After knocking off the Wolverines in overtime this past weekend, the Hawkeyes are headed to Lincoln to try to knock off the pesky Bugeaters. Nebraska has started conference play 2-0 after victories against Maryland and Indiana, ON THE ROAD. This Nebrasketball team might be better than we thought, folks!
To help us get a better handle on the state of Nebrasketball, I talked to Patrick Gerhart from SB Nation’s very own Corn Nation. We discussed how Nebraska will defend Iowa’s impressive offense, the Cornhuskers’ strengths and weaknesses, and of course, is Nebrasketball good? Let’s get to it.
Max: Nebraska really struggled to start the season, but they played some very tough teams and started the Big Ten season 6-6, but have since beaten Indiana and Maryland on the road. Is… is Nebrasketball good?
Patrick: Nebrasketball is good. At least better than they were playing earlier this season. Even I am surprised of the turnaround after Christmas. Yes, the non conference was tough but we weren’t exactly playing up to our potential. Part of it is the fact that this is a young team that has some growing to do. It takes time with new teammates to develop and gel. Senior leadership is at a minimum right now so don’t be surprised if a few of these guys really start stepping up soon.
Also, like you said, the non conference slate was a bit brutal but they got through it and I think that will benefit them in the long run.
Now, with that said. The Big Ten’s top teams are a little down this year. Indiana did look flat when they came out and lost to the Huskers and Maryland is visibly down from last year. These are still good teams but they’re not exactly like the UCLA, Creighton, and Kansas teams they played earlier on this season.
Max: Out of the teams who have beaten Nebraska, what were they able to do to take advantage of the Huskers?
Patrick: Out shoot Nebraska seems to be the mantra. The Huskers have an issue with scoring droughts that has plagued them for a couple years now. If you look at their statistics you can easily see that they’re not anywhere near where they should be if they want to compete in the Big Ten down the stretch. I’ll get to more of that in a bit.
Max: Outside of Webster and Watson, who are the biggest playmakers for this Huskers team?
Patrick: Ed Morrow has been a huge help for the team. Especially on defense where he is averaging 8.4 rebounds a game. He’s just a sophomore but has contributed since he was a freshman and is constantly improving his game. He really shines when teams seem to focus on Tai or Glynn.
Jeriah Horne is another who has come along nicely and is currently starting. His stats are not world beating yet but that will come along with playing time. Expect to see more of him as the season goes on.
The one that I think most Nebrasketball fans are excited for is Isaiah Roby. He’s another freshman that has taken a little longer to develop due to an injury this summer but should be a huge asset as time moves along.
Max: What is the biggest strength for Nebraska? Biggest weakness?
Patrick: Biggest strength would be the defense which has kept us in games all year long. Even the top teams that Nebraska has played have struggled with them through the first half of the season. Steals seem to be one thing teams forget about when they play Nebraska and the stats seem to show it. Watch for Webster to make problems for the Hawkeyes when you’re on offense.
As for weakness I would say it’s our scoring. We are low on just about every offensive category. The scoring droughts that the Huskers have gone through can drive a fan mad with frustration. Even in the win against Maryland, there were scoring droughts that could have easily tanked the team.
Max: Peter Jok and Co. can score at will pretty much game in and game out. What kinds of defense do the Huskers feature and how will they try to stop Jok from taking over?
Patrick: I haven’t watched too much Iowa basketball this season but I’m guessing Miles will stick to the a zone defense. It has worked pretty well this season with our skills set and I don’t see him changing that anytime soon. Against Maryland he brought in a 1-3-1 that the Terps weren’t prepared for and it changed the game. However, I doubt Miles is going to start out with it if he doesn’t have to.
Max: Alright, finally: prediction time. Who wins and why?
Patrick: I am going to go with the Huskers win streak on this one. It could go either way and Nebraska has yet to win a big one at home this season but I like the Big Red in a defensive battle that comes close in the end.
Thanks to Patrick for his time and insight! Of course, I hope the Hawkeyes throw nine hundred points on your team. For more on Nebrasketball, check out Corn Nation and check them out on Twitter at @CornNation. Go Hawks.