I should go lower for Nebraska on offense, considering they shot a season low 30% from the field and only reached the pedestrian mark of 57 due to extra possessions at the end.
However, I thought Nebraska looked okay offensively, sans about five minutes of this game, and there's no doubt the Huskers left around 12-16 points on the floor by either missing bunnies or getting blocked. Sure, Iowa DEFINITELY gets credit for eight blocked shots and altering many others, but NU still could have gone up stronger or finished better at least a few field goals. That probably gets the Huskers to the line a few more times, too.
Still, at the end of the day, Nebraska did a lot of things better on offense, most notably:
1. Adding in pump fakes and pivots around the basket (though I do admit I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth on this one, as the above paragraph proves. Still, this was something I harped on last game and NU was much better in its effort in this regard, though not entirely successful).
2. Getting Shavon Shields going (at least a little) in the offense, as the Olathe, KS. sophomore looked more like last year when he would take mid-range shots, not just three's or to the rim's (Shields was 4-12 for 10 points).
3. The Huskers looked very fluid and like a legitimate Big 10 team on offense for the majority of the first half, and around eight minutes of the second half. They came out strong, confident and prepared to play.
Player of the Game was tough in this one, but Petteway had his first career double-double (20 and 12) and thus, earns it.
I also strongly considered Walter Pitchford, who had a double-double of his own (13 and 12!!!!), Deverell Biggs (12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals) and in the first half, Tai Webster (who was MUCH MUCH MUCH better tonight; 4 assists and 2 turnovers in 31 minutes).
I'm okay tonight with the offense, based on the points being left out there, and I love the idea of Biggs, Petteway and Webster all on the floor at the same time - BIG TIME perimeter offense.
One other note; Ray Gallegos got ZERO shot attempts (0 points) in 23 minutes. Very weird. I'm sure it's the only time in his career he's played even close to that much without at least attempting a shot. Not sure what to think.
Nebraska held Iowa to a season low 67 points and 46% from the field.
HOWEVER, a lot of the lack of points was due to Iowa and NOT Nebraska, meaning NU fouled the Hawkeyes and allowed 39 free throw attempts. Luckily for NU, Iowa missed SEVENTEEN of them (for 56%). If Iowa shoots even 70%, Nebraska gets rolled in this game, allows 80 and we aren't near as happy with our defense.
WITH THAT SAID, they didn't make them, and the Huskers deserve some credit in this one for their defensive moxxy. I was most excited about Biggs, who had a couple of key steals down the stretch and just played damn hard. Also, while he didn't have the best night, Walter Pitchford was better, too. After a strong start, Leslee Smith has been a disappointment the last few games.
We'll touch on this more later under "Coaching" but Nate Hawkins was God awful tonight on the defensive end. He (and many other teammates) couldn't stop the dribble drive, which is why the Hawkeyes had the aforementioned 39 free throw attempts.
Iowa entered the game leading the Big 10 in rebounding margin. And guess what? Nebraska out rebounded them!!! 44 to 42 was the final tally, but what was even more impressive were the SEVENTEEN offensive boards NU grabbed.
The Huskers were paced by the 12 boards out of Petteway and Pitchford. FANTASTIC.
I gotta give Walt a TON of credit. I ripped him pretty good last game (as he deserved) for lackluster effort on the defensive end and on the glass. However, he BROUGHT IT tonight. GREAT JOB WALT (if you're reading this). Play with the energy, passion and effort you did tonight, and you will be everything we hoped you would be (and then some) and NU will make some noise this year in moving up out of the basement of the Big 10.
BALL HANDLING: B-
9 assists, 13 turnovers.
Not bad - would like to see a few more assists, but again, NU missed a lot of easy shots AND their offense is, whether good or bad, based on a lot of "one on one" play with guys like Petteway and Biggs.
Webster, as I mentioned above, really impressed me tonight. His box wasn't great but if you watch the game and understand basketball, you had to be VERY pleased with him tonight.
Coach Miles "mucked" this game up good, forcing 14 turnovers and finding a way to play at Nebraska's pace, especially in the first half.
His team was prepared, mentally and physically. The effort was there. Guys were helping each other up and high-fiving after free throws. They played hard to the end. Never stopped competing.
These are some 180 characteristics and qualities than what we've seen in some games this year, so the team is obviously responding to its head man. He drew up some nice plays tonight out of "TO's", too, most notably the second half double post over the top lob to Pitchford that resulted in a (of course) block, but was still drawn up beautifully.
One other thing; I want to give Miles credit for doing the right thing in building for next year and the year after. It became more abundantly clear tonight more than ever, with Hawkins playing 11 minutes and looking (honestly) pretty miserable. Especially defensively; I think just about EVERY TIME he was isolated on D, he gave up an easy penetration, leading to points and/or a foul. He finished with four fouls and did little well, outside of a couple rebounds.
STILL, I've said it before and I'll say it again; Hawkins has BIG TIME potential. I like this kid, a lot. Something about him. Just a hunch. I think he'll be really, really good by the time he's done here.
Here's the thing; had Miles gone to David Rivers, who is probably 10% better than Hawkins at this time, maybe even more, he MIGHT have won this game tonight, just because I don't think Rivers gets schooled out on the floor like Hawkins does. That might save NU 6-8 points defensively and could have changed the entire game. Same goes with previous games and some in the future.
Still, its clear Miles is living in the future, building a program as he always has, and he's okay with some teaching lessons and sacrificing a bit of today to get to tomorrow faster. That was proven tonight more than ever - as if to say, "okay kid, you're going to go crash and burn now. You're not ready but you're going to play."
Now, the other side is, this is very tough on Rivers. I feel bad for the kid. I love him. I think it's clear he is being forced out of the program, along with Serg. I feel bad for Rivers way more than Serg, because David was STARTING GAMES and playing 20+ minutes just a month ago, is an upperclassman and a good kid. He does have some ability as an 8th or 9th man on a decent Big 10 team.
But, at the end of the day, the program is above a player and Miles is clearly showing that, from how he's disciplined Biggs to how he's relegated Rivers. That takes focus and grit; Miles isn't afraid to have his brains beat in for awhile to get better faster.
OVERALL GRADE: B
Nebraska played a GOOD, not great, basketball game tonight. They fouled way too much (is there an echo in here?) and couldn't stop dribble drives. Offensively, they missed way too many easy ones.
But on the glass? OUTSTANDING.
Teamwork? Much better.
There was A LOT of good to see tonight. I can deal with losses when they are played correctly, there are good things happening and growth is going on before our eyes. That's what we had tonight.
P.S. Is there a goofier looking team in America than Iowa?
P.S.S. I don't know why, but Aaron White really seems like a bad person. He just bugs me. Am I the only one?
PLAYER OF THE GAME: TERRAN PETTEWAY
2013-2014 PLAYER OF THE GAME RESULTS:
TERRAN PETTEWAY - 7
TAI WEBSTER - 2
WALTER PITCHFORD - 2
LESLEE SMITH - 1
SHAVON SHIELDS - 1
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