Nebraska Basketball: Sam Griesel is first feel-good story in uncertain season

North Dakota State Bison guard Sam Griesel (5) dribbles against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
North Dakota State Bison guard Sam Griesel (5) dribbles against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Nebraska basketball team’s 2022-23 season is one big question mark. On the one hand, most media prognosticators think it’s going to be another very long season. On the other, head coach Fred Hoiberg is claiming that several new arrivals, including Sam Griesel will make this campaign a feel-good story. For Griesel, he’s already offering a feel-good story even before the Huskers tip off their season opener against Maine.

There was a time when one of the newest Nebraska basketball additions thought his basketball career – and even his life – was in real jeopardy. Instead, the guard fought hard made a comeback and is now expected to be a big contributor for what could be Hoiberg’s final pitch to keep his job.

The Lincoln Journal Star detailed the specifics of what happened to Griesel last year.

“My first thought was that he threw up his intestines or something, but it was just spaghetti,” Griesel’s road trip roommate on North Dakota State Willie Guy told the publication.

"“He threw up a lot of blood. A lot, a lot of blood.”"

It turned out that doctors believe that Griesel lost about half his body’s blood due to a bleeding ulcer. It took him a month to recover and this week mark’s the one year anniversary. The new Nebraska basketball guard is clear that the idea he almost lost his life is not a stretch. And because he didn’t and is able to still play, he’s grateful these days.

"One hundred percent the scariest, most traumatic experience of my life. But it’s one of the things I’m most grateful for that has happened in my life — which is a little bit weird to say. But I gained such a great perspective from the whole experience."

Count getting to come play for Hoiberg and the Cornhuskers as one of the things he’s grateful for these days. He played his high school ball at Lincoln East but wasn’t heavily recruited by former Nebraska basketball head coach Tim Miles. Now he’s finally getting the chance to start for his hometown team.

He’s here now not just because he’s a former Nebraska high school star. He had a heck of a career at North Dakota State first.

Last year he averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for a Bison squad that won 23 games last season and was one game away from the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Griesel played some of his best basketball of the season towards the end of the year, scoring more than 20 points in 6 of his final 8 games.

That Sam Grisel is able to play basketball at all is one part of the feel-good story. The fact that he has a chance to lead a surprise Nebraska basketball team that could be better than people realize is the other.

The next step in what has been an eye-opening journey for Sam Griesel begins Monday night. Even if the Huskers season isn’t what fans hope it will be, there’s some solace to take in the player still being around and able to contribute. He could be someone the Nebraska basketball team can lean on in this uncertain season.