KNOW THY ENEMY: Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska

What's even more intense than Nebrasketball?

Nebrasketball about to embark on its swan song through endure one last blanket party from the Big 12.

Yes, payback is a bitch, and Doc Sadler's about to suffer a tenfold return on the goodwill spread by the Pelini brothers this year.

Follow the jump for more hot Husker hoops action. And if for some reason you actually still want to talk to any Nebraska Cornhuskers fans about sports (even this one, which most aren't aware they even play), there's always Corn Nation.

The Story So Far

Well, here we go again. At this time last year, the Huskers were 9-3 and on the cusp of the RPI Top 100.

Fast-forward 365 days, and Nebraska is 10-2 and possesses the exact same RPI rank it did when I published this feature last year.

The formula has been much the same, although it could be argued the Huskers have challenged themselves a little more this year with a trip to Puerto Rico and some other halfway decent opponents.

In that tournament, Nebraska lost to a now-ranked Vanderbilt team by 10 and to a much less talented Davidson team by three. They salvaged the weekend with a win over Hofstra. The other quality wins are against USC, a game in which Nebraska trailed by 20 before coming back to win by two, and TCU.

Five of the Huskers' seven other wins are against sub-200 RPI opposition, however. Again, hard to get too excited about this kind of start when last year, it resulted in a 2-14 conference record and no postseason. Just getting to the NIT would be a significant achievement for Nebraska in its last year as a bottom-end Big 12 program.

Current Nebraska RPI: 101
Current Nebraska SOS: 246

Note: All stats for current players are updated through the most recent game this season, unless otherwise noted.

 

The Coach

DocSadler

Doc Sadler
Fifth Season

70-57 (23-41) at Nebraska
117-73 (48-48) overall

Bio

 

The Departures

 

Starters

  • Ryan Anderson (27.9 minutes per game | 11.3 points per game | 5.3 rebounds per game)
  • Sek Henry (27.4 minutes per game | 7.5 points per game | 3.3 rebounds per game)

Reserves

  • Quincy Hankins-Cole (9.6 minutes per game | 4.0 points per game | 2.4 rebounds per game)
  • Myles Holley (9.2 minutes per game | 3.4 points per game | 2.0 rebounds per game)
  • Ben Nelson (3.9 minutes per game | 1.1 points per game | 0.8 rebound per game)
  • Christian Standhardinger (15.4 minutes per game | 8.1 points per game | 3.8 rebounds per game)

 

The Veterans

JorgeBrianDiaz

#21 Brian Jorge Diaz
Sophomore Center
6-11 | 245
Caguas, Puerto Rico

Bio

23.3 minutes per game | 10.8 points per game | 4.3 rebounds per game

MikeFox

#33 Mike Fox
Sophomore Guard
6-4 | 195
Beatrice, Neb.

Bio

2.6 minutes per game | 0.8 point per game | 0.8 rebound per game

RayGallegos

#15 Ray Gallegos
Sophomore Guard
6-2 | 178
Jordan, Utah

Bio

15.8 minutes per game | 3.8 points per game | 1.5 rebounds per game

LanceJeter

#34 Lance Jeter
Senior Guard
6-3 | 225
Beaver Falls, Pa.

Bio

27.2 minutes per game | 10.7 points per game | 3.9 rebounds per game

FANTASY OWNER: K. Scott Bailey (supplemental)

EshaunteJones

#1 Eshaunte Jones
Sophomore Guard
6-4 | 200
Fort Wayne, Ind.

Bio

12.9 minutes per game | 4.5 points per game | 1.5 rebounds per game

MattKarn

#12 Matt Karn
Senior Guard
6-3 | 210
Philpot, Ky.

Bio

2.4 minutes per game | 0.6 point per game | 0.0 rebounds per game

ToneyMcCray

#0 Toney McCray
Junior Guard
6-6 | 210
Missouri City, Texas

Bio

18.6 minutes per game | 5.4 points per game | 4.6 rebounds per game

BrandonRichardson

#3 Brandon Richardson
Junior Guard
6-0 | 190
Los Angeles, Calif.

Bio

20.8 minutes per game | 5.3 points per game | 2.5 rebounds per game

BrandonUbel

#13 Brandon Ubel
Sophomore Forward
6-10 | 240
Overland Park, Kan.

Bio

19.6 minutes per game | 6.5 points per game | 3.7 rebounds per game

 

The Redshirts

DrakeBeranek

#31 Drake Beranek
Senior Guard
6-4 | 200
Ravenna, Neb.

Bio

15.9 minutes per game | 5.3 points per game | 2.2 rebounds per game

ChristopherNiemann

#14 Christopher Niemann
Sophomore Center
6-11 | 275
Kühlungsborn, Germany

Bio

8.0 minutes per game | 2.0 points per game | 2.5 rebounds per game

 

The Newcomers

AndreAlmeida

#32 Andre Almeida
Junior Center
6-11 | 310
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Bio

16.3 minutes per game | 6.0 points per game | 3.7 rebounds per game

KamyronBrown

#23 Kamyron Brown
Junior Guard
6-2 | 170
Anaheim, Calif.

Bio

4.0 minutes per game | 0.0 points per game | 2.0 rebounds per game

KyeKurkowski

#45 Kye Kurkowski
Freshman Center
6-10 | 200
Grant, Neb.

