LINCOLN, Neb. – Tip-off for the 2016-17 basketball season is a week away, but next up for the Huskers is their sole exhibition game on Monday against Chadron State.
“We’re ready to get going,” Coach Tim Miles said. “We’re excited to play a game in Pinnacle Bank Arena.”
The biggest question heading into the game is who will start and what lineups Miles will use with a lot of new players or familiar faces in new roles. What goes into that process of sorting out rotations?
“My assistant coaches have a lot of answers,” Miles said. “So I let them tell me everything that they think, which that meeting lasts an hour, and then I decide to do what I feel like doing. That’s only remotely in jest, but we meet on a regular basis and just talk about blends and lineups and we did that after Iowa State and I think we’ve got a good idea … There’s some difference of opinion on a couple spots, but at the same time, we’re going to do what we think is best for the program.”
Miles said he felt like the team had a good idea of how he wanted to do things, but illness has set them back.
“I did and then Edward Morrow had like strep throat the last three days so he hasn’t practiced with us yet, so that kind of threw a wrench in things in terms of getting things ready,” Miles said. “What’s important to me about the lineup, regardless – you probably go with your most experienced guys right away, but eventually we’ll probably get to a certain point where what you need is that blend of rotations that is your strongest … You want your best players on the floor at the end of the game. You’d like them on the floor at the end of the half. But at the same time, I think that there’s times when you bring a really talented guy off the bench, maybe a scorer.”
One spot where Miles might roll with youth over experience could be at center, with freshman Jordy Tshimanga as the only player on the roster with true center size. However, Miles said he does expect Morrow to play and both guys are in the mix at the five.
“[Jordy] could be right there, Edward could be right there starting at center,” Miles said. “Those are guys that are both fully capable.”
Two other players that have missed some time throughout preseason practice has been freshman Isaiah Roby and junior transfer Anton Gill, and Miles provided an update on both.
“Isaiah is doing better,” Miles said. “Anton was out because of a migraine yesterday, so we’ve got to get him back. That’s a hard one to diagnose because you never know how long it’s going to hang around on him.”
Miles said Gill does have a history with migraines, and that will be something to monitor moving forward. Junior reserve forward Nick Fuller rounded out the injury report.
“Nick Fuller has a high ankle sprain that he suffered at the end of our public scrimmage,” Miles said. “Nick has never missed a practice in years; he’s broken his nose and come back and finished practice and then had it cracked the next day during an off day so he could get back to practice. He’s going to be out for a few days.”
Another big question every year around this time is whether or not any of the true freshmen will redshirt. Apparently the answer is “no” for Roby, Tshimanga and the most likely candidate, forward Jeriah Horne.
“I guess this is the first I’ve thought about it now that you ask me about it, so what does that tell you?” Miles said when posed the redshirt question.
The Huskers have a closed scrimmage at Iowa State and a short open team scrimmage at Pinnacle Bank Arena under their belts, but Monday will be their first chance to suit up under the lights and in front of a packed crowd.
“We’ll treat this one like a real game,” Miles said. “We did some when we went on the road to Iowa State for the scrimmage. We went on the road and we did a little bit of game prep and all that, but they’ll get their little handout about how to stand for the anthem and what all the right things to do are and how to check in.”
One wouldn’t think a memo for how to check in would be necessary, but one would apparently be wrong as Roby ran into the game at the Iowa State scrimmage “like it was a pick-up game,” according to Miles.
Tip-off for the exhibition against Chadron State is set for 7 p.m. on Monday.