The Nebraska men's basketball team opens the 2006-07 exhibition season with a home contest against instate foe Nebraska-Kearney on Monday, Nov. 6, at the Devaney Center. The game, which will be the Huskers' first under new head coach Doc Sadler, will tip off at 7:05 p.m.
>>>Nebraska Opens Exhibition
against the Lopers will be the first of two exhibition contests for the Huskers
this week, as NU also faces Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday, Nov.
All Nebraska basketball games can be heard on the
Husker Sports Network and Huskers.com. For a complete listing of the 26-station
network, check Huskers.com. Kent Pavelka (play by play) and Matt Davison (color)
will call the action. Live game stats will also be available on Huskers.com.
Sadler took over the Husker program
on Aug. 8, 2006, replacing Barry Collier, who left to become athletic director
at his alma mater, Butler, after six years on the Husker sideline.
Sadler brings an up-tempo offensive game plan to Lincoln that has the current players energized
for the season, while his defensive scheme to pressure the ball for 94 feet has
given way to impressive results the past two
Sadler enters his third season as a
Division I head coach and has already built a solid resume. In his first season
Paso, Sadler posted the seventh-best win
total for a first-year Division I head coach in NCAA history. His Miner squad
went 27-8 in 2004-05 before reaching the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Sadler's
team overcame numerous injuries while posting 21 victories and making an
appearance in the NIT. Sadler's 48 victories in his first two seasons at
Division I were two off the NCAA's top 20 list.
Nebraska faces the Lopers
for the second time in three years and the third time overall in exhibition
play. The Huskers have won 11 straight exhibition contests since a two-game
losing streak in the final game of the 1999 exhibition season and the first game
of the 2000 campaign. Overall, the Cornhuskers own a 41-5 all-time mark in
Against the Lopers, Nebraska is 2-0 in
exhibition play with victories in 2004 (84-71) and 2001 (58-55). In 2004, the
Huskers ran to a 16-point halftime lead and then held UNK to 27.5 percent
shooting the second half to cruise to the victory.
The 2001 contest was a much tighter
affair. UNK trailed by just one point, 56-55, with 3.5 seconds remaining and had
a trip to the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity, but missed the first free throw.
Cary Cochran, who led the nation in free throw percentage as a senior that
season, got the rebound and hit a pair of free throws to seal the exhibition
Nebraska-Kearney returns four
starters off last year's 23-8 squad that reached the NCAA Division II Tournament
for the fifth straight season. The Lopers won the Rocky Mountain Athletic
Conference title before reaching the final eight in the national tournament.
This season, the talented UNK squad
is the preseason favorite to win the league title and was picked fourth
nationally by Street & Smith in its preseason poll. The Lopers were also
selected No. 16 nationally in the Division II Bulletin.
Senior forward Dusty Jura is the
league's preseason player of the year and a second-team preseason All-American.
The son of former Husker Chuck Jura – who still ranks 14th in scoring in
history – Dusty has scored more than 1,500 career points in his first three
seasons and this year looks to become just the fourth Loper in history with at
least 2,000 career points.
Also looking to make an impact will
be sophomore guard Ryan Moore. A native of Beatrice, Moore is the preseason pick
as the league's defensive player of the year. UNK also returns starters in
James Lane and Chad Burger, who added 12.5 and 11.3 points
per game, respectively, last year. The Lopers' newest addition to the starting
lineup will be guard Drake Beranek, a 6-4 freshman from Ravenna, Neb.
The Lopers are guided by co-head
coaches Tom Kropp and Kevin Lofton. Kropp is entering his 17th season as head
coach at UNK and owns a 352-128 record. He has helped Nebraska-Kearney rank
sixth in winning percentage over the last eight years in Division II and his
winning percentage (.733) ranks him 13th among active Division II coaches.
Kropp's teams have earned 12 20-plus win seasons and made 10 NCAA appearances
over the 16 years.
Bug Hits Huskers Hard
Seven Huskers returned from
last season's NIT squad, including three starters in guards Charles Richardson
Jr. and Jamel White and center Aleks Maric. Richardson is the only Husker with significant
experience who has not missed any practice time with an injury or illness this
Last year, Richardson had surgery on
his knee during the preseason and missed the first three games of the season
before coming on to start 23 contests. This season, he is one of four players –
including freshmen Sek Henry, Ryan Anderson and Kris Douse – who have not been
On the other hand, nine Huskers have
missed time this year with a wide range of injuries that have relegated them to
the bench, including: Jamel White (collarbone), Kyle Marks (knee cartilage),
Paul Velander (foot), Chris Balham (legs), Jim Ledsome (ankle), Marcus Perry
(foot), Jay-R Strowbridge (thigh) and Mike Smith (thigh).
Aleks Maric became the latest to
join the growing injured list as he had an appendectomy on Friday, Nov. 3. He
will not be available against UNK as an average time for return to action would
be about two weeks. Without Maric, the Huskers are losing their top returning
scorer (10.9 ppg) and rebounder (8.4 rpg) from last year. The 6-11, 270-pounder
provides the majority of Nebraska's bulk in the paint and returned as
one of the top centers in the conference after leading the Big 12 in
double-doubles in league-only games last year with seven.
