2013-2014 ITH season preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

In its first two seasons in the Big Ten, Nebraska has found itself at the bottom of the conference standings with a combined 8-13 record at home. The Cornhuskers have a change in scenery in Lincoln, now. Literally.

Nebraska will debut its new 15,147-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena this season, which has head coach Tim Miles excited for the future of Cornhusker basketball. In his first season at the helm in 2012-13, Miles led his team to a 15-18 record (5-13 Big Ten) and was able to pull off a late-season upset over Minnesota and a Big Ten tournament win over Purdue. Heading into this season, though, Nebraska lost two of its three leading scorers — 6-foot-5 Dylan Talley and 6-foot-10 Brandon Ubel — to graduation.

Leading the team will be senior Ray Gallegos, who made the jump from averaging 2.8 points per game in 2011-12 to 12.5 points in 2012-13. The guard from Salt Lake City was the Cornhuskers’ second-leading scorer last season and played the most out of anyone on the team: a total of 1,237 minutes, an average of 37.5 minutes per game. It’s not a stretch, by any means, to expect Gallegos to be on the court for much of Nebraska’s season, especially during their Big Ten portion of the schedule.

One of the most talked-about additions to Nebraska’s roster for this season, though, comes from a player outside the United States. 6-foot-3 point guard Tai Webster, a freshman from Auckland, New Zealand, enters the mix as a true freshman and a recruiting coup for Miles. Webster comes in with New Zealand national team experience from the age of 17, and he was ranked the No. 115 prospect in the 2013 class, according to 247Sports.com. Inside the Hall and UM Hoops also selected Webster as the 25th-best Big Ten player heading into this season.

Nebraska’s biggest hit in depth came at the frontcourt with the departures of Ubel, who led the team in rebounds, and 6-foot-11 Andre Almeida, who led the team in blocks. What’s left is four players on Nebraska’s entire roster taller than 6-foot-7, who have combined for a total of 27 minutes of play last season.

The Cornhuskers have 6-foot-10 Florida transfer Walter Pritchford eligible this season, and he could provide immediate help for that loss of frontcourt depth. Pritchford was the No. 170 recruit in the country when he graduated high school in 2011, but he also has played only 22 minutes on a Division 1 court.

While Nebraska appears to be set in the backcourt with plenty of depth, the frontcourt’s lack of experience could ultimately stop the Cornhuskers from making a significant jump in the Big Ten standings. 6-foot-6 sophomore Shavon Shields and 6-foot-7 junior David Rivers, who were the fourth- and fifth-leading scorers on Nebraska’s roster last season, both return, but both are guards.

Nebraska will also have 6-foot-6 junior forward Terran Petteway eligible, who transferred to Lincoln from Texas Tech after the 2011-12 season. Petteway played in 27 games for the Red Raiders as a freshman and started in 11, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Junior college All-American Deverell Biggs could also provide additional backcourt depth.

Bottom Line: While there’s plenty of excitement in Lincoln with the anticipated opening of Pinnacle Bank Arena, Nebraska fans might have to wait a bit longer to have a winning basketball team. While scoring might not be an issue this season, the Cornhuskers’ lack of frontcourt experience could prove to be costly, especially against Big Ten opponents.

Quotable: “The Big Ten put us on the road for the first two games [at Iowa and at Ohio State after a nonconference game at Cincinnati] but gave us a great opener in Michigan (Jan. 8, ESPN2) with our students in session. The story is our arena, our practice facility. The team, we’ll see. We’re young.’” – Miles to ESPN on Sept. 5.

Previously: Penn State

  • PV Mike

    For what it’s worth, I saw a Big Ten feature last year on the coach both on and off the court and he seems like a really good guy. Kind of person you want to root for (when not playing IU).

  • notfargj

    great point, PV Mike. coach miles seems like a quality guy.

  • Snookafly

    Does anyone know Miles all time record against Crean? I remember them talking about it on TV two years ago when we played, but I can’t seem to find it.

  • COHoosier

    I went to undergrad at Colorado State while Tim Miles was the coach there – turned around an awful team into a competitive one. The CSU team that took down Missouri in the NCAAs last year was full of players he recruited – loved his passion and energy while he was coaching the Rams. With the upgrades Nebraska is making for the bball program, I can see him making the Huskers competitive in the BIG, certainly capable of upsetting the upper echelon (hopefully the Hoosiers can take care of business when I go to to the game in Lincoln this year though).

  • IUMIKE1

    I know this is supposed to be about previewing B1G teams but……

    Lyle indicated that there was one team that he would have a really hard time turning down. ” That would be Kansas, I really like them a lot “. Guess it wasn’t hard for him to begin with so why should it be hard now.

    I really wanted this guy early on, and he seemed to say all the right things till right up towards the end but, I have gotten over that want and, I know I know, he is a Indiana kid and a really good one etc etc., but he doesn’t want to be at IU so as far as I’m concerned he is not a good fit for us. He may have publicly stated that he has been in contact with Crean ( liked to have been a fly on the wall and heard what Crean told him ) but that’s, in my opinion, him doing image damage control and him trying to provide himself with a worst case scenario back up plan. I for one, couldn’t care less if he goes somewhere else now.

    Now back to the Cornhuskers.

  • Ole Man

    Alexander and Lyle are both apparently headed as a “package” to KU.

    Don’t know why everyone hates this kid. I think a coach like Tom Crean and a program such as IU’s are exactly what this young man needs to turn his life around.

    And I honestly doubt that Tom Crean’s ego “told him anything” like you imagined.

    Honestly, I wish we could get the kid. Yogi’s gone in two years. He can play off the ball nicely for one year. And I truly believe that we could turn the kid’s life around.

  • IUMIKE1

    First off, I didn’t say I hated this kid, all I said was that I had wanted him but that he obviously has several other schools that he would rather play at so IMO he wasn’t a good fit for us, Also just meant I’m over wishing we had gotten him and that it wasn’t going to bother me where he ended up at regardless of where it was, although it does bother me to some extent anytime a high caliber Indiana bball player turns pUKe blue. I do believe what I said about why he publicly stated that he had talked to Crean tho. Secondly, I didn’t ” imagine ” anything and I didn’t even mention anything about Crean’s ego. I see Crean as being someone that rarely, if ever, lets his ego be a factor and I don’t see this as being one of those rare occasions. What I meant was, whatever was said, it just would have been interesting to know what it was.

  • calbert40

    I vaguely remember Lyle saying that CTC told him “somethings I didn’t want to hear, but needed to hear,” (paraphrased). Maybe he was, as IUMike said, doing some damage control with that comment and really didn’t care for CTC being that upfront with him. Maybe it wasn’t an ego issue at all, but rather CTC trying to test his reaction. Whether the perception is accurate or not, the perception is that Lyle has an ego (side note: hard to fault a 17 year old for having an ego when he is that good, but still…). Truthfully, we will never know.

    I’m not “hating” on him, and I would have liked to have had him, but I think the importance of his singular recruitment to IU is slightly overblown. He is very good, but not so good that we are doomed to mediocrity without him.

  • Ole Man

    Didn’t mean to imply that you and Calbert were hating on the kid. Neither of you do those kind of posts. My reference to “hating” was more general, as there were some nasty posts about the young man back when…

  • SCHoosier

    I think this guy can coach. At NEB, however, he’s got a tougher job than Lindsay Lohan’s public relations agent.

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