There were some positives for Nebraska basketball in the loss to Illinois.
I know many of you are probably tired of hearing me try to put a positive spin on Nebraska basketball losses. Nevertheless, this loss showed me something. First, it reaffirmed my thinking that this team fights until the finish. Secondly, it showed me that this team can get production from other players besides Cam Mack
Four Nebraska basketball players had at least 10 points on the evening. Yvan Ouedraogo had 11 points in 27 minutes while Thor had 11 points in 37 minutes of play. Hannif Cheatham had 14 points, while Dachon Burke had 13 points in 34 minutes of action.
It was great to see a balanced output versus the team relying solely on Mack. Don’t get me wrong, Mack is a heck of a player. There is no reason why he shouldn’t get the ball as often as possible. However, it is nice to know that when needed, other players will step up.
In particular, it’s encouraging that Ouedraogo continues to progress. I often forget myself that he is just a 17-year-old freshman. He is only going to get better, and I suspect he will be a star of this program sooner rather than later.
This was a very good Illinois team. They are ranked in the upper half of the Big Ten for a reason. Not only that, the State Farm Center, is a tough place to play. Those fans love basketball. For those reasons alone, the balanced effort was great to see. With the Big Ten tournament coming up in a couple of weeks, anything can happen. Right now, I am looking at these last couple of games as a chance for this Nebraska basketball team to gel with each other even more. I wouldn’t call this a lost season, I would call this a learning season. This team definitely has talent, they are just extremely young and need to put it together.
That’s why Monday night was such a huge moral victory for this program. Everybody managed to contribute and fight until the very end. Hopefully, we’ll see more of that togetherness in the coming days. Even if they don’t win, at least they will try to figure out how to gel as an entire team. Once Cam Mack returns to line up, things will be even better. For now, it’s all about building the program for not only the next couple of games, but for down the road as well.