February 18, 2010

Thursday notebook: Offense may be back on track

In spite what the 87 points and 58.3 shooting percentage from the field may suggest, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler insists his team did nothing differently in Wednesday's loss to Kansas State.

While it looked as if the Huskers were running a more up-tempo offense and didn't hesitate to fire up a 3-pointer - they made a season-high 14-of-21 from beyond the arc - Sadler said his game plan was the same it's been all season.

The only difference between Wednesday's game - in which the Huskers scored their most points in a Big 12 Conference game since 2005-06 against Colorado (93) - and the previous two losses to Baylor and Texas, where NU shot a combined 28 percent, was the simple fact that it finally made some shots.

"We made shots," Sadler said. "We made 14 3s. I thought for sure we had as good of shots last night as we had in the two previous games, but we didn't make those in the two previous games. Offense looks a lot better when you're making shots. But we weren't pushing it any harder or any slower or running anything different than we've been running."

Whatever the reason for Nebraska's offensive explosion of sorts against the seventh-ranked Wildcats, the hope is that it will serve as a jumping point for continued shooting success.

In particular, younger players like sophomore guard Brandon Richardson and redshirt freshman guard Eshaunte Jones both seemed to find their rhythm Wednesday night.

After cooling off a bit from his hot start to conference play, Richardson scored 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor. Jones was almost just as efficient, as he finished with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including hitting 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

Even freshman guard Ray Gallegos started to find his groove with eight points while going 3-of-5 from the field.

The game may have ended in yet another disappointing loss, but if Wednesday was any indication, the Huskers at least look to be taking a few steps in the right direction.

"Obviosuly the last two ball games we had not shot it very well," Sadler said, "so I'm sure like anything else, when you do something a little bit better than you feel a little bit better about yourself."

Sadler not worried about Missouri's press

Missouri has built up a reputation for being one of the fastest-paced teams in the country, primarily because of its 40-minute full-court press defense.

Even so, Sadler isn't too concerned about it.

While the Tigers have been able to dictate games this season with their press under head coach Mike Anderson, Sadler said his Huskers haven't had much trouble against it.

Never mind the fact that NU has committed an average of nearly 15 turnovers a game in their seven meetings against Missouri under Sadler, including 12 earlier this season in Columbia.

Still, Sadler said his squad has already faced more challenging defensive presses this year, and preparing for the Tigers the second time around isn't nearly the priority it may seem to be.

"Missouri's press never has bothered us," Sadler said. "I think playing last night helped, because I think Kansas State's one of the best (defensive) teams in the league. Missouri does some nice things too, but I think our success for the most part always has to do with how we're shooting the basketball."



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