match between Northeastern Junior College and Laramie County Community College. Friday’s game will be at 1 p.m. (CST). The winner of that game would continue at 1 p.m. Saturday with a second game at 5 p.m. -- for a berth in the national tournament.
The Class D1 second round playoff game was a dandy of a game between Dundy County-Stratton at South Loup. DCS would strike first blood in the contest taking an 8-0 lead in the first quarter, and then DCS would strike again in the 2nd quarter to take a lead 14-0. Things would get very interesting then in the second half where South Loup would score two unanswered touchdowns tying the contest 14-14. DCS would have a chance to score before the end of regulation with about 1:30 or so left in the game. From the 5 yard line DCS was faced with a 4th down and 1yd to go for a new set of downs, but the Bobcats would hold. The game would then get sent to overtime. DCS would get the ball first and on the very first play freshman Quarterback Quade Myers finds Jacob Krutsinger-Haines in the End Zone. Two Point conversion Fails DCS leads 20-14. It would then be the Bobcats turn to try and tie the game and win it with a two point conversion. Tigers would hold the Bobcats on 4th down as they would be a yard short from the endzone and DCS survives a thriller 20-14 in Overtime. With the win DCS improves to 8-2 overall and will travel to Bassett to take on North Central who is 7-3 overall. Listen to the game on Coyote Country 105.3 and online coyote105.com. Taco Johns Pregame show at 5:30 with kickoff at 6pm CT.
1st Q - 6:05 - 2yd TD run by Serbando Diaz - Two Point Conversion Good - DCS 8-0
2nd Q - 6:59 - 69yd TD run by Serbando Diaz - Two Point Conversion Fails - DCS 14-0
3rd Q- 4:39 - 17yd TD run by Cole Cracey - Two Point Conversion Good - DCS 14-8
4th Q - 11:25 - 39yd TD run by Jace Connell - Two Point Conversion Fails - Tied 14-14 End of Regulation
OT - 1st play - 10yd TD pass from Quade Myers to Jacob Krutsinger-Haines - Two Point Conversion Fails - DCS 20-14
The new-look McCook Community College Lady Indian basketball team will debut this weekend as the season opens Friday in the MCC Tip-Off Classic in the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center.
The MCC women take on a team of MCC All-Stars Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Lady Indians will play Little Priest Tribal College at 3 p.m.
Coach Kellen Fernetti, in his third year at the helm of the MCC Women, has always tried to implement up-tempo offenses but the most effective ones are also effective on the defensive side as well. Last season’s 6-25 record was disappointing on many levels but defense was the area he targeted in the recruiting season.
He believes the 2018-19 version of the Lady Indians are much better equipped to complement high-octane offense with high-pressure defense.
“Fall camp has gone really well, the players have done a real nice job of buying into our concept,” Fernetti said. ”We won more than half our Fall scrimmages and we’re becoming a team each and every day.”
Five sophomores return to the court this year. Returners include Sam Hinkle, (Rifle Colo.); guard Makayla Jones, (Aurora, Colo.); guard Anna Sanjuan, (Reus, Spain); forward Laura Mata (Barcelona, Spain); and guard Hayley Tiles (Rogers, Ark.) – a transfer from Brown Mackie College, who has been part of the team since arriving on campus in January.
“I’m proud of our five returners,” Fernetti said. “The difficult season last year helped them grow and helped them bring a strong leadership voice to our team.”
Hinkle was named to the all-Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference team. She averaged 10.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game. She shot 38.7 percent from the field and 24.6 percent on 57 3-point attempts. Injuries limited Sanjuan to 21 games last season but she averaged 3.9 points per game and 2.0 rebounds; Jones averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds; Mata 2.4 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“All five have a chance to contribute this season.”
Eight new players join the MCC squad this year with three of them International students.
Nikki Cross, is a 5-8 guard from Rowville Sports Academy from Melbourne, Australia. Lena Goerke is a 5-11 guard from Kaiser-Fredrich-Ufer High School in Hamburg, Germany and Iftin Mao, is a 5-11 guard from Helsinki, Finland, having attended the North Atlantic Basketball Academy
“They settled in nicely here and are fitting in well,” Fernetti said.
