Overall Rank: #117
Conference Rank: #10 Big 12
2006-07: 17-14, 6-10, 7th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
Nebraska had two seniors on the roster last year and signed seven players during the early signing period. That means a few things, but the most important is the fact that Coach Doc Sadler is not waiting to upgrade the talent level on his roster. That method has created a relatively young team, but even without the newcomers the Cornhuskers have some talent to build around. Ryan Anderson, Jay-R Stowbridge and Sek Henry had decent freshmen campaigns and Paul Velander is as good as it is going to get for a walk-on.
Chris Richardson, Jr. and Marucs Perry were the lone seniors on the roster last year. Richardson was one of the most underappreciated point guards in the conference and Perry was the best three-point threat on the team. Jamel White is transferring after starting 16 games and fellow guard Mike Smith followed suit. Forwards Kris Douse and Kyle Marks did not see much action last year, but could have developed into solid contributors, but both will be playing somewhere else.
If everyone qualifies, nine newcomers will be playing in Lincoln this year and just about all of them will get a long look for starting jobs or quality minutes off the bench. Jeremy Barr, a 6-8 265 pound transfer from USC, is a big presence under the basket. He earned a handful of starts for the Trojans over his short time in Los Angeles and should be a solid option for the Huskers once he is eligible at the semester break. Junior college transfer Alex Chapman and freshman Alonzo Edwards will add some depth up front and Edwards has the potential to be a special player before his days in Nebraska are over. On the wings, junior college transfers Shang Ping, Steve Harley and Adeola Daunduro will battle for minutes. Ping can get to the basket and finish and will help out on the glass. Harley has a little academic work to take care of over the summer, but he has the most potential to go from the juco to division one ranks very successfully. Tony McCray, a 6-6 shooting guard, may find it difficult to crack the rotation as a freshman, but is a solid building block for the future. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Josh Miller will likely not be anything more than a backup this year, but the diminutive point guard is a tough player and solid passer who is not afraid to dribble amongst the trees.
Who to Watch:
Aleks Maric rarely gets the credit he deserves on a national level, but that is what happens when you are in Lincoln…and not playing football. The 6-11 senior averaged 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds last year and a 20-10 campaign is not out of the question for his senior year. Maric can step outside and hit the mid-range jumper and can even step out too far and hit the three-ball on occasion. Thankfully, the new expanded three-point line will put an end to that, but Maric will be in the NBA by then anyway. Finding somebody to play next to Maric is the key. Nobody did last year so the interior defense could concentrate on Maric. If healthy, Chris Balham could be the answer. The sophomore has been battling injuries his entire career, most recently a broken nose, but if he can stay healthy Balham has the potential to compliment Maric quite well. However, the group of incoming power forwards should be able to handle that job even if Balham cannot contribute.
With all the new faces, the most important thing for Nebraska is developing some chemistry. Much of that pressure will be placed on the shoulders of point guard Stowbridge. The combo guard started 13 contests in 2006-2007, but will need to quickly become a leader if the Huskers want to sniff an NIT bid. The talent is there for a .500 conference record, but how quickly they come together and buy into Coach Sadler’s system will be the difference between joy and disappointment in Lincoln.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Jay-R Stowbridge, Sophomore, Guard, 3.9 points per game
Sek Henry, Sophomore, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Ryan Anderson, Sophomore, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Jeremy Barr, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Aleks Maric, Senior, Center, 18.5 points per game