The day before her last game in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, senior guard Tyra Buss began talking about her appreciation for the fans and almost got through it without a tear, but before she could say “it has really meant a lot to me” she couldn’t hold back the emotion.
That will most likely be the scene tomorrow for not only Buss, but also senior forward Amanda Cahill as they both get set to play in their last regular season home game.
However, before their historic careers are celebrated, the two have a game to play. A game that is significant to their run to reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in their careers.
Going for its seventh straight win, the IU women’s basketball team will have to go through the 19-7 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers are 10-3 in the Big Ten and 9-0 on the road. Four of their five starters are averaging in double figures in points per game. They are led by sophomore guard Hannah Whitish, 12.8, and freshman forward Taylor Kissinger, 10.8. In the post, freshman center Katie Cain stands at 6-foot-5 and averages 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
“Whitish is a true point guard,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “If you lose her in transition she can knock down any open three, so we have to make sure that we are aware in transition.”
As for Cain, Moren said she is a great rim protector and difficult to guard because she catches high and finishes high. Most post players want to catch it and either bring the ball down or even take a dribble before going up with it, so Moren said junior forward Kym Royster will have to try and force Cain off the block.
Nebraska is currently sitting at third in the Big Ten and is coming off a ten-point win at Michigan State. Ironically, the Hoosiers' win at Michigan State on Jan. 20 was the beginning of their current win streak.
IU is led by none other than the two players that will be honored before and after tomorrow’s game. Buss is averaging 19.9 points per game while Cahill puts up 14.8 a game. Despite the emotion that comes with playing their final game in Assembly Hall, the two know how important it is to pick up a win.
“I’m trying not to be very sentimental about it,” Cahill said. “I think we are pretty locked in and have done a good job preparing for them and knowing our game plan.”
Buss said she wants to go out strong and even though it will be bittersweet, their main goal is to finish it out with a win on McCracken Court.
Before tip-off at noon, Buss and Cahill will briefly be honored at half-court at 11:40 a.m. and the first 500 fans will receive a poster of the dynamic duo. Then after the game, a video package highlighting their storied careers will play on the big screen, followed by a short speech from both Buss and Cahill.
The two said neither of them have prepared their speeches yet because they just want to let it come to them, just like how Buss said she wants to let the game come to her tomorrow.
With all eyes on the seniors and all the pre- and post-game festivities planned, Moren knows she can count on them to stay focused just like she has counted on them for the four years they have played at IU.
“Tyra and Amanda aren’t going to allow it to be a distraction,” Moren said. “They are going to be focused and ready to go. This group is on a bit of a quest right now. We know what’s at stake and we know how important each game is.”
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