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Norm Peterson

The Ghost of Nebrasketball Present

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If you could create a roster from scratch and insert any pieces you wanted, you wouldn't assemble the roster we have. You just wouldn't.  Among other things, you'd find an experienced, athletic big who could score, defend and rebound. Maybe even two of 'em. But, given the time of year when he came in and started this process, and who was available at the time, I don't think we can really fault Hoiberg for how things turned out. In fact, I think he deserves a lot of praise. Do we have some obvious weaknesses? Sure. Do we have some strengths? Absolutely. Is this a team likely to struggle during the conference sleight? Sure. I suppose.

 

The pre-season prognosticators who write for magazines or who program computers can't base predictions on hope. They have to go with what they can see.  And what they see of us is that we return less than 5% of our total minutes/points/rebounds/assists/etc. They have reputations to protect; they have to go with objective, measurable stuff. We're fans and we can hang our hats on whatever the hell we want to.

 

I'm curious what everyone else thinks. Because what I see is not altogether bad news. I think we have some weapons in our arsenal.

 

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT SAYING WE'LL WIN IT ALL THIS YEAR OR MAKE THE DANCE OR EVEN BE REALLY ALL THAT GOOD.  NOT SAYING THAT. NOT SAYING THAT AT ALL.

 

But I am saying we're not without some players.

 

And I start with the fact I think we'll have one of the fastest backcourts in the league with Mack and Burke.  And I think we have some guys who can potentially fill it up from deep, including Kavas and Green.  I think we have some shut-down defenders in Burke and Cheatham.  We have some guys who can take it to the rack in Cheatham, Green, Burke and Mack.  And if our shooters are as good as they were at their last stops, we'll have a puncher's chance in most of our games.

 

We also have a lot of intriguing unknowns: How quickly do the freshmen bigs develop? How quickly do the jucos transition to major college ball? Will Stevenson be eligible and will he be able to clean the defensive glass? Do we have anyone who can defend the post against quality bigs? Are there any pleasant surprises on the roster (i.e., guys who come in and are a lot better than you were expecting a la Shavon Shields as a freshman)? Who will be our double-figure scorers? And how many double-figure scorers will there be?

 

Again, I'm curious what others think. What are our legit strengths? What are our legit weaknesses? What stuff could go either way and it's too soon to know?

 

Thoughts?

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Our legit strengths are speed. What worries me, along with the obvious lack of size in a size-first Big Ten, is consistency of scoring. When you're guard heavy you better score on a consistent basis, otherwise you're in trouble. I think that's why HCFH is letting us know in a lot of his pressers as the season draws nearer is for everyone to temper expectations. He has good players, but I don't think he trusts the scoring enough (yet). 

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@Norm Peterson the thing that keeps coming to my mind when thinking about what could be is the 2017-18 Ohio State Buckeyes.  Remember that year they fired Thad Matta and replaced him with Holtmann and with a greatly depleted roster from a fairly uninspiring team the year before, they were picked by most pundits as one of the bottom four teams:  https://bustingbrackets.com/2017/10/06/big-ten-basketball-2017-18-preseason-predictions/4/

 

They had a roster with a couple of exciting athletic guys but lacked size...and for all of those deficiencies they only finished 3rd in the Big Ten and a 5 seed in the dance.

 

I'm not saying to expect us to have a season like that, or even close to it, but one never knows.  If this team can gel and if they are able to rack up a few wins early in the year, who knows?

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After the “Big 4” last year, there was a precipitous drop-off in talent. Is there any All-Conference talent on this roster? Hard to say, but there certainly looks to be a greater depth of talent. Also, Mack/Burke/Green look exciting, but you can’t underestimate what a “badass”Watson was for several years...

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43 minutes ago, OmahaHusker said:

Our legit strengths are speed. What worries me, along with the obvious lack of size in a size-first Big Ten, is consistency of scoring. When you're guard heavy you better score on a consistent basis, otherwise you're in trouble. I think that's why HCFH is letting us know in a lot of his pressers as the season draws nearer is for everyone to temper expectations. He has good players, but I don't think he trusts the scoring enough (yet). 

 

Mack and Burke are both mind-blowingly fast. One guy like that on a team can cause problems. Two guys like that can create some real match-up issues. I think both of them have scoring mentalities, Mack and Burke, and can back it up with ability. Both are low 30s career 3-pt% shooters, but both are good enough to force defenses to respect their outside shots and have the capability to blow by defenders on the way to the rack, where they both are capable finishers and where Mack additionally excels at dishing to open teammates.

 

I see Kavas with a lot of open-shot opportunities this year because I think the speed and quickness of Mack and Burke are going to force defenses to help off of our shooters, leaving Kavas with some space to hit some treys.  Green will probably be a beneficiary of that as well, provided he can continue his 3-point success from last year as a juco (the juco line is closer, sure, but if you watched WNCC's games last year, Green was regularly launching attempts from well behind that line.)

 

If our shooters are connecting, we'll have a puncher's chance in most of our games. The key question is whether we can defend well enough to hold down the other team's offense enough that our offense can outscore them. Because I think we'll be able to score the ball. 

