Jorge Diaz: Play Him or Redshirt Him?

With the addition of 6-11 C Jorge Brian Diaz to the previously shortest team in Division I Hoops, the big question becomes whether or not Diaz should play this year, and if he does, when should he start getting minutes.

There are certainly good arguments both ways for whether or not Diaz should play.  Assuming that he's physically in condition to play (he has been sitting around all fall), he could immediately make an impact just because of his size.  He creates matchup issues and can aid in rebounding and shot blocking.  His new teammates are excited about the help he can provide.

On the other hand, this Husker team is at best an extreme longshot for the NCAA Tournament, with or without Diaz unless he's Blake Griffin-good.  By redshirting him, he'll have four full seasons, and NU won't be rotating out 2 6-11 centers in 2012 (Diaz and currently redshirting Christopher Niemann).  With extra practice, Diaz will certainly be ready for primetime next fall.

For Diaz, there's good reasons to play now.  First and foremost is the chance to get real game-level experience in a tough conference.  By the end of the year he'll be battle tested, and it's a good chance to prove himself and earn the starting spot for the fall (when he'll have to battle Niemann for starting center).

The wild card in the scenario is Chris Balham.  His knee pains have returned, worse than ever.  He's missing practices again, and probably won't see significant playing time the rest of the year (Doc said something this week about feeling bad about playing him when he's in so much pain).

If Diaz does play, the question becomes when he will start playing.  If he plays tomorrow night against Oklahoma, his baptism into Division I Basketball will be defending the likely #1 NBA Draft Pick Blake Griffin in front of a hostile crowd.  If he waits until Saturday, he'll play at home against another undersized team in Oklahoma State.

We'll get an answer to the Jorge Diaz question soon enough.  If he doesn't play soon, it becomes likely that he'll redshirt.  The best case scenario is that he can play and contribute significantly right away.  Worst case scenario is that he tries to play too soon, can't contribute significantly, and loses a year of eligibility.

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