Friday, January 30, 2009

A good offense is an offense that gets to the free throw line

After starting the season at 11-3, Doc Sadler's Nebraska team has lost four of its last five games and is 2-4 in Big 12 play.

The Huskers' lone win in that five-game stretch came against Kansas State, who Nebraska beat by 22.

After the game, KSU coach Frank Martin complemented Coach Sadler's team:

"Last year when people would want to talk about our league I'd always say: Nebraska. And people always said, 'Why do you always say Nebraska?' Because I have to prepare to play them and Doc Sadler's teams play as hard as anyone in the country."

That level of preparation is a reflection of the work Coach Sadler, his staff, and their players invest.

In 2006-07, his first season at NU after going 48-18 in two seasons at UTEP, the Huskers were 11-4 heading into a road game against Oklahoma. According to this article, "the Cornhuskers allowed the Sooners to bust open the game with a 13-0 run that included a number of easy, transition baskets." NU lost the game, 70-53.

Coach Sadler "offered his disapproval with a grueling punishment: A two-hour practice at 5:30 the next morning. In other words – the minute the Huskers got off the bus in Lincoln. Then Nebraska had its regular afternoon practice later that day."

“I’ll never forget that,” said NU guard Sek Henry, who was a true freshman on the 2006-07 team. “It woke us up to the way he wanted to play, how bad he wanted to win. He was really disappointed in us. That was a shout out to the team.”

The message? If you think you’re out of a game on the road, don’t bother playing at Nebraska. It was a turning point, Henry said. NU has been blown out a couple times since then – especially by Kansas – but not because of a lack of effort.

Coach Sadler's starting lineup is small (5-7, 5-11, 6-3, 6-5, and 6-8), so his system emphasizes getting to the basket.

"A good offense is an offense that gets to the free throw line," he said. "It's going to give us an opportunity to drive the basketball. We do have some guys that can shoot, but we've also got some guys that their strength is not necessarily the 3-point shot but driving. I will not anticipate shooting any more 3s than we normally have."

As this article points out, "Nebraska also will try to increase defensive intensity, even though it allowed a Big 12-low 60.7 points a game last season. Sadler said he'll use the press more often, with the hope of converting turnovers into easy baskets."

"It's going to give us a chance to be competitive with our size," he said.