Nebraska Basketball: The stars and the struggles against Maine


Throughout the Fred Hoiberg era, it’s hardly ever been all that pretty for the Nebraska basketball team. On the other hand, there haven’t been enough wins to look a gift horse in the mouth when the Huskers come away a winner, even if it’s against one of the worst teams in college basketball.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers opened their season against the Main Black Bears and at times looked like the best team on the court by a wide margin. At other times, it looked like the Huskers might struggle to finish in the top half of the America East.

The Nebraska basketball team especially looked their best right after the game started, when they got off to a 9-2 lead. However, it didn’t take long for them to do what they have often done under Hoiberg, taking bad three-point shot after bad three-point shot and going long periods of the game where they simply couldn’t score.

While quite a bit of the game looked like the same old, same old for a coach that’s promised something different in 2022, there were noticeable differences, especially in the numerous times the Huskers actually bounced back and were able to open the game back up. It feels as if previous iterations of Hoiberg’s Nebrasketball teams would have limped to the finish line and even lost to Maine. Having said that, the stars of the game for the Cornhuskers were rather obvious.

Nebraska basketball stars of the game

The first star of the game for the Huskers is an easy choice. Sam Griesel, in his first home game back in the state since graduating high school, led all scorers with 22 points. He also had 9 rebounds and 3 assists. 18 of those 22 points and 7 of those 9 rebounds came in the second half. His second-half surge is even more impressive, considering that he played all but 3 minutes of the game. He would have been excused if he wore down a bit, but instead, he seemed to heat up the more he was on the court. That’s a very good sign for a player that’s going to need to have a huge season for the Nebraska basketball team to have any success.

Closely following Griesel in scoring was Keisei Tominaga, who came into the game off the bench but soon made it clear he needed to see the court as much as possible. The long-range shooter struggled to start it off, going just 1-for-4 from 3-point land early but hit 2 of 3 from downtown after that and scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting overall. In short, Keisei was everything and a bit more than the Huskers are going to need from him this season.

Nebraska basketball’s third star of the game was another newcomer in Juwan Gary. While the Alabama transfer struggled a bit from the field, hitting just 5-of-15 shots he was busy on the boards and ended up netting the Huskers’ first double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Nebraska basketball’s struggles against Maine

While the Huskers eventually posted a 79-66 victory, it was rarely that easy and at one point, it looked as if Maine might take over the game as they outscored the Cornhuskers 20-10 out of the half.

One of the more concerning trends was seeing Nebraska defenders rush out to try and cover the perimeter. It felt as though a team that won more than six games last year would have been able to take advantage of the rather large holes in the defense to either drain threes or dish and drive to the hoop.

Maine finished the game hitting 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point land. If the Black Bears were 2-for-10 from the free-throw line (Kellen Tynes was 0-for-6, including an air-balled free throw attempt) this game could have been uncomfortably close.

What’s up next for Nebraska basketball

The Huskers won’t have to wait long to show that they can build on Monday’s performance. They’ll next take on Omaha at the PBA. The Mavericks are coming off an 89-64 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.