The Nebraska women’s basketball program is in disarray. Connie Yori, the most successful coach in the history of the program has been shown the door to the tune of what will surely be nearly $2 million by the time the entire payout is settled
Junior shooting guard Natalie Romeo, one of the most clutch 3-point shooters in the Big Ten seems to be on her way out the door in full support of Yori, probably on her way to the west coast to play ball closer to her roots in Martinez, California.
Romeo’s exit was made more likely in my opinion by the announcement a week ago that new head coach Amy Williams will bring her entire staff from South Dakota to Nebraska which means there will be no familiar ties from the previous Nebraska staff with which Romeo might feel more comfortable staying at Nebraska.
It’s my guess that Romeo will be on her way home for good by the end of the semester. If so it will be a substantial loss for the Husker women.
The athletic department evidently had some complaints about Yori’s style of coaching. Some called it bullying. So, get this: They set some administrative people in the stands during practice to observe and sent some on road trips to take notes.
Now I have to call that an open insult to the coach.
The women’s team uses former male athletes as practice players against their basketball team and some of them were asked what they saw at practice and of the ones from whom I’ve heard quoted, not one was critical of what they saw of Yori’s style or her practices and Yori vehemently denies doing anything out of line.
Romeo was said to have been distraught over the loss of her coach. Yori and athletic director Shawn Eichorst called it a resignation and mentioned family problems since Yori’s going through a divorce and a custody battle for her 11-year-old son.
Yori said it was the right decision for her.
How will this effect Nebraska’s recruiting class for next season? I guess we could say that’s a bit undecided. Three of the five commits seem to remain set to enroll with the Huskers but the two most important signees are having second thoughts.
Kathleen Doyle — a 5-foot-9 point guard from Lisle, Illinois, who was named Illinois Miss Basketball, and is one of the better point guards in the country — and MiCole Cayton from Stockton, California, are still, you might say, loosely committed but looking around at other options.
Cayton was the Northern California Preps Player of the Year and the No. 20-ranked guard in the nation according to ESPN. She’s also 5-foot-9 and both Doyle and Cayton already appear in the 2016 Husker basketball roster with assigned uniform numbers, so let’s hope this holds up.
The new recruits who seem to be holding fast:
n Grace Mitchell from Wellington, Kansas, a 6-foot-2 wing, averaged better than 21 points and just under 7 rebounds per game last season while hitting nearly 50 percent from outside the arch.
According to Mitchell’s coach, every day after practice, Mitchell shoots 100 3-pointers, shooting 20 at five spots on the perimeter.
Her goal is to make 84. If she hits 90 or more, it’s a great day. Anything less than 80 is disappointing. Either the coach or his assistant will rebound for her, and “she’s never been below 80 with me,” Wellington coach Eric Adams said. “One night she knocked down 94 out of 100.”
n Hannah Whitish, a 5-foot-9 guard from Barneveld, Wisconsin, is the Associated Press Wisconsin Girls Player of the Year. Looks like Yori stocked the shelves before deciding her best move was to leave the program. Whitish was a 47 percent shooter from the behind the arc and averaged 24 points per game.
Coaches couldn’t say enough good things about this young lady’s work ethic: 90 minutes in the gym each day. even in the offseason. Lately, the schedule calls for 45 minutes of cone work and shooting drills, followed by 45 minutes of lifting and running.
n Finally, there’s 5-foot-1 guard Nicea Eliely from Colorado Springs, Colorado, a 21 points per game shooter who also averaged 7.5 rebounds and 3 steals per contest.
It looks like a good recruiting class for Yori. I’m betting it was very hard for her to walk away from this team and you have to wonder if there are still some bad seeds in uniform there.
There was some talk that it got right down ugly at practice where some players were told to take certain stances in transition on defense and they openly refused to do so. There seemed to be open rebellion by some players and from what I heard, there was some ruffled feathers on the coaching staff also.
If the new coach can convince Romeo to stay and puts her footprint on the butts of the troublemakers maybe they can salvage this team quickly.
There’s one thing you can count on: There’s more going on here than will appear in print and the truth will likely be told in the performance of this team in the coming season.