With Nebraska basketball set to begin practice this week, head coach Tim Miles met with the media Monday morning to break down where his team is heading into the season. In a lot of ways, this team seems similar to the 2014-15 squad. That group was an offseason removed from a first-game-loss in the NCAA Tournament and was ranked No. 21 heading into the season. As tempting as it is to liken the two, Miles doesn’t.
“I try not to compare. Coach Mo’s got a great saying: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ That’s true,” Miles said. “I would say this team has great practice habits, has great workout habits. I’d say we’re just further down the line on what an expectation looks like. The 2014 team was such an upstart and this team has been put together in a lot longer form.”
This team has everyone back for the most part. The core four of James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland, Isaiah Roby and Glynn Watson is all back. Before the season even begins, they know who they are.
“Last year, we could play a whole bunch of different guys,” Miles said. Nebraska could play big, it could play small, it could go with a switchy defense, it could go with a rebound-centric lineup, they could go with a midsize lineup that was stout on both ends of the floor. “To me, I think last year we kind of experimented around and tried to figure out who fits in where and what lineup could work.
“I know who we are, they know who we are, we don’t have as much depth as we did last year so things have to go right — foul trouble, illness, injury, stuff like that, we’ve got to stay healthy — but we know who can do what. We know what play package works for who, we know what problems we’re going to have on defense. I think some of that’s already taken care of.
“You look at the last part of last year, from January on, we knew who we were and what we were best at. I think we know that going into this year, there’s no experimentation.”
That leads to expectation. And Nebraska enters 2018 with plenty of expectations after failing to make the NCAA Tournament with a 22-11 record and 13 Big Ten wins. This team, Miles says, doesn’t really talk about expectations.
“These guys just work. You don’t see a lot of variable in them. We know we didn’t make it, we’re going to make it this year, we’re going to keep working. They’ve got great habits that way, they show up every day, work their tails off and compete really hard.”
Other News and Notes
>> Roby, Nebraska’s junior forward/center swiss army knife, is dealing with a little bit of plantar fasciitis in his heel.
“We’ve just shut him down and we’re going to bring him along slowly,” Miles said. “He’ll get reps but he’s a guy we’ve got to take care of.”
Miles also said freshman guard Karrington Davis is still battling some hip mobility issues from an injury that cost him his senior season.
“As we got him, one leg was considerably weaker than the other,” Miles said. “We’re way closer to where we need to be but we’re not where we need to be.”
>> Right now, Nebraska doesn’t have a singular leader on the team but more of a collective voice. Miles said he’s had that kind of situation before, but he’d prefer one guy.
“Terran Petteway, I love that guy, and he would just threaten you: ‘You’re going to play better,’ and you did. That was awesome,” Miles said. “I’ve had other guys like that and I’ve had other guys that they looked at themselves as leaders. I think most guys view that as a collective effort.
“It worries you, let’s just put it that way, but at the same time, this is such a rock-solid group it doesn’t worry me a lot.”
Asked who’s closest to being that one guy, Miles said point guard Glynn Watson Jr. is probably the guy.
“Glynn’s been through so much more with us and me that I think he gets it. He’s been in the Big Ten longer than anybody else, too. That’s important.”
>> Miles said it’s “almost a certainty” that freshman forward Brady Heiman will play in 2018.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.