Photo Credit: John Peterson

Hoiberg Addresses Webster Comments, Nebraska’s COVID-19 Issues

January 21, 2022

Senior guard Kobe Webster made waves this week with comments on a local radio show in Lincoln. On Friday, he addressed those comments with the media, saying he met with Coach Fred Hoiberg to discuss them.

Webster stood by his comments but said there was no ill will or bad intention behind them and he’s focused on moving forward.

“Kobe and I, we we did meet yesterday and that’s how I’ve always dealt with situations like that,” Hoiberg said. “Kobe and I have had numerous conversations. I have a great deal of respect for Kobe, for his career. He’s been a fun guy to coach for the two years. And we just talked about a lot of things. It’s a learning opportunity, I think, for Kobe moving forward, as far as the things that got out, what was said. But for me, after that meeting, we walked out of there together and we’re going to move past it. That’s how I’ve always operated at any level that I’ve been at, and we’ll move past it and get better. There’s a lot of frustration, obviously, right now, with where things are, but we can only go from here.”

Webster said there are a lot of things everyone in the program can improve on, especially being consistent with energy in practice, attention to the scouting report and making winning plays int he games.

“We all can do better, everybody, including players, so that’s really just the focus, on getting better,” Webster said. “Like I said, those comments weren’t to disrespect or make anybody else look bad. It was in the midst of a conversation. I didn’t think I would be here talking about it right now. But it’s just all about moving forward and improving every day to hopefully get some wins.”

A lot of Webster’s comments centered on leadership and accountability within the program, and Hoiberg addressed those concerns.

“The biggest thing that that I took from that is you’ve got to come together, talk about it, address it and move on from it and learn from it,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve been doing this thing a long time. I feel I’ve had some pretty good success in the places I’ve been and obviously it hasn’t happened here yet, but I plan on it happening here. I’m 100% confident. We’ve been through more adversity in three years then you go through in a lifetime in what we’ve dealt with since we got here in this job. So I’m confident my ability to coach, I’m confident in my ability to lead and we’re going to get this thing right.”

Webster and Hoiberg both said the focus is on moving forward, and Webster explained how they can do that.

“Just going to practice every day and doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Webster said. “We all want to win and that’s the that’s the biggest part of it. So I think once we get back after this little break we’re having due to COVID, that’s what our focus is going to be, just trying to get some wins.”

That’s the other big story this week: Nebraska’s game at No. 19 Ohio State scheduled for Saturday afternoon has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues inside the Nebraska program. The university required students and faculty to get tested before returning to class, and a number of Huskers tested positive. The positive tests combined with injuries left the team short of the minimum of seven scholarship players established by the Big Ten.

“In talking to the Big Ten, we cancelled, obviously, the game on Saturday, and we’re still unsure about how that will affect the next game moving forward,” Hoiberg said. “We’ll just go day by day right now, keep in communication with the Big Ten and give you updates when we have them.”

Nebraska is currently scheduled to host No. 8 Wisconsin on Tuesday night. The players that have landed in health and safety protocols have to isolate, but because the team is fully vaccinated Nebraska doesn’t have to shut down the whole program and those that tested negative can still participate in basketball activities.

“When our guys came in, I think we had six guys on the floor yesterday,” Hoiberg said. “Today is really an off day for our team. So we’ll get back at it tomorrow with a small group and really just be skill work, individual work, and then hopefully be able to get guys back. But from a positional standpoint right now, we’re very thin, obviously, so we’ll just do as much as we can, continue to get guys as much work as we can and just try to keep them in the best shape possible.”

Webster said the gym felt empty yesterday compared to a normal practice with the team at full strength, but the Huskers have to take advantage of whatever work they are able to do.

“Coach Nate [Loenser] says all the time you’re going to get out of it whatever you put into it,” Webster said. “So if you come in, looking to work hard, whether we’re going through shooting drills, scout, whatever it is, if you work hard, you’re going to get something out of it.”

Hoiberg said that while all the players have been fully vaccinated, some still haven’t gotten a booster shot because they were not yet eligible based on when they got their first shots. They’re working towards getting the remaining players their booster shots, and Hoiberg is hoping this pause is far shorter than the one the program went through last season.

“Last year I think we were shut down for almost an entire month,” Hoiberg said. “This year, hopefully with the guidelines, we’ll be able to get back. Now, there are steps that you have to take to get past it as far as having a negative test where then you can start the return-to-play protocol. There’s lab work and there’s a heart test that you have to pass, so we’re still a ways from getting past this. But it’s nowhere near where last year … I’m thankful that none of our guys have serious symptoms. They’re very mild with our guys. So hopefully we’ll move past it quickly.”

If the Huskers don’t clear protocol in time to play against Wisconsin on Tuesday, their next scheduled game is Saturday, Jan. 29, at home against Rutgers.

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