Other newcomers include: Kali Kelley, a 5-2 guard from Mountain View High School in Loveland, Colo.; Tyra Cheatham, a 5-8 guard from Riverside High School in Basin, Wyo.; Destiny Davis, a 5-6 guard from Moore High School in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Sydney Sanford a 5-7 guard from Elkins High School, Missouri City, Texas; and Makenna Bodette a 6-0 forward from St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs.
“They have a chance to play a lot of quality minutes because I think we’ll play a lot of players with our style of play.”
Fernetti likes the schedule having a few more home games with a pair of weekend tournaments in November at home. Last season the team was 1-16 away from the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center. He expects the Region IX schedule as well as the Nebraska Community College Athletic Association to be “tough as always.”
“At this level, you have to be ready to play every night but I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far this Fall, now we just need to keep bringing our best, and believe it's all about… “The Team, The Team, The Team.”
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – After surviving a “win-or-go-home” play-in game to start the day in Storey Gym, the McCook Community College volleyball team lost in the first round of double-elimination in straight sets to 19th ranked Western Nebraska.
The Lady Indians will have to try and come back through the losers’ bracket starting Thursday at 1 p.m. against another team they are familiar with -- Otero Junior College (24-6) -- a team that beat Central Wyoming in an early play-in game then lost in the first round of double-elimination to Wyoming Northwest. The Lady Indians and the Rattlers split two games this season with each team winning at home.
The win over Sheridan College ensured MCC’s second straight 20-win season and the Lady Indians will enter Thursday play with an overall mark of 20-13.
MCC 3, Sheridan College 1: In the “win-or-go-home play-in game to start the day the Lady Indians fell behind 8-0 in the first set and lost 25-21 before regrouping and winning the next three 25-20, 25-22, 26-24.
Freshman Faith Simpson (Wauneta-Palisade) had 20 kills and five ace serves – including consecutive ones down 14-15 in the second set, to help change the momentum. MCC was able to seize the second set with sophomore Ashley Carson (Ord) at the service line for five straight points.
Sophomores Ty Johnson (Conroe, Texas) and Hannah Emerson (Greeley, Colo) had 10 kills each, Freshman Mallory Brown (Colorado Springs) had nine.
MCC ended the season for Sheridan College with a 12-16 record.
WESTERN NEBRASKA 3, MCC 0 – The Cougars won for the third time this season in cruising to the win, 25-15, 25-21, 25-19.
Simpson had three kills and an ace before an injury prevented her from continuing.
Brown had seven kills, one solo block and an ace. Emerson had seven kills and two assist blocks. Johnson had three kills and four aces.
Freshman Allie Gammel (Arvada, Colo.) had three kills and two assist blocks. Sophomore Ryan Maddera (Evans Colo.) had three kills. Sophomore Brooklyn Evans (Ogden, Utah), Carson, and freshman Makayla Harris (Brighton, Colo.) each had an ace.
The Cougars advanced to the a 5 p.m. game Thursday in the winners’ bracket and improve to 25-9
All Region IX games will be livestreamed through the LCCC website at golccc.com.
Here is the link for all of the games: https://boxcast.tv/channel/
After producing the nation’s best turnaround in 2017-18, Coach Amy Williams and the Nebraska women’s basketball team will take aim at earning a repeat trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19.
Williams, who enters her third season guiding the Huskers, led Nebraska to a 21-11 overall record that marked a 14-game improvement in the win column over Nebraska’s 2016-17 campaign. The Huskers added a top-four finish in the Big Ten regular-season standings with an 11-5 record and a trip to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals before advancing to the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
"I watched last year’s team work extremely hard all postseason, summer and preseason," Williams said. "Their commitment was really made mostly in strength and conditioning. They pushed themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of and because of that, it built confidence. It was truly a snowball effect. Their confidence in themselves and each other turned into chemistry and commitment. Nobody really cared about their own egos. They were a selfless team that put each other first."
Nebraska’s unselfish, team-first approach became infectious throughout the season and the conference took notice by naming Williams the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year. Now, Williams and the Huskers are faced with a new set of challenges in 2018-19.
The Big Red must replace graduated senior guards Jasmine Cincore, Janay Morton and Emily Wood, while facing a significantly stronger schedule that includes NCAA Women’s Final Four qualifier Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, NCAA Tournament teams Miami and Creighton on the road, and Washington State (Pac-12) and Arkansas (SEC) in early season road games.
"We have put together a very challenging non-conference schedule, playing against four NCAA Tournament teams from last season, including a pair of conference champions," Williams said. "This should prepare us for the new 18-game Big Ten schedule we will face."
