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Nebraska Men’s Basketball Team Talent Poses Rotating Puzzle For Hoiberg | Sports

Entering the third year in the tenure of Nebraska men’s basketball head coach Fred Hoiberg, Hoiberg raved about one thing in particular, one thing his other teams lacked: depth.

In a press conference given by Hoiberg on Monday ahead of Nebraska Basketball’s opening night, team depth is one of the biggest issues the coach faces ahead of the game starting on next month. In a roster filled with top-notch prospects, reliable returning producers, and unique skills, finding the best team rotation will be an important story at the start of the season.

“At first I think it’s a group that has a really good chemistry with each other. I don’t know yet how this will continue when we start playing games, ”Hoiberg said at a press conference on Monday. “My most difficult job this year will be to establish a rotation. We have a lot of players who are capable of playing, and that will all be determined in the next 42 days, 30 days of training, two exhibition games.

The dynamic cut is one of the hallmarks of Hoiberg’s half-court offenses in Nebraska, and a few players in particular were mentioned as possible primary cutters. Last season much of the blame was placed on goalkeeper Thorir Thorbjarnarson, but Thorbjarnarson graduated.

Junior forward Lat Mayen has been mentioned by junior forward Derrick Walker as a key cup threat. Last season, Mayen was primarily an off-ball spacer, someone who specialized in entering the open space around the 3-point line and receiving the ball. He took on a points cup duties last season, but could be ready to take the next step this year.

After him, Walker also mentioned a new name for the program: first-year guard CJ Wilcher. 6-foot-5 goaltender Wilcher received a lot of praise from Walker for his ability to get out of the ball and could fight for minutes given that ability.

“CJ could be our best [cutter] right now, ”Walker said at a press conference Monday. “Knowing when, the timing, everyone is trying to learn and improve, but I think they got it the fastest.”

Just as Hoiberg needs a cutter, the coach also needs to decide who will take the main ball handling responsibilities for the team next season. First pick is first-year goaltender Bryce McGowens of Nebraska first five-star recruit in its history.

“Bryce is such a talented kid that I have had the opportunity to train. He’s so good, athletically, he’s fluid, he shoots effortlessly, but he’s a freshman, ”Hoiberg said. “As talented as Bryce is, we also need to show a certain level of patience, just because of the learning curve he has.”

McGowens entered Nebraska as more of a combo keeper with significant ball handling abilities, a player who mostly operates in the lane, slicing through defense. This is a very different archetype from the primary bullet handlers Hoiberg had in his first two seasons in Nebraska.

In the first iteration, he used guard Cam Mack, who managed to manage a assistance percentage 36.5% during his stay in Nebraska, on the very high end for the leaders. Then, Hoiberg gave the reins of the offense to goalkeeper Dalano Banton, who landed a less drastic 28.8% assistance percentage.

Still, those two elements are way more than you might expect from McGowens. Another option is McGowens’ brother, junior guard Trey McGowens, who was a big part of the Nebraska squad last year. This is unlikely, however, given that Hoiberg has indicated that the elder McGowens will be primarily used for his defensive prowess.

“It starts with Trey. Trey gives us this ability to play a superstar, ”Hoiberg said. “Trey can keep these really good wingers one-on-one. “

The final pick for a senior ball manager is senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. The Arizona State transfer scored a assistance percentage by 26.1% in his last season with the Sun Devils, also reaching over 25% in utilization rate the two seasons he was with the program.

Verge knows how to distribute the ball, but Hoiberg has indicated he was brought in deep after Banton entered the NBA. He will certainly play a role, and one with ball handling as a goal given his rather poor 3-point shot at Arizona State. Hoiberg praised Verge at the press conference, perhaps enough to give him a nod to go.

“Alonzo is perfect for our system because of its ability to descend and enter the paint. If we space the floor properly, he will find the right guy there, ”Hoiberg said. “What we emphasize are simple games, he’s so talented at getting in the holes and getting into the paint.

Regardless of the main player on the team, several players will be given similar responsibilities in the system, according to Hoiberg.

“I’ve always been a multi-handler guy,” Hoiberg said. “When you have multiple players who can get into the paint and make plays, I think it makes you a lot harder to keep… It’s not just about bulletproofing, it’s about hitting the big one. “

Hoiberg will also have to decide who he will play as an offball shooter or general offball creator. Senior Guard Kobe Webster is one piece that could prove to be valuable. The goalkeeper’s contribution was limited at times last year, but he was able to carve out a role as a good 3-point threat with even some much-needed driving potential.

Unless he’s using Bryce McGowens in a back pair with Verge, or some other such combination, the other choice for the offball shooter is second Keisei Tominaga. Tominaga is best known for his devastating 3-point shooting ability and speed with the ball.

Finally, Hoiberg will have to settle the situation in depth with his great men. Walker was the section leader last season, having both strong rebound ability and distribution aptitude after said rebounds. Both Banton and Walker were key cogs in Hoiberg’s heavy attacking debut schedule last season.

While Walker will certainly play important minutes next year, he has an important challenger with first-year striker Wilhelm Breidenbach. The 6-foot-10 prospect Mater Dei is another star rookie for Nebraska, but he walks into a crowded and interesting front room.

“You put Wilhelm in the mix as well, as a guy who can play in smaller lineups that can pick and bust and expand defense, take the big guys out of the basket,” Hoiberg said. “There are so many big guys in this league, if you can get them out of the way and create lanes that will open things up for everyone. “

Freshman center Eduardo Andre also performed well last year in points, although he had glaring flaws in his game. His foot speed can be a bit questionable at points and his use is limited in the low position. . Andre will likely play a role, as will the other players mentioned, but the main battle in the big league will be between Walker and Breidenbach.

How the team will eventually line up is unknown at this time, but Hoiberg relishes the challenge of finding the most value in the team. At the same time, everyone is excited to show off those progress on Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Walker echoed this sentiment. After all, his first year in Nebraska, he couldn’t play. He didn’t have an eligibility two seasons ago and there were very few fans last season.

“I’m so excited,” Walker said. “I couldn’t play, you know, I was still a fan. So I can’t even tell them what it’s going to look like because I have to stay seated. “

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