LINCOLN — The Nebraska women’s basketball team received crucial good news before the start of the season when Eastern Washington transfer Bella Cravens — who led the Big Sky Conference in rebounding last season — received immediate eligibility from the NCAA.
The 6-foot-3 Cravens now joins senior center Kate Cain, sophomore Isabelle Bourne and freshman Annika Stewart of Minneapolis in one of the top frontcourts in the Big Ten.
“She’s just been a great addition,” Williams said of Cravens, who averaged 10.4 points and 8.5 rebounds last season at Eastern Washington. Rebounding has been a multi-year struggle for the Huskers. Cravens also has an “incredibly soft touch” around the basket, Williams said, and thus finishes better than the coach expected.
Cravens is one of two Huskers to receive immediate eligibility this season. The other was former Texas Tech guard Nailah Dillard, who left a Red Raider program investigated for widespread abuse of players. The coach, Marlene Stollings, was fired in August as a result of the investigation. Dillard should be one of Nebraska’s better defenders.
The Huskers want the same to be true of California graduate transfer MiCole Cayton, who transferred to Nebraska after multiple knee surgeries.
“She’s not 100% doing full-court, full-contact just yet,” Williams said, “but she is in a position where she’s been doing a lot of live, half-court drills and really progressing and showing a lot of strength.”
It’s a year of significant change for the Huskers, who lost most of their top scorers. Some graduated, some transferred and one, Taylor Kissinger, gave up the sport because of hip problems. Kissinger has joined the coaching staff as a “jack-of-all-trades” student assistant and plans to go into coaching.