The Fred Hoiberg era for the Nebraska basketball program tips off on Wednesday, Oct. 30, as the Huskers take on Doane University in an exhibition contest at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Huskers and Tigers will tip off at 7 p.m., and while the matchup is sold out, a limited amount of tickets will be available at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30. Those tickets can be purchased online at Huskers.com/Tickets or by calling the NU Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED.
The exhibition game will not be televised, but carried online on BTN+ (subscription required) with Dustyn Stortzum and Buzzy Caruthers on the call. The exhibition game is one of four BTN+ broadcasts in 2019-20 and information is available at btnplus.com.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the Learfield-IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, the Huskers app and TuneIn radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff.
Wednesday’s game is the Huskers’ only exhibition contest before the season opener against UC Riverside on Nov. 5, and will give the 14 newcomers on the Nebraska roster an opportunity to play in Pinnacle Bank Arena before the season begins.
Of the 16 players on the 2019-20 Husker roster, only junior guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson has played at PBA prior to Wednesday’s exhibition contest, as he played in 25 games, including seven starts, a year ago and averaged 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. He started the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament and NIT games and closed the year with eight points, three rebounds, three
assists and two steals against TCU.
The new faces on the Husker roster eligible for Wednesday’s game against Doane include two graduate transfers (Haanif Cheatham and Matej Kavas), one eligible transfer who sat out last year (Dachon Burke), two junior college transfers (Jervay Green and Cam Mack) and seven freshmen (Akol Arop, Kevin Cross, Samari Curtis, Jace Piatkowski, Yvan Ouedraogo, Charlie Easley and Bret Porter)
Hoiberg will see a familiar face on the opposing sideline as Doane Coach Ian McKeithen was a basketball operations intern with the Timberwolves in 2007-08 while Hoiberg was assistant general manager. McKeithen is beginning his fourth season in charge of the Tiger program, as the teams makes the 30-mile drive from campus to PBA.
Fourth-year coach Ian McKeithen and the Doane Tigers come to Lincoln on Wednesday with an 0-3 record after a 75-67 loss to the University of the Virgin Islands on Sunday. Wednesday’s game will be the fourth in nine days to open the season. The Tigers opened with 70-65 loss to York College before going 0-2 in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the weekend.
McKeithen came to Doane after serving as the head coach at Benedictine-Springfield for three years before the school dropped athletics. He guided the program from six wins in his first season to double-figure totals in the next two campaigns, including 10 conference wins in his final season. He also worked at Iowa Wesleyan, Dakota State and Augustana University after his internship under Hoiberg with the Timberwolves.
Doane returns 10 players from a team that went 9-21 a year ago, and was picked 10th in the preseason Great Plains Athletic Conference preseason poll. In all, 13 of the Tigers’ 19 players are from Nebraska, including three Lincoln natives.
Junior guard Anthony Laravie is the team’s top returning scorer at 12.6 points per game. The Omaha North product was second on the team in 3-pointers with 66 while hitting 38 percent from long range. This season, he leads the team with 24.0 ppg, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range.
The Tigers will be without center Trace Tupper, as he is redshirting following an injury. Tupper, a Lincoln Northeast grad, averaged 11.4 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game in 2018-19 while shooting 74 percent from the field. Zach Witters is the other returning starter for the Tigers, as he averaged 5.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game last season. Witters shot 35 percent from 3-point range a year ago.
EBRASKA EXHIBITION HISTORY
Nebraska is 58-6 all-time in exhibition games dating back to the 1966-67 season and has won its last 16 exhibition games since a 54-50 loss to SIU-Edwardsville in 2006. In all, NU has won 27 of its last 28 exhibition games dating back to 2001.
• The Huskers are 15-0 against in-state teams in exhibition games dating back to the 2001-02 season, including a 75-54 win over Doane in 2011.
WHAT’S BACK FOR THE HUSKERS
Nebraska returns one letterwinner and one other player from last year’s team that went 19-17 and reached the second round of the NIT. Junior guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson is the only player who has seen regular-season action for the Huskers entering the 2019-20 campaign. He averaged 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last year.
• According to research by noted basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy, the 50 returning points on Nebraska’s 2019-20 roster is the lowest total for a power conference team since 2009, when Indiana returned just 28 points from the previous season.
• Since 2000, it is only the fourth time where the Huskers have returned less than 40 percent of the team’s scoring output from the previous year (also 2012-13, 2009-10 and 2001-02). In that stretch, the lowest was 24 percent in 2012-13.
• The seven returning starts are the lowest in the last 20 years (41 entering 2001-02).
RETOOLING A ROSTER IN SIX WEEKS
Fred Hoiberg and his staff retooled the Nebraska roster following his introduction in early April. The Huskers signed a recruiting class that was in the top 50 nationally in just six weeks. The 14-man class includes 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons and is a mixture of grad transfers, transfers, JUCOs and freshmen.
2019 Recruiting Class Highlights
• Ranked No. 41 nationally by 247Sports, the program’s second-highest class ranking since joining the Big Ten.
