Big 12 (18-12, 8-8)
NIT Seed: #6
Big Wins: 11/29 Creighton (54-52), 1/10 Missouri (56-51), 2/7 Texas (58-55)
Bad Losses: 12/13 at Oregon State (63-64), 12/23 UMBC (64-66), 1/14 at Iowa State (53-65)
Coach: Doc Sadler
Cookie Miller, Sophomore, Guard, 7.3 ppg, 3.6 apg
Steve Harley, Senior, Guard, 10.1 ppg, 2.0 apg
Sek Henry, Junior, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 2.1 apg
Ade Dagunduro, Senior, Guard, 13.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Chris Balham, Junior, Forward, 1.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
Ryan Anderson, Junior, Guard, 7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Toney McCray, Freshman, Guard, 5.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Brandon Richardson, Freshman, Guard, 4.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Paul Velander, Senior, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Doc Sadler has turned Nebraska into a fundamentally sound team that takes very good care of the ball and takes smart shots. Cookie Miller, a 5-9 sophomore, Steve Harley, a 5-11 senior, and Sek Henry run the show and have done a great job finding their teammates and taking care of the ball. Harley is also a decent rebounder and one of the best scorers on the team. Henry is one of the few outside shooting threats, but it is super sub Paul Velander and Ryan Anderson who are the only two players on the team who average at least one three-pointer per game.
Just about everybody on the team is a threat to nab a steal or two. Along with Miller, Harley and Anderson, Ade Dagunduro and Brandon Richardson all average at least one steal per game. If the Cornhuskers do not give up the ball and create easy opportunities on the other end of the floor by creating turnovers, they can stay in just about any game even without great scorers or a very talented crop of players.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Obviously this is a team with a lot of guards. The top eight scorers are listed as guards and Chris Balham is the only forward who sees any significant playing time. And the 6-8 junior only averages 10.1 minutes per game. Dagunduro, at 6-5, is the tallest player who is usually on the floor and bench player Toney McCray is 6-6. That is the extent of the height on this group of Cornhuskers. That leads to some major, major problems on the glass and some bad mismatches on the defensive end of the floor. This is a team that will make it extremely difficult for the opposition to get the ball into the paint, but once the ball is inside, there is not much Nebraska can do about it.
Who To Watch:
Dagunduro is the closest thing this group has to a superstar. The 6-5 senior is the team’s leading scorer and does a great job using his size and speed to get to the basket. Like most of his teammates, he is not much of an outside shooter, but he can at least keep the opposition honest and hit the occasional mid-range jumper. Dagunduro’s most impressive abilities are on the other end of the floor. With his 6-5 size, he is often forced to defend players who are much, much taller than him and he does an admirable job. His scoring output has been relatively inconsistent throughout the 2008-2009 campaign, but Dagunduro has been more productive late in the year and Nebraska will need that to continue into the tournament if they want to win a game or two.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.8 (237th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.4 (16, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (141, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.5 (128, 7)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (125, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.1 (61, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.2 (159, 7)
Rebound Margin: -5.6 (312, 11)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (143, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (18, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to New Mexico