Huskers vs. St. Francis Red Flash Report Card
Huskers win 93-49. Box Score
It's nearly impossible to shoot any better than the Huskers did against the overmatched Red Flash of St. Francis. They hit 66% from the field and an amazing 64% from 3-point range. The scoring was again very balanced. With the lone exception of the Creighton game, the Huskers have done an outstanding job of getting points from almost everyone who plays. Thirteen of the fourteen who played in this game scored as Nate Johnson lead the way with 19 points off of the bench. It is nearly impossible to find anything wrong with Nebraska's performance on this end all night. 23 assists versus 13 turnovers is a very good team ratio and very few shots were forced up. Barry Collier said all week that practice had been great and it showed tonight. It was a nearly flawless performance and a great game to maintain confidence heading to Iowa State on Saturday.
Best: Nate Johnson – 6-8 FG (4-4 3-point) and 3-4 FT for 19 points. That is about as efficient as you can get in 24 minutes of playing time.
Worst: Shaun Stegall – 0-0 FG and 0-1 FT for 0 points. He did not play bad, but if you are the only player not to score you fall into this spot. Maybe the label should be Least Best instead of Worst since everyone played very well.
This grade is a bit hard on Nebraska only because they allowed a few too many open looks from 3-point range to the only shooters SFU had. It does not make sense to double down on a big man with very little scoring ability and leave Darshan Luckey (18.8 ppg) wide open for 3. It did not happen often, but when you know that only a couple guys can shoot it should not happen at all. Kudos to Luckey on getting his points though. He finished with 22 in the game.
Best: Brian Conklin – 1 block and 3 steals. I have to give some credit to Conk who stepped up on the defensive end. He had a sweet rejection in the second half. Tony Wilbrand also picked up an impressive block.
Worst: Marcus Neal and Nate Johnson – 1 steal and 1 block combined. This, like Stegall on offense, is mostly based on the couple times they doubled down for no reason. It did not matter whatsoever in the final outcome of the game, but when you know a team's strength you must take that away.
Much like the other aspects of the game, Nebraska totally dominated the boards although St. Francis rarely had a chance to get a defensive rebound due to the fine shooting by the Huskers. The final tally had NU winning the board battle, 39-19, with 9 of those boards coming on the offensive end for the Huskers. It was an expected outcome since St. Francis is small in the frontcourt, but the boxing out was very good all night. It was a nearly perfect effort in this department.
Free Throw Shooting: B+
It was not a perfect night, but 10-of-14 from the line will suffice in every game if you can hit that mark. This team has a bunch of shooters with nice touch from the line, so this area should no longer be a liability like the last couple of years. Teams will have a hard time playing catch-up late in games because of the Huskers ability at the line. The only player that needs to step up is Jason Dourisseau (who was suspended for this game by the way due to a DUI on New Year's Eve, but he will likely return for the Iowa State game).
Best: John Turek – 4-5 FT. After being the worst on the team last year, John has figured out his problems and turned into a fine shooter from the line. He came up short on his first one, but adjusted like a true shooter should and put in his last four perfectly.
Worst: Stegall – 0-1 FT. I hate to pile on Shaun, but he was the only one to miss from the line and it could have given him a point for the night. This is a very minor disappointment though. Shaun has been good from the line in previous games.
Last year's team struggled to beat anybody, including the cupcakes, so complaining about anything in a 44-point blowout is pointless. After a great win at Minnesota, it would have been understandable if NU came out a bit flat in this game. They did just the opposite and put away St. Francis early. This team has the look of something special so far. It is still early and the Big 12 can be extremely cruel to great starting teams, so tempered optimism is the emotion right now. The depth, shooting ability, staunch defense, and attitude of this team could lead them to the Big Dance, but a solid finish and an NIT bid would be a great step for the program. Exciting things are happening in Lincoln right now and I'm not talking about the football coaching search! Get out and watch this team this year before the bandwagon fills up.
Up Next: @ Iowa State – Saturday at 7 pm
The Cyclones are currently on a two-game losing streak with a game at home against Missouri before facing the Huskers on Saturday. After starting out 7-0 against mediocre-at-best teams, ISU went to Virginia and San Diego State and suffered losses. The ‘Clones have some talent with Jake Sullivan, Jackson Vroman, etc…, but after a summer where their now ex-head coach was shown the door, ISU has yet to climb back into the upper level of the Big 12. This is a very winnable game for Nebraska. The confidence they acquired after the Minnesota trip should pay huge dividends in Ames. If Conklin can keep shooting well and Nate provides that second burst off of the bench, then good things will happen in the conference opener. A win in this game is very big. It would not prove that Nebraska can compete with the elite teams in the conference, but it would show that the lower level teams can be beaten on the road. Should be fun to watch!!Prediction: Huskers 74 Iowa State 67
Quotes from the game (courtesy of University of Nebraska S.I.D.)
Nebraska Head Coach Barry
"I thought we got off to a really good start. We shot the ball well and defended early and got an early lead. We had a lot of time to work on fundamentals, skill development and our shooting, and that was very good tonight. I think we took advantage of the days we had off to prepare."
On Opening Big 12 Play
"We are looking forward to our next game now. Iowa State is our opener on the road. We are just looking a single game ahead and we know the league is tremendously strong and Iowa State had a great start. They played a couple of games on the road lately, and they play tomorrow night at Missouri. We are looking forward to the beginning of the league and our first game. I think we have done some good things that have given us some reasons to have some confidence. We know there is a battle ahead and we are looking forward to it."
On Nate Johnson's
"He's doing a really good job and I think he has found a comfort level with his play and what we are doing. I thought he made some excellent closeouts on defense. On the other hand, he is shooting the ball extremely well and obviously we will need that."
NU Player quotes
Senior Guard Nate Johnson
On tonight's shooting
"It all starts in practice. We get a lot of reps, which in turn shows up during the game. We need to continue to focus on the main things like getting our feet set and getting good looks coming off the screens."
On team's Confidence
"We are confident but not too confident. We need to focus on one game at a time, just like putting pants on, you need to do it one at a time. That's what has been carrying us all year. We just need to continue to practice hard and execute in games."
On Three Point Shooting
"It felt pretty good to get out there and shot the ball well."
Junior Guard Marcus
On This Win
"This gives us a lot of confidence going into Big 12 play. You can say it's a swagger, but it's also because we believe in ourselves and the team. We feel that we can beat anybody any night."
"We just need to continue to execute in practice and that will then show up in the game. Tonight we had a lot of easy shots and made some of the hard ones."
St. Francis (Pa.) Head Coach
On Nebraska's Defense
"Nebraska is a much-improved team from last year. Obviously they are one of the best defending teams in the country this year. You have to give credit to Barry. He has done a fantastic job getting those guys to buy into his system and they're much improved. We knew coming in, based on their first 10 games that they could defend. We were overmatched playing a very good Nebraska basketball team tonight."
On Nebraska's Offense
"Nebraska pulls you away from the basket and hits a three and then they pound the ball inside and have guys that can finish around the basket. In the Minnesota tape, I knew they were very capable of shooting, and you expect them to shoot better at home. They're a good basketball team."