The Jayhawks welcome former conference-mate Nebraska Cornhuskers back to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. To help us learn a little more about the ‘Huskers, we reached out to SBNation’s Nebraska site, CornNation.
Q: Tim Miles seemed to have things up and running fit the Nebraska program in 2014. Was that season a fluke? If not, what has prevented him from building on that success?
2014, it’s kind of hard to say. The stats show that the Huskers won a lot of games they shouldn’t have. The numbers weren’t exactly encouraging going into the following season. They then road that luck into the postseason. Seniors leaving and the need to develop the youngers guys took over the following season. The previous coaching staff, Doc Sadler, didn’t leave much in the cupboard so there was a lot of recruiting and development that had yet to happen.
Since then Coach Miles has done a good job developing players while trying to get some playmakers to transfer in and lift them to the next level. I’ll explain that more in the next question.
Q: One thing Kansas and Nebraska basketball have in common recently is Andrew White. He had a great year for the Huskers last year, but it didn't translate into a great season for the team, and now he's moved on again. Why didn't he stick around, and how do fans feel about him at this point?
Tim Miles has done what a lot of coaches do, they try to transfer in talent from other teams to make up for the lack of talent that is already in the development stages. This can lead to mixed results. Case in point, Andrew White III. Technically, Andrew was probably the highest rated player to come to Nebraska. We were excited to say the least. He was a good player. Usually one of the higher scorers in each game he played in. Though, he couldn’t carry the team on his shoulders. He couldn’t be that player to lift the team up to the next level.
It was understandable for him to look into the NBA draft. Most of us understood. We were all ecstatic when that didn’t pan out and he decided to come back. He was going to be the lynchpin to a great year. But, he didn’t want to come back to Nebraska. Once Miles granted him his release to look elsewhere the fan base pretty much turned their back on him.
No one is happy how things ended up with that situation. People have pretty much written him off.
Q: Kansas football and Nebraska basketball have a lot in common. Brief periods of success surrounded by years of frustration. Both teams have had a hard time sustaining and building on the brief glimpses of light they've had. What are the biggest reasons for NU’s struggle in building a basketball program?
That’s a great question. You could probably write a really long boring book on the subject. My best guess is that the fanbase was happy enough with a great football program and just fine with a mediocre basketball one. Thus we only put so much into it. Yes, there were always plenty of fans. But only so many that cared about it more than that football team.
About 8 years ago the athletic department finally started putting money into the system. We now have a new arena, their own weight room, and one of the top basketball practice facilities in the country. Now we just need the coach to bring it all together.
BTW, nice win over Texas.
Q: With Shields and White gone this year, who are the go-to guys for the Huskers? Are there any young players that have Nebraska excited for the future?
Tai Webster would be the first one. He’s from New Zealand and has had a bit of a time transitioning from the international game to the US college one. However, he has been fairly solid this season and is our number one target. He’s also the lone senior on this very young team. Problem with him is his ability to get into foul trouble.
Following him would be sophomores Ed Morrow Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. Both are quick and talented. These guys will develop more so as the season goes on. Another year in the program should help develop them into quality players. Isaiah Roby is a true freshman who has been a little slow starting this year due to injury. I think he will be a huge asset as a big man for the team once he gets healthy and learns the system.
Q: It looks like Nebraska has struggled to site at times, but they play pretty good defense. Is the key to victory Saturday to turn this into a slow-paced, ugly game?
For Nebraska, yes. If Nebraska can slow down KU then it might be a long night for the Jayhawks. How they do that can be tricky. The big problem that has hurt them for a few years is their ability to get into scoring droughts. Give them more than one on Saturday and it could be an early afternoon for Kansas.
Q: What's your final score prediction for Saturday, and beyond that, what's your prediction for NU’s record in the B1G this year?
Nebraska is coming off a couple of tough weeks and a pretty bad defeat to Creighton at home. I’ve been to the Phog to watch Nebraska play Kansas. It’s like Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, but inside. I can’t think of any other place Nebraska has played that can compare. Final score Kansas 78 Nebraska 63.
As for the Big Ten, I think they will end up on the lower end of the middle. They won’t be the worst but they also won’t be fighting through to the upper third. Thank God for teams like Rutgers. Yep, they bring more than TV’s to the conference. Everyone loves an easy win.
A big thanks to CornNation for helping us break down this matchup and the “rivalry.” Don’t forget to check out the questions I answered for them over at CornNation.