Lady Blues coach Ron McHenry said his team has yet to see a real physical basketball team. But as Washburn’s conference season begins versus Nebraska-Omaha at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Sapp Fieldhouse in Omaha, he said that will all change.
“Their size and strength is good, they’re a physical team,” he said. “And Druy wasn’t physical, Southwest wasn’t physical, St. Louis wasn’t physical and Rockhurst wasn’t physical. So we’re going to catch a physical team that knows how to use their big bodies.”
Two UNO players that he said are big and aggressive are senior leaders guard Alyssa Green and 6’4 forward Ashley Nelson.
“The Green kid can really drive it,” said McHenry, “and [Nelson], you got to know how to guard her without fouling.”
McHenry, in his ninth year as coach of the Lady Blues, said while his team hasn’t seen a real tough challenge yet, he is pleased that the team is 4-0 and getting better.
“We’re moving forward, not moving backwards very often, so that’s good,” said McHenry. “Sometimes we look really good, sometimes we need to improve more but that’s pretty par for a team with a lot of new players. I like what we’re heading towards. I’ve got no problem with what we’re doing.”
Guard Rose Hammond, one of five Lady Blues seniors and a transfer from the University of Oklahoma, said while she was worried about the team after the first three exhibition games of the year, she is happy with how the team is doing and is looking forward to seeing what kind of teams the MIAA conference has.
“I love competition,” said Hammond, who played in 60 career games for the Sooners. “I’m ready for conference. I’m excited to see what competition is out there.”
After UNO tonight, the Lady Blues will play Northwest Missouri at noon on Saturday in Maryville.
“It’s going to be a funny day there,” said McHenry. “The whole place is going to be buzzing because they have a football game that night. And I think they’re trying to put the whole day as kind of a tailgate party. So it’ll be a different day, playing in an early game. And then we’re playing a team that is playing up and down pretty good, so this will be a different little test for a new group.”
Lady Blues junior forward Alyssa Mullen said these two games will definitely set the tone for the rest of the season.
“Drury was a challenge, but this will give us a challenge because it’s the start of conference,” said Mullen, “and we want to start off good and kind of state who we are because a lot of people have doubts about us with not a lot of returners from last year. They’re definitely going to be statement games.”