Team: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Coach: Fred Hoiberg (fourth season)
2021-22 record: 10-22 (4-16)
Season finish: No postseason
Players returning: C.J. Wilcher, Quaran McPherson, Lat Mayen, Derrick Walker, Keisei Tominaga, Wilheim Breidenbach, Oleg Kojenets
Players departed: Bryce McGowens, Trey McGowens, Alonzo Verge, Eduardo Andre (Fresno State), Keon Edwards (Milwaukee), Trevor Lakes (Southern Indiana)
Key additions: Ramel Lloyd Jr., Denim Dawson, Blaise Keita, Jamarques Lawrence, Sam Greisel (North Dakota State), Juwan Gary (Alabama), Emmanuel Bandoumel (SMU)
Over the past three seasons, wins have been hard to come by in Lincoln. Since Fred Hoiberg came back to college from the Chicago Bulls and took over at Nebraska, the Huskers have not finished higher than 13th in the 14-team conference, and have yet to record a winning record. After losing their top scorers in Bryce McGowens and Alonzo Verge, the road looks rocky again for Nebraska.
McGowens and Verge combined to average over 30 points per game for the Huskers last season, and Nebraska will look to transfers like Sam Griesel (North Dakota State), Juwan Gray (Alabama) and Emmanuel Bandoumel (SMU) to help returners Derrick Walker and CJ Wilcher take over that scoring prowess.
Walker and Wilcher return after averaging 9.5 and 8.1 points per game, respectively. They were third and fourth on the team, and will have to take pretty big leaps this season to make Nebraska competitive. Sierra Canyon’s Ramel Lloyd Jr. also comes to Lincoln as a top 100 recruit that will look to make an impact right away.
The three transfers they have coming in are all talented, but can they be good enough and be good enough fast enough to help the Huskers win some games early is the question that needs to be answered.
Sam Greisel. Greisel is a Nebraska guy who returns home to help bring Nebraska back into the light. Greisel went to high school just down the road at Lincoln East, and now he is returning to Lincoln to finish out his collegiate career after four years at North Dakota State.
Greisel averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season at North Dakota State, and 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds for his career. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 38 percent from behind the arc last season.
According to his new head coach Fred Hoiberg, Greisel wants to do one thing: Win.
“I’ll just go back to when Sam came on his official visit and sat in my office and I was in there with his mom and dad ... and all he talked about was winning,” Hoiberg said at media day. “It was very refreshing. A lot of times when you’re sitting in those meetings the questions are, ‘How many shots am I going to get? How many minutes am I going to play? What role do you anticipate for me?’ All Sam cared about is he wanted to get this program to where it’s never been because he was a passionate Nebraska fan growing up.”
Griesel has grown comfortable in Lincoln quickly off the court, which is important for his growth on the court.
“I’m just getting comfortable playing with the new guys, and they’ve made it really easy to do,” Griesel said at media day. “It’s a really fun group to play with, and the more reps that we get with each other, the better we’re going to get.”
Griesel had offseason surgery and is 100 percent ready to go.
“I stand up, start limping, and I remind myself, ‘No, it doesn’t hurt,’” Griesel said at media day. “‘I don’t have to do this anymore.’ That’s a relief and a really good feeling.”
Nebraska has not been good, and they still are not good. Bringing in guys like Greisel, Gray and Bandoumel was important to at least give them a chance, but these are all guys that will need to make major jumps in their game, along with Walker and Wilcher, to help the Huskers win games.
Ultimately, I think it will be a long season in Lincoln. The Big Ten is talented and deep, and this Huskers team does have some talent, but they are relying on a lot of unproven guys and guys that have not played at this level yet.