Game #1: Florida Gulf Coast
Game Date: Nov. 8, 2013
Tipoff Time: 8:05 p.m.
Venue: Pinnacle Bank Arena
2012-13 Record: 15-18, 5-13 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 15-18 (2nd year)
Career Record: 298-238 (19th year)
Florida Gulf Coast
2012-13 Record: 26-11, 13-5 Atlantic Sun
Head Coach: Joe Dooley
Record at FGCU: 0-0 (1st)
Career Record: 57-52 (5th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SD, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80 SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play by Play: Tom Hamilton
Expert Analysis: Jim Jackson
Radio: Across the state on the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Promotions (Game One Presented by Ameritas)
Pregame: Opening ceremonies begin at 7:45 p.m.
‘Dunk City’ Invades ‘Star City’ in Arena Opener
One of the most anticipated Nebraska basketball seasons in recent memory gets underway Friday night, as the Huskers host 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 participant Florida Gulf Coast in Game One presented by Ameritas at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Tipoff is set for shortly after 8 p.m. (central) and the game will be televised nationally on BTN with Tom Hamilton and Jim Jackson on the call. The matchup with the Eagles will also be available online and on smart phones on BTN2GO.
Friday’s season opener will also be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can be heard for free on Huskers.com and is available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices.
A sellout crowd of over 15,000 is expected for the first game in Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $179 million dollar facility in the Haymarket District. Fans are encouraged to be seated by 7:45 p.m. for pregame ceremonies. Friday’s crowd is expected to break the single-game school attendance mark of 15,038 set during the 1980-81 season.
Husker fans may want to invest in a program Friday night, as the second edition of Tim Miles’ team will look radically different than a year ago. The 2013-14 Nebraska squad features five newcomers, as well as three players who sat out last season. Of Nebraska’s 12 scholarship players, 10 are in their first or second year at Nebraska.
The Huskers tuned up for Friday’s opener with a 91-60 win over Division II Nebraska-Kearney Monday night. The 91 points were the most points Nebraska scored in an exhibition since 2002, and would have topped NU’s season high during last season (89 vs. Central Michigan). Nebraska shot 51 percent from the floor and had five players in double figures, led by Shavon Shields’ 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the floor. Newcomers Tai Webster (12 points), Leslee Smith (12), Terran Petteway (10) and Nick Fuller (10) joined Shields in double figures, while 12 of the 13 players who saw action broke into the scoring column.
Florida Gulf Coast poses a strong test for the Big Red, as the Eagles welcome back four starters from a team that won 26 games and reached the NCAA 16 last season. FGCU earned the moniker Dunk City following impressive double-figure NCAA Tournament wins over Georgetown and San Diego State and welcomes back starting guards Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson as well as forward Chase Fieler. Comer ranked among the national leaders last year in assists with 244, while Thompson and Fieler averaged 14.3 and 12.1 points per game, respectively, in 2012-13.
By the Numbers
7 - Nebraska won all seven games in 2012-13 decided by five points or less. The Huskers have won eight straight games decided by five points or less dating back to 2011.
10.7 - NU’s turnovers per game in 2012-13, setting a school record for fewest turnovers per game. Nebraska ranked 10th nationally in fewest turnovers per game.
12 - Consecutive season openers won by the Huskers dating back to a 69-57 victory over North Carolina A&T in 2001. NU has also won 23 consecutive home openers.
53 - Number of points scored by players making their Husker debut against UNK on Monday (58 percent), while also contributing 21 of Nebraska’s 50 rebounds (42 percent).
1996 - The last year Nebraska opened the season against an NCAA Tournament team from the previous season. That year, Nebraska lost 83-81 to No. 17 Texas.
Scouting Florida Gulf Coast
The Eagles open the season Friday night following a historic campaign a year ago. In 2012-13, FGCU went 26-11 and became the first-ever No. 15 seed to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Eagles knocked off second-seeded Georgetown (78-68) and seventh-seeded San Diego State (81-71) to become the first program to win its first two NCAA Tournament games since 1987. FGCU also knocked off ACC champion Miami, another Sweet 16 club, during its record-breaking season a year ago.
While Andy Enfield left to take the USC job in the offseason, new coach Joe Dooley inherited a stocked roster for his first season. Husker fans will remember Dooley from his previous stop, as he was an assistant coach under Bill Self at Kansas for the last 10 seasons.