Nebraska’s home schedule starts with NCAA qualifier and Missouri Valley Conference champion Drake and includes former Big 12 rival Kansas, along with Big Ten battles against 2018 NCAA qualifiers Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa, as well as traditional powers Rutgers, Purdue and Michigan State and 2018 WNIT champion Indiana.
“We definitely have the potential to be a better basketball team than we were last season, but maybe not have the record to show for it,” Williams said. “Our road non-conference schedule is extremely difficult, and I think the Big Ten will be better from top to bottom. It is good that we have some experienced players who know what to expect.”
The cupboard is far from bare for the Big Red, as the Huskers return their top five scorers from 2017-18. However, Nebraska's 11-player roster is filled with five newcomers who will need to make the transition into significant contributors immediately to help the Huskers grow.
"Some of the biggest challenges we will face come from the fact that 45 percent of our roster is new," Williams said. "Our upperclassmen are doing a good job of educating our team on how to work cohesively and commit to playing for each other. Strong leadership and our ability to embrace and enhance our culture will be determining factors for this team's success. We have been talking a lot about finding small ways to keep raising the bar for our program."
Hannah Whitish earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore last season, while averaging team bests of 12.6 points and 4.7 assists per game. The 5-9 junior guard from Barneveld, Wis., added 4.0 rebounds per game and led the Huskers with 41 steals, while also connecting on a team-high 73 threes.
"Hannah made substantial strides from her freshman to sophomore season, and we are looking for her to make a similar leap as a junior," Williams said. "She has shown the confidence to make big plays for our team, and she has goals to improve in all aspects of her game."
Maddie Simon, a 6-2 senior from Lincoln Pius X, ranked second in scoring (10.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg) in her first full season at forward as a junior. She will be key in providing leadership on and off the court.
"Maddie has naturally stepped into a leadership role for our program," Williams said. "She is extremely motivated to be a consistent presence for us and make this her best season as a Husker."
Taylor Kissinger, a 6-1 guard/forward from Minden, finished third on the team in scoring as a freshman with 10.0 points per game, while ranking second with 50 threes despite missing seven games with an injury.
"After a strong freshman season, Taylor's focus for the offseason was to attack her strength and conditioning to improve her agility, mobility and durability," Williams said. "We are extremely happy with the growth she has made both in the weight room and on the basketball court."
Kate Cain did more than just score, the 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., smashed Nebraska season (100) and game (11) block records to earn a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive Team. The Big Ten All-Freshman selection averaged 9.9 points and a team-best 7.0 rebounds.
"Kate has made visible strides this offseason and is playing with much more confidence," Williams said. "We are so excited to watch as Kate continues to tap into her abilities. We believe she can be a real weapon at both ends of the court in our program."
Junior Nicea Eliely, a 6-1 wing from Colorado Springs, Colo., ranked among NU’s top five in scoring (8.2 ppg), rebounding (4.0 rpg) and steals (37) despite an early season foot injury.
"Nicea has made obvious gains with her strength and conditioning and we think that will pay big dividends for her at both ends of the court," Williams said. "We will need Nicea to set the tone for us defensively with a physical and disciplined approach this year."
Junior Grace Mitchell rounds out a group of six returning Huskers. The 6-2 forward from Wellington, Kan., has appeared in 58 games with two starts for the Huskers over the past two seasons. She also provides an outstanding work ethic both on and off the court.
"Grace remains one of our most explosive athletes and has been showing a lot of confidence this offseason," Williams said. "She could be a valuable part in establishing ourselves as a better defensive and rebounding team."
Nebraska's group of five newcomers includes four freshmen that made up one of the top-20 recruiting classes in the nation, according to ESPN. That foursome added graduate transfer Kristian Hudson.
"This group of newcomers has the talent and work ethic to make an impact for our team immediately, and we will rely on them early," Williams said. "The quicker we can collectively help them transition to playing at this level and in our system, the better for our team's chances of success."
Hudson, a 5-5 senior point guard from Birmingham, Ala., could help the Husker attack be more effective at both ends of the court after scoring 1,076 points and dishing out 383 assists in her three seasons at Florida International. Hudson averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists as a junior.
“We are excited to add Kristian to our Husker family," Williams said. "Her experience coupled with her enthusiasm to help us raise the bar for our program make her the perfect fit.”
