After a strong start to year five of the Fred Hoiberg era, there’s finally some reason to believe in this Cornhusker hoops program once again.
It’s no secret that the last decade has been a tough run for Nebraska basketball. They haven’t made an NCAA Tournament in ten seasons, since the 2013-14 year, which was former coach Tim Miles’ second with the program. But that could change this season — or at the very least, the Huskers appear decent enough to compete on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
They’ve started out 4-0, but all those wins have come over some pretty weak lower-conference opponents before the schedule really ramps up starting this week. In those wins, poor competition or not, the Huskers have been stellar on defense while recording blowout wins.
When asked what about this team excites him after the lates win over Stony Brook, the Nebraska head coach answered: “Well, I I love our toughness. I love how, every night that we’ve played, we’ve defended at a high level.”
Through four games, Nebraska ranks 14th in the nation in points allowed per game. That’s primarily because Nebraska has forced its opponents into a ton of missed shots. Teams playing against the Huskers are shooting abysmally both from the field and from three while also missing far more free throws than, say, your typical Big Ten team.
Despite the strong performances on defense, Fred Hoiberg still doesn’t think his team has put together a full game offensively.
“And, you know, we have not shot the ball very well to this point from three-point range. I think you saw what we’re capable of in the second half. Hopefully, we can put two halves together. I think opening night, we made nine of them in the first half and only two in the second. Tonight, it was three and then I think we made six in the second half.
“So you know, I thought we were really efficient inside the arc and a lot of that had to do with getting the ball up. I thought we played with really good pace.”
Hoiberg doesn’t want to look too far down the line, though. Like most coaches, he’s focused on the road immediately ahead.
“As far as what this team’s capable of, we just need to keep growing. We can’t be satisfied with what’s happened so far. We got a big one coming up on Saturday and we need to have two great days of preparation.”