It’s no surprise that Tim Miles still has Jordy Tshimanga in his starting lineup considering he is the only player taller than 6-foot-10 on Nebraska. But what is surprising is Tshimanga’s play as of late, struggling to get back to his freshman form when he competed with the likes of Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas.
“There’s no doubt there’s a little bit of a crisis of confidence with Jordy,” Miles said before Nebraska’s game against The University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA). “But he’s got such a great attitude, he’s a willing and eager learner, that he comes in ready to go every practice. He was that way today, and I’m sure he’ll be that way tomorrow for the game.”
Unfortunately for Tshimanga, the hard-work did not pay off against UTSA. Tshimanga only managed to play 11 minutes and score five points, going 2-for-3 from the field. Now Tshimanga’s amount of minutes could’ve been a result of UTSA’s high paced tempo offense, but again he failed to take advantage of a favorable matchup against UTSA’s center, Nick Allen, who’s listed as 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds.
Before Wednesday’s night game against UTSA, Miles said he had no plans to take Tshimanga out of the starting lineup. However, Nebraska may need someone to step up and take the starting center position for the time being, whether that be Isaiah Roby or Isaac Copeland, because Tshimanga is not the answer at the moment.
Even though Tshimanga has struggled in the past two games against Kansas and UTSA, that hasn’t stopped bench players Anton Gill, Thomas Allen Jr., and Isaiah Roby from playing to their potential.
Anton Gill on the season is now averaging 23.5 minutes per game and 10.2 points per game, while shooting a blistering 46.2 percent from behind the arc. Gill did struggle against Kansas however, shooting 2-for-8 from the field and 0-for-4 at the three point line. Gill responded very well against UTSA, scoring 21 points while going 4-for-8 from three point range. If the senior keeps producing numbers like those, its going to be hard for Miles to keep him out of the starting lineup.
Then there comes true freshman point guard, Thomas Allen Jr., who made his presence felt during the Kansas game. Allen shot five-of-seven from the field, including three-of-four from the three point line. While Allen played very well throughout the entire game, his most iconic moment came during a 6-0 run for Nebraska, when Allen nailed a three during a fast break to tie the game up 51-51.
“Tom was so good,” Miles said. “I was so proud of him.”
Moments like that are encouraging for Miles and starting point guard Glynn Watson Jr., who now can take longer breaks if Allen continues to play like he has been the past couple of games. If Allen can remain healthy and avoid freshman mistakes, he is going to see an increase in minutes and trust from the Nebraska coaching staff.
Isaiah Roby has played well all season long, averaging 7.2 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game, while ranking sixth in the Big Ten in blocks per game at 1.7. With the recent struggles of Tshimanga, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Roby enter the starting lineup soon. The only thing holding Roby back this season has been foul trouble, committing three or more personal fouls in every game besides two, games against North Dakota and Long Beach State. During Big Ten conference play, Roby is going to have to stay out of foul trouble if he wants a crack at the starting lineup.
Teams around the league have noticed the upgrade in all-around talent of this 2017-’18 Nebraska basketball team, and its no surprise considering they’ve achieved two wins against Boston College, who recently beat the Duke Blue Devils, and at the time 14th ranked Minnesota. They also fought and took the lead many times in games against Creighton and Kansas, but ultimately lost in the final two minutes.
“I wasn’t surprised at all that Nebraska played us as well as they did. They showed on film just how good they were,” said Devonte Graham, star point guard of Kansas.
Nebraska has two cupcake non-conference games at home before conference play, in which they play Delaware State tonight at 8:00 PM ET, and then Stetson University on December 29th. Hopefully for Nebraska, Tshimanga can return to his true freshman form, and their bench can keep producing like they have.