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Norm Peterson

Mixed Blessing? Lunchtime musing

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Was listening to Sports Nightly last night and the hosts were talking about Copeland coming back to the team and everyone was pretty positive about that.  But then they brought up the '14-15 season and how we tanked after the NCAA tourney run from the year before.  And the point was made, I forget by whom, that the danger when you get some guys returning for another year, wanting to impress NBA scouts, is that they could be playing more for the name on the back of the jersey instead of the name on the front.  In that sense, was having both these guys coming back somewhat of a mixed blessing?  It didn't work out so well a few years ago.

 

I got to thinking about that.  Sure, that's a risk.  You have a couple of guys for sure who want to increase their draft stock.  Part of what will make them more appealing to NBA scouts is that the team does well.  So, a good part of them has to know that team success is very important for their NBA aspirations.  But, y'know, there's probably a small part in the backs of a few of their brains that says "I have to get my touches, too."

 

I have a few reasons to think it isn't going to be as much of an issue as some might fear:

 

1.  Top 6 players in assists from last year:

 

Glynn Watson -- 106

James Palmer -- 99

Evan Taylor -- 74

Isaiah Roby -- 53

Isaac Copeland -- 38

Anton Gill -- 34

 

In '14-15, Petteway was a primary ball handler and he took 465 shots against 87 assists.  Compare that with Palmer's 408 shots and 99 assists last year.  At a time when James was harboring NBA aspirations, he dished out 9 assists against Minnesota.  In our NIT loss, he had 5 assists.  It's a big part of James's game to hit his teammates when they're in a position to score.  (Same with Isaiah Roby, by the way, whose shots-to-assists ratio is even better.)  I don't see that changing.  The guys who will have the ball in their hands to initiate the offense will mitigate any tendency of any other players to go "me first" at the expense of the team.

 

2.  418 shot attempts from last year graduated or went pro.

 

Anton Gill and Evan Taylor combined for 362 shot attempts last season.  They both graduated.  Those shot attempts are going to be redistributed.  Our top returning players -- the same ones with NBA aspirations -- are going to be the primary beneficiaries of the increased opportunities.  They won't absorb them all, but they should get enough of a chunk of the extra attempts that they aren't going to feel like they need to force things in order to get theirs.

 

3.  It's about efficiency.  And they know it.

 

These guys know that it's not all about getting more looks but about getting more out of the looks they get.  Copeland's comments when he announced he'll return for his senior year were about needing to show that he can excel at something, how all the guys in the NBA really excel at at least one thing.  He talked about perimeter shooting being an area where he needs to improve.  Ok.  So, Isaac shot 37% from three last year.  Not bad.  But he needs that number to be over 40%.  That sounds like a win-win to me.  A perfect combination of Palmer penetrating and dishing to Copeland for a corner trey.  The team is not lessened or diminished in that scenario.  These guys also know they need to be able to prove they can defend multiple positions, so it's not just about padding offensive stats.

 

4.  They're already used to each other.

 

Don't underestimate the advantage of familiarity.  We return our top 4 scorers and 6 of our top 8.  Those top 4 scorers -- all starters -- were generally on the floor at the same time last year.  They already have a feel for each other's tendencies.  Whereas one player in particular coming off our NCAA tourney run a few years back expressed public dissatisfaction with his lack of attempts and seemed to pout about it the whole next year (which affected the team, no question) I don't get that vibe from this group.  They seem to feel like getting left out of the dance was a slap in their collective faces and that they have something to prove.  As a team.  I think this is a situation where the team goals and the individual goals line up.  The better these guys do individually, the better off the team will be.

 

Bottom line:  I think these NBA aspirations that a few of our players harbor are a good thing for us.  It's like how baseball players facing free agency magically have career-best seasons.  The guys are going to be motivated to fix a couple areas of weakness or really work to improve a skill to the point of excellence.  That helps us.  A lot.  I don't think there's as much of a downside as there might be if it was just one guy looking to pad his stats for the NBA scouts or if the player seeking to get drafted happened to be a ball-hog prone to taking questionable shots.  In this case, I think individual success is going to beget team success.  Go Big Red.

