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Fans voice displeasure with Hoiberg, NU hoops on radio show

Frustration over Nebraska’s 6-17 overall and 0-12 Big Ten records in Year 3 under head coach Fred Hoiberg has hit a boiling point lately.

When Hoiberg took the microphone for his monthly coach’s radio show on the Husker Radio Network on Monday night, NU fans didn’t hold back in venting their displeasure.

Only a few minutes into the show, “Eric from Cozad” was the first caller put on the air.

“I’m 61 years old. I’ve been watching, listening, or attending Nebraska basketball and haven’t missed a game in 40 years. I’m done, sir. It’s not there anymore. You’re 20-62. So at what point do you realize that this isn’t working?

“I mean, it’s unbelievable. I’m hurting. I’m sure you’re hurting. The fans are hurting. In saying that, man-to-man, and coach to a fan, can you tell me how you can justify still being here?”

Nebraska fans made their displeasure clear to Husker head coach Fred Hoiberg during his monthly radio show on Monday night.
Nebraska fans made their displeasure clear to Husker head coach Fred Hoiberg during his monthly radio show on Monday night. (Associated Press)

To his credit, Hoiberg handled the situation professionally, acknowledging the caller’s disappointment and saying he was as upset as anyone with how poorly this season - and the previous two years - had gone.

“First of all, Eric, you’re right,” Hoiberg answered. “Nobody is more disappointed than I am with how things are going, and everybody in this program, with the way this season has gone. As far as where we are right now, obviously, going into this season, we did have high expectations for this team after taking over what we did…

“There’s no doubt about it: the last game (an 87-63 home loss to Northwestern) was completely unacceptable, and we’re going to do everything we can to fix it. We’ve got eight games and eight opportunities left to get on the floor and try to create some type of momentum heading into next year…

“We’re going to do everything we can to get it right. I understand the frustration of everybody, and again, nobody’s more frustrated than I am as far as going out there and trying to get our guys to play the right way and find a way to compete and get over the hump and win games.

“That’s our job for these next eight games, to do everything we can to give ourselves an opportunity to win and give us something to feel good about heading into the offseason...

“I appreciate the call. I appreciate the passion. But I can promise you, there’s nobody in this world more frustrated right now with where things are than I am, and I’m going to do everything I can to turn it around.”

Hoiberg also gave reasons why he thought the start of his tenure had been such a struggle. He pointed to the complete roster overhaul he and his staff undertook going into his first year in 2019-20 and then how COVID-19 disrupted any progress NU hoped to make last season.

As for this year, Hoiberg said the injuries to junior guard Trey McGowens - who missed 15 games with a broken foot - and freshman forward Wilhelm Breidenbach - who suffered a season-ending knee injury - were significant setbacks for Huskers in terms of talent, toughness, and leadership.

Hoiberg added that he felt that Nebraska was making progress both in its execution and fight until Saturday's ugly home loss to Northwestern. But the mental grind from so many defeats had definitely started to take its toll, he said.

Nebraska has now lost 10 straight games and 15 of its last 16 contests. Its last win was against Kennesaw State on Dec. 22, marking NU’s only victory since Nov. 27.

The Huskers have lost 15 of their last 16 games and have won just once since Nov. 27.
The Huskers have lost 15 of their last 16 games and have won just once since Nov. 27. (Associated Press)

Going back to Monday night’s radio show, “Blake in Houston” was the next caller put on the air.

“With next season, we’re losing the core players again, and it’s going to be another rebuild, just like every year under you has. We want it to work... We’re impatient. We’re an impatient group.

“But I just want to know, when we’re losing our core, and the offensive philosophy just really hasn’t been working in the Big Ten with how bad our 3-point percentage has been, how are you going to adjust next year - hoping that you’ll be here - and change the plan to make it work in the Big Ten? Because everything we’ve seen thus far is just not working, and I’d think you’d agree to that.”

Like he has many times this season, Hoiberg reiterated that shooting was the least of his concerns going into the year. He noted that he did change his offensive system mid-year - “which doesn’t happen very often” - and the numbers improved once the Huskers “got the nuances down.”

However, like Blake in Houston mentioned, there’s a chance that the Huskers will undergo a fourth massive roster overhaul in as many offseasons coming up.

Hoiberg said he prided himself on his ability to shape his system around his personnel everywhere he’d coached, from Iowa State on into the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.

But until he knew what all he would have to work with in 2022-23, it was hard to specify what changes could be made to turn the tide for Husker hoops.

“It’s all about who comes back,” Hoiberg answered. “There are several guys that are going to have decisions to make on that, and it’s about doing everything you can to put your guys in positions to be successful…

“As far as changing things moving forward, we’ll look at everything as far as what we have coming back and what our roster looks like. Then we’ll put the system together, work on it over the course of the summer, and obviously try to be much better.”