Miles Ahead: Advocare Invitational, Roby Injury

“We have a team with a complete split personality,” Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said, following the 84-59 win over Marist in the AdvoCare Invitational. You said it, Tim. Not me. If  there’s one thing M. Night Shyamalan’s Split taught me it’s that split personalities are scary as hell for any party involved. It also taught me that Shyamalan can make a halfway-decent film after ruining my childhood with the god-awful The Last Airbender. Definitely not salty about it.

Through seven games, we’ve seen both extremes of Nebraska’s capability. In the first half against UCF of the AdvoCare Invitational, the Huskers went on a seven-and-a-half minute scoring drought. During this stretch, Nebraska shot 25% from the field while turning the ball over nine times. 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall played a big part in this dry spell, using his freakish length to intimidate Husker players in the paint. He might as well be a living skyscraper. Yet, the boys in scarlet and cream found a way to keep the game close before falling 68-59 to the Knights. A silver lining to the otherwise taxing stint.

Nebraska quickly turned around against Marist one day later. The Huskers had their best shooting performance of the year so far by going 34-60 (56.7%) from the field, and 11-24 (45.8%) from three. Four players scored in double figures with Copeland and Gill having 17 each, Palmer adding 15, and Taylor with 10.

Marist threw multiple defenses Nebraska’s way including man-to-man, 2-3 zone, and a 1-3-1 zone. The Huskers didn’t miss a beat. This showed Nebraska has the adaptability to adjust to different defensive looks, a weakness they have been exposed by in the past, especially with zone. This is a good sign, but nothing to hang their hat on as Marist is a winless team.

The fifth-place and final game of the AdvoCare invitational saw Nebraska against the 49ers of Long Beach State. The whole school is missing out by not taking the baseball team’s lead and going by The Dirtbags. Truly an exceptional nickname.

The Huskers started off hot again before cooling down in the later part of the first half. Bigs Jordy Tshimanga and Duby Okeke both ran into foul trouble and Isaiah Roby went down with an ankle injury. Nebraska couldn’t rebound and they paid for it, as a once 22-point lead dwindled to a one-possession game with 39 seconds left. Luckily, Glynn Watson iced the game with four free throws at the end of regulation to complete a 26-point performance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Consistency, consistency, consistency. Nebraska goes on rollercoaster runs where at one point they’ll be shooting, rebounding, and defending well before relapsing into a scoring drought and can’t keep guys in front of them. One way to counter these inconsistent spurts would be to run the floor any chance they can. With the way Nebraska’s half-court offense is known to struggle,they should take every opportunity possible to get fast break points. Worst that happens is drawing a foul or pulling the ball out for a half-court set. There was a great sequence against Long Beach State game where Watson had a hockey assist on a break by passing to Taylor who dished it to Copeland for an easy lay-up. It also helps when multiple players can share the scoring load. Watson, Copeland, Palmer, and Gill have been the most consistent scoring threats so far. If they each can score around 15 per game, it would help immensely. I’m completely fine with any of these guys taking double-digit shot attempts.
  • Anton Gill has been a spark off the bench. Gill went 9-14 (64.3%) from beyond the arc in the three Orlando games. It’s always nice to have a solid scoring option off the bench and Gill has provided consistent three-point shooting that’s been sorely missed on this team. Jack McVeigh probably has enough bricks to build Lincoln’s biggest mansion by now.
  • Roby needs to recover as quickly as possible. Nebraska loses length, rebounding, and shot blocking with Roby out. My guess would be that Miles turns to Jack McVeigh to scoop up those minutes. I would sacrifice my first born child for him to hit three or more shots in the upcoming games without Roby.

Results* (Stats indicate the high-man for each category):

  • vs. UCF: L, 68-59
    • Points: Palmer, 22
    • Rebounds: Tshimanga, 10
    • Assists: Watson, 7
    • Blocks: Palmer, 2
    • Steals: Watson, 4
  • vs. Marist: W, 84-59
    • Points: Copeland & Gill, 17
    • Rebounds: Tshimanga, 6
    • Assists: Taylor & Watson, 5
    • Blocks: Roby & Copeland, 2
    • Steals: Seven players tied with 1
  • vs. Long Beach State: W, 85-80
    • Points: Watson, 26
    • Rebounds: Copeland, 7
    • Assists: Taylor, 6
    • Blocks: Tshimanga & Taylor, 2
    • Steals: Watson, 6

*All games part of Advocare Invitational

Next Up (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten):

  • Wednesday Nov. 29: vs. Boston College as part of Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tipoff at 8:15pm. Watch on ESPNU.
  • Sunday Dec 3: @ Michigan State. Tipoff at 3:30pm. Watch on FS1.

Sunday begins the four-game stretch of death with Michigan State, Minnesota, Creighton, and Kansas. May God have mercy on us.

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