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Also, the staff is in tact as far as the x and o part goes.  Smith did a ton of the x and o stuff and we struggled to coach that year without him.   Not having to worry about that will be critical.  

 

Side note.  I cannot wait to play the sweater vesters.  It needs to be a hostile situation and we need to end this nonsense.  

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22 minutes ago, royalfan said:

Also, the staff is in tact as far as the x and o part goes.  Smith did a ton of the x and o stuff and we struggled to coach that year without him.   Not having to worry about that will be critical.  

 

Side note.  I cannot wait to play the sweater vesters.  It needs to be a hostile situation and we need to end this nonsense.  

Kenya Hunter did a lot of game planning last year.

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Yeah it's possible that we could tank next season like we did in 2014, and like Minnesota and Northwestern did last year.

 

But it's more likely we won't, and it's orders of magnitude more likely we could contend for a title with the guys back than it would be if they left, so I say let's not try and find the cloud behind the silver lining and try to enjoy the ride as much as we can!

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They accomplished nothing in reality. Banners do not get hung for 22 wins and top 4 finishes. They get hung for conference championships and tournament appeareances/deep runs.

 

This team should still feel they have PLENTY to prove.

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7 minutes ago, 49r said:

 

Cope, Roby and Palmer also played a pretty big part in making the game plans look good.

No kidding?

Of course they did. Just saying that dismissing his game planning role as no big deal is a mistake, IMO.

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3 minutes ago, khoock said:

They accomplished nothing in reality. Banners do not get hung for 22 wins and top 4 finishes. They get hung for conference championships and tournament appeareances/deep runs.

 

This team should still feel they have PLENTY to prove.

That's not true either. They did accomplish something. I know the end result wasn't what we'd have liked, but they did do things that don't happen around here very often. Don't discount that. It shouldn't be taken for granted.

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I wonder what the NBA scouts said Copeland and Palmer needed to work on most.

 

Found this about Copeland on NBA Scouting.  Think someone else has posted it somewhere.  Sounds fair.  Most importantly, these are all things he has control over.

 

Cons:

Needs to improve his shooting

Not an elite ball handler

Can be too passive on offense

Needs to improve his rebounding

Does not collect many steals or blocks

Must get stronger

May struggle to adjust to NBA tempo

Edited by Norm Peterson

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My biggest two concerns this coming season are injuries and putting individual goals in front of team goals.  But the more I thought about it the better I felt.  Those two concerns are there for every team whether or not you have returning talent.  This team had a lot of chemistry last year, at least in part because we had good senior leadeship.  We have (what appears to be) strong senior leadershp this coming season as well.

 

We have a right to feel confident this coming season, and that is with my rose colored glasses remaining in their case.

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Good points, but I wonder if Gallegos' graduating had more of an impact than realized.  Even though Gallegos did not put up the numbers his senior year like he did his junior year, he still was a legitimate scoring threat.  Coaches had to game plan for him.  Also, Gallegos was a 3pt threat which opened the floor for Petteway and Shields.  Also consider that Pitchford, another 3pt threat went from .410 to .289 from behind the arc.  Teams were just not as afraid of Nebraska's 3pt shooting in 2014-2015.  That clogged the offense.

 

Leslee Smith's injury also made an impact.  There was no offense and limited defense in the post with Hammond (true frosh, needed a year in the weight room), Rivers (undersized), and Moses (knees).  

 

For 2018-2019, Gill's loss is somewhat mitigated as he seemed to wear down as the season concluded.  The offense improved when Gill was shooting well.  Evan Taylor was solid off the bench and it will be interesting to see who can hold down that role.  However, like in 2014-2015, it really comes down to whether 3pt shooting stays the same/improves instead of regressing.    

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2 minutes ago, Donkey said:

Leslee Smith's injury also made an impact.  There was no offense and limited defense in the post with Hammond (true frosh, needed a year in the weight room), Rivers (undersized), and Moses (knees).  

  

Hear, Hear!  In the rare game that season, where Leslee played at least 30 minutes, the Huskers beat Michigan St.

Leslee's summertime knee blow-out was devastating for that team.  Up to then, Leslee had been the symbol of Tim Miles's ability to find an under-rated player and get excellent production from him.

