Can Nebraska Handle the Hype?

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 27th, 2014

Nebraska essentially came out of nowhere last season, going from a 9-9 start to closing out the season on a 10-4 finish and making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Terran Petteway became a household name in the Big Ten and head coach Tim Miles put himself on the map as one of the brightest young coaches in the land. The team brings back most of its roster from last season and has started this year ranked #21 in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll. Will the Cornhuskers drop back to mediocrity with these expectations or will they continue to take leap forward? Here are some arguments for and against each scenario.

Terran Petteway will once again lead a Nebraska team that won't sneak up on anybody this season. (AP)

Terran Petteway will once again lead a Nebraska team that won’t sneak up on anybody this season. (AP)

Why They Will Be Even Better

Nebraska’s non-conference schedule is more forgiving in some ways than it was last year, but it will give the Cornhuskers several chances to pick up quality wins against teams that could very well be in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers have rematches against Cincinnati and Creighton at home, and both of those teams look to be down a bit meaning that the home team should have the advantage. Nebraska also plays two true road games against Rhode Island and Florida State. Rhode Island has a really good guard in EC Matthews and Florida State will test them inside with a trio of 7-footers. If they make it through their first nine games with a record of 8-1 or 9-0, they will get tested again in Honolulu’s Diamond Head Classic, where they could play Wichita State in the second round and potentially Colorado in the championship game. Read the rest of this entry »

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B1G Award Spotlight: Terran Petteway

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 30th, 2014

With the season now turning toward the home stretch, it’s time to start contemplating and discussing which players are most worthy and likely to see their names on the Big Ten all-league teams. As an example, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway has seemingly come out of nowhere to lead the Cornhuskers in scoring in his first season on the active roster, one of a number of first-year players who have helped Tim Miles’ rebuilding efforts. While Tai Webster, Walter Pitchford, Leslee Smith and the now-exiled Deverell Biggs have all contributed in various ways, none have had the impact of Petteway. He’s already become one of the best go-to scorers in the league, checking in at third on the league leaders list at 18.2 PPG. The question to be answered here is where does he deserve to be placed in terms of all-league consideration?

Terran Petteway has been Nebraska's best player, but is that enough to make him first-team all B1G? (AP)

Terran Petteway has been Nebraska’s best player, but is that enough to make him first-team all B1G? (AP)

The usual theory that coincides with how these all-league teams are picked is “to the victor goes the spoils.” Fair or not, given the concentration of talent among 12 teams, a player normally needs to be on team that finishes in the top third of the standings to make the first team. In the last three seasons, only two first-team selections have come from teams that didn’t finish in the top four of that season’s standings (Robbie Hummel and John Shurna in 2011-12). Sitting at 10th right now at 2-5 in Big Ten play, this likely takes Petteway out of first-team consideration unless Nebraska goes on an epic hot streak over its last 11 games. That does not mean, however, that he’s precluded from placement on either the second- or third-team all-conference squads.

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Three Takeaways from Nebraska’s Win Over Miami

Posted by Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) on December 5th, 2013

Heading into the late set of games on Wednesday night, the B1G was down 5-4 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and had to win at least two out of the three remaining games to force a tie. Even though Nebraska was favored by 4.5 points at home against Miami (FL), few expected the Cornhuskers to dominate the game – which ultimately resulted in a 60-49 win that, given Michigan State’s upset loss, saved the conference’s fate. At the end of the day, Nebraska beat a team that’s only 5-3 on the young season, but it is an important win in the Tim Miles’ era. Expectations within the program, albeit still fairly low, need to be met in order for players to gain confidence heading into the conference season. The fact that the Cornhuskers showed that they belong against a team that is a potential mid-pack ACC team is a big deal for Miles and Nebraska basketball. This win won’t put the Huskers on the map, so to speak, but Miles and his squad are making small statements that they will compete on both ends of the floor, and especially at home.

The following are three takeaways from this game and what they mean for Nebraska going forward:

Tim Miles' Huskers make a solid statement by beating Miami at home. (Getty)

Tim Miles’ Huskers make a solid statement by beating Miami at home. (Getty)

