Saturday, November 15, 2008

San Jose State at Nebraska on Sunday

The late writer Nelson Algren is credited for saying: "Never play cards with any man named Doc." Now we have no idea if Algren was a college basketball aficionado but we would have enjoyed his take on Sunday's matchup between San Jose State and Nebraska. Why? Because one Doc Sadler coaches the Cornhuskers.

Kenneth Lee Sadler doesn't possess a medical degree nor did he ever stay in a Holiday Inn Express so here's the answer to the acquisition of his curious nickname: "...Who saved everyone on 'Gunsmoke'? Doc, that's who. Sadler had a hat that he wore all the time when he was young that was signed by Doc from 'Gunsmoke,' so apparently the name stuck there. ('Gunsmoke' is a old TV show for you young-uns..."

With that settled, here's a quote that seems to sum up Sadler, in both his basketball philosophy and his vocabulary: “I’m not one of those dudes who gets much out of losing,” Sadler told reporters after the Huskers led the Jayhawks into the second half before falling by 10 points. “We didn’t come into this game to play close.”

Now on to Sunday afternoon's game.

Nebraska has won eight straight season openers so do the odds favor a ninth or is it past time for a loss? The Cornhuskers are 29-7 overall at home since Sadler arrived two seasons ago, along with a 20-0 home record against non-conference opponents. His teams won 17 games in 2006-07 and 20 last season.

Three seniors -- Ade Dagunduro, Steve Harley and Paul Velander -- provide the ballast for Nebraska. In an earlier exhibition game win against Chadron State, Dagunduro and Harley combined for 22 points and seven steals while Velander contributed six points and three assists. The Huskers forced 27 turnovers and nabbed 17 steals against their NAIA opponent while each team nabbed 33 rebounds. Freshman Eschaunte "Bear" Jones, who is dealing with a sore foot, scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Another frosh, redshirt freshman Toney McCray, led Nebraska with 18 points and seven rebounds. He was 6-of-8 from the field. Sadler liked the Husker offensive ball movement but thought his team took too many three-pointers, shooting 8-23.

Here's the expected starting five for Sadler:

PG ­ Cookie Miller 5’7” Sophomore
SG ­ Steve Harley 5’11” Senior

SF ­ Ade Dagunduro 6’5” Senior

PF ­ Ryan Anderson 6’4” Junior

C ­ Chris Balham 6’8” Junior

Nebraska isn't big -- check out the power forward, one who will probably be based 18-20 feet from the basket -- but plays hard. Actually, size is on the way for the Cornhuskers but not for this game and maybe not this season. Sadler knows his team will be small in comparison to others in the conference so het employs a fast pace to counter the height disadvantage. Here's more on the Cornhusker bigs:

Sadler holds out hope for Husker big man
Brian Rosenthal

Lincoln Journal Star

Octpber 15, 2008

The best thing about the start of basketball practice, Nebraska coach Doc Sadler joked, is that questions about Nebraska’s big men are finally subsiding.
“Everybody knows we don’t have one,” he said, “so they quit asking about it.”

That comment elicited laughter Wednesday at the season’s first practice. Of course, the lack of a big man on Nebraska’s roster really is no laughing matter.

The Huskers’ tallest player — 6-foot-11, 260-pound freshman Christopher Niemann — can’t play this season. Niemann, a native of Germany, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for his participation on a club team in which teammates were paid. Whenever Niemann finally sees the court, fans will be impressed, Sadler said. “He’s much better than I thought he was,” he said. “I didn’t realize he’s as good offensively as he is.”

As for any other big men dotting this year’s roster, Sadler told the crowd, “Maybe we’ll get one here pretty soon.” That was a veiled reference to 6-11 forward Jorge Diaz, who’s remained committed to Nebraska but is waiting to take his Test Of English as a Foreign Language. Diaz, who lives in Puerto Rico, is expected to take the test later this month. With a passing TOEFL score, Diaz could join the team in December and be eligible to play immediately.

Nebraska’s tallest eligible player is 6-9 redshirt sophomore Alex Chapman — and he’s out at least another two weeks after having knee surgery earlier this month. “Alex Chapman is struggling,” Sadler said. “He’s going to have a lot of catching up to do.”

Sadler said his rotation could include as many as 10 players, and that there will be times he plays with five guards.
“I think it’s important for me to put the five best players out there,” he said, “regardless of what size they are.”

And from another newspaper article:

Offense Isn’t the Problem . . . Defending the Post Is

“Offensively, I’m not concerned at all,” Sadler said. “It’s going to be fun coming up with stuff for a predominantly guard lineup. We’re going to be a driving basketball team, and we’re going to score points. The toughest job ­ and the biggest issue ­ is how we’re going to defend the post, and how that will affect our ability to get rebounds.”

Sadler says a well-conditioned and highly unselfish lineup will need to pull together and swarm the opposing offense...
Truth be told, Doc and his staff have been scheming and scrutinizing for months. “A lot of international basketball is played with smaller lineups on an open floor,” he said. “We’ve been studying that, and we’ll see what happens.”

Expect the Huskers, who played as well as any Big 12 team except Kansas and Texas in the last two-thirds of the conference last season, to dare to be different this season.

Here's the complete Cornhusker roster:

Eshaunte Jones G 6-4 180 Freshman
Nick Krenk G 6-0 185 Senior
Brandon Richardson G 6-0 190 RFreshman
Steve Harley G 5-11 180 Seniorr
Sek Henry G 6-3 200 Junior
Ade Dagunduro G 6-5 200 Senior
Matt Karn G 6-3 190 Junior
Rpss Ferrarini G 6-2 175 Freshman
Christopher Niemann C 6-11 265 Freshman
Alonzo Edwards F 6-7 230 RFreshman
Cookie Miller G 5-7 165 Soohomore
Paul Velander G 6-2 200 Senior
Toney McCray G 6-6 205 RFreshman (out of Missouri City, Texas, the hometown of C.J. Webster)
Alex Chapman F 6-9 240 RSophomore
Chris Balham F 6-8 235 Junior
Andrew Wicklund G 6-5 170 Sophomore
Ben Nelson F 6-8 230 Junior
Cole Salomon G 6-5 220 Junior
Ryan Anderson G 6-4 205 Junior

Here's the projected San Jose State starting five:

F - Tim Pierce 6-7 Senior
F - C.J. Webster 6-9 Junior

C - Chris Oakes 6-9 Junior
G - Justin Graham 6-4 Sophomore
G - DaShawn Wright 6-4 Senior

The Spartans are coming off a 70-62 win over South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits utilized a smallish lineup along with a long-distance shooting offensive style to hang in the game.

South Dakota State out-boarded San Jose State 46-39. Two factors may explain this: 1) the loss of C.J. Webster early in the second half and 2) the long bounces off the rim from the Jackrabbit three-point attempts. Still, the Spartans need to board better.

SJSU also wants to win the battle of turnovers, that is, creating more and having less as the Jackrabbits had 12 to San Jose's 14.

Another key will be how effective C.J. Webster can be on Sunday.

There's no doubt that Nebraska will feature better athleticism than South Dakota State did so the Spartans need to prepare for a tough matchup. With Nebraska football mired in mediocre at this point, red-clad Cornhusker fans may turn their attention early to basketball -- the mother of all heresies -- and the noise level could be factor in the game.

No comments: