Nebraska Basketball has Decent Start, Chance for a Special Season
December 15, 2017
The Nebraska mens basketball program has gotten off to a decent start to begin the 2017-2018 season. Head Coach Tim Miles began his sixth season in charge with a concerning 79-56 loss at St. Johns, and a 9 point loss to UCF. The Huskers then got going and won four of their next five, with wins vs Boston College and then #14 Minnesota. Nebraska again looked good last time out, a controversial loss to Creighton on some questionable officiating. At 7-4 Nebraska squarely has its sights set on the NCAA Tournament.
On Saturday Night, the Huskers will welcome #13 Kansas to Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Jayhawks will be angry, coming off back to back losses to Washington and Arizona State. After that, Nebraska will need to avoid their annual horrendous loss to a mid major before continuing conference play in a down year for the Big Ten. If Nebraska goes into 2018 at 105, 9 wins in the league is not hard to see.
There are only two league games it is hard to see Nebraska winning, at Purdue and at Minnesota. With the remaining 14 games all the Huskers need to do is win 9. That is not hard to see at all, especially with teams such as Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa, all under performing so far this year.
Nebraska has had some key players this year that have contributed to this start. Glynn Watson Jr. has played well at point guard thus far, averaging nearly 14 points per game and leading the team in assists and steals with 3.6 and 2.0 per game respectively. The Junior had 29 points and 9 rebounds against Minnesota. Isaac Copeland has gotten better as the
season has continued as well. The Georgetown transfer has averaged 12.7 points per game and 6.6 rebounds a game. The junior is coming off of a double-double performance against Creighton. For the first time in a while, Miles has serious depth in the frontcourt. Along with Copeland, Winthrop transfer Dubdy Okeke and Jordy Tshimanga have helped provide a lift when Copeland is on the bench. The biggest difference between this year and last year in the front court, has been Isiah Roby. The sophomore leads the team in blocks, and has been has had a huge presence around the basket.
Last year, Anton Gill went down with an injury right before the beginning of conference play. So far Gill has been a valuable piece of the bench for Miles. Not only does the senior help provide depth, he also has been a major asset to Nebraska’s ability to shoot the three. The Huskers have performed vastly better in that department this year, than compared to last year.
James Palmer Jr. arguably has been the biggest difference between this year and last year. The Miami transfer leads the team in scoring at 14.2 points per game. His size allows him to be a threat in paint and get to the foul line, as well as the ability to shoot the three. Those two things have greatly helped a Nebraska team in dire need to those two things.
The goal this year continues to be the same as it was at the beginning of the year. Make the NCAA tournament and preferably win a game in the tournament. Nebraska is the only power 5 program to have yet to win a tournament game. The keys to achieving it appear to be simple. Watson needs to continue his stellar play, and it if he does that, the defense should be able to hold opponents in check for the most part, and do just enough to win the game. It would not be hard to see Miles’ squad winning 18-20 games with that formula.
The Huskers certainly has a chance of accomplishing their goal this season. In down year for the Big Ten, Nebraska needs to take advantage. The league may only get 6 teams into the dance, but Nebraska is one of the few Big Ten teams that has provided some optimism through one month the season. With wins already over Minnesota, Duke slayer Boston College, and an opportunity against Kansas, The Huskers are quietly building an NCAA tournament quality resume with an NCAA tournament caliber roster. It is not every year when Nebraska has a realistic shot at making the tournament, they have this year.