When Will Nebraska See a Return on Its Basketball Investment?

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on October 25th, 2013

Most college basketball fans haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening in Lincoln. And honestly, unless they know a Cornhusker personally, why would they? The Nebraska program has been mostly abysmal since its inception. In its 118-year history, the basketball team has only made the NCAA Tournament five times and has yet to get past the first round. It’s won only 20 games once in the last decade and hasn’t been ranked since 1994 when part of something completely foreign called the Big 8. Despite all that, fans may want to start paying attention to the team in the state not named Creighton; otherwise they may miss the story arc of a program rising from the ashes. How’s that? Well, largely because the boosters and athletic department in recent years have decided to finally start investing in basketball.

If nothing else, Tim Miles and Nebraska head into the Big 10 tournament knowing they are capable of knocking off a quality opponent after their upset of Minnesota. (Getty)

Tim Miles has another tough season ahead of him, but he has the tools around him to right the ship. (Getty)

It started four years ago with the decision to build an $18.7 million, 84,000 square feet practice facility. Next, the administration green-lit the construction of a brand new $179 million, 15,000 seat arena which will open this year. Nebraska fans have responded in kind by selling out the Cornhuskers’ first season in the shiny new building. And last year, the program hired a young and well-respected head coach in Tim Miles from Colorado State. They were able to lure him to Lincoln by offering a competitive Big Ten salary – he is set to make $1.5 million this year. But perhaps more importantly, they promised Miles he would have the resources to pay his assistant coaches competitive salaries as well.  True to their word, the university has stepped up. Currently, all three assistant coaches make $200,000 or more, which, in terms of college basketball, is on the high end for an assistant coach.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten M5: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on November 20th, 2012

  1. The news of the day in Big Ten land was the formal announcement that Maryland would be leaving the ACC and joining the conference for the start of the 2014-15 school year, and that Rutgers was expected to announce a similar move to the Big Ten from the Big East on Tuesday. Such realignment would have a profound impact on the state of basketball in the conference, with the Terrapins known as the perennial No. 3 team in the ACC (Rutgers is a Big East bottom-feeder). Michigan State coach Tom Izzo admitted he enjoys the tradition-rich Big Ten and worries about the increase in travel (New Jersey to Nebraska, anyone?) but says he’s pleased about the proactive approach Jim Delaney and the conference presidents/chancellors have taken during realignment. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said the location of the two schools opens the conference to a new market and a new world of recruiting that can help not only those additional two schools, but also the universities already positioned in the Big Ten.
  2. Here’s an unfamiliar and somewhat odd concept to come out of basketball camp in Lincoln: High expectations. That’s what coach Tim Miles has for center Andre Almeida, who certainly has a physically imposing presence in the post as he clocks in at 6’11″, 310 pounds. As for what Miles expects? “19 and 7,”he said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. “Realistically, we need somebody to step up, so it might as well be him,” Miles said. “Why not? Seriously, why not? Because he hasn’t done it in the past, right? That’s why not. But why live that self-fulfilling prophecy? Let’s get him the dang ball where he deserves it and see what he can do with it.” Almeida averaged 5.2 PPG and 3.3 RPG last season as a junior, but his 19/7 against Nebraska-Omaha was exactly what Miles hopes to see out of the big man this season.
  3. One of the most concerning aspects for Wisconsin in last week’s blowout loss at Florida was how the Badgers were handled on the defensive end, allowing the Gators to dictate the pace of the game nearly throughout. That was a point of emphasis in the Badgers’ bounce-back win against Cornell, as Wisconsin provided suffocating defense while holding Cornell to 26.2 percent shooting from the field and 13.3 percent from long range. The win not only helped put to bed the Florida loss, but also a previous Cornell upset. In the second round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the Big Red shot 61.1 percent overall and 53.3 percent from three to end the Badgers’ season, 87-69.
  4. The absence of true freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea was noticeable in Indiana‘s win against Georgia on Monday night in Brooklyn as the Hoosiers found themselves in a bit of early foul trouble before rallying to avoid the upset. But Indiana may not be without the duo as long as originally expected — the NCAA suspended the two for nine games, meaning they wouldn’t be eligible until the December 15 game against Butler, but that suspension could be reduced on Tuesday, ESPN‘s Andy Katz first reported. The two were suspended right before the Hoosiers’ first regular-season game for receiving improper benefits as AAU players for Indiana Elite.
  5. For a cupcake game — a 69-41 win over Texas Southern — there was a bit of drama in Michigan State‘s home opener, concerning both a big man who was on the floor and one who was not. Derrick Nix did not start after opening Michigan State’s first two games, and Matt Costello made his season debut in a bit of a lineup shakeup for Tom Izzo’s group. The freshman had four points and three rebounds in 11 minutes after returning from a tailbone bruise, while fellow big man Alex Gauna got the nod in favor of Nix. Izzo had hinted at the idea earlier in the month that he might like to switch up the starting lineup and a lesser opponent may have given him just the opportunity to do so. He likes to experiment with his rotation early on and whittle it down later into the year, but a deep frontcourt that also includes Adreian Payne and potentially Branden Dawson and Russell Byrd at the four gives Izzo and the Spartans a wealth of options down low.
Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story