Big Ten Team Previews: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Posted by KTrahan on November 8th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Where we left off: Nebraska’s inaugural year in the Big Ten was about as rough as expected. The Huskers finished 12-18 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten in a year that culminated with head coach Doc Sadler’s firing. The defining moment of the year was a one-point home win over Indiana, but there were also a number of bad losses and a general lack of talent. This year, Nebraska is in rebuilding mode with new coach Tim Miles. Miles enjoyed success at Colorado State and is joining the program just as the school is starting to invest in it. He could eventually have a bright future in Lincoln, but there’s not much to work with right now.

New Coach Tim Miles Has A Lot Of Work To Do In The Coming Months To Get Nebraska On Track (AP)

Positives: Perhaps the only positive surrounding Nebraska basketball right now is that there is a new energy with a new coach. Sadler could never get the program over the hump and Miles brings a new attitude. He’s very popular on social media and even tweeted at halftime of the Huskers’ exhibition game that they needed to improve. There isn’t much to look forward to in the lineup other than forward Brandon Ubel, who will be the face of the program this year. However, freshman Benny Parker is an unknown at point guard who could surprise some people.

Negatives: Plain and simple, this isn’t a very talented roster. Nebraska lost its best player, Bo Spencer, to graduation, and Tim McCray, Jorge Brian Diaz and Brandon Richardson are all gone as well. Dylan Talley is back, but when he and Ubel are the best returning players, that’s a serious problem for the Huskers. Andre Almeida returns after missing all of last year with an injury, but along with Ubel and Talley, he also lacks star ability. Not only will Miles’ team be inexperienced, but it also doesn’t have a go-to player or someone capable of taking over the game.

Best case: For Nebraska to even put together a respectable league record, the Huskers will need Ubel and Talley to step up to a much higher level. Assuming they both do so and Andre Almeida breaks out in his return to the court, the Huskers have a chance to be more successful than last year. They have a difficult non-conference stretch — at Wake Forest, vs. USC, vs. Creighton and at Oregon — and if they can steal a win in that stretch and beat all of the cupcakes in the non-conference schedule, they can gain some momentum heading into Big Ten play. The Big Ten is so stacked this year that it’s tough to envision the Huskers doing much of anything there, even in its best case scenario. However, a four- or five-win scenario is possible if Miles’ team can pull a few upsets.

Worst case: It’s a transition year and most of the team is rebuilding, so there is no expectation that Nebraska will be very good. However, the reality of this year might be much closer to the worst case scenario than the above. If Ubel and Talley fail to step up and nobody breaks out, the Huskers could conceivably go winless in its treacherous four-game non-conference stretch and then be upset by some lowly mid-majors. It’s unlikely that this team goes winless in the Big Ten, but it’s hard to find more than two wins if nobody can step up and fill the void left by last year’s departures.

Projected lineup:

  • PG — Benny Parker (Fr)
  • SG — Dylan Talley (Sr)
  • CG — Ray Gallegos (Jr)
  • F — Brandon Ubel (Sr)
  • C — Andre Almeida (Sr)

Key reserves: Deverell Biggs (Jr, G), Sergej Vucetic (Fr, C)

Analysis: Once again, talent will be the biggest issue on this Nebraska team. Can Ubel or Talley step up? Can Parker or Almeida break out? It’s tough to say, but in such a strong conference, it may be hard for any Huskers player to become a go-to guy. This is an old lineup with the exception of Parker, but there isn’t a lot of on-court experience, and everyone will be learning a new system. There also isn’t much depth. Tim Miles could end up having a solid career in Lincoln, but this is a rebuilding year and it appears the path back to the NCAA Tournament won’t start this season.

KTrahan (60 Posts)

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