Hoiberg hopes Tominaga’s return and addition of veteran players allow Huskers to continue their rise

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska experienced a significant improvement in Big Ten wins last season under the coaching of Fred Hoiberg. With a roster that boasts the conference’s oldest players, Hoiberg expects the team’s success to continue.

Despite dealing with injuries to key players, the Huskers finished the season with a 16-16 record, their first non-losing season since 2018-19. They finished 12th in the Big Ten with a 9-11 record, winning six of their final eight games.

Hoiberg believes that if the team had remained healthy, they would have had a strong chance of making it to the NCAA Tournament. He praises the team’s grit, defensive mindset, and identity, and aims to maintain the same group of players this year.

The Huskers’ roster includes eight players who have been collegians for four or five seasons and have each appeared in at least 62 games. Three players have accumulated at least 79 career starts, while four have started at least 25 games.

According to Hoiberg, the team has more depth than ever before, allowing them to play various combinations. The team possesses the versatility to play small, big, or even gigantic lineups. Additionally, the majority of players in the rotation have a 3-point shooting percentage of 35% or better.

Hoiberg finds it easier and more enjoyable to coach a team that he knows will consistently deliver on the court.


One of Hoiberg’s biggest offseason victories was convincing Keisei Tominaga, a standout 3-point shooter, to return to Nebraska instead of entering the NBA draft. Tominaga averaged 13.1 points per game for the season, with an impressive 20.3 points per game during the Huskers’ last nine games. He had the highest shooting percentage from beyond the arc among Big Ten players attempting at least six 3-pointers per game.

Tominaga’s performance during the FIBA World Cup helped secure Japan’s spot in the 2024 Olympics. He was one of just five college players in the tournament and was the only one to average more than 10 points per game.

Juwan Gary, who started the first 17 games for the Huskers, provided strong contributions before suffering a season-ending injury. C.J. Wilcher has been a consistent presence in the past two seasons, starting 24 games last season and scoring in double figures 10 times. Jamarques Lawrence became a starter for the final 12 games and showcased his 3-point shooting prowess during that stretch.


The departure of Derrick Walker, last season’s leading scorer and rebounder, is a significant loss for the team. Graduating starters Sam Griesel and Emmanuel Bandoumel also left voids in the roster. Furthermore, reserves Wilhelm Breidenbach, Denim Dawson, and Oleg Kojenets transferred to other schools.


The Huskers have added five transfers to the team: guards Brice Williams, Ahron Ulis, and Jarron Coleman, and forwards Rienk Mast and Josiah Allick. Williams, who averaged 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, was the MVP of the College Basketball Invitational. Ulis served as Iowa’s starting point guard last season, while Coleman led Ball State in scoring and assists for three of his four years. Mast earned All-Missouri Valley Conference first-team honors with impressive scoring and rebounding statistics, and Allick excelled in securing rebounds in the Mountain West conference.

It is worth noting that Ulis was involved in underage sports betting, which violated state law and NCAA rules. Despite his eligibility remaining in question, he continues to practice with the team.

The roster also includes two true freshmen: guard Eli Rice from IMG Academy and forward Matar Diop from Keystone Athletic Academy.


The Huskers will open their season at home against Lindenwood on Nov. 6. They will face Oregon State in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Nov. 18. Their toughest nonconference game is against eighth-ranked Creighton on Dec. 3 in Lincoln. Big Ten play will begin on Dec. 6 against Minnesota.


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