Photo by Paul Bellinger
Nebraska Football

Football Early, Basketball Late: How Vedral Got Ready for Husker Hoops

March 10, 2020
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Noah Vedral spent his Monday like any other Nebraska football player. It was the Huskers’ first practice of spring football, which meant meetings, film, practice and meals. Vedral did it all, of course, but there was something else he had to do.

When Vedral was finished with his evening meeting and dinner, he didn’t go home. Instead, he made his way to Speedway Village for a basketball workout with Thomas Viglianco.

News broke Tuesday that Vedral would join Nebraska basketball in Indianapolis as the No. 14 Huskers take on the No. 11 Indiana Hoosiers. Nebraska is down to seven available scholarship players—plus some walk-ons—for Wednesday night’s Big Ten Tournament machup. This comes after Coach Fred Hoiberg said Cam Mack is home dealing with a personal issue and Dachon Burke Jr. has opted to focus on his academics, meaning neither will make the trip to Indianapolis. 

But when Vedral showed up at Speedway Village Monday night, he had no idea if he would go to the Big Ten Tournament. The wheels were in motion at the time, but those things are never as simple as they might seem. There’s compliance to sort through, as well as the fact that Vedral would miss some of Nebraska’s spring football.

Vedral showed up to prepare anyway.

“I think it just shows the maturity of Noah,” Viglianco told Hail Varsity. “It just shows that whatever role he is put into, he’s going to prepare himself. It’s hard to find people who will do that, even if it’s just for one game. For him to have the wherewithal that, ‘Hey, I might get called here in the next day or two to play Big Ten basketball. I want to go out and help this team if I do and I’m confident enough in my game to actually get on the floor and shoot some shots and help this team.’”

Viglianco—who played college basketball for William & Mary and then nine professional seasons in Europe—was there to meet him. As a player development coach and mentor for middle school, high school, college and professional basketball players, Viglianco has known the Vedral family for several years now. He’s worked with Vedral over that time, and it’s resulted in a strong bond between the two.

That bond and familiarity also means Viglianco knows exactly what Nebraska basketball is getting with Vedral. 

“When he gets on the court, whether it be for one minutes or 10 minutes . . . This is actually a great offense and great system for Noah with Fred because Fred loves to shoot 3s and they love to get layups around the rim,” Viglianco said. “That’s Noah’s game. Noah’s game in high school was to shoot 3s and get to the rim. That’s where I’m thinking it’s even better for Noah because that’s how it’s always been.”

Viglianco believes that “once you’re a really good shooter, you’re always going to be able to shoot it.” In Vedral’s case, he perfected his craft as a good shooter during his four varsity seasons at Wahoo Neumann. During those four years, the Cavaliers went 98-16 (.860) with three state championships. As a senior, Vedral averaged 13.6 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals.

It can take a little time and adjustment to get back into the swing of things—it’s not exactly like riding a bike—but that’s why Monday night’s practice was so important for Vedral.

“It might take 10 shots, it might take one workout or whatever, but you’ll get back into rhythm pretty quick,” Viglianco said. “The bigger issue is usually your feet, your legs when you get tired. You’re going to get tired a little easier when you’re not in basketball shape, so that would probably be more of the issue going into playing within two days of knowing that you’re going into a Big Ten setting against Indiana.”

Vedral is in great shape, even if basketball conditioning is unlike anything else. That’s what he and Viglianco spent time working on. If his legs get tired—because he is preparing to see minutes against Indiana—he needs to be as ready to push through it as he can be. A lot of Monday night was focused on preparing him for just that.

“As I told him, ‘Snap that wrist. Hold the follow-through really high,’” Viglianco said. “I just told him, ‘You know your legs are probably going to get shot a little bit but as long as you really get that follow-through high and eyes on the rim, based on your being a good shooter throughout your whole life, you have a pretty high chance of it going in.”

And that’s what Hoiberg and the Huskers need. With only seven scholarship players traveling, Vedral is now insurance. If there’s foul trouble, an injury or a need for a player to sit, he’ll be able to step in.

The fact that Nebraska not only asked but ultimately made it happen says a lot to Viglianco.

“I just think it speaks volumes to the person Noah is, his mentality and his worth ethic that he can still be considered a multi-sport athlete on the Division I level in both football and basketball,” Viglianco said. “I think it’s something special because most kids can never say that. When he looks back 20 to 30 years from now, it’s going to be pretty awesome and for anyone that questioned his athleticism and how he compared to other players, I think this speaks volumes whether he steps foot on the court of a Big Ten Tournament game or not.”

Viglianco has always been impressed with the type of athlete that Vedral is. For as strong as his competitive nature and his athleticism are, it’s his mentality that exceeds it all. In fact, Viglianco said he’s just a very different type of athlete than he’s used to working with.

Vedral’s commitment was on full display Monday night when he showed up for a basketball workout with no idea what might come from it. What he did know is that if the green light was given, he would show up ready.

That’s how Noah Vedral operates.

“First day of spring ball, he does practice for two and a half hours, he has a quarterbacks meeting in the evening, he goes and has dinner and treatment, whatever he needs, but then he comes over and gets a basketball workout in,” Viglianco said. “He knows that this is important to him to not show up like, ‘OK, I’m here.’

“No, he wants to help if he can because he loves basketball and he’s competitive. He’s not afraid if he has to step on the court.”

 
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