Nebraska is off to its best start since the 2010-11 season. An 86-62 win over Cal State Fullerton (3-9) Saturday bumped the Huskers to 10-2 on the season (1-1 Big Ten) and sent them into the holiday break with a win.
It wasn’t clean nor was it pretty, though. After, head coach Tim Miles, guards James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr., and forward Isaiah Roby met with the media to talk about what happened and what needs to get better.
Here’s the full transcript from that question-and-answer session.
Head coach Tim Miles
On if he liked the team’s focus and attention to detail?
“There’s probably nine things we could take from that game and try to get better at but at the end of the day, I thought we did a good job slowly extending the lead.
“[Thomas Allen Jr.] was late, so I sat him a little bit. Just a mistake, everybody makes them. It kind of messed with our rotations a little bit but once we got our normal rotations out there I thought everybody performed really well. We have one guard out there and a whole bunch of wings, it looks like.
“I was happy. The Fullerton team is really athletic, they’re quick to the ball, they do some things that we knew we’d struggle with. Their ability to get in the paint and score in the paint is one of them, they have big physical guards. And they got us in the paint, but we were able to turn them over, get to the foul line and make enough 3s, the other stuff to make up for it.”
On whether or not it was hard to prepare for the game with guys so close to having time off?
“Fullerton’s got the same problem we’ve got. Every team that played today has the same thing going on, usually. Except for dudes in Hawaii. They’ve got a good thing going on. When you look at it, you have to come out, compete your best and play well. We did a lot of things right but there’s a lot of things we can do better.”
On Watson’s first career double-double (10 points, 10 assists)?
“It’s awesome to see Glynn do things like that. Do you think he did that on purpose? Did you guys ask him? Did he know? I was asking him, ‘Did you know, dude?’ I didn’t find out until the postgame interview but first of all, it tells you what kind of teammate Glynn is.
“He’s a guy that searches for others and tries to get others involved and does a really good job. His pass on the break where he led Roby right into a play, that was a really good play.
“I’m happy to see it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens more often.
On the play of Roby?
“Guy took 29 shots tonight and he took four last week. He can dominate a game, he can do so many different things. Isaiah just needs to keep playing strong and stay within himself and we need to stay with him and good things will happen.”
On whether or not there has been more of an emphasis of getting him on the block?
“I think there’s more of an emphasis to get anybody the ball on the block. So, yes. I mean, we’ve added three actions in the last two weeks to get a variety of guys the ball down there.”
On what guard Nana Akenten has brought to the lineup with his last two starts?
“I thought Nana did well tonight. He missed a couple defensive assignments but offensively we ran a couple actions for him and he hit both 3s. He’s a guy who has shot the 3 well for us and that’s really critical to this team. We need some bench scoring and although he started tonight, that’s important to us.”
On Akenten’s rebounding ability?
“You really notice him making an impact on the glass. We need that. James is not a rebounding guard, Tom’s not a rebounding guard, Glynn’s small, so when Nana gets in and especially if he plays the four when you don’t have Copeland or Roby in the game, someone’s got to go in there. And when he’s at the wing it even helps us more obviously.”
On the things Miles wanted to accomplish and whether or not the team accomplished them?
“I was hoping Thor [Thorbjarnarson] would hit a 3 with his family here from Iceland. He hit two of them last year, two bombs. But at the same time, I just want to see us be able to go out, play well, build a lead, win a game and nobody gets hurt. I think that happened.”
On Palmer’s 23-point game and whether or not the Huskers just expect this kind of scoring from him?
“No, you can’t expect that because that’s performing at a really high level. But at the same time, he’s capable, we know he’s capable. I know Isaac Copeland can get 20, I know Roby can get 20, I know Glynn can go off. Glynn’s had bigger nights than all of that. Tom can get 20. It’s nice when James does but its not something that I walk in and say, ‘Okay, we’re going to pencil in this number.’”
On the improved 3-point shooting for Palmer?
“His last [three] games he’s shot the ball really, really well. He stayed with it, he’s taking better shots from 3. I’m proud of James because he’s coachable. I can be really hard on guys and he just hangs in there with it and puts it into practice.”
On the fans showing out for a late-December game against a 3-8 mid-major team?
“I told our guys at halftime there’s not a team in the country getting 15,000 fans tonight unless it’s Kentucky, Duke or somebody like that. This is ridiculous and let’s performance well for them. The game sputtered a little bit because of the fouls, we drew 24 fouls. They gave up fouls in transition which is probably a good play if you don’t want to be on SportsCenter because we had some chances.
“Pat Norris, our equipment guy, said two days ago there’s not a ticket on StubHub. We knew it was going to be a good crowd. It was awesome to be a part of. And they got it cranked up a little bit tonight, too. Now, Fullerton answered but at the same time, it was a great crowd and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the Husker fans.”
Senior guard Glynn Watson Jr.
On the Huskers’ energy?
“We started off slow, but we picked it up and came out with a win. We got it done.”
On trying to get in a routine after playing one game in the last two weeks?
“It’s pretty hard. We haven’t played in like a week or so, we’ve just been practicing and things like that. Coach Mo [Jim Molinari] did a good job with scout, showing us what to look for, things like that. Everything went good, we came out with a win, that’s all that matters.”
Senior guard James Palmer Jr.
On his improved 3-point shooting over the last three games
I think I still take the same shots in the same spots, I think it’s just getting in the gym more and getting more reps up.”
Junior forward Isaiah Roby
On his 20-point game?
“Just being aggressive. I was being aggressive earlier, I just wasn’t making shots. And I just started making shots later in the game.”
On the importance of Watson?
“Coach [Miles] always says Glynn sets the tempo for our team, he sets the pace. When he’s playing hard like that, sharing the ball, especially in the second half, we all start sharing the ball more. The ball wasn’t sticking as much as it was in the first and we were able to extend our lead because of that.”