Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
As expected, the Nebraska Cornhuskers inaugural year in the Big Ten was a struggle. The team was undermanned and struggled to score the basketball. Things are looking up for Tim Miles’ squad but don’t expect a drastic turn of events for the Huskers.
Last Season: 10th, 5-13 in Big 10, 15-18 overall
Predicted Big 10 Finish: 12th
Projected Depth Chart
C: Walter Pitchford (So)/Leslee Smith (Jr)/Sergej Vucetic (So)
F: Shavon Shields (So)/Terran Petteway (Jr)
G/F: David Rivers (Jr)/Nick Fuller (Fr)
SG: Ray Gallegos (Sr)/Nathan Hawkins (Fr)/Mike Peltz (Sr)
PG: Taj Webster (Fr)/Deverell Biggs (Jr)/Benny Parker (So)
Gone: G/F-Dylan Talley, PF-Brandon Ubel, C-Andre Almeida
For most of last season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were forced to only use a seven man rotation but help is on the way this year. Three starters return in Ray Gallegos, Shavon Shields, and David Rivers. While not an overly talented trio of wing players, they will provide some stability and needed experience.
A needed shot of talent will come with addition of New Zealand combo guard Taj Webster and junior college transfer Deverell Biggs. Miles has spoken incredibly high about Webster and it appears as if he will be handed the keys to the Huskers offense from day one. Nick Fuller is an athletic, versatile wing who will compete for playing time off the bench along with fellow newcomer Nathan Hawkins.
The frontcourt gets a needed boost with the additions of Florida transfer Walter Pitchford and former Texas Tech forward Terran Petteway who both sat out last season. JUCO transfer Leslee Smith should also be a factor inside and has previous Division One experience having spent a year at SMU.
With seven new players on the roster, Miles is doing his best to get the Nebraska program heading in the right direction. A brand new arena will open in the fall as well which will help with recruiting and has already boosted attendance as games have already sold out for the upcoming years. Still, it will take time for the Cornhuskers basketball program to catch up with the rest of the Big Ten and even remotely get out from the shadows of the stories football team.
Player to Watch: Taj Webster
There were concerns that the 6-4 combo guard wouldn’t be cleared to play this season but Miles received great news recently with the announcement that Webster will be eligible this year. He led his native New Zealand in scoring at the 2012 Olympic qualifying. He turned down a professional contract in his home country and offers from high major programs like Pitt, N.C. State, and Vanderbilt to come to Nebraska. Webster will immediately be Nebraska’s most talented player and is a sleeper for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/8 vs. Florida Gulf Coast
11/21 vs. UMass (Charleston Classic)
11/22 vs. New Mexico/UAB (Charleston Classic)
11/24 vs. Temple/Davidson/Clemson/Georgia (Charleston Classic)
12/4 vs. Miami FL (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
12/8 at Creighton
12/28 at Cincinnati
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks