Nebraska 2014-15 Record: 13-18, 5-13 in the Big Ten
Key Players Lost: Terran Petteway. Walter Pitchford, David Rivers, Moses Abraham, Tarin Smith, Leslee Smith and Kyle Kurkowski
Key Players Coming Back: Shavon Shields, Benny Parker, Tai Webster, Nick Fuller and Jake Hammond.
New Recruits/Transfers: Andrew White III (transfer from Kansas), Glynn Watson, Bakari Evelyn, Jack McVeigh, Ed Morrow and Michael Jacobson.
Coming off a fine 2013-14 season that resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance, there was growing optimism around the Cornhusker basketball program last fall. With a high-scoring duo in Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields to lean on, Nebraska was supposed to build on the previous season’s momentum while making a climb up the Big Ten ladder.
Well, like what Of Mice and Men taught us, the best laid plans often go astray, and the Cornhuskers had what had to be considered a very bitter, disappointing season. Hopes were high, but reality had a different idea of how the Cornhuskers’ season would proceed. The end result was a losing season in which the Cornhuskers only won five conference games.
Almost from the get go, Nebraska never had it together. The Cornhuskers had a very mediocre non-conference beginning, as they finished with just an 8-4 record. The lowest of the lows came when they lost to Incarnate Word—who have been part of Division I for just two years—at home in early December. That loss would clearly set a tone for the rest of the season where mediocrity would reign.
To Nebraska’s credit, they did get off to a decent start in Big Ten play. They opened 4-3 with wins over Michigan State and Illinois included. However, the second half of the Big Ten season was a nightmare, as they won just one of their last 12 contests, including dropping their last nine games.
Nebraska’s troubles came to a head in an ugly loss to Iowa at home on February 22. After another bitter loss, head coach Tim Miles banned his players from the locker room for not showing enough effort. Suffice to say, Miles and Nebraska’s frustrations all came to head that night.
The Cornhuskers’ season ultimately ended with a loss to Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Individually, both Petteway and Shields had solid seasons.
Petteway was named third team all-Big Ten after averaging a team-high 18.2 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while shooting just .396 percent from the field. After the season Petteway announced he would enter the NBA Draft.
Shields, meanwhile, averaged 15.4 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game, while shooting .440 percent from the field.
2015-16 Look Ahead:
With the season the Cornhuskers are coming off of and Petteway departing the program in April, the prospects don’t look great for a turnaround in Lincoln. It’s not just Petteway who is gone, as Miles saw six of the 10 players who averaged double-digits in minutes leave the program in one way or another.
Shields is back and he’ll have to carry a tremendous load for the Cornhuskers next season. He is a gifted scorer and he’ll have to have a great season for Nebraska to turn it around next season. Can he do it alone?
The addition of Kansas transfer junior Andrew White III will help absorb some of the void left by the departure of Petteway. He is natural scorer who got buried on Kansas’ bench. White III, a former top-50 recruit, will inject a breath of fresh air to the Cornhuskers’ program.
Miles will also be counting on a five-man recruiting class to turn around the team’s fortunes. Two four-star prospects from the Chicago area, point guard Glynn Watson and Ed Morrow, offer some optimism for next year.
Maybe addition by subtraction can help Nebraska can get back on the winning track, but with the Big 10 loaded and the Cornhuskers’ frontcourt rather suspect, it may be too ambitious to expect any big turnaround in the 2015-16 season for Nebraska.