Nebraska hasn't received much respect for their basketball program over the last few years. Maybe it's their massive football program that overshadows the hard-court players or lack of a huge superstar roaming Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. Whatever the case, Nebraska has been a pain to Iowa State in recent times. The Huskers waltzed into Ames last February when Iowa State needed a win to ice-away an NCAA tourney bid and stunned the Cyclones 76-69.
Nebraska hasn't received much respect for
their basketball program over the last few years. Maybe it's their massive
football program that overshadows the hard-court players or lack of a huge
superstar roaming Devaney
Sports Center in Lincoln. Whatever the case, Nebraska has been a pain to Iowa State in recent times. The Huskers waltzed
into Ames last February when Iowa State needed a win to ice-away an NCAA
tourney bid and stunned the Cyclones 76-69. The Huskers have also won three of
the last four in Lincoln, the lone ISU win came last year
This season, Nebraska (12-3) is off to
its best start in the six seasons of the Barry Collier era. The Huskers are tied
atop the Big 12 standings with Texas at 2-0. They staged a late rally to
upset Oklahoma in Lincoln 59-58 and then traveled down to Manhattan and stifled the
Wildcats 57-42. The Huskers non-conference schedule isn't something to boast
about; as they played a tasty ding-dong schedule (Cupcake is used too much.)
Their one impressive win was over Marquette 84-74. Their losses were @ Creighton
(70-44) UAB (73-72) and @ Florida State (74-60).
Nebraska is a tough team to prepare for.
They have eight players that average more than 20 minutes and another two that
average more than 10 minutes. Leading the charge is senior forward Wes Wilkinson
(6'10). Wilkinson leads the Huskers in scoring and rebounding at 12.2 and 7.0.
He is also a big threat from out-side as he is hitting 52 percent from deep
(29-56). The other post player is sophomore Aleks Maric. (6'11) Maric, a native
Australian, had 15 points and 17 boards last week at K-State. He is averaging 8
points and 7 rebounds. Maric is not a very good shooter and will get most of his
points off offensive boards and lay-ups. He has a decent repertoire of moves,
but isn't the quickest of athletes.
Sophomore guard Joe McCray (6'5)
is slowly recovering from the dreaded "sophomore slump." He led the Huskers in
scoring at 15.5 PPG last year, but has struggled a bit this time around, putting
up 11 points and four rebounds and only shooting 36 percent. McCray is a
physical guard and will bang underneath as well as shoot the 3. At 235 pounds he
is a load to stay in front of. McCray often falls in love with the 3 shooting
103 of them this season and hitting 33 percent. His career high 26 points came
State. Against Oklahoma a week ago
McCray drilled a game-winning three with under five seconds to play. The other
guard/forward is 6'6 senior Jason Dourisseau. He is averaging 11 points and
seven rebounds. Dourisseau can kill you on the offensive glass if you don't
check him. He has 47 offensive boards this year, and at only 6'6 he can cause
damage on the rebounding stats.
Junior point guard Charles Richardson (5'9) has assumed the starting role. He is lighting quick (think Nate Robinson, Earl Boykins) but won't look to score. He has only attempted 25 shots
this season, averaging 3.8 points. Off the bench the Huskers rotate in 6'2
freshman guard Marcus Walker (7.5 PPG) 6'9 JUCO transfer B.J. Walker (6.7 PPG; 5
RBG), 6'3 freshman Jamel White (5.1 PPG) and 6'2 junior Marcus Perry (4.1 PPG).
Perry will come in and launch 3's. 30 of his 49 shots have been from
The theme of Barry Collier's teams
at Butler and now Nebraska is defense, more defense, and
rebounding. The Huskers have given up more than 70 points only four times,
coincidentally they lost three of those games. They out-rebound opponents by an
average of 41-35, including over 14 offensive rebounds a game. Iowa State on the other hand is being
out-boarded 35-32. In ISU's loss to Nebraska last year, the Huskers won the
rebounding battle 45-32 and had an astounding 18 offensive boards.
For Iowa State to
win in Lincoln,
they will have to rely on their pressure and forcing turnovers. The Huskers turn
it over 16 times per game and put the ball in the hands of several freshmen.
It's all about tempo with the Huskers. They would love a game in the 50's and
are most successful in the half-court. Whoever controls tempo will have the
advantage. The Huskers can frustrate you easily. Curtis Stinson has to keep his
cool; he had several verbal confrontations with NU's Joe McCray in Ames last year. ISU needs
Stinson to have a game like he did last year in Lincoln (25 points, 8 boards, 4
assists, 5 steals.) He took over that game, but has too often become more
concerned with peripheral events this season. If ISU wins it will be because of
rebounding and "Blue Collar." We will see what this team is made of. It is going
to be a dog-fight. Tip-off is 6:30.