Three takeaways from Nebraska men’s basketball loss to Iowa on senior night | Sports


Reporting to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the final time this season, head coach Fred Hoiberg’s 2021-22 Nebraska men’s basketball team lost, again, much the same as all of them. the previous times.

The perverse similarity that infected the team all year, which seemed to follow them no matter how they played, showed up again against a team that hadn’t beaten the Huskers at home since 2015.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

The McGowens brothers are well bonded

As the season approached, a major draw for Nebraska basketball was the on-court chemistry of junior guard Trey McGowens and his brother, freshman guard Bryce McGowens.

Trey, the veteran of the program, and Bryce, the infinitely gifted freshman, the interaction between the two was going to be dynamic. An array of good passes early in the season, an alley-oop on opening night, it was going to be a show.

Unfortunately for the Huskers, Trey McGowens suffered a foot injury just a few games into the season. Despite returning months later, Nebraska was already in the middle of its epic Big Ten losing streak.

Yet Friday night against Iowa, Nebraska fans were given a parting memory of what could have been. The brothers combined for 22 points on the night on solid efficiency with few turnovers.

For Bryce McGowens, his 13 points were functionally an underperformance, a sign of his immense talent. But his brother has struggled offensively so far this season, in part due to Hoiberg almost completely neglecting the player from the 3-point line.

So far this season, Trey McGowens has taken just 15 3-pointers all season compared to his 76 last year. Either way, the guard found a way to help the offense against the Hawkeyes, going 4 of 7 from the field.

Bad rebound, eternal return of Nebraska

In truth, on the balance of percentages alone, the Huskers should have won this one. Overall, they shot 51.8 percent from the field and a solid 8 of 18 from the 3-point line. This, compared to Iowa’s slightly more modest 9 of 22 from the 3-point line and 50% field goal completion rate, paints an extraordinarily winnable game.

So what went wrong?

Unlike other games, there were no turnovers. The Huskers are pretty good at preventing turnovers overall, but sometimes bad nights are the culprit. This tends to lead to a shortage of quick break points for the opposition, but the Huskers limited Iowa to just six such points on the night.

Instead, the culprit can be traced back to the yearly problem of all Hoiberg Nebraska setups. Somehow, for whatever reason, the problem the team has never been able to solve is bouncing back.

Against the Hawkeyes, the Huskers gave up 19 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds. The devastating stat ended the game for Nebraska as the team had every chance of winning.

It would take a lot longer to explain why this phenomenon is so pervasive across the team, transcending not just individual players in a single season, but affecting the overall setup in every year of Hoiberg’s tenure.

Either way, despite its universality, Nebraska’s hideous rebound affected it once again in a game circumstance against the Hawkeyes.

Things are looking increasingly bleak for Hoiberg

The day before Senior Night, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts announced over the radio that Hoiberg would stay at Nebraska for another year on a restructured contract.

The fact that things have gotten so desperate that they require this step bodes ill for Hoiberg’s future with the team, and the senior night festivities demonstrated another cause for concern.

During the senior night celebrations, the Huskers honored all but one of Hoiberg’s top five, except for Bryce McGowens. While that, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean all of those players are leaving, it’s a worrying possibility for Hoiberg.

Regardless of what one thinks of the current players on the team, the biggest factor dictating year-to-year success is experience within the program. Hoiberg goes into next year with the very real possibility of losing his entire starting five, as well as a significant portion of his bench.

It’s a situation Hoiberg had to deal with in his first and second years at Nebraska. In theory, the third year was supposed to be the inflection point. The season when things, if they didn’t come together, started to pick up steam. Now the Huskers look more lost than ever.

There are silver linings, of course. Retaining players like first-year goaltender CJ Wilcher is crucial, and the return of first-year forward Wilhelm Breidenbach will help round out the squad next season. The team also has a fairly fair 33rd recruiting class nationally which they can boast of tackling next season.

That being said, Hoiberg held the 18th-best recruiting class in the nation this year. The chaotic, distorting nature of Hoiberg’s roster builds thus far inspires little confidence in a quick turnaround short of incredible transfer pickups. The transfer portal, where Hoiberg once made a splash, is now completely mechanized to serve the interests of better programs.

For there to be a serious chance of success, Hoiberg needs time. And yet, at the same time, he’ll likely have a tight window to demonstrate that turnaround – another reasonable fact given the team’s utter helplessness so far. These two opposing forces are producing a brutal economy for Nebraska and Hoiberg basketball. It’s hard to see him get over that.

[email protected]


About Author

Comments are closed.