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Despite Challenges, Huskers Develop Tight Bond On and Off the Court

September 30, 2020

<p>Basketball programs across the country have had to deal with an offseason unlike any we&rsquo;ve ever seen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the abrupt end to the season in March, teams have had to deal with quarantines, lack of gym access, practice restrictions and general uncertainty about the fate of the upcoming season.</p>

<p>For a team like Nebraska, with just three players returning from last year&rsquo;s playing rotation and eight newcomers in total, the lack of a normal offseason could have made things even more difficult. Once they got the go-ahead to ramp up their team activities, however, the Huskers moved quickly.</p>

<p>&ldquo;I think for most of us, it probably took that first week,&rdquo; Kobe Webster told media members during a Zoom call on Wednesday. &ldquo;We had a lot of mostly individual workouts with small groups. Those small groups &mdash; it would be three to four of us &mdash; those small groups obviously learned to work with each other quicker. But once we touched the floor and were able to have open gyms, things flowed pretty smoothly. I think that comes from being so close off the court, you kind of just naturally have those same relationships on the court. It was easy to sort of learn everyone&rsquo;s strengths and understand how they want to play.&rdquo;</p>

<p>Though it took a while before they were able to share the court as a team and go through full team workouts and pick-up games, Webster said it wasn&rsquo;t too difficult at all to build up some team chemistry during the pandemic.</p>

<p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been fairly easy,&rdquo; Webster said. &ldquo;Most of us live in the same apartment complex, and obviously the guys that don&rsquo;t live in the same place, we see each other every day, whether that&rsquo;s on the court, whether that&rsquo;s on an off day &mdash; we have yoga, or we go to the mall, different stuff like that. It&rsquo;s been fairly easy, a lot easier than I&rsquo;ve had experience with. It was a fairly simple process. I think we all had one common goal in choosing Nebraska, so I think that made it easier as well.&rdquo;</p>

<p>Webster is one of three scholarship transfers from another four-year school who joined the team this season, joining Trey McGowens (Pittsburgh) and Trevor Lakes (Indianapolis). Webster spent his first three seasons at Western Illinois, and Fred Hoiberg&rsquo;s practices have made for a big adjustment for the senior point guard.</p>

<p>&ldquo;Obviously he&rsquo;s got that NBA mentality,&rdquo; Webster said. &ldquo;At my last school we would practice for like three hours. A big change for me was the fact that we&rsquo;d practice for maybe an hour and a half on most days, which I like. You&rsquo;re constantly moving, there&rsquo;s not a lot of breaks. That&rsquo;s one thing I would say is different. Like I said, Coach Hoiberg loves shooting 3s, so we get a ton of shots up. A lot of finishing, that&rsquo;s something that he preaches because of the lack of finishing that they had last year. So we do a ton of finishing, a ton of shots and we really just get up and down because I think he sees that being in real situations in a scrimmage, that&rsquo;s the best way to learn.&rdquo;</p>

<p>One thing that the players seem to share, according to Western Nebraska Community College transfer Teddy Allen, is work ethic. According to Cory Fehringer, Allen&rsquo;s coach at Western Nebraska, the prolific bucket-getter out of Boys Town essentially locked himself in the gym all season as he looked to bounce back following his legal trouble and expulsion from Wichita State. So far, Allen has seen the same kind of work ethic in his new teammates.&nbsp;</p>

<p>&ldquo;I love it, honestly,&rdquo; Allen said. &ldquo;For instance, we were off for a week and we were all in the gym. I&rsquo;d talk to the managers and be like &lsquo;Who&rsquo;s coming in today?&rsquo; I&rsquo;d come in in the morning and they&rsquo;d have a schedule for the whole day of everybody coming in and getting their work in. It&rsquo;s been like that from the get-go. When we were in quarantine guys were itching to get on the court and it hasn&rsquo;t stopped at all since. We&rsquo;ve been lucky. We&rsquo;ve been able to follow all the precautions so we&rsquo;ve been able to keep our practices going and I really think guys are taking advantage and living in the gym. Hopefully you all should be able to see that on full display.&rdquo;</p>

<p>Allen echoed Webster&rsquo;s thoughts about how close the team is already, saying there aren&rsquo;t any cliques.</p>

<p>Chemistry and talent are two necessary components of a successful team, and Nebraska lack both last season, leading to a 7-25 record. Despite an offseason filled with obstacles, the Huskers seem to feel like they have the chemistry part down heading into the 2020-21 season. As for the talent, portion, we&rsquo;ll have more on that later.</p>

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