For Nebraska men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, the real fun starts soon.
Hoiberg and his staff are recruiting this weekend, then it's back to Lincoln to begin a string of 10 practices over the next 2½ weeks leading up to the Huskers' trip to Italy.
The coach will have nearly his entire roster on campus together for the first time, and will finally begin to get a picture of how things will fit together on the court.
Here's a roundup of some of the many topics Hoiberg covered this week in a sit-down with the Journal Star.
On whether he expected the magnitude in which Nebraska's roster was flipped: "I didn’t really think about it. When we got here, the way we build our program at Iowa State was, I think we had four on scholarship and we had a couple freshmen coming in, and we really built it those first couple years with transfers," Hoiberg said. "Then once we had some success and some of the high school kids saw the way we were playing, that’s what got us those four-year players.
"It was a good mix, and that’s what we tried to do here. We’ve got a couple international kids, four freshmen, and then we’ve got the five transfers. And that’s the way it worked out. I didn’t come in and say, ‘All right, this is exactly what we’re doing,’ we just kind of came in and got a feel, and that’s the way it worked out."
On the players who were in the program who left for different schools: "The first thing is, I wish all those guys the best. I think they’re all in good spots, and I think all will have success in their new situations. That’s the big thing is, you hope for the best with them and that they go on and have a great career."
On the outside perception of NU from national recruits: "We’re talking to a lot of high-level kids. I think a big thing is getting the kids to campus so they can see firsthand what the facilities are. Because they’re not going to go back and look at the history of Nebraska basketball and see a lot of tournament wins, Final Fours, that type of thing. But when they get here and see the facilities, which is relatively new still — the arena and the practice facility — you’re not going to find much better than this.
"And then the conference that we play in. And the support, having a full house every time you step into that building. These are important things for these kids to see, and then you talk about the different things as far as your system and what we did at Iowa State to help players get to the next level."
On what he's seen from the Nebraska players already on campus: "I really like the group we have. It’s a great group of kids, they’re working really hard, and that’s where it starts. You want a group that’s going to go out there and compete, put in effort on the floor, and that’s one thing I’ve seen out of this group is, they’ve done a really good job of coming in to go to work. Same thing in the weight room. They’ve done a really good job, and there’s a lot of guys that haven’t spent a lot of time in the weight room. So a lot of this is new to our players — everything — weight room, then what we’re trying to teach them on the floor.
"So it’s been a lot about the basics to this point. A lot of fundamentals. We haven’t put in a lot of our system. We’ve put in a couple things just so we can see how they execute. But when the (rest of the) guys get here next week, then we’ll really start implementing our system."
On what summer workouts have looked like so far: "It’s really been all about the basics. We’ve been doing some individual work on shooting, we’ve been doing a lot of breakdown 3-on-3 drills, we’ve done a little bit of 5-on-5, but it’s more just possession, break it out, come back and stop it just (so) we can teach how we’re doing it. We have had a few where we’ve let them go a little bit, and as with all teams this time of year, with as many new faces as we have, we’re turning it over too much. It’s sloppy, but it should be this time of year."
On whether he likes to foul if his team is up three points late in the game: "I’ve done both. I’ve won on both, I’ve lost on both."
Hoiberg recalled a game at Kansas during his time at Iowa State. The Cyclones led by three, and knew what play the Jayhawks would run to try and get a game-tying look.
"It's called 'Chop.' They've been running it for years, we went over it 10 times in shoot-around. Our guy got caught a little bit in the lane, still had a great contest, and (Ben) McLemore banks it in off the top of, pretty much the corner of the backboard, and they beat us in overtime."
In another game against Texas, Hoiberg said, Iowa State elected to foul. The Longhorns tied the game anyway, and went on to win in double overtime.
"You hope it’s an exact science, but it’s not. The numbers are very close, 50-50 almost, on fouling or not, so we work on both. And some of it depends on who’s in the game. You play at Kansas, they’re going to check you into the stanchion and they’re probably not going to call a foul. So you take all those things into consideration."