With the absence of March Madness, and the fact the Nebraska Cornhuskers long since lost any chance at a post-season opportunity before everything was cancelled, it has been all silent on the Nebrasketball front outside of transfer news. However, the silence was briefly broken today when the team’s twitter account released a statement from Head Coach Fred Hoiberg.
It was a year and two days ago that Nebraska officially announced it hired Fred Hoiberg as the new Head Basketball Coach after a brief search following the firing of Tim Miles. Coach Hoiberg brought with him a top notch coaching resume, particularly when compared to his predecessors and the national reputation of the Husker program. We won’t rehash all of that again here, but suffice it to say that given his resume and the excitement he brought to the program many of us likely were hoping for better results on the court his first season.
Lo and behold, starting over from nearly complete scratch with a roster made up for the season of mostly junior college transfers playing together for the first time in a new system, under a new coach, in the deepest conference in the country did not see anything resembling a “successful season.” Nebrasketball limped into a 7-25 record, going 2-18 in conference, 0-1 in the Big Ten Tournament, and finished on a 17-game losing streak. The losing streak is the longest Nebrasketball history, and overall this was the worst record since 1945.
What about next season? Jervay Green and Dachon Burke Jr. have announced they are leaving the program and entered the transfer portal, with Burke already committing to South Alabama. Cam Mack declared for the NBA draft, and while he will be maintaining eligibility to return to NCAA play, insiders with the program seem to suggest he will not be returning to Lincoln regardless of his future regarding the NBA Draft. Nebraska has two transfers incoming for next season, Kobe King and Kobe Webster. They still have two scholarship roster spots to fill in all likelihood. Combined together with players who had to sit out a year this past season, next season’s roster could see as many as nine new players on the court.
This is not all doom and gloom, however. Players such as Kobe King, whether immediately eligible or not, offer a higher caliber player on the scout team in practice or on the floor than last year’s roster additions. Those that had to sit out this past season still have a year of practice in Coach Hoiberg’s system under their belt. Overall there is much cause for optimism in an improved team next season, even ignoring cliches such as “nowhere to go but up.”
Given the times, I’ll close this brief update from Coach Hoiberg with this, though, and state I echo his sentiments:
“Although this time of year is a critical period for recruiting, we are all facing real life challenges that require focus. I share my appreciation to all the first responders, health care workers and all who are trying to end this terrible pandemic. We are in this together, and I feel confident that we will get through these challenging times.”