“I’ve never been a part of a team with this much chemistry” – Huskers credit team unity for NCAA tourney selection

Head coach Amy Williams: "I just am so, almost emotional, about just how much this group means to me and how much they mean to each other."

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Sunday, the Nebraska women’s basketball team made their first NCAA tournament since 2018.

The Huskers watched their team’s name get called on Selection Sunday, surrounded by jubilant Husker fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The accomplishment was absolutely something to celebrate. For head coach Amy Williams, who is in her sixth year at the helm for the Huskers, it was an opportunity to reflect.

I couldn’t be more proud,” Williams said. “I just am so, almost emotional, about just how much this group means to me and how much they mean to each other.”

Before the Huskers made their way onto the court to greet Husker fans and watch the selection show, a season highlight video was shown on the Jumbotron at PBA.

Williams says seeing the joy on each of her players faces as the video played, genuinely happy for each other’s success, was a profound moment for her. A moment that is emblematic of what has made the 2021-22 Huskers special.

“The way they’ve really leaned on each other and supported each other through the the typical kind of adversity and ups and downs and highs and lows that a basketball season can bring your way, I think it’s pretty telltale about the character of these young women and how they’re going to attack adversity in their futures,” Williams said. “And I’m just really, really proud.”

Star guard Jaz Shelley, who transferred to Nebraska after playing two years at Oregon, has had an opportunity to be a part of some special basketball teams.

Shelley has won two gold medals as a member of youth Australian national teams. The 2019-20 Oregon team she played for as a freshman was a favorite to win the national championship before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the college basketball season prematurely.

Of all of the teams Shelley has played for, she says this year’s Husker team stands out.

“I’ve never been a part of a team with this much chemistry that we have within this team,” she said. “So I think this is a really special quality that is really hard to build in most teams. And I think that we have the upper hand with that.”

Sam Haiby, a team captain who has been with the Huskers since 2018, says this year’s team’s togetherness off the court is an X-factor for their success on it.

“We’re together a ton as a team, even if we’re not in the gym,” Haiby said. “So I think that’s definitely a huge part of building that chemistry.”

The eighth-seeded Huskers will play Gonzaga in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 18. If they advance past the Bulldogs, a matchup with Louisville, the #1 seed in the Wichita Region awaits.

“If we go into every game, just loving what we do and playing together and smiles on our faces and just go out there and compete and believe, I think that’s going to be awesome going into this tournament,” Shelley said.

Williams says her team is “not satisfied” with just making the tournament. The Huskers are hungry to win.

“We’re going into this tournament and not just excited about the experience but excited about the opportunity to win and advance, and win and advance, and to continue to taste firsts,” Williams said. “And that’s that’s what I love about them.”

Categories: Husker Sports