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2014-15 Nebraska Preview: The Guards

With the departure of Ray Gallegos, how will Nebraska's backcourt look this season?

Shavon Shields highlights a talented Nebraska backcourt
Shavon Shields highlights a talented Nebraska backcourt
Andy Lyons

Last season, Nebraska was one of the best teams in the Big Ten. Much of this had to do with Tim Miles' terrific backcourt. While they might not be the most talented individually, together they combine speed, size and shooting to make one of the most talented cores. Ray Gallegos is the only important departure, and the returners will have Nebraska competing for a Big Ten crown again.

The Starters

Tai Webster- Webster had a very productive summer, playing for New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup. While his numbers don't jump off the page for the Kiwis, his experience playing against some of the world's best players should be extremely valuable this season for Nebraska. Some expected Webster to have an immediate impact, but 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 23 minutes per game needs to be improved upon. Webster shot a dismal 31% from 3 on only 35 attempts, but the biggest aspect of his game that he needs to improve is his assist rate. If Webster can become a true point guard in this explosive Nebraska offense, they could have one of the most effective offenses in the entire country.

Shavon Shields- Shields is one of the most versatile players in the Big Ten, using his 6'6 frame to shoot over smaller players. He has a great game driving to the basket, and has the speed to get out in transition for easy baskets. Shields had modest numbers at 13 points and 6 rebounds per game, but I don't expect these numbers to expand too much with all the talent that surrounds him. One number that does jump out is his 31% shooting from 3. He only attempted 57 shots, but if Shields can shoot better from deep, it will allow players like Terran Petteway more room to operate going to the basket.

The Bench

Benny Parker- Parker is a small, crafty guard who is great at creating space in the lane. While he won't start, he will be a huge spark off the bench and someone that Tim Miles can play for extended stretches. As a Junior, Miles knows he has a reliable player who will help run the offense when either Shields or Webster is on the bench. The biggest concern with Parker is his size, as guards that are 5'9 generally get exposed more than taller players. While I don't see Parker being a game changer, he is a luxury for Coach Miles coming off the bench.

David Rivers- If Parker is the spark plug, Rivers is the glue guy. Rivers, like Shields, is a bigger guard who adds even more versatility to this Nebraska team. Rivers can effectively guard point guards up to power forwards, and his length and high-energy style of play becomes infectious for the Huskers. His numbers are modest at best, averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game, but Rivers brings the intangibles that coaches love to talk about. Don't expect Rivers to make any highlight plays, but against some of the better offensive guards/wings in the Big Ten, Rivers will likely be out there being a pest on the defensive end.