Fastbreak: Hoiberg excited for official start to season this week
Here is a full recap of Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg’s preseason press conference on Monday morning at Memorial Stadium...
***Hoiberg said he was excited about his team this season, and a big reason why was that for the first time since he’s been here, the Huskers had a full offseason together. He said the success and resiliency the returners showed at the end of last season carried over into the offseason.
***As a result, Hoiberg said NU was so much farther ahead as a team with skill development, fundamentals, and system installation.
***Hoiberg said Nebraska was limited to just four hours of practice/workouts per week over the spring and summer, and he felt they maximized their time during that stretch. He said the most important thing now was establishing the right level of “urgency and passion” every day from here on out to win in the Big Ten.
***Hoiberg praised assistant coaches Nate Loenser and Armon Gates for their work with NU’s player development this offseason. He said skill development and fundamentals would become an even bigger priority with official practices starting this week.
***Hoiberg said he likes his team’s chemistry on and off the court so far, but as always, he’ll have to wait and see how that carries over once the grind of the season gets underway.
***Hoiberg said “the single-hardest job” he had going forward was establishing a rotation with 14 scholarship players on the roster. He said they had a lot of guys capable of playing quality minutes this season, and now it was a matter of which guys “star in their role and accept their role.”
***Hoiberg said Bryce McGowens was “as talented of a kid as I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” but emphasized that he was still a true freshman. Along with Wilhelm Breidenbach, Hoiberg said he had to be patient with those young guys early on as they transitioned to the high-major level.
That said, Hoiberg added: “I haven’t been around many players who have the physical gifts that he has.”
***Hoiberg said Nebraska was “very fortunate” to land Alonzo Verge Jr. so late in the recruiting process this offseason. As talented as Verge is, Hoiberg said what’s stood out was how focused the point guard was on winning. Hoiberg said Verge was “perfect for our system” with his ability to get downhill off the dribble and make plays with the ball in the paint.
Hoiberg said he’d been very impressed with Verge’s passing ability, but the key was making sure he made the “simple plays” and didn’t try to do too much with the ball.
***Hoiberg said Verge and Trey McGowens had emerged as two of the team’s best vocal leaders.
***Hoiberg said he’d always been a “multi-handler” coach when it comes to the point guard role, and NU has many guys who can make plays with the ball, even some of their bigs. He noted that Derrick Walker had a game with eight assists last season.
Hoiberg said overall, the Huskers were much further ahead with their ball movement.
***Hoiberg said the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop games should be much more prominent parts of the offense this season because of the skill and versatility they’ve added in the front guard and the playmakers they have at guard.
***Hoiberg said perimeter shooting was probably the greatest area of improvement the Huskers had made this offseason. Not only does NU have better shooters, but they also have guys who can make plays in the paint and set up better 3-point looks.
***Hoiberg said Keisei Tominaga was “as good of a shooter as I’ve coached, at any level.” He said you’re almost stunned when Tominaga misses a shot.
***As far as perimeter defense, Hoiberg said Trey McGowens and Keon Edwards would be their two best guys. Quaran McPherson could also be in that mix at point guard.
***Hoiberg was asked how he felt Bryce McGowens would be able to handle all of the hype and expectations set for him before even playing in a college game. He said Bryce and Trey were “blessed with two of the best parents you could have,” and that’s where it starts.
Hoiberg said they taught Bryce and Trey how to do things the right way, and he wasn't worried about those two handling any pressure because of how well they were raised.
***Hoiberg said NU was “good to go” heading into Tuesday’s first practice on the injury front. Eduardo Andre, who missed the team photo day due to an illness, was back at workouts on Monday.