LINCOLN, Neb. — It’s not really a secret that the transfer of Andrew White III from Nebraska to Syracuse over the offseason hurts the Huskers.
White, who originally transferred from Kansas to Nebraska, was the Huskers’ leading scorer in 2015-16 and left after saying he wanted to play at a school that would compete for conference titles.
At his opening press conference on Wednesday, Nebraska coach Tim Miles said “some things” that were said in the offseason created a stir in the locker room and is beginning to define his young team.
“They kind of feel like some things, you know, that was a slight or that’s an insult,” Miles said, speaking broadly on the team’s demeanor since White’s transfer, but most likely referring to White’s comments. “So they have a chip on their shoulder.”
Nebraska started last season 12-8 with a win at No. 11 Michigan State but had a disappointing second half of the season and finished 16-18. The Huskers return just one senior, guard Tai Webster, and will face an intense schedule, including games at Clemson in November and against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in December.
But the eternally optimistic Miles said his expectations are the same, even for a team that has eight underclassmen.
“The expectation is always to go to the NCAA Tournament and win when we get there,” Miles said. “That never changes.”
In the frontcourt, Miles will introduce his first true center recruit since being hired in 2012 with freshman Jordy Tshimanga, a 6-foot-11, 275-pound center from Canada.
Tshimanga has only played organized basketball for five years, so the main concern for Miles right now, he said, is getting him into the flow of the game.
“I’m gonna go to him, and he’s gonna have to prove to me that he can’t do it,” Miles said about feeding the big man.
That seems to be Miles’ theme for this group. Throw the young team into the deep end and see who can tread water.
Miles said he’s used to doing that. He noted that he played more freshman during his previous coaching stops at North Dakota State and Colorado State than Kentucky did under John Calipari.
In terms of personnel, Miles said he’s ready to start figuring out the ins and outs of his young team. He wouldn’t say who he’s thinking about as starters because he’s still trying to hone in on what his team can and can’t do.
For example, Miles said he thinks he could play sophomore guard Glynn Watson at the point and Webster at shooting guard, or he could have Webster as the backup and go big with junior transfer Anton Gill and freshman Isaiah Roby as the two and three guards.
And how does sophomore forward Jack McVeigh fit in? Is he a stretch four or a guard?
“You just don’t know how it’s going to come together,” Miles said.
But regardless of the question marks, Miles likes this team. He likes the chip on their shoulder and likes that they compete.
He likes the weight sophomore forward Ed Morrow put on in the offseason and the team’s overall attitude.
In typical Miles fashion, he finished Wednesday’s press conference on a high note.
“I expect this team to exceed expectations,” Miles said.