Every basketball coach likes his team before it has played any games. At least that’s what he or she will tell you this time of year. Not a lot of upside to saying, “You know, I have real concerns. Don’t like the chemistry. Some of these guys are just jerks. But it’s what we have so we’ll play it out and see how things go.”
I mention this because how much Tim Miles likes this group is emerging as sort of the selling point for Nebraska basketball in 2017. Miles, who always wins Big Ten Media Day, got to take his show to New York on Thursday. He opened with his usual bit mentioning where the Huskers are predicted to finish (13th), and compared the Big Ten, outside of the top two or three teams, to the NFL.
“It certainly feels like what you see in an NFL season where one team out of nowhere is all of a sudden in the playoffs and making a run, and there certainly are those teams that are steadfast, but on any given year something good can happen,” he said.
But the bulk of his time at the podium was spent talking about the Huskers’ “cohesiveness” headed into 2017-18. The following was spurred by a question about Nebraska’s rash of departures following last season:
“One interesting thing, I think, is that I had four kids in my office last year before we played a game that asked me about their position. And this year I've had zero ask me about their position,” Miles said.
“When you look at that, when people get all caught up in their role and it becomes this kind of rumination about ‘what about me,’ things get tough. And usually that hurts the team. And so you get young people that are going to leave because they're more concerned about their well-being than they are the condition of the program.”
Fair enough. Again, there’s really no way other way to play it. Nebraska has had more than its share of departures and the result in 2017-18 is a roster that is intriguing and athletic but still young and somewhat formless at this point. It is a team that very well might be defined by its cohesiveness, a whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts deal. Most teams are defined that way. And if Miles is telling you he feels good about that part of it, well, you sort of have to take his word for it for now.
“I don’t mind if [players] leave,” he said in New York. “It actually just made us stronger and better. That's why I really liked this team. I think there's more cohesiveness. We're a stronger team. I think we've got plenty of talent, too.”
It’s only talk for now, but I think I’m buying it a little bit. I, too, like the talent. The other stuff? We’ll see starting in a couple of weeks.
The Grab Bag
- Sorry, everyone, Scott Frost is staying in Orlando. At least that's what the headline says. (I'll have some thoughts on this story in the comments.)
- Interesting stuff from Bill Connelly on "game state" – a soccer concept – and how college football offenses change what they do depending on the score.
- A video of a couple of Clemson players boxing in the locker room has emerged. They weren't messing around either.
- ICYMI: Really good look inside Tanner Lee's recent numbers from Jacob Padilla.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.