 

And just for something to compare to, I know he was a Creighton guy, but I see a lot in common between Cam Mack and Mo Watson. Remember that guy?

 

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I’m looking forward to an exciting year. I think this team will be fun to watch for sure. There’s definitely talent and when you have multiple guys who can score at a high level you’ll always have a chance. There will probably be some nights that are frustrating but there will also be some games against higher rated teams where these guys will be a major headache for some good teams.

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1 hour ago, Handy Johnson said:

After the “Big 4” last year, there was a precipitous drop-off in talent. Is there any All-Conference talent on this roster? Hard to say, but there certainly looks to be a greater depth of talent. Also, Mack/Burke/Green look exciting, but you can’t underestimate what a “badass”Watson was for several years...

Who are we dismissing? I believe they were called "The Big Five" for a reason all year. 

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1 hour ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

Mack and Burke are both mind-blowingly fast. One guy like that on a team can cause problems. Two guys like that can create some real match-up issues. I think both of them have scoring mentalities, Mack and Burke, and can back it up with ability. Both are low 30s career 3-pt% shooters, but both are good enough to force defenses to respect their outside shots and have the capability to blow by defenders on the way to the rack, where they both are capable finishers and where Mack additionally excels at dishing to open teammates.

 

I see Kavas with a lot of open-shot opportunities this year because I think the speed and quickness of Mack and Burke are going to force defenses to help off of our shooters, leaving Kavas with some space to hit some treys.  Green will probably be a beneficiary of that as well, provided he can continue his 3-point success from last year as a juco (the juco line is closer, sure, but if you watched WNCC's games last year, Green was regularly launching attempts from well behind that line.)

 

If our shooters are connecting, we'll have a puncher's chance in most of our games. The key question is whether we can defend well enough to hold down the other team's offense enough that our offense can outscore them. Because I think we'll be able to score the ball. 

 

And just for something to compare to, I know he was a Creighton guy, but I see a lot in common between Cam Mack and Mo Watson. Remember that guy?

 

 

I agree. Watson wasn't the best shooter in the world but he made the entire Creighton team better with how quick he was off the dribble and his ability to penetrate defenses despite his size. If Cam Mack is anything like that then this team could have some serious sneaky potential. 

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31 minutes ago, OmahaHusker said:

 

I agree. Watson wasn't the best shooter in the world but he made the entire Creighton team better with how quick he was off the dribble and his ability to penetrate defenses despite his size. If Cam Mack is anything like that then this team could have some serious sneaky potential. 

 

I'd be ecstatic if he was just like Mo Watson...only with better knees and a lot less rape-y.  Allegedly.

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36 minutes ago, 49r said:

I'd be ecstatic if he was just like Mo Watson...only with better knees and a lot less rape-y.  Allegedly.

 

I'm going to say Cam's a quality passer. As good as Mo? Have no idea. But he has that attribute.  That certain dime-dropping knack that some guys just instinctively have. We saw a bit of it in the scrimmage. I think Mo was a better shooter, especially his senior year, but they're comparable there as well. I think he's at LEAST as fast as Mo and maybe quicker/faster. And he's 4 inches taller than Mo Watson. And potentially a good deal more explosive, too.

 

His ceiling is higher than Mo's because of his size and leaping ability. But can he develop that intangible of knowing just when and where to find his teammates to put them in position to score? And will that happen at some point this year?  Those are things we'll need to watch. I think it's certainly possible that he can have the kind of impact for us that Mo Watson had for that one team. On the plus side for Cam he does have 3 more years of eligibility in which to develop.

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Sometimes you get a guy who comes in that you were expecting a lot out of and they aren't as good as you hoped. Other times, some under-the-radar kid comes in and blows your mind. And sometimes a guy you thought was going to be really good turns out to be everything he was billed to be.

 

Let's say Cam Mack comes in and he's as good as you hoped he'd be -- makes good decisions with the ball, finds his teammates for quality shots, can blow by guys that let their guard down and take it to the rack.  Let's just say he ends up being the special kind of player Hoiberg says he has the chance to be.

 

What's our ceiling then? How much does that one guy move the needle for us?  Do we have enough other pieces surrounding him that, if he's as good as advertised, they'll be able to have a synergetic impact in games?

 

If he's that guy, how good can we be?

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The question I have about Mack is whether or not he might be the best answer to the question posed overseas: 'what do we do when things aren't going our way' aka 'how do we stop a run'

 

5 hours ago, Norm Peterson said:

Again, I'm curious what others think. What are our legit strengths? What are our legit weaknesses? What stuff could go either way and it's too soon to know?

 

Just to state the obivous

Legit Strength: Depth at guard

Legit Weakness: Lack of depth at F/C

 

 

Assume we'll be an above average shooting team and below average rebounding team. Our success then might hinge on the turnover battle.

