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Amy Williams has plenty of scorers. But who is the Huskers' defensive stopper?
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BASKETBALL

Amy Williams has plenty of scorers. But who is the Huskers' defensive stopper?

Amy Williams and the Nebraska womens basketball team are in the full swing of preseason practice.

LINCOLN — Assuming her large, talented roster stays relatively healthy — which became an iffy proposition last season — Amy Williams shouldn’t have too many problems finding consistent scorers.

But neither will the rest of the Big Ten.

The Huskers allowed 70.1 points per game last season in a league full of offensive stars. A number of Nebraska’s close losses — including two to Iowa and two to Minnesota — essentially came down to not getting second-half stops.

Who guards Hawkeye star Caitlin Clark on the final three possessions?

“We’re still working that out right now,” Williams said Monday, three days before she'll attend Big Ten media day in Indianapolis with Huskers Sam Haiby and Isabelle Bourne.

Last year Haiby carried the team on offense and was also the defensive stopper, and Williams is trying to challenge Haiby to get better defensively. But the sixth-year coach will have other options too, including freshman Kendall Moriarty.

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“She’s a really special defender, she’s a long athlete, she’s committed to playing in a defensive stance,” Williams said.

NU added Moriarty, freshman Allison Weidner and Oregon transfer Jaz Shelley to an already guard-rich stable of players, so Haiby may not be asked to do quite as much.

With Williams' most-experience roster, Nebraska hopes to reverse its three-year trend of up-and-down performances — 14-16 in 2019, 17-13 in 2020 and 13-13 in 2021.

Nebraska only lost center Kate Cain from last season. Cain was the school’s career-leading shot blocker, so NU won’t have the benefit of her ability to stop plays at the rim. Williams said Nebraska’s defense will be more aggressive on the perimeter and go for more steals. Williams may also have some posts fronting opposing centers.

More notes from Monday's press conference:

» Guard Nailah Dillard tore her ACL and will miss the season. She missed all of last season after undergoing hip surgery.

Nebraska will redshirt 6-foot-5 center Tatiana Popa as well.

NU should have the rest of its roster ready to roll for the season, Williams said.

» NU’s five-player freshman class is full of personality, Williams said, particularly Lincoln Pius X graduate Alexis Markowski, who told Williams “15 times” in a preseason meeting that she just wants to win.

» The Huskers will hold a closed scrimmage against UNO before hosting Midland University for a Nov. 1 exhibition.

» Haiby will be playing her fourth season at NU, but because of COVID-related NCAA rules is just a junior who could return for 2022-23.

“I’m open to anything right now,” said Haiby, who averaged 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. “I’ve just got to figure out what I want to do with school and basketball.”


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