Bio

12.9* points per game | 9.2* rebounds per game | 3.9* blocks per game

*at Perkins County High School in 2009-10

TrevorMenke

#10 Trevor Menke
Freshman Guard
5-11 | 172
Beatrice, Neb.

Bio

14.2* points per game | 2.3* rebounds per game | 5.1* assists per game

*at Beatrice High School in 2009-10

MarshallParker

#55 Marshall Parker
Sophomore Center
6-8 | 245
Fort Smith, Ark.

Bio

12.0* points per game | 9.0* rebounds per game

*at Van Buren High School in 2008-09

BoSpencer

#5 Bo Spencer
Senior Guard
6-2 | 193
Baton Rouge, La.

Bio

36.2* minutes per game | 14.5* points per game | 2.5* rebounds per game

*at LSU in 2009-10

JordanTyrance

#20 Jordan Tyrance
Freshman Forward
6-3 | 195
Lincoln, Neb.

Bio

11.1* points per game | 8.2* rebounds per game | 2.2* minutes per game

*at Lincoln Southwest High School in 2009-10

CalebWalker

#25 Caleb Walker
Junior Guard
6-4 | 205
Hutchinson, Kan.

Bio

19.4 minutes per game | 6.2 points per game | 5.0 rebounds per game

My thanks to the Nebraska sports information department for the photos.

 

The Analysis

You know, when I think about Doc Sadler's recruiting strategy, I'm reminded of the Island of Misfit Toys. Other than what Jim Wooldridge likely is doing at UC Riverside, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more motley collection of tall, lanky white guys and foreign players from every corner of the globe.

Sadler pretty much takes any player willing to come to Lincoln and play basketball at a football school, then coaches them up to play aggressive defense and score with decent offensive principles using backdoor cuts. At a certain level, it works. Nebraska usually dominates its non-conference schedule.

But in the Big 12, it usually doesn't fly. I say "usually" because there is at least an outside chance of Nebraska reaching the NIT this year. The Huskers have a decent RPI and getting to around 7-9 in conference play might do it.

Last season, Nebraska went through what Iowa State and Oklahoma are experiencing this year. That is, the near-total turnover of their roster. Sadler added around eight newcomers last season, and the resulting chemistry imbalance led to a 2-14 season that featured just one double-digit scorer, now-departed senior Ryan Anderson.

From that team, Nebraska also lost glue guy Sek Henry, its version of Dominique Sutton, and reserve players Quincy Hankins-Cole and Myles Holley. Then, earlier this month, Nebraska's third-leading scorer, Christian Standhardinger, pulled a Lucca Staiger and quit the team to return to Germany.

Offsetting those departures are the 11 players who returned from last year's team, eight of whom are contributing more than 3.8 points per game.

The "stars," for lack of a better word, are senior point guard Lance Jeter and Puerto Rican center Jorge Brian Diaz, one of the most promising bigs in the league. Both are averaging double figures.

Other key contributors include sophomore guards Ray Gallegos and Eshaunte Jones, junior swingmen Toney McCray and Brandon Richardson, and Overland Park product Brandon Ubel, who starred in the movie "Twilight."

To that mix, Sadler has added two redshirts from last year, Nebraska native Drake Beranek and German center Christopher Niemann, as well as Nebraska's answer to Freddy Asprilla: Brazilian center Andre Almeida.

The latter two both are 6-foot-11, although Almeida's a bit overweight at 310 pounds, which probably will limit his minutes.

Freshmen Kye Kurkowski, Trevor Menke, Marshall Parker and Jordan Tyrance all appear to be redshirting, as is LSU transfer Bo Spencer.

Oregon transfer Kamyron Brown only has played four minutes this season, so the only real impact newcomer is Caleb Walker, a Butler County Community College transfer who's averaging five points and six rebounds.

Bottom line: This is a somewhat deep, experienced team, but like all Sadler teams, it will have to rely on good team play to overcome an across-the-board lack of high-level talent.

 

Projected Big 12 Starting Lineup

LanceJeter BrandonRichardson CalebWalker BrandonUbel JorgeBrianDiaz
Lance Jeter Brandon Richardson Caleb Walker Brandon Ubel Jorge Brian Diaz
1 2 3 4 5

 

Projected Top Big 12 Reserves

RayGallegos DrakeBeranek EshaunteJones ToneyMcCray AndreAlmeida
Ray Gallegos Drake Beranek Eshaunte Jones Toney McCray Andre Almeida
1 2 3 4 5

 

The Final Verdict

While the Huskers probably won't make too much noise in the Big 12 this year, I expect them to take care of Oklahoma and Texas Tech with little trouble, and they should hold serve at home against Colorado and Iowa State.

And as they showed last season in Kansas City, they can pull the occasional upset over a team like Missouri, too.

Doc's teams usually do a little better than expected (except for last year's disaster, of course), and I don't expect any different this year. But this team is poised for bigger things next year, when last year's newcomers become upperclassmen and the program moves into a Big Ten Conference that's more suited to Sadler's style of play.

Big 12 preseason prediction: 10th

My predicted finish: 8th

Best-case scenario: 6th

Against K-State?: Loss in Manhattan, loss in Lincoln

 

Previously on KNOW THY ENEMY...

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  9. Iowa State
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  12. Oklahoma

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