#103 Nebraska Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #103
Nebraska was a very streaky team last season. After a 0-3 start in Big Ten play, the Cornhuskers reeled off four wins in a row, including a massive upset at Michigan State. But after that they won just two more Big Ten games. However, Nebraska was not done yet. At the Big Ten Tournament they managed to beat Rutgers and Wisconsin before falling to Maryland. Consistency will be key heading into the 2016-2017 campaign, but this is a young team still. A winning record and a trip to the CBI, CIT or Vegas 16 is a good stepping stone for better things the following season. Tai Webster is the lone senior on the roster and he will need to provide some leadership, scoring and shooting. Webster is the team’s top returning scorer with 10.1 points per game and while he had a breakout junior season, his outside shooting was still inconsistent at best. This team needs some shooters and Webster at least has to be a threat to shoot.
2015-16 Record: 16-18, 6-12
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Tim Miles
Coach Record: 63-67 at Nebraska, 346-287 overall
Who’s Out:
Nebraska lost their top two scorers from last season in Shavon Shields and Andrew White III. Shields wrapped up his collegiate career averaging 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. White was clearly the best shooter on the team and the 6-7 guard knocked down 41.2 percent of his 211 attempts from beyond the arc. His transfer leaves a big hole at the small forward spot. Also gone is starter Benny Parker. He was not a scorer, but the diminutive guard was a great defender. Jake Hammond earned a few starts during his sophomore season and averaged 2.2 points and 2.8 rebounds. Also gone are little used Evelyn Bakari, Johnny Trueblood and Tanner Borchardt.
Who’s In:
Nebraska adds more experience in the backcourt with Louisville transfer Anton Gill and junior college transfer Evan Taylor. Gill was a big time recruit, but never found a spot in the regular rotation at Louisville. The 6-3 junior is a pure scorer from everywhere on the floor and he should help alleviate the three-point shooting losses of Shields and White. Taylor has some Division I experience as well. He played his freshman season at Samford, where he averaged 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds, before hitting the junior college ranks. He too is a potential shooter, but does need to be more consistent with his outside shot. Jeriah Horne, Isaiah Roby and Jordy Tshimanga are the incoming freshmen who will add depth to the frontcourt. Horne and Roby are athletic forwards who can play multiple positions and attack the basket, but Tshimanga could be the most important newcomer. At 6-11 and 270 pounds, Tshimanga is by far the biggest player on the roster. On a team with a bunch of 6-8 forwards who attack the basket and shoot the ball, Tshimanga is the best fit to play the five spot. It is more likely that Coach Tim Miles will play small, but at times he will need to play big depending on the competition and Tshimanga will have to spend some quality minutes on the floor.
Who to Watch:
Playing small is how Nebraska can get their best players on the floor though. That would put Michael Jacobson at the center position, with Ed Morrow at the power forward spot and Jack McVeigh at small forward. That is not a small lineup since all those sophomores are 6-7 or 6-8 and that group all had very promising freshmen campaigns. Jacobson spent plenty of time at the five spot last season and averaged 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. Morrow can attack the basket and probably has the most potential of the group. He averaged fewer minutes than Jacobson and McVeigh last season, but Morrow could be looking at a breakout season where he at least turns into one of the top rebounders on the team. McVeigh is the shooter of the bunch. He averaged 4.8 points per game and was second on the team in three-pointers made. At 6-8 and 210 pounds, McVeigh can certainly play the four spot, but he is a shooter and certainly belongs on the wing. However, if Coach Miles does not find enough depth in the frontcourt, McVeigh could spend a lot of time out of position and that is going to hurt the Cornhuskers on the glass and defensively.
Final Projection:
Glynn Watson is another promising sophomore who saw plenty of playing time last season. He averaged 8.6 points and 2.4 assists and now is ready to take over the point guard duties full time. It would be nice if his outside shot was falling a bit more, but he can score by attacking the basket and find his teammates. As long as the turnovers stay low, Watson will not need to shoot too much better than he did last season from long range. Others need to step up in that department, most notably Webster and McVeigh with help from Gill. The four sophomores on this team are pretty good and they could be what propels Nebraska to a surprisingly good season. Coach Miles does need to figure out where those frontcourt pieces fit though and the more guys who can play where they should play, the better. However, it seems likely that Morrow and Jacobson will have to play at the five spot instead of the four and McVeigh will have to play at the four instead of the three. If that happens, at least Nebraska will have more shooters with Gill, Webster and McVeigh on the floor at the same time.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Glynn Watson, Sophomore, Guard, 8.6 points per game
Tai Webster, Senior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
Jack McVeigh, Sophomore, Forward, 4.8 points per game
Ed Morrow, Sophomore, Forward, 4.1 points per game
Michael Jacobson, Sophomore, Forward, 4.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.2 (195th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.0 (100, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (136, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.8 (196, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (222, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.7 (165, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.0 (56, 6)
Rebound Margin: 2.0 (115, 6)
Assists Per Game: 11.7 (279, 11)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.8 (88, 8)
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#129 Isaiah Roby
#140 Jeriah Horne
#163 Jordy Tshimanga