Welcome to B1G Basketball 2016! Ahead of season’s tip-off on November 11, we are setting out to preview all 14 teams in the Big Ten, along with a few other bells and whistles along the way. It’ll be a team a day, hopefully in reverse order of finish from 2015-16. Yesterday we knocked out both the Illinois Fighting Illini and Minnesota Golden Gophers. So what do you get as a reward for reading about both of those teams? The glory that is the Nebraska Cornhuskers Basketball Team!
What? You don’t see that as a reward? Well, too bad. If I have to deal with them, so do you.
2015-16: 16-18 (6-12) || KenPom 85
Coach: Tim Miles (5th Season)
Departures: A LOT OF THEM
No Jesse, you have to say
Departures: G Andrew White III (Transfer), G Shavon Shields (Graduation), G Benny Parker (Graduation), F Jake Hammond (Transfer), F Tanner Borchardt (Not Playing Basketball), G Johnny Trueblood (Not Playing Basketball at Nebraska?), and G Bakari Evelyn (transfer)
Additions: G Anton Gill (sat out last year), F Jeriah Horne (Freshman), F Isaiah Roby (Freshman), C (!!!) Jordy Tshimanga (Freshman), G Evan Taylor (Juco)
is a tossup... My guess is as good as any. Let’s go with the following:
G Glynn Watson, Jr., G Tai Webster, G Anton Gill, F Ed Morrow, C Jordy Tshimanga
As a quick aside, I would not be surprised to see either G Jack McVeigh, F/C Michael Jacobson, or F Isaiah Roby cracking the starting rotation. Right now it seems that Tim Miles has pieces, but nothing guaranteed.
It’s a schedule. I’d like to point out that Nebraska plays a school named Mary this year, which is a DII school that is in Bismarck, ND. On the other side of the spectrum, we’re going to take on Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. I’m not confident in either being a win...
Okay, I’m confident we beat Mary, but this schedule is just weird.
Look, I would like to come up with a great story in which I craft a narrative that gets Nebraska to the postseason - any postseason. We are still one of two Power Five teams without a NCAA Tournament win, we still are probably one of the worst rosters in the Big Ten, and it is looking increasingly possible that Tim Miles is not going to get it done in Lincoln. Oh, and if you didn’t notice up above? We lost seven players to graduation, transfers, or literal loss of desire to play basketball. Yes, those were walkon players. No, that does not make me feel better.
I get all of these things. But, why do I start the year with hope? Well, lots of reasons. While this team will be incredibly young and potentially really streaky, I see multiple young kids who have proven they are something, and who have something to prove. From budding stars from last year’s class - guys like Ed Morrow and Glynn Watson, to cohesion among role players - guys like Jack McVeigh, Tai Webster, Michael Jacobsen. From a kid like Anton Gill who was a 4* recruit at Louisville that didn’t pan out to the young freshmen class of Isaiah Roby and Jordy Tshimanga.
There are pieces of something great here, but they are young, unproven, and did I mention young? Nebraska is surely not going to win the Big Ten this year, but is it outrageous of me to think that the flexibility and talent is there to win more than the pundits say? I don’t think so, but I also believed that we would be a .500 team last year, so there is probably some bias in me.
The bottom line is that 2016-17 Nebraska basketball is about survival, growth, and cohesion. Coach Tim Miles needs to show some ability to grow his own players into the talent they show out of high school. For the first time in my lifetime, there is the raw material to work with, but we need to see that start to pan out on the floor.
No, Nebraska is not a basketball school, but the fans are there. The shiny new arena has lost some of its fancy sparkles, but I still think it’s a tough place to play when the team is up for it. I’m predicting Nebraska is close to .500 again this year, and I think next year we could be sneaky good. See? There it is again... hope. It’s all I have as a Nebrasketball fan.
All things considered, I can live with 14-16. I don’t have great expectations, but maybe - just maybe - things will work out for us and we’ll go .500 this year.