Ashtyn Veerbeek, a 6-2 forward from Sioux Center, Iowa, was a top-70 national recruit. The Iowa Class 2A Player of the Year at Western Christian High School averaged 25.8 points and 14.4 rebounds as a senior.
“She is a strong, yet agile athlete who is an extremely talented basketball player," Williams said. "She is a fierce competitor who simply knows how to win. She understands what it means to work hard, and we are looking forward to the growth she will make at Nebraska.”
A 5-9 guard from Minnesota, Sam Haiby was ranked among the top 125 players nationally at Moorhead High School. She scored more than 2,000 career points and averaged 25.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists as a senior.
“Sam has a great feel for the game. Her athleticism and explosiveness allow her to make plays for herself and others,” Williams said. “She has incredible potential on the defensive side of the basketball, as she has deceptive length and quickness. Her experience with her high school and summer programs have prepared her to play at the next level.”
Another Minnesota prep star, Kayla Mershon could provide key contributions inside at both ends of the court for Nebraska. The 6-3 forward was ranked among the top 135 players nationally. She is strong, runs well and is an outstanding worker with a high basketball IQ.
“Kayla Mershon has great length and a strong all-around skill-set, and we are excited about her versatility,” Williams said. “Kayla has shown some unique natural gifts, but she is also a tremendous worker and has a great attitude. She has played for a state championship high school team, and an extremely competitive summer team, and she is eager to compete at the highest level. We can’t wait to see all she will accomplish here in a Husker uniform.”
Indiana All-State selection Leigha Brown rounds out the Husker freshman class. The 6-1 wing out of DeKalb High School could provide the Huskers with explosiveness after averaging 28.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists as a senior, including a massive 53-point performance.
“We are so excited for all that Leigha will bring to our program. She is a versatile guard with good size and has the ability to score at all three levels,” Williams said. “She understands how to work and fits the culture we are establishing at Nebraska. Each time Leigha steps on the court, she plays like she has something to prove, and we will welcome that sense of urgency into our program.”
That sense of urgency will need to permeate the Husker program, as Nebraska opens its regular season against Drake (Nov. 7). The Bulldogs return five starters from a team that has made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. After a second home game against USC Upstate (Nov. 11), the Huskers embark on a five-game road trip that includes Washington State (Nov. 16), NCAA Tournament qualifier Miami (Nov. 23), WNIT qualifier Radford (Nov. 25), NCAA Final Four participant Louisville (Nov. 29) and in-state rival Creighton (Dec. 2), which advanced to the NCAA second round in 2018.
The Big Red return home for a three-game stand against traditional rival Kansas (Dec. 5), before facing San Jose State (Dec. 8) and closing the stand against Denver (Dec. 15).
The Huskers close non-conference play at Arkansas (Dec. 18), before opening their 18-game Big Ten schedule against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Dec. 28). Nebraska then faces back-to-back road tests at defending Big Ten champion Ohio State (Dec. 31) and NCAA qualifier Iowa (Jan. 3), before taking on Maryland at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Jan. 8).
Each of Nebraska's first four league foes played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, while Michigan, Ohio State and Maryland all advanced to the second round. The game against the Terrapins begins a five-game stretch where the Huskers play four at Pinnacle Bank Arena, including Rutgers (Jan. 13), Minnesota (Jan. 20) and Northwestern (Jan. 24).
NU will step away from Lincoln to travel to Illinois (Jan. 17). Nebraska closes January with road games at Wisconsin (Jan. 27) and Purdue (Jan. 31), before returning to Lincoln to battle 2018 WNIT champion Indiana (Feb. 3).
The Huskers then complete three key Big Ten double plays at Michigan (Feb. 7), at home against Purdue (Feb. 10), and on the road at Maryland (Feb. 14), before battling Michigan State (Feb. 17) for the only time in 2019 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Nebraska wraps another double play at Northwestern (Feb. 21), before concluding the season series with Iowa on Senior Night at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Feb. 25).
The Huskers close the regular season at Penn State (March 2), before the Big Ten Tournament returns to Indianapolis (March 6-10). The 2019 NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be held on Monday, March 18, before the Big Dance begins for 64 teams on March 22.
