Last season, to the surprise of many, Nebraska found themselves on the right side of the bubble and in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. But making the tournament won't be good enough this year; the Huskers have too talented a crop of returners and are looking to make a run to at least the Sweet 16. One man, with long cornrows tucked in his headband and a splotchy beard, might be the make-or-break player. His name is Terran Petteway.
Petteway made a pit stop before landing with the Huskers, playing one season at Texas Tech and then redshirting during the 2012-13 season. With that year off, Petteway was able to refine his game, becoming a more consistent jump shooter and adding more muscle to his 6'6 frame. The results were slow at first, but at season's end Petteway became one of the Big Ten's best players, finishing as a consensus All Big-Ten player and leading the conference in points at 18.1 a game.
If you've never seen Petteway play before, he doesn't have a true position, which makes him incredibly difficult to guard. Nebraska went small and started three true guards, which left Petteway to have a quickness advantage against true power forwards who like to play closer to the basket. He has the ability to shoot it from deep, finishing the season at a respectable 33%, but showed his versatility by averaging 5 rebounds a game. In arguably his best game of the season, he finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds at home against Final Four bound Wisconsin. Not bad for a sophomore playing his first year in the Big Ten.
Terran Petteway Block and Alley-Oop (via Nebraska Huskers)
I love this clip for Petteway. It shows his defensive prowess at one end of the floor, and his ability to run the length of the court and finish at the rim. Also fitting, the "Started From the Bottom" Drake song playing in the background, possibly an ode to Nebraska's cellar-level performance for years before finding a golden era? Possibly, so we'll give the YouTube user the benefit of the doubt on this one.
This year, Nebraska returns their entire starting five minus Ray Gallegos, as well as Benny Parker who will likely slide into the starting lineup, and senior leaders Leslee Smith and David Rivers at the forward spots. An #11 seed returning 7 of 8 top contributors should be poised for a huge season, and Petteway is the engine that keeps them going. If he can be an absolute pest at both ends of the floor, look for Nebraska to have a tremendous season, possibly their first NCAA tournament win, and Petteway bolting for greener pastures and the NBA.