Nebraska basketball fans reminded that patience with Fred Hoiberg was a virtue

  • The Nebraska basketball team is still looking for a tournament win.
  • Patience regarding Fred Hoiberg seemingly has them close to breaking that barrier.

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg gives instructions to Keisei Tominaga in the regular season finale versus Michigan.
Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg gives instructions to Keisei Tominaga in the regular season finale versus Michigan. / Luke Hales/GettyImages

I don't believe you'll find any Nebraska basketball fans that want to hear the words "we're so close." (See Nebraska football the past several years). However, this year provided the formula for how Fred Hoiberg & Co. can become the final team in the power six conferences in Division I to get an NCAA Tournament win under their belt.

Going 24-67 overall (9-50 Big Ten conf.) in your first three seasons normally doesn't get you to year four in this business. After a 21 point defeat at the hands of Michigan in February 2023, the Huskers were sitting at 11-14 overall, with another losing season along the horizon.

My how the tables turned after that loss. Winning five of six to end the regular season against Wisconsin & Maryland in overtime, along with a road win at Iowa propelled the Big Red to 16-15 overall. Although no March Madness or NIT bid was given, momentum was certainly building within the walls of Big Red basketball.

Nebraska basketball fans rewarded for their patience

Fast forward to year five, bringing back Keisei Tominaga certainly helps, along with transfer additions including Rienk Mast, Brice Williams, and Lincoln native Josiah Allick.

All Fred Hoiberg seemed to do with this group was go 18-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, a third place finish in the regular season standings, two massive upsets against top ranked Purdue and sixth ranked Wisconsin, a conference tournament win, and an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time in 10 years. I'd love to see how many people had that on their bingo card this year.

The frustration from the Huskers' disappointing loss to Texas A&M is understandable, considering how much hype was built around this team leading up to the big dance. “We need to get more players like we've built our roster the last couple of years that our fan base can be proud of every time they step on the floor.” said Hoiberg after the Huskers' first round exit.

What can't be forgotten is how patience paid off for this less than historic basketball program. Although it didn't work out with football in 2022 when former Athletic Director Trev Alberts restructured Scott Frost's contract cutting it virtually in half, letting this season play out under the guidance of Hoiberg gave fans and administrators a breath of fresh air when the results began to show.

In a world full of quick decisions and looking for instant gratification, patience is what helped steer the ship in the right direction. Let's not forget either how Hoiberg earned "The mayor" nickname at his last collegiate stop in Ames, Iowa, when he led the Cyclones to four consecutive tournament appearances from 2011-2012 to 2014-2015.

Whether it's the mayor, sheriff, governor, or any name you'd like to give him, it's hard not to appreciate the job this staff did under immense pressure coming into the season. Led by a sharpshooting senior, a homegrown kid who found his way back via the transfer portal, and a commitment to defense, maybe the Huskers will have another crack at the same opportunity next spring. Although next time, hopefully their stay in the big dance is a little longer than this season.

Until then, let's continue to be patient Husker fans. This is just the beginning of possibly an eventful ride.