After a wild and tumultuous offseason, Nebraska is finally set to open its 2020-21 season this week with three games in four days, beginning with Wednesday’s opener vs. McNeese State.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg and junior guards Teddy Allen and Trey McGowens met with reporters on Tuesday to preview the upcoming season and give the latest on where the Huskers are at going into the year.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg
***Hoiberg said McNeese State had “the best shooter in the country that we’re going to have to know where he is at all times” in former Scottsbluff, Neb., standout and Western Nebraska C.C. transfer Dru Kuxhausen.
***Hoiberg said he was most impressed with how “unselfish” his team played in its three big scrimmages last week.
Hoiberg admitted that the hardest thing about coaching was distributing minutes, especially with a team full of older transfers who came to Nebraska to play and play a lot. He said his best teams at Iowa State had 5-6 guys who could score in double-figures every game, which was one of the benefits of winning.
Hoiberg said there would be some games where a player scores 20 points and another where he scores four, and the key to this season would be having “role acceptance” throughout the season. “It’s going to be different guys on different nights, and that has to be OK.”
***Hoiberg said he had narrowed down his potential starting lineup to six players but wouldn’t determine his top five until tomorrow.
Those six were Dalano Banton, Trey McGowens, Teddy Allen, Lat Mayen, Yvan Ouedraogo, and Thorir Thorbjarnarson.
***Hoiberg noted that it would be more important to see who the five guys would be at the end of the game than at the start.
***Hoiberg said Nebraska would have one more round of COVID-19 testing tonight at 7 p.m. He gave the team a lot of credit for keeping themselves safe from the virus thus far but stressed that the Huskers had to continue making the right decisions all season.
“But you can make the right decisions and still get (COVID).”
***Hoiberg said they’d had three full scouting reports done for games that eventually got canceled.
Hoiberg said it would be inevitable that games would be postponed or canceled this season but added there was a 10-day window between the Creighton game on Dec. 11 to the Wisconsin game on Dec. 21 where NU could potentially make up non-con games that were interrupted due to COVID.
***Hoiberg said the team had talked a lot about bringing its own energy in a season with no fans in the arenas. He said there had been times in practices where the players were sluggish, and he pulled the team aside and reiterated that was the type of atmosphere they’d have to play games in this season.
Guard Teddy Allen
***Allen said “everyone is hyped and happy” to finally get the season going this week, especially the transfers who haven’t played a game in a long time.
***Allen said most players were fairly accustomed to playing consecutive games going back to their AAU days. He said the situation was obviously different at the college level but said, “that’s the nature of the beat this year.”
***Allen thought playing three games in the first four days of the season should help move the team along faster right away in its development.
***On the three scrimmages, Allen said, “this team has a lot of weapons, and nobody has to try and play hero ball.” He said if everyone trusted the system, then they should be a pretty good team.
***Allen said McGowens, Banton, and Kobe Webster were the guys who kept the pace up on offense and were all “good floor generals.”
***Allen said the fluctuating schedule wasn’t a big deal for the players because they know there will be disruptions and had been preparing for that since the summer. He was just glad they’re able to play. “We’ll just take what we can get.”
***One of the biggest things Allen has learned since working with Hoiberg was how “simple” the game can be when you slow it down and understand it. By making the simple plays, Allen said things have gotten so much easier for him on the court.
***Allen said the only difference not having fans in the stands would be for players who feed off of the energy of the crowd. But it won’t be a big deal for him, he said. “I’m a hooper, so it doesn’t matter to me.”
Guard Trey McGowens
***McGowens said the biggest focus for the team right now was making sure they weren’t one of the teams that had to cancel a game this season.
All they can control is themselves, so the main thing they’re trying to do is either stay at home or in the gym. McGowens said the players mostly hang out with themselves away off the court, more so than any other team he’d been a part of.
***McGowens said the three scrimmages showed him how much talent and depth Nebraska has on its roster. He said everybody could do the things they need to win, and now the key was continuing to bond and gel as teammates.
***McGowens said Husker fans would see a bunch of scorers but also an unselfish team this year.
“That’s going to be the biggest thing this season. As long as we keep doing that, we’re going to have a successful season.”