Category Archives: 2012-13 B1G Projections

2012-13 Preview: #7 Illinois Fighting Illini

Bruce Weber’s teams have had plenty of talent, but were unable to get the job done. After another flat performance in 2011-12, Weber’s contract was bought out and off to Kansas State he went.

Enter John Groce. The young, energetic coach comes to Champaign from Ohio University, one of last year’s NCAA tournament darlings.

Illinois returns several experienced players, including two senior guards and a number of talented sophomores ready to show their progression. We believe there are reasonable scenarios under which the Illini fight their way into the NCAA tournament this year.

The 2012-13 season isn’t a bad entry point for Groce. If he gets the right things out of the right guys, Illinois could be a solid team.  There are reasons to be skeptical, but the Illini faithful aren’t being unreasonable if they have expectations of a good year.

Glass Half Full

Talented roster

Center Meyers Leonard left for the NBA, but the resume of the guys on the 2012-13 roster is fairly impressive.

Brandon Paul (14.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg) is the most important player for this team. Expected to play point guard quite a bit, the 6’4” Paul is capable of huge games but has been inconsistent and inefficient.

Last season in consecutive games against the porous defenses of Northwestern and Nebraska he averaged 10.5 points on 36.0% effective field goal (eFG) shooting. Next up was Ohio State and Paul led Illinois to a win with 43 points on a 100% eFG performance (including 8/10 3FG; he also grabbed 8 rebounds and went 13/15 from the line).

Paul has never had a great season shooting the ball and has career eFG% is just 45.0% (including 32.4% 3FG). Better decision making as a senior could mean better shooting, fewer turnovers and inclusion in the discussion of first team all-conference players.

Also in the backcourt is 6’3” senior D.J. Richardson (11.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 71 3FGM, 34.8% 3FG). Like Paul, you’re never confident about what D.J. will give you on any given night, but he did have a higher offensive Value Add last year than any other returning player. Richardson is capable of improving his 3-point shooting and having a strong senior year.

The other senior on this year’s squad is 6’9” forward Tyler Griffey (4.9 ppg, 3.3rpg). He’s only made 27 3-pointers in his career and shot just 31.0% 3FG, but between his offensive rebounding and unproven scoring ability that we believe is there, Griffey could be a nice piece.

Joe Bertrand is a 6’6” junior guard averaged 20.1 mpg and 6.5 ppg and looked very good at times last season. He’s had a history of injuries, but when healthy can be a player.

6’11” sophomore center Nnanna Egwu averaged just 9.8 mpg as a freshman. He was rated #78 in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI) and the potential is there for a nice step forward this season. Egwu may struggle to stay on the court even if he’s playing well due to poor fouling habits, but that’s something Groce and staff will work with him on.

Mike Shaw (#65 RSCI), Myke Henry (#66) and Tracy Abrams (#69) were all respected class of 2011 recruits. Abrams, a point guard, was the only one of the three to log many minutes but struggled. The 6’6” wing Henry may be poised for the biggest year of the three as a sophomore, but eventually 6’8” Mike Shaw will be ready to contribute as a strong overall player. As of now Shaw has work to do, but he is an elite rebounder and may earn more floor time because of it.

Others who could contribute include Devin Langford, a 6’7” redshirt freshman wing, and senior center Sam McLaurin, a quality graduate transfer who stands 6’8” and averaged 10.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg last season at Coastal Carolina. McLaurin is a quality player and his defensive and rebounding ability could make a difference for the Illini. Definitely a player to watch.

3-point field goal shooting

Things can’t get much worse. Illini other than Paul and Richardson shot a miserable 24.9% from 3-point range in 2011-12. The following table illustrates team 3-point shooting for Illinois and their opponents last year:

Overall Conference
Fighting Illini 30.4% 29.5%
Opponents 37.9% 40.1%

Glass Half Empty

These guys have already had their chance

An experienced senior guard duo is great to have, but as juniors who were playing with a 7’1” NBA lottery pick, they weren’t nearly good enough. While there is room for Paul to improve, D.J. Richardson may have already shown his best in terms of usage and efficiency.

