Miles Ahead: Roby’s Coming Out Party, Hate Will Never Win, Minnesota, Rutgers

Photo by Julia Nagy, Omaha World-Herald

If there was a drinking game for every time a BTN announcer said, “I don’t think Isaiah Roby realizes how good he can be” during a Nebraska game, I would currently be in the hospital for liver failure instead of writing this post. I have yet to partake, but I’m sure there are some participants out there whose livers thank Roby for bringing this monotonous statement to fruition this past week.

The sophomore from Dixon, IL scored a career-high 21 points while adding eight rebounds and five blocks against Minnesota last Tuesday. Then, against Rutgers on Saturday, he had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, including this monstrous dunk that shook Lincoln harder than the Cather-Pound implosion. Catch me yelling “ROBY” when I dunk trash over co-workers now.

Other than Roby’s performances, the composure and maturity of this team impressed me most. Coming off an eight-day break I expected Nebraska to come out with some rust against Minnesota. There were some signs of rust defensively, but the Huskers looked sharp for the most part. All five starters scored in double figures, and the bench added 19, including seven crucial points from Evan Taylor. This is the scoring distribution I have been yearning for all year. Double-digits from the starters, and five to seven from the reserves make Nebraska a dangerous team. It’s difficult for opponents to make a defensive game-plan when so many guys can put the ball in the basket.

On Saturday, Rutgers strolled into Lincoln looking to avenge their loss to Nebraska on their home court just two and a half weeks prior. The Huskers came out of the gate hot, building a 16-point lead in the first eight minutes, and held off sporadic runs that brought the Scarlet Knights within five in the later part of the half.  Rutgers came within six near the beginning of the second half, but never came within 10 again after a 10-0 run led by Isaac Copeland and Jordy Tshimanga reignited the Huskers with 15 minutes left in the game.

This week off the court was more trivial than others. A video surfaced of Daniel Kleve, a UNL student and white nationalist, enticing violence and spewing hate speech in a YouTube video. It’s content and message has rightfully stirred up a storm in the UNL community concerning racism, violence, and student safety. In response, the basketball team had a meeting on the plane ride back from Minnesota to discuss the video and how they wanted to handle it. Multiple ideas were thrown around, including a boycott, before deciding to make a video and wear black “Hate Will Never Win” t-shirts as warmups for the remainder of the season. The team also collectively tweeted the message last Thursday.

Whatever your opinion on the intersecting worlds of sports and politics is, it’s hard to find similar situations handled as well as this. The players wanted to speak on the video. They said their piece, drew up an inspiring message, and that’s that. Hate Will Never Win. It’s a short and simple statement, but it’s all we need to combat the given circumstances.

I have never been more proud of this team. Not only did they play hard and win two games, they took a stance against ignorance. This team feels unified. They genuinely like each other and play for one another both on and off the court. I can’t remember feeling this sense of camaraderie since I’ve been paying attention to Nebraska basketball. It’s a great time to be a Husker.

Key Takeaways:

  • The ESPN Stats & Info Twitter account recently had an #AskBPI chat to answer questions about teams’ tournament chances. Here’s what they had to say about Nebraska. Thank you, ESPN Stats & Info, for clarifying that Nebraska does in fact control its own destiny.
  • Jordy Tshimanga continues to play surprisingly well following his leave of absence a month ago. He had six points and six rebounds against Minnesota in 11 minutes, and eight points and two rebounds in 15 minutes against Rutgers. He’s turned into a nice contributor off the bench.
  • Duby Okeke had four blocks, four rebounds, and went 2-2 from the free-throw line in six minutes of action against Rutgers. It’s good seeing him have games like this, and hopefully it’s something he can build confidence on. If only he didn’t foul so much…
  • Glynn Watson needs to have better shot selection. Often times Glynn forces up contested mid-range jumpers instead of trying to draw a foul or dish it to a teammate. I’m all for him creating his own shot, but if he created more for Palmer or Copeland, more opportunities would arise for him.

Results:

  • @ Minnesota: W, 91-85
    • Points: Roby, 21
    • Rebounds: Roby, 8
    • Assists: Palmer, 9
    • Blocks: Roby, 5
    • Steals: Copeland & Palmer (each), 1
  • vs. Rutgers: W, 67-55
    • Points: Palmer, 15
    • Rebounds: Roby, 11
    • Assists: Palmer & Taylor (each), 4
    • Blocks: Okeke, 4
    • Steals: Copeland & Watson (each), 2

Up Next (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten):

  • TONIGHT: vs. Maryland. Tipoff at 6pm. Watch on BTN.
  • Sunday, February 18th: @ Illinois. Tipoff at 2:30pm. Watch on BTN.

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