Remembering back, before the season started
Remember back in October? This was when the Cornhusker football team was 2-3 and we were fairly sure that the season wasn't what most of us thought it would be. The boys has just been beaten by an Illinois squad that had lost it's coach a week before the season started. Things were not looking up and we needed a distraction.
It was a rough time and we were all looking forward to Nebrasketball to start so we could get our minds off things. This was going to be a bounce back year. Two years before, Miles had taken us back to the promise land. The NCAA Tournament. A place we hadn't been to since 1998.
Last year was just a come down. Lot's of baggage on and off the court had derailed this team from it's objective of gaining on the previous season.
Even after last season people were pumped this years team. There was excitement across the state. We had most of the roster back and Pinnacle Bank Arena was sold out for a third consecutive year. Miles was going to bring us back to top form.
There was hope
Nebraska was a young team coming in but also athletic. Most of these boys belonged to Miles and were some of the most talented that have played basketball wearing the scarlet and cream. Shavon Shields was the senior veteran who was going to take control of the court. Tai Webster was finally going to grow into U.S. basketball and get the production he was accustomed to internationally. Andrew White III was the game changer from Kansas. A baller that we had not seen the likes of in years.
Ed Morrow Jr. and Glynn Watson were two highly coveted recruits that were most likely going to see early playing time. Their red shirts were not spared. In fact, no red shirts were spared in the making of this season.
The non conference schedule was a little tough but manageable when you broke it down. There were a couple of possible bumps in the non conference, but nothing major. Villanova and Cincinnati were strong basketball programs. Maybe we could beat them and if not, we would probably would come close.
The rest of the field was a hodgepodge of lower conference schedule filling teams. Games against teams such as Abilene Christian and Samford should have been games that got the team primed for the big ones. If anything, 11-2 could have been the worst we could think of.
Then the season started...
The games against Northern State and and Mississipi Valley were not a caliber to base ourselves on. These were teams that padded the stat sheet and gave us fans a little false hope on the season.
The Villanova game gave us some insight on this years squad. Yes, they were athletic and had the ability to play with some of the big boys. However, there were a few things down the line the plagued the team in upcoming games. The once hot team started seeing scoring droughts that would keep the bigger opponents from losing and lesser opponents from getting blown out. In some cases, they won.
When this happened it seemed that the team would breakdown. These droughts would lead to frustration and confusion on and off the court. Players would be playing down to their opponents. Yes, guys like Shields and White would have a padded stats sheet but you can't rely on a couple guys to take the team across the finish line. Leadership that would normally take this talented of a team across the finish line was hit or miss. The Huskers would get down and it would be hard to pull them back up.
Now, I don't want everyone to think that this year will end up with doom and gloom. Like I said, this is a talented team that can play well.
Part 2 of this will give a game by game breakdown of the non conference schedule. There we will dive a little deeper into what areas Nebraska will have to improve upon entering conference play.