  

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2 hours ago, Norm Peterson said:

Was listening to Sports Nightly last night and the hosts were talking about Copeland coming back to the team and everyone was pretty positive about that.  But then they brought up the '14-15 season and how we tanked after the NCAA tourney run from the year before.  And the point was made, I forget by whom, that the danger when you get some guys returning for another year, wanting to impress NBA scouts, is that they could be playing more for the name on the back of the jersey instead of the name on the front.  In that sense, was having both these guys coming back somewhat of a mixed blessing?  It didn't work out so well a few years ago......................

 

I'm with Norm.  While it's tempting to compare the current season with the season following the NCAA Tournament run (I guess they have to talk about something),  I don't think it is a very good analogy for several reasons.  The situation is entirely different.  Nebraska's preseason ranking the following year would likely have very accurate; IF the Same team had returned the following year.  @Donkey has some great points (as well a a good memory).  Rather than attribute the demise to ball-hogging instead of team-play,  I think that losing key, but un-acclaimed contributors like Leslee Smith prior to the start of the season was just the beginning.  Then Walt failed to return to form, ceasing to be a factor and disappearing from several games before ultimately becoming seemingly retired.  Shavon was increasing coming into his own but Tai had not yet reached his stride.  With the lack of scoring options, it seems only natural to look to your best player (IIRC Terran had been the leading scorer in the B1G during the tournament season).  Even so,  the Huskers gave Rhode Island a hell of a game before going down to defeat at the end (how many times in the past have the opposing team's fans rushed the floor after winning?),  but the heart-braking loss was the forerunner of the season's slide.

 

Several have recapped the current team's situation; and I don't see any comparison with '14-'15,  other than the the team failed to live up to billing.   This year's team may yet fall short of our expectations,  but I believe the chances are much better than in '14-'15.  If Glynn Watson has a break-out year, and other players improve year-over-year, we could be very Good this season.

 

 

 

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Imagine if we got 2016-17 productivity out of Glynn Watson this coming season.

 

Season Averages
SEASON TEAM MIN FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT% REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
2017-18 NEB 29.7 3.6-10.5 .347 1.0-3.5 .291 2.2-2.8 .780 3.3 3.2 0.2 1.4 2.4 1.5 10.5
2016-17 NEB 31.6 4.6-11.1 .417 1.5-3.9 .397 2.2-2.7 .810 3.0 2.6 0.1 1.6 2.9 1.5 13.0
2015-16 NEB 24.3 3.4-8.7 .389 0.6-2.2 .267 1.2-1.6 .792 1.9 2.4 0.1 1.2 2.1 1.0 8.6
SEASON TEAM MIN FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT% REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
2017-18 NEB 981 120-346 .347 34-117 .291 71-91 .780 110 106 7 47 78 48 345
2016-17 NEB 979 144-345 .417 48-121 .397 68-84 .810 93 81 4 50 91 48 404
2015-16 NEB 826 115-296 .389 20-75 .267 42-53 .792 63 83 3 40 73 35 292

 

He didn't take any more shots; he just made more of the shots he took.

 

Fewer assists, but that's probably because the guys he was passing to that year were missing more of their shots.

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1 hour ago, Donkey said:

Good points, but I wonder if Gallegos' graduating had more of an impact than realized.  Even though Gallegos did not put up the numbers his senior year like he did his junior year, he still was a legitimate scoring threat.  Coaches had to game plan for him.  Also, Gallegos was a 3pt threat which opened the floor for Petteway and Shields.  Also consider that Pitchford, another 3pt threat went from .410 to .289 from behind the arc.  Teams were just not as afraid of Nebraska's 3pt shooting in 2014-2015.  That clogged the offense.

 

Leslee Smith's injury also made an impact.  There was no offense and limited defense in the post with Hammond (true frosh, needed a year in the weight room), Rivers (undersized), and Moses (knees).  

 

For 2018-2019, Gill's loss is somewhat mitigated as he seemed to wear down as the season concluded.  The offense improved when Gill was shooting well.  Evan Taylor was solid off the bench and it will be interesting to see who can hold down that role.  However, like in 2014-2015, it really comes down to whether 3pt shooting stays the same/improves instead of regressing.    

 

1.  100% agree on Gallegos.  He was the x-factor of that team's success because all he did was run around and shoot threes.  That helped a ton for creating space, and we didn't replace him with anyone.  Thomas Allen easily steps in as the Gallegos of this squad, in my opinion.  I think that kid breaks out.  He's too good of a shooter not to.  

 

2.  Agree again.  Jordy is a better version of Leslee, and not having Leslee took away good picks and good enough interior defense/toughness.  

 

3.  Agree on Gill, and I think Thomas Allen steps right in.  The person who allowed that to happen is Amir Harris, who basically looks like Evan Taylor 2.0.  So Thomas Allen never has to play point guard again (I hope) because that's not what he's here to do.  He's here to shoot the ball from beyond the arc.  A lot.  

 

One other thing that might be obvious: this team's returning players are simply better.

 

GWIII (senior) >> Tai (soph)

Palmer (senior) >> Petteway (junior)

Copeland (senior) >> Pitchford (junior)

Roby (junior) >> Shavon (junior)

Jordy (junior) >> Leslee

Allen . (soph) >> Parker (junior)

 

Reserves/walkons:

(not sure who the back up pf is) << Rivers

Costello >> Menke

Harris >> Tarin Smith

Borchardt >> Hammond, Ayegba

Thor >> Fuller

Heiman >> Kurkowski

Davis >> ??

Nana >> ??

 

Also:

 

TM (2018) >>>>>>> TM (2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We didn’t make the NCAA’s so tanking might not be an issue.  However, we may have all this experience coming back and not have a better record or standing within the B1G.  We will miss Taylor and Gill.  Can Allen step up?  Can Tanner provide some productive minutes?  We will still lack rebounding and be hurt by power players.  I hope we are more efficient on offense and shoot the ball better.

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3 hours ago, Cazzie22 said:

We didn’t make the NCAA’s so tanking might not be an issue

 

This. There's a lot of things different between this team and the 14-15 team; the biggest thing is that this team didn't make the tourney.

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I think it can work for Palmer and Copeland to both work on their things to get to the NBA and towards us winning.

Both took about 1/3rd of their shots from 3 and even if that drifts towards 1/2 I think because we have the capacity in our offense even if everyone else makes up for Gill's shots.

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Alot of people are overthinking this. The more good players you have, the better. It's like when some talking heads argued the Celtics were better WITHOUT Heyward & Irving. That's a silly notion masked as a "hot take."

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16 hours ago, Donkey said:

Good points, but I wonder if Gallegos' graduating had more of an impact than realized.  Even though Gallegos did not put up the numbers his senior year like he did his junior year, he still was a legitimate scoring threat.  Coaches had to game plan for him.  Also, Gallegos was a 3pt threat which opened the floor for Petteway and Shields.  Also consider that Pitchford, another 3pt threat went from .410 to .289 from behind the arc.  Teams were just not as afraid of Nebraska's 3pt shooting in 2014-2015.  That clogged the offense.

 

Leslee Smith's injury also made an impact.  There was no offense and limited defense in the post with Hammond (true frosh, needed a year in the weight room), Rivers (undersized), and Moses (knees).  

 

For 2018-2019, Gill's loss is somewhat mitigated as he seemed to wear down as the season concluded.  The offense improved when Gill was shooting well.  Evan Taylor was solid off the bench and it will be interesting to see who can hold down that role.  However, like in 2014-2015, it really comes down to whether 3pt shooting stays the same/improves instead of regressing.    

 

I may not be remembering correctly, but it seemed that Gallegos was the only one who really moved around when he didn't have the ball, also.  Teams had to chase him around all the time.  Everybody else on that team seemed to want to wait until they had an isolation play or would just chuck up a 3 when they wanted to.  They were a lot easier to defend without Gallegos.

 

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14 hours ago, LK1 said:

 

2.  Agree again.  Jordy is a better version of Leslee, and not having Leslee took away good picks and good enough interior defense/toughness.  

 

 

If Jordy had Smith's knowledge of the game and all of its intricacies, he'd be an all conference type of player.

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