The Eagles, who return four starters this season, were chosen by both the coaches and media as the favorite in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while guards Brett Comer and Benard Thompson and forward Chase Fieler were selected to the preseason All-Atlantic Sun team.
Comer led the Atlantic Sun Conference and ranked 14th in the nation for assists (6.6 per game) last year and earned A-Sun Tournament MVP honors following his 21-point effort against top-seeded Mercer in the A-Sun final. Comer had a pair of double-doubles in the NCAA Tournament and averaged 10.3 assists in FGCU’s three NCAA games. Comer averaged 8.0 points per game as a sophomore.
Fieler, the only senior on the roster, started all 37 games last year and averaged 12.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 56.3 percent. He also totaled 59 dunks last year, while reaching double figures in scoring 28 times.
Thompson was the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13 after ranking second nationally with 102 steals and fifth in steals per game (2.76). Thompson was also the second leading scorer (14.3 ppg) and rebounder (4.4 rpg).
The Eagles will be without their fourth starter for Friday’s opener as Eric McKnight, who began his collegiate career at Iowa State, will miss the first six games of the season because of a suspension. He started 34 games last year, averaging 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest.
Series History vs. FGCU
Friday’s meeting is the second meeting between the programs in the last three years, as Nebraska posted a 51-50 win over FGCU on Dec. 7, 2011. In that game, neither team led by more than three points in the final 11 minutes before Dylan Talley’s jumper with 10.4 seconds remaining proved to be the final margin. For FGCU, Fieler, Thompson and Comer all started in the previous matchup against the Huskers. For Nebraska, the only player on the roster who played that night was junior forward David Rivers. He was held scoreless in six minutes of action.
Sophomore Shavon Shields led a balanced attack, as the Huskers opened Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 91-60 win over Nebraska-Kearney Monday evening.
Shields was perfect from the floor against the Lopers, scoring 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field to lead five Huskers in double figures. He had 12 of his 17 points in the first half, as the Huskers raced out to a 44-17 lead and led by as many as 35 in the second half. Shields and newcomer Terran Petteway helped put the game out of reach early, combining for 10 of NU’s points in a 16-0 run that 13-7 lead into a 22-point advantage just 11 minutes into the contest.
The Huskers shot 56.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while holding UNK to just 24 percent in the half, including 1-of-11 from 3-point range. On the night, Nebraska shot 50.8 percent, while the 91 points were the most in a Husker exhibition game since 2002. With the win, Nebraska improved to 13-0 all-time against in-state teams in exhibition play.
Petteway, a sophomore transfer from Texas Tech, finished with 10 points in just 17 minutes of action, as four newcomers joined Shields in double figures against UNK. Freshman guard Tai Webster had 12 points, three assists and five rebounds, while junior college transfer Leslee Smith added 12 points
Quick Notes From Monday’s Exhibition
•-Nebraska’s 91 points were the most scored by the Huskers in an exhibition game since the 2002-03 season.
•-NU improved to 13-0 all-time against in-state foes in exhibition games and has won 10 straight exhibition contests dating back to 2007.
Nebraska begins its 118th season of basketball on Friday night and here are some facts and figures about season openers for the Husker basketball program.
•-Nebraska is 78-39 (.667) all-time in season openers and have won 12 straight season openers dating back to an 87-83 setback at Oral Roberts to begin the 2000 season. Nebraska is 19-2 in its past 21 season openers dating back to the 1992-93 campaign.
•-The last time Nebraska lost a season opener at home was 1980 when NU fell to Wyoming, 62-59, in overtime. The Huskers have won 23 straight season openers at home since that loss.
•-Nebraska went 35-2 in season openers at the Devaney Center. NU’s only two home-opening losses at the Devaney Center came to Iowa in the building’s inaugural game in 1976 and to Wyoming in 1980.
•-The Nov. 8 season-opening date is the earliest in Nebraska’s 118-year history. The previous earliest date was in 2007, when the Huskers opened on Nov. 10 against Presbyterian. The four earliest opening dates are listed below.
NU to Open against NCAA Tournament Qualifier for First Time since ‘96
Friday’s matchup with Sweet 16 Florida Gulf Coast marks the first time Nebraska has opened the season against an NCAA Tournament qualifier since playing Texas to open the 1996-97 campaign. It is also the first time Nebraska has opened the season at home against an NCAA Tournament qualifier from the previous year. In fact, it is only the sixth time since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939 that the Huskers have squared off against an NCAA qualifier.