• Features two of the top-10 recruits nationally by JUCORecruiting.com, the highest two JC signees NU has signed this decade.
• Includes five Division I transfers who have combined for more than 2,300 points, 1,000 rebounds and 350 assists at their previous schools.
• Has two Division I transfers (Dalano Banton and Haanif Cheatham) who were top-100 recruits in high school and two freshmen who were both top-150 recruits in 2019 by 247Sports (Kevin Cross and Ivan Ouedraogo).
• Contains two high school state players of the year (Akol Arop and Samai Curtis) and two others who were first-team all-state in 2019 (Cross and Charlie Easley).
• Includes players from seven states (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Texas) and three countries (Canada, France and Slovenia).
TRANSFERS BRING MUCH-NEEDED EXPERIENCE
While Nebraska has only one player who has previously played at Nebraska (Thorir Thorbjarnarson), a good portion of the roster has Division I experience. The Huskers feature six transfers, including five newcomers, who have combined for more than 3,000 points at the Division I level. Dachon Burke Jr. is the only returnee in the group after he began his collegiate career at Robert Morris before sitting out the 2018-19 season at Nebraska.
Player School Points Rebounds Assists
Delano Banton ^ Western Kentucky 105 92 65
Dachon Burke Jr. Robert Morris 813 312 104
Haanif Cheatham Marquette/FGCU 842 296 170
Matej Kavas Seattle 980 358 72
Shamiel Stevenson Pittsburgh/Nevada 288 148 36
Derrick Walker^ Tennessee 92 107 16
Totals 3,120 1,313 463
^ – Will not be eligible until 2020-21
JUCO ADDITIONS AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Two of the cornerstones of the Huskers’ recruiting class were junior college transfers Cam Mack and Jervay Green. Mack (third) and Green (eighth) were both ranked in the top 10 nationally by JUCORecruiting.com in the 2919 recruiting class. NU is the only school in the country with two of the top 10 junior college transfers in 2019. They are also the two highest rated junior college players signed by the Huskers since 2011, the first year listed in the database. Prior to this year, Dylan Talley was NU’s highest junior college recruit by the site, as he was 11th in 2011.
Mack, who was listed as the top JC point guard in the country, starred at Salt Lake Community College in 2018-19, averaging 19.1
points and 5.9 rebounds per game while topping the team in assists (7.6 apg), steals (2.4 spg) and blocked shots (0.6 bpg). He was in the top 25 nationally in both assists (fifth) and steals (24th) and boasted a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mack totaled five 30-point games, including a 40-point outburst against Casper College and dished out 10 or more assists nine times, including a season-best 14 in one contest.
Green was rated as the No. 2 combo guard, as he spent two years at Western Nebraska Community College. Last season, he garnered second-team NJCAA All-America honors, averaging 23.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. He shot 55 percent from the field, including 39 percent from 3-point range. Green ranked eighth nationally in scoring and was the Region IX Player of the Year. He had six 30-point games as a sophomore, highlighted by a school-record 51-point performance against Iowa Lakes CC. In that game, Green was 10-of-14 from 3-point range.
FROM COLLEGE TO THE NBA AND BACK AGAIN
Nebraska’s Fred Hoiberg is in an exclusive club, as he is one of just 10 current Division I coaches to coach in Division I and in the NBA. He spent three-plus seasons with the Chicago Bulls, guiding the Bulls to the NBA Playoffs in 2016. Hoiberg’s 270 regular-season NBA games are the most of the 10 former NBA coaches in the collegiate ranks. Hoiberg also brings five years of NBA front office experience, as he worked with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2005 to 2010.
HUSKER FAMILY TIES RUN DEEP FOR HOIBERG
While Fred Hoiberg grew up in Ames and played his high school (Ames High School) and college basketball (Iowa State) there, he was born in Lincoln and has numerous ties to the city and to the University of Nebraska.
• Fred’s father (Eric) and mother (Karen) both earned their undergraduate degrees from Nebraska in 1966. In fact, Eric earned his undergraduate degree, Master’s degree, and Ph.D. in sociology from the university. His 1973 dissertation was “Socio-economic status, residential location, and intrametropolitan mobility: a longitudinal analysis.”
• His maternal grandfather was former Husker basketball coach Jerry Bush. Known as the “Big Bear of the Coliseum,” Bush guided NU from 1955 to 1963, and directed two of the greatest upsets ever – a 43-41 victory over top-ranked Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain, and a 55-48 victory over No. 4 Kansas State and Olympian Bob Boozer during the 1957-58 campaign.
• His paternal grandfather (Otto) received his Master’s Degree and Ph.D from Nebraska. He joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska in 1948, where he taught sociology and served as director of the community development program in the University of Nebraska Extension Division.
