NU men’s hoops notes: Thor hammers the boards; rim rocked; better attitude
Thorir Thorbjarnarson knew he was going to get a shot, and he did his best to make the most of it.
The sophomore from Iceland, who had played all of one total minute in Nebraska’s previous nine Big Ten games, provided a spark off the bench rarely seen by NU this season with three points and 10 rebounds.
His 10 boards were a career-high, twice as many as his previous best. And he was the only Husker bench player to score a point or have an assist.
“You know, losing a player like (Isaac) Copeland is really hard, especially the kind of guy he is and what he does for the team, and I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m thinking about him first,” Thorbjarnarson said.
“But when he’s out, we’ve got to make some changes to our team, and I knew maybe my shot was going to come. We’ve been struggling a little bit defensively on the rebounding, and so I just want to go in and hustle and give the team everything I’ve got, and that’s kind of how I played today.”
Nebraska coach Tim Miles commended Thorbjarnarson’s patience in waiting for his turn.
“He sat there for a long time. Didn’t groan, didn’t moan, kept a good attitude, and when he stepped in there and got his chance, he really made some great plays,” Miles said. “And that’s awesome. As a coach you really admire that in him, and I can’t say enough about that.”
Thorbjarnarson did enough to ensure that he’ll be one of the few sure things coming off Nebraska’s bench Saturday against Illinois.
Outside of the sophomore forward, the other three Huskers who came off the bench and played more than six minutes combined to go 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-2 at the free-throw line with five rebounds and no assists.
“I am not willing to commit to anything,” Miles said. “But I am going to roll Thor back out there. … But in terms of where guys are, it’s open season.”
Rim rocked: On Nebraska’s struggles to finish at the rim, Miles wasn’t taken completely by surprise by his team’s final numbers.
“Wisconsin is an elite defensive team for a reason. They know how to walk into you without fouling and body you in a way that really makes it tough to score at the rim,” Miles said. “I really thought that, more than anything, we had too many quick shots. Just quick, one-two pass possessions.
“And one of the things in the game plan was to manipulate their defense and move it around. And that’s where I think maybe a couple guys were trying too hard.”
Better attitude: Nebraska’s fight was better Tuesday night, Miles said, even if still not where it needs to be.
The Huskers rallied from a horrid start and a 14-point deficit to take a second half lead before a struggling offense did them in.
“I thought we were pretty close tonight in terms of being in a fighting mentality, staying together,” Miles said. “And you do get stressed. It’s OK to be stressed out a little bit and then come back. But tonight was far better in terms of mentality than it had been previously.”
By the numbers: Nebraska’s 18 offensive rebounds were a season-high. … Before Tuesday, the Huskers were 8-0 in games in which they outrebounded their opponent. … Glynn Watson moved into 10th place on Nebraska’s career assist list Tuesday. He is one of six Huskers to rank in Nebraska’s all-time top 10 in both assists and steals.