The Nebraska Cornhuskers are a middle of the pack Big Ten team who have yet to find an identity and it’s time to begin looking for new hope to change the culture. In the past few seasons they have been on a path of mediocrity, especially being one of those teams stuck in the shadow of the conference elite.
The 2015-16 season confirmed this sentiment after they dealt with an excruciating year enjoying little success. A below average record of 16-18 (6-12 Big Ten) was not to far off from what was expected of that team, but part of this culture is losing almost all of the games against ranked opponents. They went head-to-head with 10 ranked opponents and had a 1-9 record in those match-ups. In a conference like the Big Ten to be in the upper echelon it takes at least wining 50-percent of those match-ups.
Now this is where it gets tricky with the 2016-17 Nebraska squad.
The third leading scorer last season was point guard Tai Webster at 10.1 points per game. He’s now the only current player on this year’s roster who has averaged over nine points-per-game. So, it’s an understatement to say how much they will miss the top two scorers from last year, Shavon Shields and Andrew White III. Their respected averages were 16.8 ppg for Shields and 16.6 ppg for White III.
Though Shields left due to graduation, White III decided to transfer and is now dawning an orange jersey playing for Syracuse University. That would be a deflating loss to any team, especially if that player was giving you just over 16 points-per-game in the Big Ten, but they need to look for help elsewhere because he’s gone and they cannot change that.
So where do the Cornhuskers go from here?
Well, with only six upperclassmen on the roster now and Webster being the lone senior, the future is what should be giving everyone in Lincoln, Nebraska a slimmer of hope.
Sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr. had a productive freshman campaign, averaging 8.6 ppg, so look for him to build off of that with the other scorers gone.
Though Nebraska did not land any ESPN 100 recruits, they did bring in some key freshmen who should have a lasting impact on this program (as long as they do not transfer). Big-man Jordy Tshimanga and forward Isaiah Roby should see playing time this season and they’ll play a major role into what the next four years will be like for Nebraska.
But it will not be up to them as bringing in players like them starts with the recruiting process and head coach Tim Miles must continue to improve in that department to compete on the level of Big Ten juggernauts like Michigan State.
Miles is set to start his 5th season leading Nebraska since taking over in 2012-13. So far he’s only accumulated a 63-67 overall record, which is not uncommon from a program looking to create a new identity, but the time is now to act.
There might not be hope for the present, but if Miles and his staff cannot find a way to improve off of their recent recruiting momentum in slowly building the roster, then their might not be hope for the future either.