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No time for panic yet, but shooting a concern as Huskers open season

November 6, 2018

Nebraska forward Isaac Copeland (14) shoots over Mississippi State forward Abdul Ado (24) during the first half of an NIT first-round game in Starkville, Miss., on March 14.

It’s a long, long, long way from panic time when it comes to Nebraska’s shooting. The Huskers haven’t even played an official game yet, for Pete’s sake.

But there is enough evidence in the game-like situations NU has already been in to warrant a certain level of concern from the Huskers’ coaching staff.

“My level of concern is high. I’m worried about it. It’s something that’s critical to our success,” NU coach Tim Miles said Monday as the Huskers prepare to open the 2018-19 season Tuesday night against Mississippi Valley State. “I think the types of threes we take is important, and then who’s taking them. ... It’s something I feel we have to improve and we have not produced yet, but it’s something that’s certainly on our to-do list.”

The stats won’t start becoming official until 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. But in a closed scrimmage against Iowa State and an exhibition against Wayne State, Nebraska is a combined 13 of 52 from three-point range.

Miles would like his team to be around 35 percent from beyond the three-point line this season. That’s about where the Huskers were in 2017-18, finishing the season at 34.6 percent.

They hit that mark against the Cyclones, going 9 for 26. But after a ghastly 4 for 26 effort from three against Wayne State in PBA in which NU was at 39 percent from the field overall, there is work to be done.

Starting out against a Mississippi Valley State outfit that won just four games last season and likely won’t be much better this year should help. But when the Huskers’ scorers are open, shots need to start going in.

“If it’s a good three or a shot at the rim or a free throw, I’m fine all day,” Miles said. “The dribble twos drive me bananas. Some of the guys, that’s what they’re best at, so I understand getting in a rhythm.

“But anybody that has a chance to take a three should take it. It’s part of the deal.”

The Huskers haven’t run as many sets during their preseason work as they likely will in games. Many of NU’s threes have come out of Nebraska’s motion offense and draw-and-kick situations. That was the case against Wayne State .

“I think we just always need more reps. We haven’t really practiced that much in PBA, so the past couple days we’ve really gotten a lot of shots up before and after practice (in the arena),” senior forward Isaac Copeland said. “So hopefully we can turn it around for the game tomorrow.”

The act of shooting a basketball can be a tricky one, and slumps certainly can come and go at any time. Right now, Miles said, it’s as much about figuring out how to get his players in the best position possible with as many good opportunities as they can get.

“It’s not the time to get into every detail,” Miles said. “Shooting’s a little bit of an art form. We just need to make sure we have rhythm shots in a flow on offense.”

Briefly

Miles said Nebraska doesn’t yet have a set rotation, though six players have the coaching staff’s confidence. That would be starters James Palmer, Copeland, Glynn Watson, Isaiah Roby and Thomas Allen, and senior forward Tanner Borchardt.

“We’re going to get those young guys up to speed, and those guys that don’t have the experience up to speed,” Miles said. “They need reps; they need the experience. There’s nothing like being out there in game form, in game competition, at game speed, and making a mistake.”

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