Well we’re back folks, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m attending UNL as a Freshman now, went to the game, got front row seats, and couldn’t have asked for a better experience against the Doane Tigers.
After months of anticipation (excluding a BTN special on the team’s trip to Italy), the Huskers finally took the court. If you didn’t subscribe to BTN+ or just want to read about another person’s opinion on the game, I’m your guy for tonight’s recap.
Beginning with the starting lineup, the Huskers put out Cam Mack, Dachon Burke Jr, Jervay Green, Haanif Cheatum, and Yvan Ouedraogo. Some thought maybe Kavas would replace Cheatum or Yvan, but this was the expected lineup.
Things started off slow, with the score 10-2 at the U16 media timeout and the Tigers seeming to dominant. The intensity never died though, and considering the atmosphere of the stadium, the team’s response to a quick deficit showed strong composure.
A 10-2 lead from Doane shattered within minutes, with the Huskers churning out an 11-0 run into the U12 media timeout, and extending that to a 37-15 lead at the U4 media timeout.
Coming into the season, you’d expect a lot of those points to have come from behind the arc, but the Huskers sat at 0-8 from 3PT at that point. Great backdoor cuts from Thorir Thorbjarnarson highlighted the streak of Husker points, something all fans, including myself, loved to see. I may or may not have done a hammer strike every time he scored.
As the Husker offense surged with agility and toughness, the defense remained just as locked in. Doane failed to make a three until their 14th attempt, but then made two more after that to shorten the halftime lead to 19, the score 43-24.
After a last second grab by a student in the “Money Grab”, Burke and the Huskers came out firing. Burke made his first two threes and a step back two, extending the lead to 20+ and a quick Doane timeout.
The rest of the half went smoothly; high intensity, good efficiency, and terrific ball movement. Fans I’m sure would’ve liked to have seen a better 3PT%, 8-28 (29%), but the shots will fall. Overall, a good win, and great experience to jumpstart the Hoiberg era with a score of 77-45 when the starters came out, and a final score of 91-63. Let’s hope for a win at Purdue, and get ready for next Tuesday’s opener against UC Riverside.
Some quick thoughts I had about the game and future complications:
- Yvan Ouedraogo is somehow only 17, I can’t believe I am older than him. However, his physical state after a couple minutes did concern me. He didn’t seem out of shape, but accumulating to the intense, fast-paced system Hoiberg has will take some time for Ouedraogo to get used to.
- When Ouedraogo did come out of games, the team’s defensive rebounding definitely struggled. Besides Ouedraogo and Kevin Cross, this team lacks size and strength, something Big Ten conference play thrives on. If the defense can’t prevent offensive boards, the offense will have to shoot lights out.
- THOR is back and I love it. He looked like the most experienced player out there, and will be a great presence off the bench. Not to mention he’s an early fan favorite.
- Something I haven’t seen ever was Cross, a 6’8 240 pound forward, pushing the ball down the court. Having a center with the ability to run down the court and maintain ball control will provide a huge lift to Hoiberg’s fast break offense.
- Although the shots didn’t fall as much as the team hoped, Samari Curtis and Burke each shot exceptionally, both making their first three from behind the arc. Others will join them, but good to see some consistency early on.