The Nebraska Cornhuskers haven't played a game of basketball under new head coach Tim Miles, but Miles is still gaining respect with Nebraska fans early on. He has done a solid job at getting some talented basketball players to commit to the Huskers and also is getting some publicity for the program, which has been sorely lacking for obvious reasons.
First off, I have read more about Nebraska basketball in the past few months than the past couple of years combined. Everyone seemed to agree that Doc Sadler was a decent coach, especially on the defensive end of the court. Where Sadler lacked was with recruiting. Granted, Miles has a few things going for him that Sadler didn't. First off, the Hendricks Training Complex has given the Huskers one of the premier facilities in the country to practice in. Next in line is Pinnacle Bank Arena that will be ready for the 2013 season. Both of these can't hurt when it comes to help lure talent to Lincoln. It hasn't only been the news of great facilities that has Husker basketball in the news. ESPN just shadowed Tim Miles for an all-access recruiting article that appeared online. The Huskers also have signed a deal with ESPN to appear in tournaments that will be on the ESPN family of networks. This is another great recruiting tool. Not very often have the Huskers appeared on national television, that extra exposure will pay great dividends as long as the team shows improvement on the court as well.
What most Nebraska fans are concerned with is the talent level that has been on the court the past few seasons. The Huskers have obviously been overwhelmed repeatedly by the Big 10 and, before that, the Big 12. Closing that talent gap has to be the number one priority of Miles and his coaching staff. Miles went out and made some moves that appear to have that gap heading in the right direction. Two transfers will join Nebraska, but have to sit out this season as a result of NCAA rules. Nebraska picked up Walter Pitchford, who is 6'10", from the Florida Gators and Terran Pettaway, who stands 6'6", from the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Both of them were good enough to play sparingly as freshman on much better teams than Nebraska. Miles' first recruiting class saw another transfer, Deverell Biggs, who comes to Lincoln via junior college. Sergej Vucetic is the first high school recruit that Miles signed. He is no small signing either. Vucetic is a 7 footer with great all around skills. Nebraska also previously had Benny Parker and Shavon Shileds, who are both from the Kansas City area, stay committed to the Huskers after Sadler was fired. The 2013 class is off to a solid start as well. Nick Fuller and Nathan Hawkins both signed on the same day and on Tuesday, August 21st, Tai Webster from New Zeland committed to the Cornhuskers. All the recruits mentioned are ranked 3 stars out of 5 according to the recruiting website Rivals.com except for the two foreign players, Webster and Vucetic. It is nice to see the Cornhuskers signing some players with size. It was just a few seasons ago that they were often referred to as the shortest team in the nation on television.
Overall I am very excited to see how this translates to the court. Husker fans know the first year or two will still have its ups and downs, but as long as it is obvious the team is well coached and plays hard, fans will be patient. I think once Miles gets into his second season we will start seeing improvements and who knows maybe, just maybe, we will see that elusive first NCAA Tournament victory. That is how Miles' success will be evaluated. Regular season wins are great, but it is necessary to get into the Big Dance and also win a game every couple of seasons at the very least. Once the Huskers get that first win, we will worry then about advancing into the Sweet 16 someday. Okay, time to quit dreaming but it is very possible to do. We have the coach, we will have the facilities needed, we have the university dedicated to winning and now we just need to get the fans on board and have half the passion we have about our football team. If we can put it all together, the Huskers can certainly be a consistent winner. Seems like we have heard all of this before haven't we?
Kevin was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and has followed Cornhusker football and basketball his entire life.