Explaining The Grades:
Nebraska's offense was on the low side of average to the high side of poor this afternoon, as has been the theme for the majority of the year.
NU scored just 29 points in the first half and a good portion of that was because they missed WAY TOO MANY "bunnies" around the hoop. For the game, Brandon Ubel and Jorge Brian Diaz combined for 5-16 from the field, with only one shot (Ubel's three point attempt) coming outside of eight feet. That is a big, big problem, as it kept NU from grabbing a first half lead and sitting around 35 points. The issue seemed less noticeable in the second half, when the Huskers scored 37, but let's be honest, a good 5-7 of those points came when the game was decided, NU was rushing and Creighton was paying less attention. This was a typical high 50's/low 60's game for Nebraska, which continues to be a problem during the last ten years.
Bo Spencer is our Player of the Game and DID have a great day, connecting on 29 points on 10-16 from the field. He also had 3 assists and that could have easily been 5 or 6 if guys had made some easy buckets.
The difference in this game, and most others Nebraska will play this year, is that its opponents have multiple players who can stroke the ball from anywhere on the court at an ABOVE AVERAGE PACE (meaning, on most nights, not just certain nights). Nebraska has two players (Spencer and Toney McCray) who you can expect to hit open shots on the majority of nights, and maybe only one, if you take out McCray.
One other note - Dylan Talley was a big disappointment today. More on that under "coaching."
Nebraska actually played pretty good defense in this game, and this is the "high end of average."
Creighton came into this game averaging 88 points per contest, and NU held them to just 31 in the first half, thanks to a nice little courtesy press from Doc Sadler and some nice defense from Ubel on Doug McDermott.
The problem was, the Huskers quit defending in the last 15 minutes of the game.
There were MULTIPLE times NU gave up WIDE OPEN layups on missed communication in the second half.
Also, Creighton ran the "Wake Forest play" once on the high ball screen on Diaz. That was depressing to see again.
Breaking this down, I'd say NU played "B+" defense in the first half, and "D+" defense in the second. Sure, Creighton hit open shots but again, that's a problem - they were open shots. And too many defensive break downs, as NU allowed the Bluejays to score 44 points in the second half AND shoot better than 50% in both halves.
I thought the Huskers were much better rebounding the basketball today, though again, there were KILLER offensive rebounds that they allowed to Creighton, most namely the shooter (McDermott) getting a rebound off of his own mix. How does that happen?
Also, the technical barrage began from a mixed box out and a foul called on Ubel, when NU had 4 players, Creighton had 1, near the lane.
For the game, NU did do MUCH BETTER on the offensive boards, pulling down 13 (to CU's 11). The Bluejays DID out board the Huskers by 3 (31 to 28).
NU had only 13 turnovers on the road, which is pretty solid. Okay, fine, pretty good.
However, and this goes with offense, but it continued to just dribble around and pass the ball around the perimeter FAR TOO MUCH, especially in the middle of the first half and the early portions of the second.
Has this team ever heard of back cuts? Or pick and rolls? Or iso's? Or going into the post, going back out and back in? It just seems like this team is WAY TOO PREDICTABLE offensively and as if we are one trick ponies.
For further proof, look at how Creighton completely changed its offense up at halftime and adjusted, by bringing McDermott out more against the press. They broke it without a problem. Then later, they isolated him more in the post. They changed things up throughout the game. I don't understand why its the same offense every single day.
I thought Doc coached an "A" level first half. He came out with a nice press that really threw CU off for awhile. He was able to FINALLY get the team to get Diaz more touches, though I still didn't like the way this was done. His team had more energy. They responded to mini runs.
The problem was, they missed a lot of open shots, which goes back to my opinion dating back to last year, that folks, we really don't have much talent on this team. I stick by that, especially since Talley looks like a giant bust for what we were told he was going to be. He needed to be a difference maker THIS YEAR, because of how this roster is built, its now or never.
Before you rip me, I'm FULLY AWARE most JUCO's don't begin really "playing" until February of their first years. It could still happen.
However, Talley played AWFUL in this game. Which brings me back to Doc, and something extremely ignorant and confusing he said after the game.
"Talley has been playing hurt since the South Dakota State game. He reaggrivated his bruised thigh in that game. And tonight he asked to come out of the game."
Two problems with that, coach.
1. You STARTED HIM knowing he's injured. So either he wasn't that injured or you're not telling the truth.
2. He asked to come out? He played 20 minutes and only came out because he had FOUR FOULS at the 17 minute mark. And he came back in at the end. So how did he ask to come out?
Talley looks like a liability on the defensive end and I counted two times today on fast breaks he cost the team points by not passing. He can't dribble (like every other guard we have not named Walker, Richardson or Spencer) and outside of wide open three's, he looks as if he can't create for himself. Before the year, I went on record as saying if NU were to make the NCAA Tournament, he would have to score 14-16 a game. We can't have him be a normal JUCO player. Now, Spencer has exceeded our expectations scoring wise, but still.
Anyway, back to Doc.
The technical is inexcusable. We can blame this crew all we want. They weren't bad today. Losers blame the refs every game. They were pretty fair. We've had much worse this year (see Oregon).
You CAN NOT get tee'd there when the other team is already getting 4 points when they're up 1 after a run, and the crowd is already getting in. Just can't do it. Especially when they're reviewing a play for YOUR TEAM, aka Spencer saying he'd been poked in the eye. That was a call that could potentially benefit Nebraska. You can't do it.
Also, the inability to coach an offense is getting to me, as is the inability to recruit anyone that can shoot from anywhere on the court at an above average rate.
Name me more than one player he has recruited in six years that can shoot the ball anywhere on the floor at an ABOVE average rate?
Spencer..... Who else? Henry didn't. Dagunduro didn't. Jeter wasn't above average but is close. Velander and Perry were Barry's. McCray is inconsistent, so maybe that's half of one. Who else?
Huge, huge, huge, huge problem. The horses aren't in the stable, folks. And the injury problem, at some point, has to come back to practices. Other teams don't have players drop like flies at the rate we do.
This is an average game for the Huskers which is again, a problem.
NU played a "B" level first half. Great defense, but only so so offense.
Second half was about the complete opposite - good offense, so so defense.
NU was outplayed and out coached, again. Unfortunately, that's becoming a common theme.
Basically, NU is 1-3 right now. They've played four real teams. Rhode Island was nothing more than a glorified SDSU.
And its a legitimate 1-3. You can say that Oregon game should have come our way, but the USC game shouldn't have. We were lucky as hell to win that game and STILL couldn't hit 60 points until late in the first overtime.
We can say all we want that 10-8 or 9-9 could happen in the Big 10 and we could still dance.
But if you really think that this team, which struggles to score 60 points against any team with a pulse defensively, and can't win on the road at even a semi semi consistent basis, is going to all of a sudden turn it around and play 10-8 ball in one of the nations three toughest leagues, then I'd LOVE some of what you're smoking.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bo Spencer
Bo Spencer - 2
Caleb Walker – 2
Jorge Brian Diaz - 2
Brandon Richardson – 1