Webster Looks to Join Rookie List
Tai Webster looks to join an exclusive club of true freshmen starting the Huskers’ season opener. The 6-foot-4 guard from Auckland, New Zealand, is the frontrunner for the point guard spot, marking the second straight year that Tim Miles has started a true freshman at point guard. Benny Parker started the 2012-13 opener. Webster started at point guard in Monday’s exhibition win and had 12 points and three assists in the 91-60 win over UNK.
Although he is a freshman, Webster was considered one of the top international guards in this year’s senior class. He played for New Zealand’s national team in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, averaging 13.5 points per game in 52.5 percent shooting in three games. He also played in New Zealand’s National Basketball League, averaging 18.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last spring despite being the youngest player in the league. Webster is among the five Big Ten Freshmen to watch by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, joining Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, Michigan’s Zak Irvin and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.
How Shavon spent His Summer
Sophomore Shavon Shields spent part of the summer with the Denmark U-20 National Team, leading the country to the 2013 Nordic Cup Championship. He averaged 13.3 points per game in wins over Sweden, Finland and Estonia, capping the tournament with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 101-94 double overtime win over Estonia. Shields had nine points in the opener against Sweden and 14 points in the victory over host Finland.
Newcomers Set for Husker Debuts
Much of the talk about the Huskers has been focused on a trio of transfers who will make their debut in 2013-14. Sophomores Terran Petteway and Walter Pitchford both sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring into the Husker program, while junior guard Deverell Biggs redshirted the 2012-13 season. The trio comprised the Huskers’ scout team that pushed the starters in practice throughout the season.
Petteway played in 27 games at Texas Tech as a true freshman in 2011-12, making 11 starts for the Red Raiders, including 10 in Big 12 action. Pitchford played on Florida’s Elite Eight squad and made 13 appearances for the Gators in 2011-12. On Monday, Petteway and Pitchford both started, as the pair combined for 19 points in the win over the Lopers. Biggs will make his debut against South Carolina State on Nov. 17, as did he not play in Monday’s exhibition and will not suit up for the first two regular-season games.
Captains Chosen for 2013-14 season
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles announced on Oct. 12 that senior Ray Gallegos and sophomores Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway were chosen as team captains for the 2013-14 season. It is the first time that any of the three Huskers had been chosen captain. Shields and Gallegos are returning starters who started 19 and 33 games, respectively, while Petteway sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Texas Tech.
Huskers Shorthanded for First Two Games
Nebraska will be without two of its top guards for the first two games of the season, as junior Deverell Biggs and senior Ray Gallegos will miss Nebraska’s games against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday and Western Illinois on Nov. 12 because of suspensions.
Biggs’ suspension was announced in July, while Nebraska Coach Tim Miles announced Gallegos’ suspension Wednesday afternoon. Both Gallegos and Biggs will be able to play against South Carolina State on Nov. 17.
In addition, freshman guard Nathan Hawkins is out indefinitely because of a foot injury. In all, Nebraska will have just nine scholarship players available for the first two games of 2013-14.
Game One Presented by Ameritas
The Nebraska Athletic Department announced on Oct. 18 that Ameritas will be the presenting sponsor for the Husker men’s and women’s basketball season openers at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Game One presented by Ameritas will take place on Friday, Nov. 8, as the Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball teams host their first regular-season games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $179 million facility in Lincoln’s Haymarket District. Both basketball games are expected to shatter school single-game non-conference attendance marks, trumpeting the start of a highly anticipated 2013-14 campaign for both programs.
“The Husker basketball season-opening celebration will be a historic day in Lincoln,” said JoAnn Martin, Ameritas President and CEO. “We’re excited to help make this once-in-a-life time celebration happen in the family friendly atmosphere of the Haymarket District and the new arena.”
University of Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst said the presence of Ameritas will enhance the atmosphere surrounding the basketball openers.
“We are excited to welcome Ameritas as the presenting sponsor for Game One,” said Eichorst. “Ameritas has not only been a long-time supporter of Nebraska Athletics, but also of projects which have benefitted communities across the state. Having Ameritas on board for Game One will help make November 8th a memorable day for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.”
The day begins with a special “Invest 2 Be the Best” pep rally Friday morning inside the arena, which will feature approximately 5,000 middle school youth from Lincoln and surrounding communities. The youth pep rally is one of several special events planned for Nov. 8.
The Husker women, coming off their second NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in four years, will open the day’s festivities, as Coach Connie Yori’s squad takes on 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifier UCLA at Noon (central) in a game televised statewide on NET and carried on the Husker Sports Radio Network. The game with the Bruins will be the first regular-season game in the history of the arena and features a pair of teams that finished in the top 20 of the final 2013 USA Today Coaches rankings.