Senior guard Charles Richardson Jr.
is the proven veteran of the squad as he is the Huskers' only returning
three-year letterwinner. In fact, Richardson and junior center Aleks Maric are
the only players on the squad with more than one year of Division I experience.
Unlike Richardson, six Huskers will be looking for their first
career action when Nebraska opens the regular season on Nov. 14
at home against the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.
Last year, the 5-9, 165-pound
helped the Huskers to a 19-14 campaign that included their second NIT bid in
three years. Richardson, who has quietly become one of the top floor generals in
the Big 12 Conference, is chasing his third postseason appearance at Nebraska this season.
Behind his solid junior campaign
setting up the Husker offense, Richardson ranked fourth in the conference in
assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.92:1 and was 10th in the league with 3.33 assists
per game after gaining 100 assists on the year. His strong hand helped lead the
Huskers to two victories at the Big 12 Championship in 2006, only the third time
in school history that Nebraska has posted more than one win at the
league postseason tournament.
For his career, Richardson has 220 assists
in 87 games. He leads the current squad in both categories and is second among
returnees in games started with 35. Only Aleks Maric, who has started 36 of 58
career games, has more experience in the starting lineup.
With similar statistics to last
year, Richardson could move into the Nebraska career top 10
for assists. Currently sitting in 10th place on the list is former Husker and
current 13-year NBA veteran Eric Piatkowski, who had 322 assists in his career.
Doc Sadler was the biggest addition
to the Nebraska program this summer, but the largest
returnee on the floor for the Huskers – literally and figuratively – was junior
center Aleks Maric.
The 6-11, 270-pound Maric entered
his name into the NBA Draft on April 28, 2006. After testing the waters, Maric
withdrew his name before the deadline and, since he did not hire an agent, was
able to return to the Huskers for the 2006-07 campaign.
However, Maric wasn't initially
convinced that he would return to Lincoln following Barry Collier's resignation
as head coach in August. To help Maric make up his mind, Doc Sadler got on a
plane to Australia less than 48 hours
following his appointment as head coach and spent a few days with Maric and his
family so they could get to know each other. The following week Maric announced
he would return to Lincoln in time for the start of fall classes.
Maric, who will miss the UNK contest
after undergoing an appendectomy on Friday, Nov. 3, was the first Husker
underclassman to declare early for the draft since Tyronn Lue announced his
decision to forgo his senior season in 1998. Lue remained in the draft and was a
first-round selection of the Denver Nuggets. He is still in the NBA playing for
the Atlanta Hawks, one of three former Huskers currently in the
Maric was one of eight underclassmen
from the Big 12 Conference to declare early for the draft, a high for any
conference. Six of the players remained in the draft, with Maric and Colorado's all-league
guard Richard Roby being the only two to pull out. Of the six who stayed in the
draft, four were selected in the first two rounds.
• Nebraska will have a young lineup for the
second straight season in 2006-07. Last year's inexperienced squad posted 19
victories and gave NU its second postseason berth in three years. This season
the Huskers hope to have a similar outcome despite entering the year with even
less experience. Only two players – senior Charles Richardson Jr. and junior
Aleks Maric – have more than one season of Division I experience.
• Nebraska has been strong on the glass the past
three years, and with Aleks Maric returning in the paint this season, that
success looks to continue this winter. Last year, the Huskers posted the
eighth-best rebound total in school history with 1,277 boards for an average of
38.7 rpg. NU has ranked in the top four in the league in rebounding each of the
past three seasons.
• NU has the players in place to
challenge for one of the top spots in the Husker 3-point record book this
winter. Nebraska has posted at least 200 3-pointers as
a team only three times in school history – all since 2000 – including hitting
221 treys last year to rank second all-time. When finally healthy, returning
guards Jamel White, Marcus Perry, Paul Velander and Charles Richardson Jr.,
along with newcomers Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry, will form an impressive
long-range attack for the Huskers this season.
• Maric's 10 double-doubles last
year tied for fifth in NU single-season history. With 13 career double-doubles,
Maric enters the 2006-07 campaign ranked eighth on the NU career chart. Maric
needs six to move into the top five and with another 10, he would move to third
on the list. Venson Hamilton, the 1999 Big 12 Player of the Year, leads the list
with 45 double-doubles, while Carl McPipe is second with 25 and Dave Hoppen
third with 22.
• Maric has 420 rebounds entering
the season and by posting the same total as he had last year (251), he would
move into 10th on the Husker career rebounds chart. Maric is just 10 rebounds
behind the total Hamilton had at the end of his sophomore
is the only player in NU history to post more than 1,000 career rebounds.
• Maric will also have a chance to
move into the NU career top 10 for blocked shots in 2006-07. He owns 55 blocks
entering the year and needs just 10 to take over sole possession of 10th place.
• By duplicating his rookie
campaign, guard Jamel White will challenge for a spot on the Nebraska career top-10
chart for 3-pointers. White ranked second in the freshman record book with 44
treys last year and needs 59 to move into a tie for 10th place with Chris
• Nebraska has four new freshmen on the roster
looking for playing time. Nebraska has had solid success with freshmen
recently as at least one Husker rookie has been selected to the Big 12
All-Freshman Team each of the past two years. Last season, White earned the
honor after moving into the NU freshman record book in six categories despite
seeing limited playing time early in the