FAMILIAR FACES FOR HOIBERG ON HUSKER STAFF
One strength of the Husker coaching staff is a familiarity with each other, as three staff members had worked with Hoiberg as assistant coaches during his previous stint at Iowa State from 2010 to 2015. Matt Abdelmassih also worked under Hoiberg in the front office with the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Bobby Lutz was an assistant coach with the Windy City Bulls in the G League while Hoiberg coached the Chicago Bulls.
Previous Experience with Fred Hoiberg
Staff Member Coaching Experience with Hoiberg
Matt Abdelmassih, Assistant Coach Iowa State (2010-15)
Doc Sadler, Assistant Coach Iowa State (2013-14)
Bobby Lutz, Special Assistant to the Head Coach Iowa State (2010-11)
PINNACLE BANK ARENA SOLD OUT FOR 2019-20 SEASON
Since moving into Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013, the Huskers have ranked in the top 15 in attendance nationally in each of the past six seasons. The streak will likely continue into 2019-20, as all available season tickets were sold out in August.
• Last season, Nebraska averaged 15,341 fans per home game to rank 10th nationally in attendance, matching the highest rank in school history.
• Nebraska is one of nine schools in the country to average 15,000+ fans per contest in each of the last six seasons, joining Kentucky, Syracuse, Louisville, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas and Creighton.
• The Big Ten Conference has led NCAA Basketball in attendance for 43 straight years, dating back to the 1976-77 season. Last season, Big Ten schools drew more than a combined three million fans for the fifth straight year.
Filling Up Pinnacle Bank Arena
Season Average NCAA Rank
2013-14 (1st year of PBA) 15,419 13th
2014-15 15,569 10th
2015-16 15,430 11th
2016-17 15,427 11th
2017-18 15,494 11th
2018-19 15,341 10th
HUSKERS TO PLAY FIVE GAMES VS. RANKED TEAMS
Nebraska is currently scheduled to play five regular-season games against teams in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches preseason top-25 polls. The Huskers will have two meetings against No. 18/16 Ohio State (Jan. 11 in Columbus; Feb. 27 in Lincoln) and single matchups against top-ranked Michigan State (Feb. 20 in Lincoln), No. 7/8 Maryland (Feb. 11 in College Park) and No. 23/22 Purdue (Dec. 15 in Lincoln). The Huskers will face four other opponents (Illinois, Creighton, Michigan and Wisconsin) that received votes in the AP or coaches polls. Last year, the Huskers played a school-record 11 games against ranked opponents.
HUSKERS POST PERFECT ITALIAN TRIP
The Huskers got a head start on the 2019-20 season by traveling to Italy for 10 days last August. NU visited Rome, Florence and Como during the trip while also going 4-0 against teams from Italy and Lithuania.
Fans can relive the trip, as the Big Ten Network produced a three-part documentary (The B1G Trip: Nebraska Basketball) which began airing on the network on Monday, Oct. 28. Additional airings can be found at btn.com/shows and can also be streamed via the web, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through the Fox Sports app.
2019 Italian Summer Tour Results
Date Opponent Result NU Scoring Leader
Aug. 5 Stella Azzurra Academy W, 87-56 Green, 15
Aug. 7 Silute BC (Lithuania) W, 83-58 Burke, Cheatham, 20
Aug. 8 Silute BC (Lithuania) W, 73-70 Curtis, 13
Aug. 12 Italian Select W, 84-62 Easley, 15
TWO HUSKERS REPRESENT HOME COUNTRIES
Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Yvan Ouedraogo spent part of the summer representing their home nations. Thorbjarnarson played in three games for Iceland’s Senior National Team during the Games of the Small States of Europe, averaging 10 points per game. Ouedraogo played for France’s U-18 team at the FIBA European Championships, as the team went 6-1 and earned a fifth-place finish. He averaged 4.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game as the second-youngest member of the team.
In addition, former Huskers Tai Webster (New Zealand) and Jorge Brian Diaz (Puerto Rico) represented their nations in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Diaz started all five games in helping Puerto Rico reach the second round, while Webster averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 assists as New Zealand’s starting point guard.
ROBY EARNS SECOND-ROUND SELECTION
Isaiah Roby ended Nebraska’s NBA Draft drought, as he was selected in the second round by the Detroit Pistons (No. 45 overall) before his rights were traded to Dallas. It was the highest a Husker basketball player had been picked since Tyronn Lue went with the No. 23 pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.
RULE CHANGES FOR 2019-20
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the following rule changes for the 2019-20 season.
• The 3-point line was moved back to the international basketball distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches in Division I men’s basketball.
• The shot clock will reset at 20 seconds after a field goal attempt hits the rim and the offensive team rebounds the ball in the front court.
• Players will be assessed a technical foul should they use derogatory language about an opponent’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, gender identify, sexual orientation or disability.
• Coaches will be allowed to call live-ball timeouts in the last two minutes of the second half and the last two minutes of any overtime periods. Previously, coaches weren’t allowed to call any live-ball timeouts during the game.
• In the last two minutes of the second half or the last two minutes of any overtime, instant replay review can be conducted if a basket interference or goaltending call has been made.