1) How are Nebraska fans feeling about Nebrasketball at this point? After a nice little run to the tourney two years ago, the Huskers seemed to drop off last year. I'm guessing everybody still loves Tim Miles?
Patrick: Last year was a fairly large letdown. Though most realize that the margin error in all those ’13-’14 wins were small and the team over performed. Last year was basically a reality check on where we were as a program.
Overall, Miles still has very strong support from the fan base. Pinnacle Bank Arena is still sold out and is roughly brining in 12,000+ in attendance. He’s been great with the fans, media, and recruiting has never been better. Last year had one of our best classes that anyone of us can remember. Many of the recruits are playing on a fairly regular basis. Yes, Nebraska has been underperforming and not finishing games this year but he has built up enough faith that he should be good for at least another year of "program building" before he will start to see the heat.
2) How much does this team miss Terran Petteway? He seemed like a high-usage, low-efficiency type of guy. Any addition by subtraction there?
PG: I don’t think the team misses Terran much at all. While this year has not gone exactly as expected, it is a step up from last year, which was killer. He was a great player and was a good chunk of our team the last two years and that shouldn’t be taken away from him. Personally, I look at Andrew White III as his replacement. White is leading the team in points per game, rebounds per game, and minutes played and has actually been better at getting the ball around the court while Petteway would keep it himself more often than not and try to be the hero.
3) Give us a rundown of some of the new faces for the Huskers this year. Any especially promising guys?
PG: This is a young team and it has shown early on. Luckily, it’s also a fairly talented group of youngsters that are staring to fill up our roster. This is unlike many past years where we would bring kids in and hopefully coach them up to a competitive level. Two out of the five starters are freshman and there are a couple others that have been nice to see come off the bench. For once, we are looking at the youth with enthusiasm on what should be coming down the road.
First one I would think of is Glynn Watson Jr. He is a freshman out of Illinois that has made his way into the starting lineup. He’s got a great shot and athleticism that will only get better with time. Our last game against Illinois he had 17 points and 3 rebounds. Remember him, you will be hearing his name more in the future.
Michael Jacobson and come in as our big man under the basket with 3.4 rpg. He will need to improve his aggressiveness under the basket and probably put on some weight to really be a factor if we don’t get a bigger guy in there soon. Ed Morrow Jr. was a four star recruit we stole out of Chicago from a number of fairly decent basketball programs that has been a great shooter and should only improve as time goes on.
4) What's one area of the game where Nebraska really stands out?
PG: Overall, Nebraska is hovering around the middle in the Big Ten in most statistical categories. This makes sense considering that’s where they are finding themselves at the moment. Overall though they are a team that you really need to keep an eye on defensively. This is the one area that they have done well with throughout the last few years which has helped when the scoring wasn’t there.
They are making teams drive the lane. This is kind of a double edged sword as there are less chances for teams to have the three pointer utilized but can also show our lack of size in the paint. The Huskers also are pretty quick and can turn over the ball fairly well as they are averaging just over 7 steals a game.
5) Give us your score prediction and any other bold thoughts on the game.
PG: Early in the season the Huskers ability to play well was hit or miss. They start games out well but somehow go into a scoring drought and almost lose focus. We have started to see this go away the last few games and their ability to keep a lead has been encouraging. Yes, they’ve beaten what has become the bottom of the Big Ten but they’ve blown them out. The last three games were not even close.
Right now Nebraska is trending up and Michigan State is in a place I can’t put my finger on. The losses to Iowa are starting to make sense to me but the heartbreaker to Wisconsin shouldn’t have happened. With that said the game is in East Lansing and I have never really doubted Izzo’s coaching ability.
Michigan State 73 Nebraska 67