It has been an interesting offseason for the Nebrasketball team. They hired successful NCAA coach Fred Hoiberg and immediately, things changed. Graduates such as Glynn Watson, Jr., James Palmer Jr., and Tanner Borchardt graduated. Isaiah Roby went to the NBA, while Nana Akenten, Amir Harris and Karrington Davis entered the transfer portal.
That leaves us with third-year guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson as the only remaining Husker on the roster who saw the court last year (Dachon Burke sat out as a transfer all year).
Originally, however, it looked as if Lincoln’s favorite Icelander would be leaving as well. When Harris was essentially forced to transfer by Hoiberg, some reports said the same of Thor. Those reports proved untrue and all Thor has done since is impress the first-year head man Hoiberg.
While he only averaged 2.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on 33% shooting, he became a key cog for a stumbling Huskers squad towards the end of the season. Before the final eight games, Thor played 16 minutes or more just four times in 16 games. He flashed some potential, such as this play.
This one's getting out of hand.— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) December 29, 2018
So, Thorir Thorbjarnarson decided to go "Steve Nash" for @HuskerHoops. pic.twitter.com/209T251umA
In those final eight games, however, Thor flipped the script by playing at least 16 minutes in all but one game. That one game, the penultimate regular season game against Michigan State, may have turned a switch on for Thor.
The next game against Iowa wasn’t a breakout, but he finished with the versatile stat line of four points, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. One of those blocks was on a potential game-winning shot for the Hawkeyes.
In the ensuing Big Ten Tournament and NIT run, Thor showed off his versatility at a high level, especially on the defensive end. Against Maryland and Butler, Thor had five and three steals, respectively. He averaged over four points and three assists per game, which may not sound all that impressive, it was more than doubling what he was doing in the regular season.
But Kade, that was so last year. What is he going to do with Fred? Will he even have a role on a team of hand-picked Hoiberg players?
The answer is simple: He is going to work his butt off and do whatever Fred asks of him. That’s the kind of player he is. Will that lead to big-time minutes? That might depend on if he has improved his shooting, as that is what Fred emphasizes over everything.
My guess is Thor will continue to play spot minutes off the bench as a key defensive stopper and steady hand on offense if the fresh faces struggle to mesh or are having a cold night.
Lastly, Thor deserves a little credit. He would have had every reason to leave Nebraska when Miles was let go and Hoiberg came in and did some spring cleaning. Instead, though, he has stayed with the Huskers and worked to earn a spot on team. A spot Hoiberg didn’t want to give Davis or Harris. Perhaps Thor can even step up to become a leader for this unfamiliar squad. I know I’m hoping so.