Nebraska Enters Big Ten with Uphill Recruiting Battle

Joining a new conference means one thing, in particular, to the basketball program at Nebraska.

It opens up a whole new region from which Doc Sadler and company can recruit.

"The chance to play in front of a whole new population week in and week out will be a good thing," Brian Speers of Corn Nation said. "It's possible that recruits are thinking more in terms of individual schools, and playing time when selecting a university to play for, but I have to believe that staying in your conference also has something to do with a young player's choice of schools."

Not everybody believes Sadler will take advantage, though.

"(Entering the Big Ten doesn't mean) a damn thing (for recruiting). Doc is oblivious to regional recruiting in his conference’s geography," Corn Nation's Andy Ketterson said. "The current roster (not counting in-state players) has 2 from Big 10 states and 3 each from Big 12 states and the SEC. The remainder is represented by foreign countries Brazil, Puerto Rico, Germany and Utah."

Another fact irritates Cornhusker fans; Sadley has rarely gone after a major, five-star level player.

"Sadler hasn’t been able to land a top-notch recruit – a program changer – in his five seasons here," said Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star. "And seldom have you seen Sadler battle high-level, or even mid-level, BCS programs for recruits."

Rosenthal noted that  when he looks over the other schools competing against Nebraska for talent, he too often sees mid-major types like Southern Illinois, Wichita State and UTEP. 

"At the risk of sounding disrespectful to those schools – particularly Wichita State, which bludgeoned Nebraska in the NIT – fans around here cringe when they see Sadler battling Missouri Valley  and Conference USA teams for recruits," he said. 

Little has changed with this year's class, which may make it difficult for Nebraska to compete with the athletes at Ohio State and Michigan State or even Wisconsin, Illinois or Purdue. 

 

 

One commit who breaks from that mold is Dylan Talley, a 6'5" shooting guard from Blinn Community College. Sadler beat Tennessee, USC, Colarado, LSU and Gonzaga for Talley's services.

"Judging by his stats and comments from coaches, the kid can score, something Nebraska needs at his position," Rosenthal said. "Plus, he’s older and experienced, meaning he’ll likely contribute immediately."

Josiah Moore is the other commit Husker Nation expects a lot from. Moore is a 6-5 guard from Lawrenceville, Georgia. Moore could help out with Nebraska's 3-point shooting problems (31 percent as a team). 

Raytown, Missouri's Cory Hilliard and Little Rock native David Rivers, both point guards, round out the class.

"Nebraska for years has been one of the worst schools to try to recruit to for basketball. The reasons are numerous. A football-first school. Geography. An extremely poor in-state recruiting base. Lack of basketball tradition. And facilities that went overlooked for years and became an embarrassment and laughingstock," Rosenthal said.

A new arena, which will be finished in the next few seasons, should help alleviate some of that. So will Jeremy Cox, who is rumored to be filling the vacant assistant coaching position, because he's helped several players develop at South Florida and Arkansas Fort-Smith. 

But leave it to Cornhusker fans to bring everything back to the gridiron.

"We've been a bit underwhelming when it comes to physicality, and we've seen huge improvements on the football field since snagging James Dobson from Iowa," Speers said. "Perhaps the same type of transformation will occur on the basketball front, starting with the recruits coming in for 2011."
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