Slow and Steady
This is the one that has been the most intriguing thing to follow this year. The Huskers have slowed the pace way down from previous years under the Hoiberg regime. The other thing Nebraska is doing is getting the best possible shot they can get even if it is at the end of the shot clock. Nebraska used to be one of the top teams in pace of play. Every year they would get the ball and they would go as fast as possible and try to run teams out of the gym. Defense was optional and rebounding was also optional.
This season and over the last handful of games last season the Huskers have slowed the pace way down and committed to playing defense and rebounding the ball. Coach Hoiberg seems to have found something that potentially might work. The Huskers have outrebounded their last five opponents and over the last three games have played smothering defense that has frustrated opponents and lulled them into taking terrible shots at the end of the shot clock. The roster is full of great rebounders like Juwan Gary, Emmanuel Bandoumel, Sam Griesel, and Blaise Keita. All of those guys, sans Keita, as he is a JUCO transfer, come from winning Division 1 programs where they started and won games.
Fast and Flashy is fun basketball to watch and it gains viewers it is also extremely hard to be successful at. There are also a ton of programs that play slow and win games, just look at Houston and Saint Mary’s. The Huskers are hanging their hat on defense and getting the high percentage shot more than ever under the Hoiberg era. It has paid off over the last two weeks and it led Nebraska to their best win with their new coach. Slow and Steady wins the race if it the best way to win with the crop of players you have.
Coach Hoiberg was guilty of trying to force his team to play a way that he knew how to coach. Square peg, Round hole. Now that he has the personnel to play a defensive-minded game with smart shots he has adapted his coaching style to it and it is paying off. It will be an interesting storyline to follow as this team gets more comfortable with each other and as the year goes along.