At 8 p.m., Dunk City will invade the Star City, as Coach Tim Miles and the Husker men take on 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 qualifier Florida Gulf Coast in a game that will be televised nationally on BTN and on the Husker Sports Radio Network. It is the first of five Sweet 16 teams that the Huskers will face at home during the 2013-14 season. Fan are encouraged to be in their seats by 7:30 p.m. for pregame festivities.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers were among the nation’s best in that category in 2012-13. Despite losing its top three point guards from 2011-12 and having a backup point guard (Mike Peltz) suffer a season-ending injury in January, Nebraska finished fourth in the Big Ten and 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than 2011-12. NU’s turnovers per game were the fewest in school history, bettering the 11.30 per game in 1984-85. Nebraska committed 10 turnovers or less 15 times in 2012-13. Nebraska set a school record with two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16, breaking the mark of three set on three previous occasions.
In all, five of the top 11 teams in the country resided in the Big Ten, including Michigan and Wisconsin which ranked first and fourth, respectively in that category.
During Nebraska’s exhibition win on Monday over UNK, the Huskers committed just eight turnovers.
The Son Also Rises
Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields in on his way to creating an impressive resume in his own right. While his father, Will, is one of the greatest linemen in college and NFL history, the younger Shields is carving out his own impressive career on the court.
As a freshman, Shavon overcame an early season elbow injury and averaged 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 29 games. Shields was one of the few freshmen whose numbers improved during Big Ten play in 2012-13, as he upped his scoring and rebounding averages to 9.2 and 6.0 to rank among the Big Ten leaders. During the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament run, the 6-foot-7, 219-pounder became one of the Huskers’ go-to players, averaging 16.5 points on 61 percent shooting in games against Purdue and Ohio State.
He had a career-high 29 points in a win at Penn State, which tied for second all-time among Husker freshmen, while he also had 19 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in a loss to No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16. Shields’ double-double against the Spartans marked the first by a Husker freshmen since Aleks Maric in 2004-05.
Double-Figure Returneees Rare Recently
Senior guard Ray Gallegos is the Huskers’ leading returning scorer with 12.5 points per game, as he was one of three Huskers to average at least 10 points per game in 2012-13. Gallegos’ per-game average is the most for a Husker returner since Aleks Maric in 2007-08. In fact, Nebraska has returned only four double-figure scorers since the 2006-07 season.
Gallegos was Husker Ironman
If it seems like Ray Gallegos was on the court nearly every minute last season, it probably is true, as the junior guard was one of the nation’s leader in minutes played in 2012-13.
•-According to kenpom.com, Gallegos ranked third nationally in percentage of minutes played, as was on the court for 93.7 percent of the Huskers’ minutes in 2012-12. He trailed only Travis Bader of Oakland (94.8) and Kyle Vinales of Central Connecticut State (94.0) among all Division I players.
•-In the last five years (2009-2013), 16 Big Ten players, including Gallegos, have played at least 90 percent of their team’s minutes in a season, and Gallegos’ season total was second to Penn State’s Talor Battle.
•-Gallegos played all 40 minutes 10 times in 18 Big Ten games and 12 times during the 2012-13 season. Gallegos set Nebraska’s single-season record for minutes with 1,237, breaking the mark of 1,155 by Dave Hoppen in 1984-85.
•-In Big Ten play, he averaged 38.6 minutes per game, sitting just 26 minutes in league play. His total minutes played were 26 more than runner-up Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State.
•-Gallegos was on the court consecutively for a stretch of 218:39 minutes dating from Dec. 29 to Jan. 19, playing all 40 minutes of Nebraska’s first five Big Ten games.
•-His season low in minutes - which was set in the season opener against Southern - were the most minutes played of his career, as he never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).
The 2013-14 Huskers have a number of players with relatives in college athletics. Sophomore Shavon Shields is the son of former Husker and Kansas City Chiefs great Will Shields, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 2011 and is a two-time finalist (2012-13) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Two other Husker players have parents who participated in college sports, as David Rivers’ father, Ezelle, played collegiately at Arkansas Little Rock for four seasons, while Tai Webster’s father, Tony, was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection at Hawaii.
