Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications
Nebraska fans collectively exhaled in relief as the clock struck zero against the Hatters of Stetson. The scoreboard read 71-62 in favor of the Huskers, but haunting memories of Incarnate Word and Gardner-Webb came crawling back after the score was even at 24 at the end of the first half. Nebraska was shooting 24.1% from the field and 50% from the free-throw line at that point. A storm was brewing for another underwhelming loss.
Enter Tanner Borchardt.
The most recent scholarship-recipient proved he was worth the investment by providing a spark off the bench with 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 14 minutes of playing time. It was his first major action of the season, and the Gothenburg native was the perfect rallying point for the Huskers to break out of their funk. It was much-needed after the abysmal first half.
Borchardt is the kind of player Nebraska fans love. He’s a homegrown kid who works hard, does his job, and doesn’t complain. He is the personification of Nebraska values in a sport we don’t normally see it in, and puts the team ahead of himself by knowing exactly what his role is. After the game he said this: “Whatever coach wants of me, I’m going to go in there and do.” Someone find me a brick wall to run through.
Meanwhile the Huskers’ top-three scorers (Palmer, Copeland, Watson) struggled by going a combined 8-35 from the field. Watson in particular had his lowest outing of the season with just one point. It was an ugly game, but a win is a win.
- If I was preparing to play Nebraska the first thing I would do is practice zone defense. The Huskers haven’t been able to figure out a zone and don’t have the shooters–other than Anton Gill–to shoot out of it. Zone defenses slow things down for Nebraska and forces them into half-court sets which plays into one of their biggest weaknesses in offensive rhythm. The high post was open a lot of the time against Stetson, but Copeland wasn’t hitting and Roby shot just twice. Tim Miles needs to work on a zone offense because the Huskers look lost whenever they face one.
- Glynn Watson is in a slump. Watson had only 16 combined points the last three games in comparison to his 12 points/game average. Against Stetson he looked like he didn’t want to be there at some points and shot only three times. Hopefully he can bounce back in Big Ten play. He’s had decent scoring success against Big Ten opponents, averaging 13.4 points/game last year and dropping 29 on Minnesota earlier this year.
- Who is the leader on this team? Against Stetson there was a defensive sequence where three Huskers all went after a rebound. They fumbled for it, and Anton Gill ended up losing it out-of-bounds. In these moments someone will normally gather everyone near the free-throw line and encourage them to play though the blunder. No one did that for Nebraska. Instead, the players on the floor looked distraught and were shaking their heads. Mistakes happen and are OK. It’s how you respond to them that can determine the direction of the game. I would say James Palmer or Evan Taylor needs to be this leader.
Speaking of Palmer, Lee Barfnecht of the Omaha World-Herald wrote a piece on Palmer’s journey from Miami to Nebraska. Cool story.
vs. Stetson: W, 71-62
- Points: Copeland & Palmer, 13
- Rebounds: Tshimanga & Borchardt, 10
- Assists: Taylor & Palmer, 4
- Blocks: Copeland, Borchardt, and Roby, 2
- Steals: Copeland, Taylor, Palmer, and Allen, 1
Up Next (10-5, 1-1 Big Ten):
- TONIGHT: @Northwestern. Tipoff at 8pm. Watch on BTN.
- Saturday January 6th: @Purdue. Tipoff at 1:15pm. Watch on BTN.