NORFOLK — Fred Hoiberg joined his Nebraska coaching peers on stage here Thursday and was asked to talk about his roster.
Whew! Where to begin?
With Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy Williams sitting a few seats to his right, the new Husker men’s coach gave a good starting point:
“Amy said that they’re returning all but one (player that played last season),” Hoiberg noted. “We’re returning one.”
That would be Thorir Thorbjarnarson.
Dachon Burke was in Lincoln last season, but had to sit out after transferring from Robert Morris. The other 13 (11 scholarship guys and two walk-ons) came together during what Hoiberg called a whirlwind of a time.
“We’re going into this with an open mind,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got 11 new faces, we only got two points coming back from last year’s team. There’s a lot of unknowns with our group, but we’re excited about our team, the way we put it together.”
Hoiberg joined Williams, AD Bill Moos, Scott Frost (football), Mark Manning (wrestling) and Rhonda Revelle (softball) on the Big Red Blitz tour Thursday.
Hoiberg was introduced as Nebraska’s coach on April 2. After that, he and his assistants boarded a plane for Scottsbluff to make sure that junior college transfer Jervay Green was still on board.
A flood of new faces soon followed: five transfers, two junior college players and three freshmen, in addition to Creighton Prep's Akol Arop.
Hoiberg admitted the roster flip and quickly meshing the pieces together is a daunting challenge. He said the summer trip to Italy, which will include 10 free practices, will help.
The players will arrive on campus on June 9 and begin workouts the following day. They’ll spend the summer getting to know each other. That includes Hoiberg getting to know them, too.
“All I’ve seen on these players is what I’ve watched on film,” he said. “I’ve watched a lot of them and I like what I’ve seen, but again, you don’t know how the whole thing will come together when the guys haven’t played together. But that’s one thing that we’re going to stress, is going out there and having one common goal and not worrying about individual glory and going out there and doing it as a team. I’m confident that we’ll do that.”
Hoiberg built his first Husker roster much like the one he constructed early at Iowa State, turning to transfers and international players. He wants a team that will go out and play as one unit. His Iowa State teams were high-assist teams. They also shot a lot of threes.
“You’re going to sometimes look at the guy next to you (at a game) … and say ‘Did they really just shoot that shot?’” Hoiberg told a room of Husker fans in Norfolk. “But looking at analytics and the type of shots we’re trying to produce, we feel good about the roster we’ve put together.”
The final offseason question with Nebraska’s roster was answered Wednesday when junior Isaiah Roby announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and continue with the NBA Draft process.
Hoiberg — who has NBA connections from his days as a player, front-office worker and coach — offered support to Roby during the entire process.
“I told him whatever decision he made, we were going to try and help him however we could,” Hoiberg said. “He deserves everything he’s getting right now. It came all the way down to the wire with Isaiah and again for us, our job was to be supportive of whatever decision he made and he’s got a great future ahead of him. He’s everything you’re looking for at that next level.”