The Nebraska basketball team gets its final dress rehearsal for the 2018-19 season on Thursday evening, as the Huskers host Wayne State for an exhibition game at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff is set for 7:01 p.m., and a limited number of tickets are available beginning at $7 by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets or calling 800-8-BIGRED.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Ben McLaughlin on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, on the Huskers app, on TuneIn Radio and on the TuneIn Radio app. Thursday's exhibition game will be streamed online on BTN Plus with Zach Penrice and Scott Ayers on the call. The game is available on BTN2Go and online and on Flohoops.com. A subscription is required for both BTN Plus and Flohoops.
The Huskers enter the 2018-19 season on the heels of one of the best seasons in school history. Nebraska went 22-11 and tied for fourth in the Big Ten Conference before falling to Mississippi State in the opening round of the NIT. The Huskers return three starters and their top four scorers from a season ago, as NU welcomes back nine letterwinners.
The Huskers are led by All-America candidate James Palmer Jr., who led the Huskers at 17.2 points per game as a junior. The 6-foot-6 guard was fifth in the Big Ten in scoring and also chipped in 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Earlier this month, he was named to the Jerry West Award watch list for the top shooting guard in the country. He is joined by fellow seniors Isaac Copeland and Glynn Watson Jr. in the Huskers' starting lineup. Copeland, who garnered honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors, was second on the squad in scoring (12.9 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.0 bpg) as a junior. Watson, a three-year starter, averaged 10.5 points and paced the Big Red in assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.4 spg).
Wayne State returns three starters from a team that went 14-17 a year ago. Senior guard Kendall Jacks is WSU's top returnee and paced the team in scoring (13.7 ppg), rebounding (4.9 rpg) and assists (2.2 apg) in 2017-18.
The Huskers open the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when NU plays host to Mississippi Valley State in the regional round of the Hall of Fame Classic Powered by ShotTracker. A limited number of tickets for the opener are available on Huskers.com/Tickets or calling 800-8-BIGRED.
2 - Nebraska features two returning 1,000-point scorers in seniors Isaac Copeland Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr.
15 -Consecutive wins by Nebraska in exhibition games dating back to 2007.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
10 - Number of times since WWII that Nebraska has returned a first-team all-conference performer. James Palmer Jr. became NU's first returning All-Big Ten player since Terran Petteway in 2014-15.
160 - Number of starts at Nebraska from its 2018-19 roster, including a team-high 77 by Glynn Watson Jr. In all, the eligible players at Nebraska have started 214 Division I games, as Isaac Copeland (49 starts at Georgetown) and James Palmer (five starts at Miami) both cracked the starting lineups at their previous schools before coming to Nebraska.
HUSKERS EXHIBITION HISTORYHUSKERS EXHIBITION HISTORY
Nebraska is 57-6 all-time in exhibition games dating back to the 1966-67 season and has won its last 15 exhibition games since a 54-50 loss to SIU-Edwardsville in 2006.
- The Huskers are 7-0 in exhibition games under Tim Miles including wins over Mississippi State in a charity exhibition and Northwood in 2017-18.
- Thursday's game against Wayne State is the fourth time in seven years NU has played against an in-state program. The others were Midland (2012), UNK (2013) and Chadron State (2017).
- Under Miles, Nebraska has outscored its six exhibition opponents by nearly 32 points per game (84.4-54.6).
- Nebraska is 14-0 against in-state teams in exhibition games dating back to the 2001-02 season, including one previous matchup with Wayne State (74-51 in 2007).
SCOUTING WAYNE STATE
Jeff Kaminsky is in his third season at the helm of the Wayne State program. He has improved the school's win total in each of his first two seasons, going 14-17 in 2017-18. The Wildcats led the Northern Sun in turnovers created (13.5), and was fifth in the conference in turnover margin (+2.5 per game). Prior to taking over at Wayne State, Kaminsky was the head coach at Valley City State University in North Dakota for 11 years, posting a 183-144 record that included five 20-win seasons in his last nine years at the school. His 2015-16 team recorded a 22-11 record and advanced to the second round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
- The Wildcats return three starters, highlighted by senior guard Kendall Jacks. Last year, he earned honorable-mention All-Northern Sun accolades by pacing Wayne State with 13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 2.2 apg. Jacks reached double figures in 25 of 31 games and had eight 20-point games last season.
- Senior guard Trevin Joseph was second on the team in scoring at 13.5 ppg, despite making just five starts. Joseph led Wayne State with 48 3-pointers and shot 47 percent from the field. Vance Janssen is the third Wildcat returnee, as he played in all 31 games, including 30 starts. He was third on the squad in scoring at 9.4 ppg and also averaged a team-high 1.5 steals per contest.
