Jeff Griesch and Matt Coatney (left) watch Lindsey Moore against Indiana.
By Randy York
They’re a year apart, but always together. They know what each other is thinking and laugh at punch lines before they’re even delivered. They’re roommates, teammates, best friends and push each other hard to improve on a daily basis. Lindsey Moore has no official designation as an assistant coach, but everyone around Nebraska’s No. 19-ranked women’s basketball program knows the junior point guard plays a big role in the rapid rise and development of sophomore forward Jordan Hooper, the Big Ten Conference’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. Moore pushes every button in Hooper’s head. She’s a confidant that spurs confidence. Moore is the city slicker from suburban Seattle, and Hooper is the country girl whose home base of Alliance, Neb., is 36 miles from the ranch she grew up on in Sheridan County.
In her third year as a starting point guard, Moore was dealing the cards as a freshman to a veteran team that won 32 of 34 games and made the NCAA Sweet 16. A year later, she helped guide Hooper through an adventuresome but losing freshman season, and Nebraska Coach Connie Yori now gives Moore credit for helping mold Hooper into the toughest scoring/rebounding threat in the Big Ten Conference. “Lindsey had a very mature basketball IQ when she came here,” Yori said. “You talk about somebody that can pick things up. She’s one of those kids where you tell them once, and she does it right 10 straight times. That’s rare, and we’re really happy with the way she’s taken Jordan under her wing. She knew how much we needed Jordan to upgrade her game, and she’s done that over this past year. Here’s a kid from (suburban) Seattle and another from Alliance, and they’ve developed a good friendship, on and off the court. Lindsey even went out to Jordan’s ranch, and that’s a whole different world out there, compared to where she grew up. It’s neat when two kids love the game so much that they connect in other ways.”
Moore says her Nebraska ranch experience “was awesome. It was really cool to see how Hooper grew up,” she said. “She talks a lot about Alliance. She loves Alliance. That’s why it was so fun for me to get out there and see what it was like. It’s fun to see another environment and how people live and work. I’m not even close to anything like that. I had about a third as many people in my high school as Jordan does in her whole town. The great part about going to Alliance and the ranch, you can tell why she’s so excited and why she thinks that town is so awesome.”
Let the record show that this dynamic Husker duo – Moore the 5-foot-9 guard and Hooper the 6-foot-2 forward – played one game last Easter weekend on the slab of concrete on the Hooper ranch – a court that’s wider than it is longer and has the full range and circumference to accommodate 3-point shooting. The one-on-one battle went down to the wire. Final score: Country Girl 21, City Slicker 20. “Home-court advantage,” Hooper said. “We didn’t play another game. We were both too tired.” Moore said she came close to pulling off the upset using her ability to drive and shoot a variety of off-balance shots. “I love competing with Jordan,” she said.
“I love playing against Lindsey,” Hooper said. “She helps me every day, on the floor and off. We live together, so she never misses a chance to boost my confidence. At the beginning of this year, I didn’t have any confidence shooting the ball. I’d shoot it and not know if it was going in or out. I swear Lindsey’s told me every day all year long how much confidence she has in my shot. I remember one night when I told her I didn’t have any confidence. She sat me right down, looked me in the eye and said: ‘You need to have confidence in yourself because I have all the confidence in the world in you.’ Hearing her say that and mean that was a big help. It changed my mindset. She’s always been that way to me. She told me every time that ball leaves my hand to think it’s going in because that’s what she’s always thinking.”
A city slicker telling a country girl how to stay positive kind of goes against the grain of the way most Nebraskans think. But Moore is a persuasive leader, even convincing Hooper to take on the pressure of great expectations, so she could help the Huskers develop a championship mindset. “I never wanted to tell people that I felt so much pressure – from Alliance and everywhere else,” Hooper said. “Now I can say it. I wanted to impress people every game. I still carry some of that pressure with me, but Lindsey’s helped me take it on. She’s helped me grow.”
When a city slicker shares her vast basketball experiences with an equally self-driven country girl, they end up pushing each other, supporting each other and challenging each other. No wonder a 13-1 Nebraska team heads into Sunday’s 3 p.m. game at Iowa reaping all the benefits that come with that: Chemistry, character and confidence. The Huskers are hot, and you might consider doing what so many fans are already doing: Turning on the Big Ten Network, turning down the sound and tuning into Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch as they spiritedly and accurately describe the action on the Husker Sports Network. The network includes flagships B107.3 FM in Lincoln, Twister 93.3 FM in Omaha and 880 AM-KRVN in Lexington. Free live audio, of course, is available on Huskers.com.
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