Big 12 Conference BasketballAfter a tough couple of losses Nebraska closed out the nonconference season with a record of 10-3. The last three games they beat three mediocre teams, but at least were able to get their offense going. If this team finds a way to get the offense going in conference play they are going to look back and really regret the two bad losses to Oregon State and to UMBC at home. Even though the UMBC game the Huskers were without Cookie Miller they still should have found a way to win that game.

A couple of bright spots the last couple of nonconference games were the play of Chris Balham and the regained shooting touch of Ryan Anderson. While those two events may seem unrelated Anderson lived off the space that was created by Alecs Maric last year. Balham playing additional minutes has forced defenders to sag off of him a little and he has been able to get just enough space to get open and make shots. This team is going to need the scoring from Anderson as the season progresses and games get more half court oriented.

Balham played between 15-20 minutes a game over the last couple of nonconference games.  Doc says they found a new treatment that is helping him to be able to play more. The treatment puts fluid into his knee that simulates that cartilage that is supposed to be there. The other minutes not taken by Balham at the 5 spot have predominately been played by Toney McCray. While very long and athletic, McCray is not very skilled at finishing in the post and his slim build prevents him from effectively bodying up the other teams big man. However he is probably NUs best option other than Balham.

Alonzo Edwards still seems to be not ready for prime time, but he is improving his level of play.  The added minutes for Balham has helped create space and has prevented the other teams big man from leaving NU’s 5 and going to help block shots when our guards drive to the hoop. When it comes to driving to the hoop Sek Henry has really improved his finishing moves and ability to score inside. If not double teamed he is able to get his drive and finish against most of the teams in the nonconference. It will be interesting to see what happens when he starts driving against Big 12 caliber guards. Things may change a little, but Henry needs to continue to be aggressive going to the hoop. This team is probably at its worst when they are passing the ball around the top of the key, it reminds me of the Barry Collier years and those are memories we all want to die.

My hope for the conference season is 9-7, but this has been my same hope since I have started following the Huskers bball team towards the end of the Danny Nee era. I am afraid that this year the team should be happy with a 7-9 conference record and hopefully scoring a spot in the NIT.  Even though the Big 12 is down this year, NU is going to have a very difficult time winning every time they step on the court. There are going to stand virtually no chance against the best teams in the Big 12 without a post presence. The team is going to have to figure a way to make people at least cover their post player to give the offense a chance to score. I am looking forward to the season and to seeing these young men give it their all.

Go Big Red! - Corey

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