Nebraska Basketball Preview: #107
Overall Rank: #107
Conference Rank: #10 Big 12
2008-09: 18-13, 8-8
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Doc Sadler (55-40 at Nebraska, 103-58 overall)
Coach Doc Sadler has done an admirable job during his three years at Nebraska. He took the Cornhuskers to the NIT twice and that is not bad considering the team has to compete in the Big 12. This year might not be quite as good with the absence of four quality guards, but Coach Sadler has brought in a quality recruiting class that should be able to fill in the gaps.
Key Losses: G Ade Dagunduro, G Steve Harley, G Cookie Miller, G Paul Velander
Three junior college transfers should immediately step into a big role. Point guard Lance Jeter should take over the starting role right away. He was an honorable mention All-American at the junior college level last year and has the tools to turn into a serviceable point guard right away. Myles Holley will give the team another experienced wing player and Quincy Hankins could turn into a force under the basket and the Cornhuskers will need him to do so. The incoming freshmen are not too bad either. Rayes Gallegos is a quality shooter and the frontcourt will finally have some bodies with the addition of Brandon Ubel and Vander Joaquim. They could also have 6-8 German Christian Standhardinger if he is eligible to play.
The backcourt still returns a ton of talent, despite the loss of four major contributors. Sek Henry averaged 8.0 points per game last year and should emerge as the team’s top scorer. He is not a great shooter, but he can at least keep the opposition honest by knocking down the occasional three-pointer. Ryan Anderson is the other key component to the backcourt. He is a more consistent outside shooter and it will be up to Anderson to take over the outside shooting role that is left behind by Velander. With the highly touted Eshaunte Jones back from injury, the group on the perimeter has just as many weapons as they did last year.
Nebraska ran a four guard lineup last year and at times it was a five guard lineup. Their speed and quickness was impressive, but it was hard for the Cornhuskers to win games against teams like Oklahoma who could simply dominate them in the paint. Chris Balham is back for yet another season, but his career has been ravaged by injuries and he barely averaged ten minutes per game last year. The Cornhuskers will need contributions from the newcomers and redshirt freshmen Brian Diaz and Christopher Niemann if they want to have any size on the floor.
Who to Watch:
Most likely the Cornhuskers will still run a four guard lineup and that should work out perfectly fine since Toney McCray is a talented 6-6 guard who has played at the five spot and on the wing during his freshman campaign. Ideally he is a wing, since he has a decent outside shot, but on this team he could fit in at the power forward position, especially if the Cornhuskers do not find much interior help from the newcomers.
If Nebraska could make the NIT last year, they could do so again this year. The transfer of Cookie Miller is a big problem since the team has to break in a new point guard, but Coach Sadler’s team can still play small and effectively. This group is a ways away from the NCAA Tournament, but there are some young and talented big men, especially if Standhardinger is eligible, who will make this team much better in the years to come.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Lance Jeter, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Sek Henry, Senior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Ryan Anderson, Senior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Toney McCray, Sophomore, Guard, 5.7 points per game
Chris Balham, Senior, Forward, 2.0 points per game