Pinnacle Bank Arena opened up to fans Thursday night for the first time of the 2017-18 season. The free event featured a live look-in at a Huskers practice to help preview the team’s new look. To keep the practice fan friendly, coach Miles featured a 3-point contest, dunking lines, and finished things off with a live red vs white scrimmage. Husker fans also got to hear from their head coach as Tim Miles spoke about his new team and was given a huge applause when he mentioned his desire to return to the NCAA tournament.
To start off the night, Nebraska began with basic warm-up drills. Early on, the fan-favorite appeared to be the 2-on-1 halfcourt drill, which showcased an array of alley-oops and defensive rejections – the fans and players clearly loved it in the amped environment. Concluding the “highlight drill,” the intensity rose as Nebraska began one of many transition-focused drills.
In the beginning, Nebraska would run through basic spacing patterns and filling the right gaps until the defense came in. Once the players went live, fans saw Glynn Watson Jr maneuver through traffic and make plays for others. He didn’t get to the rim and finish that often, but he certainly showed that he will be a threat in transition for NU this season.
James Palmer Jr, a Miami transfer, was also very good in transition throughout the drills. On numerous occasions, Palmer was a down-hill driver that got to the rim with contact. In fact, he appeared to embrace the contact. This could be foreshadowing to a player that gets to the free-throw line a lot this season.
After the team’s initial transition drill, the teams went to a halfcourt shell drill with three teams to see which group could tally the most stops. At first, the teams ran through with a “dummy” offense to practice defensive positioning and rotations – an area last year that Miles pinpointed as an issue to why Nebraska allowed so many open 3s a year ago. Then, the teams went live and for the first time of the night, Husker fans got a taste of what Nebraska might look like in the half-court, both offensively and defensively.
Offensively, Nebraska practiced a lot of off-ball movement, specifically screens and double-screens. Unlike years past, the drills featured Huskers who would shoot the ball off the screen as well as guys that would drive the ball to the hoop. A year ago, Nebraska was a team that ran more on-ball screens, but Thursday night, the teams didn’t run many on-ball screens. In fact, in Miles’ weekly press conference, the sixth-year head coach mentioned that he loved the increased ball movement through his team’s first two exhibition games. Look for Nebraska to have an offense more centered around ball movement, rather than ball-screens this season.
To wrap up practice, the Huskers had a little more fun in a 3-point contest. Here are the results:
Round 1: Jack McVeigh 19 vs Nana Akenten 11 – Justin Costello 18 vs Anton Gill 12 – Thorir Thorbjarnarson 16 vs James Palmer 16 – Thomas Allen 17 vs Glynn Watson 14.
Championship shootout (Two highest scores):
Jack McVeigh 20 vs Justin Costello 18.
It was a “no beard, no problem” practice for McVeigh who, after hitting 11 3s in a row in warm-ups, won the 3-point contest finals against Omaha native Justin Costello
After the shooting competition, the Huskers warmed up for the scrimmage with some “dunk lines.”. Here, newly added freshman Nana Akenten and Thorir Thorbjarnarson showcased their insane hops, drawing choruses of “ooooohhss” and “aaaaahhhs” from the crowd. Even 6’0 tall Glynn Watson Jr threw down a dunk for the fans. The Husker fans in attendance were on their feet, enjoying the display from the players.
Then, it was scrimmage time. Here were the rosters for the scrimmage.
Watson, Palmer, McVeigh, Roby, Duby, Thor, Costello, Nana
Allen, Taylor, Gill, Copeland, Jordy, Borchardt, Trueblood, Laws
— Carter Donahue (@Carterdonahue_) November 3, 2017
In what would be an electric back-and-forth scrimmage, the White team stole the night, edging out the Red team 38-36 after Evan Taylor answered a James Palmer game-tying bucket with a lay-up on his own. With just under three ticks to go, the red team drew up a backdoor alley-oop for Palmer and the white team immediately smothered him, forcing the pass to Waston on a curl screen for the potential game-winning 3. Waston used a pump-fake to create space and fired a 3 that rimmed out as time expired.
The practice ending up being a fun night for Husker fans which ended with an energetic scrimmage that came down to the wire.
A few notes on the live scrimmage:
–James Palmer got to the rim with ease and dominated the game when his team needed him the most. He was the game’s MVP for me.
–Opposite of Glynn Watson, Thomas Allen ran the point for the White team. Allen shot the ball well and did a nice job of penetrating the lane and finding open shooters with a couple of assists. Allen, for a freshman, also showed a high IQ in his decisions on when to push the ball with tempo and when to slow it down into the halfcourt offense.
–Evan Taylor was probably the second best player of the night and could be the best for some. We know what Taylor is capable of defensively, but the senior showed he could score by getting easy buckets at the rim, and he even knocked down a triple. If Evan Taylor can continue score in the season…. watch out.
–You could also tell Taylor was a leader throughout the game. I was impressed that every time I looked over at Taylor he was talking and guiding the younger guys through things. He seemed to be doing that more than anyone else during the course of practice.
— When Nebraska ran its half-court offense in practice, the off-ball movement looked good. However, in the scrimmage, the Husker offense seemed rushed. While Nebraska scored several times in transition, the Huskers’ half-court offense looked to have regressed a tad in the game situation. It wasn’t terrible, and the lineups were scattered around, but prior to Nebraska’s first game that could be a focal point.
The Huskers return to action at Pinnacle Bank Arena Tuesday, November 7th in an exhibition against Northwood (Michigan). Nebraska will then kick off the season against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, November 11th to start its 2017-2018 season.
-Stay tuned to HuskerHype.com for more basketball news as the season kicks off! You can also follow the author, Carter Donahue, on Twitter for more thoughts and play by play notes @Carterdonahue_
/ 2 months ago
This week, the Cousins reflect upon what could have been a win at Northwestern....