 

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11 minutes ago, hhcmatt said:

The question I have about Mack is whether or not he might be the best answer to the question posed overseas: 'what do we do when things aren't going our way' aka 'how do we stop a run'

 

 

Just to state the obivous

Legit Strength: Depth at guard

Legit Weakness: Lack of depth at F/C

 

 

Assume we'll be an above average shooting team and below average rebounding team. Our success then might hinge on the turnover battle.

 

 

We have the guard depth to go to a 4-guard lineup if we need to (which we probably will need to do.)

 

We do not have the guard depth to go 5-guards. Not a full game, anyway.

 

Mack, Burke, Green, Cheatham, Kavas, Curtis, Stevenson, Thorbjarnarson, Easley.

 

Seems like Stevenson is really more of a 4 (as Miles used to say, "you are what you guard" and he's going to draw the defensive assignment to guard the other team's larger players.) But even so, we go two-deep with a 4-guard lineup. It's a shame we didn't get one of those grad transfer bigs we were looking at. They'd have had plenty of work.

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Obviously the bigs are a question. Yvan will be in foul trouble all year I imagine, so do they play a combination of Kavas/Stevenson to give him rest? How much can akol or cross provide this year? They are pretty much polar opposites. Cross can score and take you off the dribble, but I worry about him on defense. Akol can defend probably 3-4 positions on the court, but I worry about his offense. 

 

Mack, Green, cheathem, and Burke all provide something different individually, and that's the 4 guards I THINK you might see us close games with with Kavas or Stevenson at the "5". 

 

I love how this team was put together in such a quick manner. They were able to retain key guys AND add guys who will contribute early this year. 

 

I'm expecting a roller coaster season where anything can happen. I'm just bracing for a hectic year that will have fun b-ball involved. 

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Am I wrong to go into the season with zero expectation?  I hope this coaching staff meshes.  I hope this group of players become a team.  I hope that this group of players can play quality basketball at this top level.  I hope that we can score as anticipated.  I hope that we can defend with our limited size.  I hope that the fan base doesn't give up on the team if it stuggles.  I hope that we light up the right side of the scoreboard.  I hope that anticipation and hope does not turn into unfair hype.   I hope that my normally rose colored glasses turn back to that color.

 

 

 

 

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I have low expectations. We are undersized across the board really. We may have a couple lightning quick guards but not many that have B1G bodies. And the ones that do will be forced to play the 3 or 4 bc of how undersized we are. I think we will get blown out alot in conference play with a few magical moments sprinkled in. And im already annoyed with the future critics who will question Fred frickin Hoiberg in YEAR ONE.

 

However, this year is going to be vital in laying the foundation for Fred's tenure. We will come out of this year beaten and bruised but with a lot of experience and another influx of talent via transfers and freshmen. If you can keep your expectations reasonable, this will be a very fun season to watch unfold.

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8 hours ago, khoock said:

I have low expectations. We are undersized across the board really. We may have a couple lightning quick guards but not many that have B1G bodies. And the ones that do will be forced to play the 3 or 4 bc of how undersized we are. I think we will get blown out alot in conference play with a few magical moments sprinkled in. And im already annoyed with the future critics who will question Fred frickin Hoiberg in YEAR ONE.

 

However, this year is going to be vital in laying the foundation for Fred's tenure. We will come out of this year beaten and bruised but with a lot of experience and another influx of talent via transfers and freshmen. If you can keep your expectations reasonable, this will be a very fun season to watch unfold.

Great post. Bottom line, we were 6-14 last year in conference, and Hoiberg was 3-13 in his first year in the Big XII. Expecting anything other than a win total somewhere between those two (and inclusive of those two) numbers is wild optimism. 

 

That written, WE'RE GOIN' DANCIN'.

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For a team that went 6-14 in the B1G, we STILL won 19 games and advanced farther in the NIT than the year before. Like others have speculated, you just don’t know who might blow-up or who might be a big letdown. I think the Conference is pretty soft in the middle & we could easily finish in the 6-10 range & yes maybe DANCING 💃.....!

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If Stevenson can ball out at the 3-5, we've got a shot.  It's a roster that makes sense on paper:

 

Mack - Curtis (don't forget about this kid)

Burke - Green or Green - Burke

Cheatham - Stevenson

Stevenson - Kavas or Kavas - Stevenson

Yvan - Cross (not that small at 240lbs)... I could also see Stevenson playing the 5

 

I think we will be uptempo as all hell with that sort of guard depth.  I'm interested to see how the rotations shake out as it all looks fairly unpredictable at the moment with the exception of huge minutes for Mack at the 1.  I also don't think Curtis is very much behind if at all behind Green and Burke in terms of his scoring ability.  Curtis is a tremendous young talent.  

 

I think Fred is going to nab some front court monsters in recruiting this season.  We have some really, really nice pieces in place at guard for the future.  

 

 

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4 minutes ago, khoock said:

I almost get the feeling its a consensus amongst media members that Thor will be in the rotation, at least to start the season.

 

Seems to be in the cards to some extent, you're right.  I just don't see it--even on the Italy trip he looked a bit out of control to me, but I trust Fred.  Hopefully Thor can be a serviceable three point shooter.  

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