Nebraska men's hoops practice, 7.23

Nebraska senior guard Haanif Cheatham (left) and freshman guard Charlie Easley laugh as they walk through the gym on July 23 at the Hendricks Training Complex.

Playing basketball in Italy will be a change for Nebraska's players, but a four-point line in practice?

OK, so this isn't some new rule NU has to prepare for before it heads overseas. But the line, a few feet behind the normal three-point line, does serve an important purpose as the Huskers continue to learn Fred Hoiberg's system.

Even graduate transfer Haanif Cheatham, who has seen just about all there is to see in a college career heading into its fifth year, had to chuckle when asked about it after a recent practice.

"It’s difficult at first, especially when you’re backing up on offense and preparing for your shot. Because you think you’re so far out, but once you get your step in you’re right there at the three-point line," Cheatham said. "So it’s kind of confusing at first, but I think it really helps out with the spacing on offense and getting guys open shots as well."

A line on the floor is just one of the changes Nebraska's roster is growing used to as it nears the departure date of its tour of Italy (Aug. 3). There's getting to know each other, of course, getting to know a new campus in a new city, and oh by the way, learning a new system taught by a guy who's spent nearly two decades in the NBA.

"It’s different. It’s real different. A guy coming from the NBA, I respect it. He has that on his resume, NBA coach," junior guard Dachon Burke said. "So I’m just open to learn and get my IQ better for the game because everything he’s teaching is for a reason, whether he’s slowing the game down, if he wants us to go up and down the floor. He’s been there before, so I’m just open."

Hoiberg and his assistants haven't been afraid to give their players plenty to digest before they climb on a plane. Better to get a start on it now than try and do it all in the fall, right?

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"We’ve had a lot of film sessions with these guys; we’re throwing a lot at them, maybe too much at this point," Hoiberg said. "But our big thing now is trying to find out who can pick things up in a short amount of time and apply it to the floor. Who can translate from a drill to live play. And again, the important thing is fighting through the tough times."

The Huskers won't be perfect when they play their four games in Italy, and quite frankly, it would probably be a little concerning if they were. But you have to start somewhere. Even if that means a new line on the floor.

"The thing we’re looking for when we close this thing after our 10th practice and get on the airplane to go over to Italy, we’re a lot better and a lot further ahead than we are now," Hoiberg said. "And we have a lot of room to grow. But that’s everybody at this stage that’s preparing for one of these trips."

Roby signing autographs Tuesday

Former Nebraska forward and NBA Draft pick Isaiah Roby is signing autographs Wednesday evening at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant at South Pointe.

Roby, taken by the Dallas Mavericks with the 45th pick in this year's draft, will be signing autographs for $10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society and Habitat for Humanity. In addition, 20% of food sales will go to those organizations, as well.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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