  1. It doesn’t hurt to have four players on the court who can handle the ball. Almost every team in college hoops plays a three-guard lineup with a forward who is a “stretch four” and a true big man. But only a few teams have four guys who can handle the ball effectively in the half-court and Nebraska is one of them. Any of the Huskers’ three guards – Tai Webster, Deverell Biggs, and Ray Gallegos – can handle the ball and set up the offense. Terran Petteway at the forward position is just as comfortable moving the ball horizontally in the half-court. Miami played zone for most of last night’s game but Miles’ team was perfectly comfortable running its motion offense because they had at least four guys who could put the ball on the floor and penetrate the gaps. Consistent dribble penetration and kick-out passes forced the Hurricanes’ defense to fall apart, resulting in numerous mismatches. Playing four guards could hurt this team down the road in terms of rebounding, but it’ll keep the offense active and prevent them from getting into major scoring slumps. The offense also doesn’t appear to be too complex, which enables the players to focus on moving the ball around consistently and attacking the basket. A simple but active offense helps a young team gain some confidence against good competition. Read the rest of this entry »
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Previewing the Holiday Tournaments: A Big Ten Perspective

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 21st, 2013

The holiday tournaments tip off today and college coaches are huge fans of their teams participating in these events. With the quick turnarounds and neutral court sites, the events give players a glimpse of what their conference and postseason tournaments will feel like. From the prestigious eight-team Maui Invitational to the four-team Barclays Center Classic, each tournament provides valuable experience for teams and coaches alike to prepare for a postseason atmosphere. Along with gaining that precious experience, teams can also improve their non-conference resumes just by showing up. A couple of good performances or a holiday tournament championship looks pretty attractive to the selection committee in March. This year, the Big Ten has nearly the entire league competing in some sort of holiday tournament (Illinois and Ohio State are the two absentees). Let’s break down each of them, starting with the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Charleston Classic and 2kSports Classic, beginning today.

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Butler vs Illinois

Illinois Jump Started its NCAA Tournament Season A Year Ago in Maui

Puerto Rico Tip off: November 21-24

  • Teams: Michigan vs. Long Beach State, VCU vs. Florida State, Georgetown vs. Northeastern, Charlotte vs. Kansas State
  • Favorite: VCU
  • Projected Michigan Finish: 3rd
  • Michigan Player to WatchDerrick Walton Jr.
  • The Skinny: In the eight-team field, Georgetown, VCU, and the Wolverines are the clear front-runners. Georgetown lucked out as they are on the opposite side of the bracket of both Michigan and VCU. This means that a match-up of last year’s NCAA Tournament third round game between the two schools is likely in the semifinals. Last year, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. shredded Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” defense on its way to a huge victory. Now, Walton is set to run the offense for Michigan and go up against a veteran VCU backcourt. This game could spell major trouble for John Beilein and his staff, but could also be an important teaching moment.

Charleston Classic: November 21-24

  • TeamsNebraska vs. UMass, UAB vs. New Mexico, Georgia vs. Davidson, Clemson vs. Temple
  • Favorite: New Mexico
  • Projected Nebraska Finish: 5th
  • Nebraska Player to WatchTai Webster
  • The Skinny:  The Cornhuskers play UMass and then either New Mexico or UTEP in the next round. New Mexico is a top 20 team while UMass is expected to compete for a NCAA bid out of the Atlantic 10. Chaz Williams for UMass is an explosively fast guard who can distribute the ball well and shoot lights out from three. Tim Miles will have his work cut out to try and stop Williams, and the freshman Webster will get a nice welcoming from the “Chaz Master.”

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Quick Keys for Nebraska In the Charleston Classic

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 21st, 2013

Nebraska has gotten off to a 3-0 start and has shown a versatile new-look roster that has looked impressive so far. Tim Miles has brought in eight newcomers who have jelled rather nicely in the early stages of the season. The Cornhuskers will be tested this weekend, however, as they will travel to the Palmetto State to play in the Charleston Classic (full bracket here). Nebraska kicks off the tournament on Thursday afternoon against UMass, and with a win could take on nationally-ranked New Mexico on Friday. Regardless of the opponents that Nebraska ends up facing, here are some things to look for during their three games in the tournament this weekend.

Tim Miles

Tim Miles Takes His Undefeated Team to Charleston Today

Offensively, the two things that stood out from the Huskers’ first three games was their ability to get to the free throw line and their low turnover rate. They went for over 80 points in two of the three contests, and they also shot over 30 free throws in each. They need to continue to use their abundance of athletic, rangy wings like Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway to get to the rim. If they fall into the trap of overdependence on the three-point touch of Ray Gallegos, they might be heading to the losers bracket rather quickly. Tai Webster has been the most aggressive Husker in terms of getting to the line, but he’s only 15-of-27 (55%) there thus far this season. Petteway and Shields are each shooting over 80 percent from the stripe, but Petteway needs to get there more instead of settling for shooting long mid-range shots.He’s gone 6-of-7 from the line, but obviously the problem is that he’s only been there seven times.

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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.

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