Nebraska will enter Sunday’s basketball game at No. 22 Michigan State with six players who are averaging in double figures.
In minutes played.
Friday’s news that Brandon Ubel is out indefinitely with a fractured elbow and walk-on guard Mike Peltz will have knee surgery and miss the remainder of the season leaves first-year coach Tim Miles with few options on his already depleted roster.
“I don’t have a great answer for you,” Miles said. “We’re going to have to get some guys on the floor who haven’t shown the consistency to deserve to be on the floor.”
Nebraska (9-7, 0-3 Big Ten) will suit up only seven scholarship players Sunday, and one of them, freshman center Sergej Vucetic, has logged only four minutes all season. Walk-ons Jordan Tyrance and Trevor Menke have each played in only seven games, and walk-ons Max Ritchie and Kye Kurkowski have yet to see the court this season.
Are any of the aforementioned players candidates to now see minutes?
“I think we’d be remiss to take any option off the table,” Miles said.
The only other players on Nebraska’s roster are two transfers sitting out per NCAA rules and guard Deverell Biggs, who’s redshirting but would be suspended, anyway, Miles said, because of his recent citation for driving under the influence.
When asked if he's reached out to other athletes on campus to gauge their interest in playing basketball, Miles responded, "Not at this time."
Ubel, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, is Nebraska’s leading rebounder at 6.8 rebounds per game and third-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game. He’s started 47 straight games, dating to the final game of his sophomore season.
Ubel injured his right elbow in Nebraska’s 62-47 loss at No. 2 Michigan on Wednesday, when he was hit awkwardly by 6-10, 250-pound Michigan center Mitch McGary after Ubel attempted a short shot.
Ubel experienced swelling Thursday morning, and an MRI revealed a small fracture.
“It sounds worse than it is, but it’s still bad news,” Miles said.
“It’s painful. By all accounts, everything is strong in there, and there’s not a lot of swelling. But at the same time, it’s just going to be a while to get that to recover.”
How long, Miles said, is uncertain.
“It could be 10 days, it could be 20, it could be 30,” he said.
Miles said Ubel won’t play Sunday and is “highly doubtful” for Nebraska’s home game Wednesday against Purdue. He’ll then be re-evaluated before Nebraska plays at Penn State on Jan. 19.
Ubel isn’t in a cast or sling. In fact, Miles said Ubel needs the range of motion so his elbow doesn’t get too tight.
“He’s supposed to go out and shoot 3- to 5-foot shots here and there,” Miles said. “It’s kind of hard to get full extension out of it right now.”
Ubel will be the fourth Nebraska player to miss playing time this season because of injury. A fifth player, Benny Parker, suffered an ankle sprain and sprained MCL only a week apart in December, but played despite pain.
Center Andre Almeida returned Wednesday after missing the previous game with a sprained ankle; Shavon Shields missed five games with an elbow injury; and Peltz missed two of Nebraska’s last three games because of knee pain.
Peltz, a junior walk-on from Alliance, had been playing on a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, with the intent of waiting until the end of the season to have surgery.
“It just got to be a point where he could only play as tolerated,” Miles said, “and Mike felt like the pain was too much and he wasn’t able to be effective and be the player by practicing one-third of practice, and those sorts of things.”
Peltz averaged 15.2 minutes. He scored 16 points, and had 17 assists, 15 turnovers and 29 rebounds in 14 games.
Nebraska signed recruit Nick Fuller, a 6-7 wing from Sun Prairie, Wis., who scored 40 points and grabbed 17 rebounds Thursday in Sun Prairie’s 64-59 victory against Madison West. Fuller, with 1,666 career points, is within four of becoming the Big 8 Conference’s all-time leading scorer.
The record is currently held by Jeronne Maymon, who’s redshirting this season at Tennessee because of injury. Maymon was Tennessee’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder last season.