Coaching questions

Coach Groce may come out of this season looking like a genius, but he’ll need to earn it by making the right decisions.

For example, there’s an argument to be made that playing at a faster tempo could help Illinois this year, but this is a squad that had a turnover percentage approaching 21%.

Meyers Leonard was a force on the boards (defensive rebounding especially), but he’s gone. Mike Shaw can get rebounds, but is he far enough along to warrant big minutes? Are McLaurin, Griffey and Egwu better options?

Who takes the point for the majority of the minutes – Paul or Abrams?

How close are Henry and Shaw to being in the regular rotation?

Other Comments

  • New assistant coach Paris Parham played and coached at Minnesota State. He’s a Chicago guy who should be able to help with recruiting relationships in basketball-rich Illinois.
  • 2013 Recruiting: We’re huge fans of 6’1” Kendrick Nunn and his commitment to Groce was big. Granted, the relationship goes back to Groce’s time at Ohio, but there were some elite schools that had made great progress with Nunn as well.  Also from Illinois are 6’5” wing Malcolm Hill and 6’1” point guard Jaylon Tate. Big 6’10” center Maverick Morgan from Ohio has also given his pledge to the Illini.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“(Meyers) Leonard has some NBA scouts drooling even though he’s nowhere near ready. At 7’1″, 245 pounds with a lot of basketball skill, though, it’s easy to see why there is high interest. He averaged just over 8 mpg as a freshman, but should have a lot more confidence this season and knows what’s needed is really quite simple – “just be a beast”, he says.”

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2012-13 Preview: #8 Iowa Hawkeyes

Fran McCaffery has things headed in the right direction for Iowa and it’s possible that a year from now the Hawkeyes will be in the conversation of Big Ten championship contenders.

There is a lot of talent on this year’s roster and it’s nicely spread out between classes. However, there are a few key questions that are unanswered as the 2012-13 season begins and these are enough to keep Iowa out of the top half of the conference until next year.

Glass Half Full 

Many players with experience but also room to grow 

Roy Devyn Marble (29.5 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.6 apg) put together a strong sophomore year and could make a name for himself as one of the better players in the conference this season. McCaffery would like to see consistency in Marble’s shooting and for him to be the go to guy when a bucket is needed or when the game is on the line.

The preference would be to have Devyn stay off the ball, but he may need to play some point if true freshman Mike Gessell struggles.

Big shooting guard Josh Oglesby (18.7 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 37.2% 3FG) is a real threat from the perimeter and the Hawks will look to him to make up for some of the production lost from graduating senior Matt Gatens. As long as he maintains his confidence at a high level, the 6’5” Oglesby can be one of the better 3-point shooters in the conference.

Forward Aaron White, a 6’8” sophomore, had an impressive first year on campus. In 23.8 minutes per game he averaged 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. As a freshman, he was one of the conference’s top 10 rebounders on both sides of the floor. White shot well inside (56.9% 2FG) and could improve on his outside accuracy (17/61 for 27.9%).

Melsahn Basabe’s (20.1 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) play as a sophomore was down a bit, but he’s an athletic forward who can rebound, block shots and draw fouls. He’s lost weight since a year ago and we believe he can show nice progression as compared to last season.

Other returners including 6’5” senior Eric May (4.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg), 6’7” junior Zach McCabe (7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 44.9% 3FG) and athletic 6’10” sophomore Gabe Olaseni (1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg) provide other respectable options.

Impact freshmen

Adam Woodbury is a 7’1” center who was ranked #42 in the RSCI for the 2012 class. He provides the Hawkeyes with a big man who can post up on offense, but the key for him as a freshman will be how well he runs the floor and defends. On the glass, Woodbury should be able to mix it up with most anyone from day one.

Mike Gessell (#88 RSCI) is a true point guard and strong competitor who will be ready to contribute right away. How he blends in offensively and his ability to defend on the perimeter are very important to this year’s team.

Gessell should not have a problem being more efficient than former guard Bryce Cartwright, who was a senior last year. Cartwright would sometimes get praise because he did put some points and assists on the score sheet, but he was careless with the ball and unable to shoot well. 

Glass Half Empty

Defense

Iowa’s defense could not stop 2-point field goals last year and that remains a concern. Opponents frequently got to the rim for easy buckets and the Hawkeyes must improve defensively if they’re going to reach the NCAA tournament this year.

Certainly having big Adam Woodbury in the middle should help, but there are still significant concerns about Iowa’s defense.

Replacing Gatens

Senior guard Matt Gatens was incredibly productive last year (15.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 57.0% eFG, 75/183 3FG for 41.0%, 10% turnover rate) and others will need to pick it up in 2012-13. There are plenty of guys that can help, but one player isn’t going to replicate Gatens’ Value Add by himself.

Other Comments 

  • Iowa projects to be scary good in 2013-14. Eric May is the only scholarship senior this year and transfer Jarrod Uthoff, a versatile 6’8” forward who played AAU with Oglesby, will be eligible.
  • 2013 Recruiting: Peter Jok  is a 6’5” native of Sudan who has played his high school basketball in Iowa. Jok has seen his stock drop over the years but some of that can be attributed to injury. His commitment to Iowa this fall was met with a lot less excitement than it would have a few years ago, but there is potential. 

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“Matt Gatens, a 6’5″ senior, is a solid wing and very important to this team. He has averaged double-figures in each of his first three season and prefers to shoot the trey. The shot is nice and his free throws are money (87% for his career), but the deep ball has not been consistent. After converting 40% of his 3FG attempts as a freshman, he’s been at 33% over the past two seasons. If he’s able to get his game going from deep and attack the basket a bit more, Gatens could average 15 points and help his team to exceed expectations.”

“The 2013-14 season especially looks to have lots of potential. That said, two years is an eternity and it’s a little too soon for celebration as the road to success is never as easy as it may seem.”

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2012-13 Preview: #9 Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern coming up a bit short of an NCAA tournament invite has been the norm for this program and that trend is likely to continue in 2012-13.

Many of the big names from recent years are gone, including Kevin Coble, Juice Thompson and John Shurna. Perhaps a bit overlooked in the past, the spotlight will be squarely on 6’5” senior wing Drew Crawford. He’s put together a nice career in Evanston already and expecting a lot more than he produced last year might be asking too much.

The Wildcats’ offense has been their strength for the past four years, but an issue for head coach Bill Carmody will be finding a number two guy on the attack.

Meanwhile, there are prospects of a better year defensively and on the boards thanks in large part to transfers into the program.

Northwestern has a nice mixture of experience and youth, but the questions that exist are too significant to expect this to be the year that the Cats finally go dancing.

Glass Half Full

Drew Crawford

Crawford could be in the first team all-conference discussion and returns after an impressive junior year (16.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 41.2% 3FG). His minutes per game (34.6 in 2011-12) can’t increase much and while his usage could creep up from around 24%, we don’t see a big jump in his offensive rating as likely to occur.

Still, Crawford is a senior and a legitimate Big Ten star.

Help inside

Rebounding and defense have been areas of severe weakness for Northwestern teams, but the hope is some newer faces will help this year.

Nikola Cerina (6’9”, 245) sat out last year after transferring in from TCU where he played two years and achieved a defensive rebounding percentage (DR%) of approximately 18%. Only senior Luka Mirkovic was in the same DR% neighborhood for Northwestern last year and he only played in 19 games.

Graduate transfer Jared Swopshire left a talented Louisville program this summer and is a 6’8” forward who can rebound and defend. He only played 13 minutes per game a year ago, but during the 2009-10 season he averaged 25 minutes and produced a 19% DR%.

If Cerina and Swopshire aren’t doing the job, other options include two huge freshmen in 7’0”, 275 pound Alex Olah and 7’2”, 235 pound Chier Ajou.

Alex Marcotullio

The senior guard was bothered by a toe injury and concussion last year, but still averaged 20.6 mpg and 5.6 ppg in 29 games played. He’s a spot shooter that doesn’t get too involved, but he can be very accurate from deep and if healthy will be a strong contributor. 

Glass Half empty

Who’s number two?

Crawford can carry the bulk of the scoring for Northwestern, but the normally efficient offensive attack of Northwestern needs a second guy to step up. There isn’t a guy on this year’s roster that jumps out as a clear 20%+ usage scorer and we believe this will be an issue in this year’s team trying to match or better past performances.

JerShon Cobb was a guy who may have been ready to make a dramatic jump after dealing with injuries, but academic issues have resulted in him being required to sit out the season.

David Sobolewski

The issue here isn’t that Sobolewski isn’t good. In fact, the issue is that point guard was too good as a freshman. He averaged more than 35 minutes per game and posted an offensive rating of approximately 111, while keeping his turnover percentage under 17%. His shooting percentage left room for improvement, but we’re hesitant to expect a meaningful rise in his Value Add even as a sophomore.

If Sobolewski comes through as an efficient 20% possession usage guy, the outlook for Northwestern brightens significantly.

Reggie Hearn 

Like Sobolewski, this is a comparability issue. Hearn, a 6’4” former walk on and more of an interior forward type in high school, deserves a lot of respect. Last year (26.1 mpg, 7.4 ppg, 62.5% 2FG, 37.1% 3FG) he got his chance and impressed, especially in conference play (28.6 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 44.0% 3FG). Hearn could cut down some on his turnovers, but we can’t expect him to equal his 58.8% effective field goal percentage. 

Lack of impressive victories

Keeping things close makes for an entertaining game, but the Wildcats couldn’t seal the deal in 2011-12. Three overtime losses (including a must-win game in the Big Ten tourney) and another three conference games lost by 1 or 2 points in regulation gives the appearance of something more than just bad luck.

The Wildcats were fine against lesser opponents, but went 1-8 against the top half of the conference.

Other Comments

  • In addition to the two big men discussed above, the 2012 incoming freshmen class includes two kids who could help this year in 6’7” Kale Abrahamson and 6’6” Sanjay Lumpkin.
  • Redshirt freshman and Chicago product Mike Turner has added some size and could be a nice surprise for the Cats.
  • Prior to the start of last season, freshman point guard Tre Demps was injured, but gave it a shot before going under the knife after four games. It’s been a long road to recovery for his shoulder, but he’s now ready to go.
  • 2013 Recruiting: This summer Northwestern received commitments from Jaren Sina, a smart point guard from the east coast, and Nate Taphorn, a 6’7” shooter from the Peoria, Ill. area. 

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)“A scenario that sees Iowa and Indiana leapfrog Northwestern in the next couple of years seems likely.”

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2012-13 Preview: #10 Purdue Boilermakers

Matt Painter’s eighth year as head coach at Purdue has the appearance of a program rebuilding. Perhaps “reloading” will prove to be a more appropriate description, but the 2012-13 season will present challenges for this squad.

Gone are last year’s seniors Robbie Hummel (32.2 mpg, 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 72/188 3FG for 38.3%), Lewis Jackson (26.9 mpg, 10.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Ryne Smith (28.7 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 89/206 3FG for 43.2%). Late last season, junior guard Kelsey Barlow (24.3 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg) was dismissed from the team and has since transferred to Illinois-Chicago.

Purdue has brought in a talented group of freshmen, but they’ll need to make valuable contributions from day one if the Boilermakers are to have much success this season.

Painter’s teams have historically been very strong defensively, but last year it was their small lineup and efficient offensive attack that led the way.  With the loss of a true point guard (Jackson), an elite deep threat (Smith) and a veteran star (Hummel), the offensive efficiency of Purdue won’t come close to what they were able to do a year ago.

With respect to interior defense, the Boilermakers hope to see improvement from their returning big men and have added freshman 7-footer A.J. Hammons. While the team’s defense can improve this year, it won’t be enough to offset the drop in offensive efficiency.

If Purdue fans are still discussing the possibilities of a seventh consecutive NCAA tournament invite in early March, the season will have been a success. However, while this team may be able to move up a couple of spots from our preseason projection, a tournament trip does not look likely for Purdue. 

Glass Half Full

Defense can improve

Opponents shot an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 49.9% against Purdue last season, the highest of the Matt Painter era and a dramatic increase over the previous three seasons:

One of several factors that caused defensive 2FG% to rise was that Purdue didn’t block shots as frequently as in past years, something that can be largely blamed on 6’10” JaJuan Johnson’s graduation in 2011. While last season’s top shot blocker Robbie Hummel’s time is up, the Boilers will play bigger inside and out.

Late Night Hoops has only begun deep analysis of play-by-play data for a short period of time and we’re hesitant to make bold statements based on some of our evolving analysis. However, based on viewing games, review of statistical data and as illustrated at www.hoop-math.com, we believe that Purdue’s opponents converted their unblocked 2-point field goals at an above average rate.  In addition, we believe transition defense issues and some bad luck after both rebounds and steals had a negative effect on Purdue’s defensive eFG%.

Matt Painter’s personnel and preparation in 2012-13 should result in a reduced eFG% and at least a moderate improvement in defensive efficiency.

Plenty of options inside

Coach Painter has many interior options. Several players stand 6’8” to 6’9” including freshman Jay Simpson and returners Travis Carroll (Jr.; started 20 games), Sandi Marcius (Jr.; started 8 games), Jacob Lawson (So.; started 4 games) and Donnie Hale (redshirted as a freshman).

Also joining the program this year is freshman A.J. Hammons, a 7’0”, 280 pound center.

It’s important to note that quantity does not equal quality, but competition for playing time can bring out the best in some kids.

Strong recruiting class

Wide 7-footer A.J. Hammons (RSCI #75), point guard Ronnie Johnson (RSCI #92), strong 6’5” wing Raphael Davis and 6’9” power forward Jay Simpson are now enrolled and will be called upon to contribute early and often.

All could play a substantial role on this year’s team, but most important is Johnson who is expected to start at point guard. His brother Terone is the team’s leading returning scorer (9.2 ppg) and it’s clear that Painter thinks highly of Ronnie (whose real name is Te’Ron). When asked to compare Ronnie to last year’s point guard Lewis Jackson, the head coach said, “he’s bigger than Lewis, he can shoot better than Lewis, he sees the floor better than him.”

Johnson’s career could prove more productive than Lew Jack’s, but there will be a drop in offensive Value Add between Jackson’s senior year and Johnson’s upcoming season.

Glass Half empty

2011-12 was mediocre

Against the top five in the Big Ten, Purdue was just 1-7 in regular season conference play (1-8 including loss in the conference tournament). Their 10-8 conference record looks fine, but resulted from the Boilers taking care of business when facing sub-.500 opponents.  The lone victory over a better conference foe was a road win at Michigan.

There was a decided split between the top five and bottom six in the Big Ten last year, with Purdue all alone in mediocre land. That’s not a promising sign for a team that returns just one player who averaged more than 20 minutes.

Where will efficient offense come from?

D.J. Byrd was remarkably efficient off the bench last season, knocking down 43.0% of his 3-point shots and rarely turning the ball over. On the other hand, his 2-point shooting has always been poor and his makes from behind the arc last year came off assists from teammates almost without exception.

Byrd is a very good player and his energy and effort is appreciated, but we do not project his senior year to be magical. Look for a drop in efficiency here.

Terone Johnson is someone who should and must show improvement. He showed promise this past spring, including the win at Michigan when Terone scored 22 points on 9/12 shooting. However, his inability to shoot the deep ball and free throws puts a fairly low ceiling on his efficiency potential.

Turnovers up, 3FG% down

Purdue limited their turnovers better than not only everyone else in the Big Ten, but better than any other team in the entire country. With the roster turnover, you can forget about them being tops in the nation. They can still be good at taking care of the ball, but they will not be nearly as good as they were in 2011-12.

Painter’s teams at Purdue have never shot the deep ball as well as they did in 2011-12. Without shooting specialist Ryne Smith (86 3FGM; 43.2 3FG%) and Robbie Hummel (72 3FGM; 38.3 3FG%), not to mention assists coming from penetrating point guard Lewis Jackson, Purdue won’t be able to match the 284 makes and 37.7 3FG% of last year.

Other Comments

  • The team took a foreign tour of Italy in August and the timing couldn’t have been better. With so many new and young faces the trip provided an opportunity to grow closer as well play together in exhibition games.
  • 2013 Recruiting: Next year’s class looks like it’ll be another solid group. Kendall Stephens is a very long 6’5” wing that can score. Hard-working combo guard Bryson Scott isn’t much more than 6’0”, but has played mostly off the ball. Scott could be used at the point when Ronnie Johnson needs a rest. Finally, 6’6” wing Basil Smotherman rounds out the class as it stands today.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“The program’s level of achievement over the past four years has been remarkable… However, not only does Purdue look to be down slightly this year, they’ll be without the three important seniors next season.”

“D.J. Byrd returns for his junior year and at 6’5″, 235 pounds he can find mismatches with his ability to use his build inside or call on his skill to step outside for three. Byrd won’t make the highlight reel very often, but he’s experienced (20.6 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and offers some versatility.”

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2012-13 Preview: #11 Penn State Nittany Lions

Pat Chambers is back for his second year at the helm and returns the biggest piece of last year’s team in senior point guard Tim Frazier. While Frazier could put together a spectacular season, the key for Penn State is getting good experience for their younger kids.

Last year the Nits struggled on both sides of the ball and they will again this season, but there are areas where they should be able to show at least modest improvement.

Penn State is capable of pulling off a couple impressive victories, but they’ll be near the bottom of the Big Ten again in 2012-13.

Glass Half Full

Solid Core

If Tim Frazier can shoot the ball a bit better, his already high value to the team will increase substantially. Speaking about Frazier at Big Ten Media Day, coach Chambers said, “I think we all know he needs to work on his jump shot and he’s done that. In practice so far he’s shooting his three’s at a high clip, which is great for us, almost makes him un-guardable…”

Even though Frazier only shot an effective field goal percentage of 44.6% (44.0 2FG%; 31.4 3FG%) in 2011-12, he posted an offensive rating of approximately 104 which is quite impressive considering his usage in nearly a third of Penn State’s possessions.

The 6’1” guard was one of the nation’s top assist men and regularly got himself to the free throw line. However, Frazier was the team’s only assist man and created most of his own shots. A little more team creativity on offense should produce higher percentage scoring opportunities for him.

On defense last year he was a big time thief (4.0 steal %) and with the ball cut down his own turnovers significantly after struggling in his first two seasons.

D.J. Newbill sat out last year after transferring from Southern Mississippi and has three years of eligibility remaining. He’s a big, physical but skilled guard that can do it all and will make his presence felt.  One area Penn State needs to improve on is getting guys other than Tim Frazier to the line and Newbill will certainly help in that regard. He’s an impact newcomer to the conference this year.

Ross Travis is a sophomore forward from Minnesota (Chaska HS) who showed some of his rebounding ability as a freshman, but has a lot more to offer including the ability to score and play multiple positions. Travis, who has one cousin at Harvard (sophomore Jonah Travis) and another in the strong 2014 Minnesota high school class (Jonah’s brother Reid) only averaged 17.9 minutes and 4.4 points per game as a freshman, but don’t sleep – he’s a player.

3-Point Shooting

If for no other reason than regression to the mean, the gap in 3-point shooting between Penn State and their opponents will probably decline in 2012-13. Penn State’s 3FG% figures on offense and defense were awful:

Overall Conf Only
Penn State 31.1% 29.8%
Opponents 38.2% 40.5%

Free Throw Rate

Similar to 3-point shooting, the disparity was so great a year ago that it would be tough be much worse.  The Nittany Lions attempted 296 free throws in conference play last year while their opponents earned 417 trips to the line or 41% more than Penn State.

Glass Half Empty

Reality

There are players to like on this team including those discussed above and redshirt junior guard Jermaine Marshall who averaged 27.1 minutes and 10.8 points per game, but the team’s talent just doesn’t match up with most of the Big Ten.

 Other Comments

  • In addition to losing Cammeron Woodyard (25.8 mpg, 8.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) to graduation, several other players are gone including transfers Matt Glover (23.5 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Trey Lewis (18.7 mpg, 5.6 ppg). Late last season, then-junior Billy Oliver (24.0 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg) ended his career early due to recurring concussion symptoms.
  • 2013 Recruiting: Philly stud Brandon Austin de-committed this summer, but Chambers has four pledged to next year’s recruiting class including combo guard Geno Thorpe, wing Payton Banks, local big man Julian Moore and Edina HS (Minn.) point guard Graham Woodward.
  • Area basketball fans can’t complain about ticket prices: lower bowl season tickets between the baselines cost just $200 with the remaining seating options priced at $180.  Season ticket holder benefits include a season parking pass good for all Bryce Jordan Center lots.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“There is no hope of the Nits returning to the tourney this year.”

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2012-13 Preview: #12 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska joined the Big Ten last season and won just four conference games. Since the end of last year’s overall 12-18 performance, the school dismissed head coach Doc Sadler and lost players who accounted for about two-thirds of the team’s minutes.

Most of the player minutes were lost to graduation, but the roster also took a hit over the summer with lesser used players leaving the program for various reasons ranging from medical issues to a dismissal.

The Huskers hope to feel growing pains throughout the upcoming year. While seniors Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley and perhaps injury-prone Andre Almeida will look to lead this squad, Nebraska needs others on the roster to progress.

This season will be painful for Nebraska, but as long as there are some beneficial growing pains mixed in with the pure frustration of another year in the cellar, new head coach Tim Miles will find things to build on in the future.

Glass Half Full

Brandon Ubel
Ubel is a nice player. The 6’10” senior was forced to be play a bit out of position last year (staying inside more than desired), but should be able to get out on the perimeter more this year. He’s never attempted more than 28 three-pointers in a season, but may get a chance to show his deep range more often in 2012-13. Lots of room to increase his usage and I think he can still be a highly efficient offensive player who shoots for a good percentage even with a big boost to his workload.

As a junior, Ubel showed big improvement on the offensive boards and in cutting down his turnovers.

New Head Coach
Tim Miles came over from Colorado State after five years as their head coach. Coach Miles has a number of Minnesota ties and brings in former Gopher cager Ben Johnson as one of his assistants. Miles is a likable coach and provides an energy boost to a program that needs it.

Glass Half Empty

Reality
There’s no way around it – this team does not have the talent to compete in the Big Ten this year.

Other Comments

  • Realistically, in the near future Nebraska would like to be in the position of feeling like they have a reasonable chance of getting onto the NCAA bubble each year. This is a program that has never won a tournament game and has gone dancing just six times.
  • Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Terran Petteway (Texas Tech) transferred into the program this summer and will be eligible to play in another year. Pitchford is a big 6’10” forward who could wind up being fairly good for the Huskers.
  • The 2013 recruiting class looks promising and the Huskers still have spaces to fill.  Solid combo guard Nathan Hawkins and former Minnesota Gophers target Nick Fuller, a 6’7” wing from Wisconsin, are joined by an interesting wild card in Tai Webster.  Webster is a point guard from New Zealand and has looked good at times in international competition.
  • Nebraska opened the $19 million Hendricks Training Complex one year ago, giving the basketball program an excellent practice facility.
  • Pinnacle Arena is scheduled to open in Lincoln early next fall and will serve as the new (rental) home for Nebraska basketball. The cost of the multi-purpose arena is estimated to be approximately $180 million and will hold events throughout the year.

A Look Back at 2011-12 Preseason Preview Quote(s)
“Up front, junior Brandon Ubel started 10 of the team’s final 12 contests and may get a chance for more minutes this year. His offensive Value Add would say he’s the top returning offensive contributor from a year ago and with a bulked up frame (now 6’10”, 240 pounds) to go along with good shooting range for his size, indications are that he could be a key contributor this season.”

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