- Wayne State's roster features five in-state kids, including Lincoln East product Jordan Janssen. In addition, freshman Nate Theyer was a teammate of Husker freshman Brady Heiman at Platteview High School, helping the school to three straight Class B state tournament appearances.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ENTERING 2018-191) The Huskers enter the 2018-19 season welcoming back three starters and nine letterwinners from a team that went 22-11 and finished tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 13-5 mark. The group includes All-Big Ten performers James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland and three-year starter Glynn Watson Jr., all of whom averaged double figures in 2017-18. NU also returns junior forward Isaiah Roby, who started 13 of NU’s final 14 games and led NU in both rebounding (6.3 rpg) and blocked shots (2.0 bpg). Nebraska returns 73.4 percent of its scoring, 61.4 percent of its rebounding, 71.5 percent of its assists and 67.2 percent of its blocked shots from last year. Last year, NU averaged 72.3 points per game, its highest average since the 1996-97 season (72.9 ppg).
2) Nebraska finished seventh nationally and second in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game with 5.5 per outing. It is the highest total since the 1996-97 team blocked a school-record 6.12 shots per game. Nebraska totaled 183 blocked shots last season, which is third on NU’s single-season list.Nebraska returns a pair of players who averaged at least one block per game last year in Isaiah Roby (2.0 bpg) and Isaac Copeland (1.0 bpg). Roby’s 63 blocked shots were the most by a Husker since 2001, while Copeland had 33 blocked shots after recording just 39 in two-plus seasons at Georgetown.
3) Nebraska returns three double-figure scorers (James Palmer Jr., 17.2, Isaac Copeland Jr., 12.9 and Glynn Watson Jr. 10.5) for the first time since the 1992-93 season (Eric Piatkowski, 14.3; Derrick Chandler, 12.3; Jamar Johnson, 11.2). In 1992-93, the Huskers won 20 games and finished tied for second in the Big Eight Conference. In all, Nebraska returns its top four scorers for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.
4) For just the second time this decade, Nebraska returns a 1,000-point scorer to the lineup, as Glynn Watson Jr. enters his senior year with 1,041 career points. It is the 10th time in program history that the Huskers had a returning 1,000-point scorer. Watson is also ninth on NU’s career steals list with 137 and needs 74 assists to crack the Huskers’ career top-10 list in that category. Watson was third on the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game in 2017-18 while pacing the Huskers in both assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.4 spg).
5) Isaiah Roby is one of only two returning power conference players to total 50 blocks and 50 assists last season, joining Missouri’s Jontay Porter. Roby’s 63 blocked shots ranked 10th on NU’s single-season list and was the most by a Husker since the 2000-01 season. Roby also joined a rare group of Husker big men who accomplished the feat.
HUSKERS RECEIVE FIRST RANKING SINCE 2014
For the first time since 2014, the Nebraska men’s basketball team is nationally ranked, as the Huskers are ranked No. 25 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports coaches poll released Oct. 25.The Huskers return three starters, including All-Big Ten selections James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr, and their top four scorers from a team that went 22-11 and reached the NIT last season. In 2014-15, the Huskers were ranked in the first two coaches polls and were ranked 21st on Nov. 17, 2014.Nebraska is one of four Big Ten teams in the preseason coaches poll, joining Michigan State (10), Michigan (18) and Purdue (22). In addition, the Huskers’ ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent is also ranked as Clemson enters the poll at No. 23. The Huskers were receiving votes in the AP poll released earlier this month.
PALMER RECEIVES PRESEASON HONORSNebraska guard James Palmer Jr. has been lauded as one of the top returning players in college basketball. The 6-foot-6 guard comes off a junior season where he averaged 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in leading the Huskers to a 22-11 record and an NIT berth. Palmer reached double figures in 31 of 33 games in his first season at Nebraska, including eight 20-point efforts. Palmer’s junior year was highlighted by a career-high 34-point effort at Ohio State. He is one of only five returning power conference players who averaged 17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.0 apg last season.
Palmer's Preseason Plaudits
- Preseason All-Big Ten
- Jerry West Award Watch List
- No. 13 returning player in college basketball by NCAA.com's Andy Katz
- No. 43 player in college basketball by CBSSports.com
- No. 35 player in college basketball by Athlon