Fred Hoiberg talks to press after the game
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Fred Hoiberg in Favor of Late November Start for College Basketball

September 18, 2020

According to CBS Sports, the oversight committees for both men’s and women’s basketball jointly agreed to propose pushing back the start date for the college basketball season to Nov. 25. Their proposal will be sent to the Division I Council, which is scheduled to meet on Sept. 16.

Coach Fred Hoiberg joined Greg Sharpe on Wednesday’s edition of Sports Nightly and shared his thoughts and what he’s hearing about the season starting.

“We’re just trying to plan,” Hoiberg said. “There are so many different scenarios that are out there, Greg. I don’t know when we’re going to start. I don’t know if anybody does. There were some things out today that maybe we’ll start at the end of November or early December which I think makes the most sense just because your students go home after that first semester, which they moved up this year, and it gives the best opportunity to create some type of a bubble and isolate the players. Hopefully we’ll go through with that. We’re just trying to keep everybody fresh right now, not have the burnout factor, and keep them ready to go in case we do open at that time.”

In the meantime, the Huskers have continued with their workouts. Hoiberg said that after the players returned to campus, went through their quarantine periods and tested negative for COVID-19, they began with individual skill workouts. Over time, they proceeded to small group workouts with players partnered with their roommates. More recently, they’ve evolved to full team workouts.

“The reason that we’re doing that and we’re comfortable doing it is because, in talking to our players about the importance of doing the right things off the floor and not risking contamination, our guys are hanging around each other a lot and spending a lot of time together off the court,” Hoiberg said. “They’re basically all living in the same area. So we felt it was the right move to start getting them on the court together and doing team workouts, and it’s been really good. I’ve been really impressed with the work ethic of this team. I just love their competitive spirit.”

Hoiberg said they’ve been monitoring the team using the catapult system and are using the data they receive to determine how hard or light the team will go in a given week. Once they reach the limit they’ve established, they shut it down, which the players often aren’t happy about.

“It’s a great problem to have to have to slow them down as opposed to kick them in the butt and get them going, and it’s really been good,” Hoiberg said. “I love the competitive spirit of our group and hopefully we can continue to get better as we go along.”

Other News and Notes:

>> Hoiberg said Nebraska plans to file a waiver with the NCAA to get Pittsburgh transfer Trey McGowens immediately eligible this week. McGowens was a two-year starter at Pitt and a double-digit scorer, and getting him eligible would add some welcomed depth to Nebraska’s backcourt. The NCAA has loosened its requirements because of the pandemic and seems to be granting waivers all across the country. On Wednesday, Minnesota center Liam Robbins, a transfer from Drake, received his waiver.

A source told Hail Varsity Nebraska feels good about McGowens getting his waiver. That being said, Nebraska also thought Shamiel Stevenson had a strong claim to get a waiver last season.

“We’ll see what happens with him as far as his waiver,” Hoiberg told Sharpe.

>> Hoiberg said the situation on campus with the training table shutting down is “not ideal,” but Nebraska is allowed to provide the team with some snacks. Nebraska has fueling stations stocked with protein bars and protein shakes so the players can get something in their stomachs before or after workouts. Nebraska is lifting in the morning then doing on-court workouts afterward at 9 a.m.

Hoiberg also said the team’s academic advisors are holding their tutoring sessions with the student-athletes in the Hendricks Training Complex to limit cross-contamination and exposure risk and.

>> Sharpe asked Hoiberg about this year’s team, and the coach said he was excited by what he’s seen.

“We’re much longer and we have more athleticism, I think, on this team. We’re still obviously trying to figure everything out—it’s early in the process but I think we have good versatility as well.”

Hoiberg also praised the basketball IQ he’s seen from a lot of the players. From there, he went on to highlight a few players who have caught his eye.

“We’ve got a grad transfer in Kobe Webster that I’ve been really impressed with—great leadership skills,” Hoiberg said. “I just love everything that he’s about. Great communicator and certainly a guy that can make shots, a three-year starter at Western Illinois that has played in some big games.”

Hoiberg said he’s also been really impressed with junior college transfer Lat Mayen.

“He’s a 6-9 kid that came from Chipola Junior College,” Hoiberg said. “He started his career out at TCU. He was basically a double-double guy last year and a very, very good 3-point shooter. We do a 100-shot drill, which is something that I got from my days in the NBA which we put all of the pre-draft players through. It’s basically a series of 100 3s that the Spurs came up with. We’ve been putting our guys through that and Lat Mayen made 86 of them out of 100 the other day and I’ve never seen that. He’s a guy that can really stretch the floor at his position.”

Hoiberg said Nebraska’s other junior college transfer, Teddy Allen, has been “awesome.”

“He just finds a way to put the ball in the basket, and I guess when you average over 30 in a season, you just find different ways to get it in the basket,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a three-level scorer—he can score it at the rim, he’s a very crafty finisher, shot over 40 from 3 last season, and he’s one of those guys that makes tough mid-range shots as well which I’m not in love with, but if he shows he can make them at high percentage then I’ll let you shoot them. And then I think music to everybody’s ears is he was over a 90% free-throw shooter a year ago.”

Hoiberg also had some praise for Akol Arop, the sophomore from Omaha Creighton Prep who got some valuable playing time late in the season, along with McGowens.

>> Finally, Hoiberg talked about the staff’s recruiting efforts and how they’ve handled navigating the pandemic-related restrictions.

“I’m just about Zoomed out to be honest with you… We’re doing Zoom calls pretty much every day—did three of them today,” Hoiberg said. “It’s something that’s been good, though. I’ll say this: we got our foot in the door with some pretty high-level kids and a big part of that is showing our style of play and the pace that we play with and the shot profile we created. We just need to be more efficient with it. I think as we continue on and continue to add the right pieces, that efficiency’s going to go up and hopefully it will lead to some wins.

“The league’s going to be a monster again next year. A lot of the players they thought might make the jump to the next level and go to the NBA ended up coming back to school which is great for them, not so great for us. We just have to continue to move in the right direction and hopefully continue to add the right players. We feel good about this year’s class. Like I said, we’re on some pretty high-level kids that we feel relatively good about and hopefully we’ll get good news on that front.”

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