Record-Breaking Season Ticket Sales
The move to Pinnacle Bank Arena has been a boon to Nebraska basketball, as the Husker program has shattered season-ticket records. On May 3, all of the season tickets alloted for 2013-14 had been accounted for, as season-ticket sales were up nearly 95 percent from 2012-13. In addition, all 1,650 seats in the Nebraska student section - including all 1,000 lower-bowl seats - had been purchased for the upcoming season. The previous school record for season ticket sales was 12,000 set in 1992-93.
Pinnacle Bank Arena: The Huskers’ New Home
Opened on Aug. 29, 2013, the 15,000-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena is the new home of the Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball programs. Pinnacle Bank Arena is part of a $344 million project in the Haymarket District also includes a 200-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space, another 100,000 square feet of office space and 100 residential units.
The $179 million dollar arena is be easily accessible in downtown Lincoln as nearly 5,100 parking stalls will be within walking distance of the facility by the fall of 2014. Pinnacle Bank Arena includes an expansive student section with 1,000 seats on the 100 Level, including behind the team benches. Pinnacle Bank Arena also includes 36 suites, 20 loge boxes and 11 permanent concession stands around the arena.
Containing 470,400 square feet, the new Pinnacle Bank Arena seats over 15,000 fans when configured for Husker Basketball games. It is divided into two bowls (upper and lower) and three levels (100, 200, 300) with Premium Seating Suites and Loge Boxes located between Level 100 and Level 200. There will be over 160 concession points of sale and two private Club Lounges, one located on the Main Concourse (Level 100) and one on the Premium Level Concourse.
Huskers Face Challenging Schedule in 2013-14
Under Tim Miles, Nebraska has put together a challenging season for the upcoming season. Nebraska is slated to play four teams in the preseason AP Top 25 (Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin) and could face another as the Huskers could play New Mexico in the Charleston Classic. In addition, four other opponents (Creighton, Indiana, Iowa and Cincinnati) are receiving votes in the preseason poll.
•- The Huskers will play seven teams who finished in the final Top 25 of the final Associated Press poll, including Indiana (fourth), Miami (fifth), Ohio State (seventh), Michigan State (ninth), Michigan (tied, 10th), Wisconsin (18th) and Creighton (22th). In addition, NU could face New Mexico (tied, 10th) in the second round of the Charleston Classic.
•- Nebraska will welcome five teams (Florida Gulf Coast, Miami, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State) that reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in its first season at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
•- Massachusetts, which played in the NIT in 2013, is the only first-team opponent on the Huskers’ 2013-14 schedule, as the two teams will meet in the opening round of the Charleston Classic. In addition, the only other team that NU could face for the first time is Clemson in the Charleston Classic, but both teams are on the opposite sides of the bracket.
•- The Charleston Classic is the first of three ESPN-sponsored events that the Huskers will compete in over the next three seasons. In 2014-15, Nebraska will be in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, while participating in the Wooden Legacy in 2015-16.
•- Nebraska’s single-plays in Big Ten action this season are Iowa (away), Michigan State (away), Minnesota (home) and Wisconsin (home).
Time Out with Coach Miles Set for Nov. 26
Join Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles for an exclusive look into the Husker Basketball program with Time Out with Coach Miles on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
This luncheon will provide fans a fun and unique look into the Husker basketball program, as Coach Miles guides you through a film breakdown session to learn the Xs and Os of the Huskers and their opponents.
The luncheon will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Marcus Midtown Cinema (3201 Farnam Street) in Omaha. Tickets cost just $20 each (sales tax included) and must be purchased no later than Thursday, Nov. 21. Parking is available in the adjacent garage (three hours free parking).
To reserve your seat at this informative and entertaining event, call the Huskers Athletic Fund at (402) 472-2367 or 800-8-BIG RED, or visit www.huskers.com/donate.
The 2013-14 Huskers hail from seven states a as well as three foreign countries. Newcomers Tai Webster (New Zealand) and Leslee Smith (British Virgin Islands) are the first Huskers from those respective nations and join Sergej Vucetic (Serbia) as foreign-born players on the roster. In all, Nebraska has had 10 letterwinners from outside the United State with eight of those players since the 2000-01 season.
A Tall Tale
Sophomore Sergej Vucetic is the first seven-footer in the Nebraska program in over two decades. The last time NU had a seven-footer on the roster was during the 1990-91 season, when the Huskers had a pair of seven-footers in Rich King, who became a first round pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, and Kelly Lively. Vucetic played in 11 games in 2012-13, scoring four points at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2, and two points at No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 13, and against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament.