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NU men's hoops notes: Hoiberg 'loves' mentality of his most talented Husker roster; schedule notes; big-man updates
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HUSKER MEN’S HOOPS

NU men's hoops notes: Hoiberg 'loves' mentality of his most talented Husker roster; schedule notes; big-man updates

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Nebraska vs. McNeese State, 11.25

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg covered a range of topics Wednesday in Grand Island as part of the Big Red Blitz.

Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett talk through a wild month of June so far in football recruiting and have a lengthy discussion about the Husker baseball team's run in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and what the next steps for Will Bolt's program look like. 

GRAND ISLAND — It's early in summer workouts for the Nebraska men's basketball team. Very early.

But two weeks into things, Husker coach Fred Hoiberg likes what he's seen from a group that figures to be more settled, and more talented, than either of his first two teams in Lincoln.

Speaking in Grand Island as part of Wednesday's Big Red Blitz, Hoiberg said actually having a sense of normalcy after last summer's schedule was disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge step forward for his team.

"Right now, we didn't have this opportunity last year to really have an offseason," Hoiberg said. "So to be able to work with our guys, it's a lot of fundamental skill work, which is pretty much going to be the whole month of June."

Nebraska can have up to eight weeks of workouts, and the Huskers' final summer practice will take place Aug. 3. 

In between Wednesday and then, Hoiberg said, NU will ramp up from June's skill work to more team workouts in July, in addition to getting back on the road to recruit for the first time since 2019.

"I love the mentality of them," Hoiberg said of a group that returns 80% of Nebraska's scoring and minutes from last season. "Every single one of them, to a man, is coming in and getting extra work in the evenings, afternoons, with our (graduate assistants) managers. It's a fun group to be around."

That group is helped by an experienced returning core that includes Trey McGowens, Derrick Walker, Kobe Webster and Lat Mayen, in addition to Dalano Banton, who continues to go through the NBA's pre-draft process while working out with the team.

That group has helped take the lead on getting Nebraska's newcomers, which includes a top-15 recruiting class led by five-star guard Bryce McGowens, as well as transfers such as C.J. Wilcher and Keon Edwards, up to speed.

"(They) had some success in the system, especially late in the year, that can give us momentum heading into this offseason," Hoiberg said. "And then helping the new guys along. You look at a couple of our transfers, with C.J. and Keon, to have a group that can help them along in the system, I’ve been very impressed with both those guys, with their skill level, skill set.

"And now, we have asked the older players to help them along in the process to get acclimated as quickly as possible so we don’t skip a beat."

Second exhibition on horizon: Hoiberg said Nebraska is close to finalizing a public exhibition game against a high-major opponent with the proceeds from that game going to charity.

Hoiberg couldn't comment more on the game, but the setup would be similar to 2017, when Nebraska played an exhibition at Mississippi State with proceeds going toward hurricane relief efforts in the Southeast.

The game will be in addition to the yearly closed-door, or "secret" scrimmage and the annual exhibition NU typically plays against an in-state opponent.

Hoiberg also said Nebraska will play one regular-season game each against an ACC opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, as well as a game against an SEC program. Those games are in addition to home games against Creighton and Kansas State.

Nebraska hopes to have its schedule finalized by the end of the month.

Breidenbach progressing well: One of the stars of Nebraska's 2021 recruiting class, Wilhelm Breidenbach, is progressing well after suffering a meniscus injury earlier this spring, Hoiberg said.

Breidenbach was hurt late in the season while playing for Mater Dei High School in California after the state moved its winter sports to the spring. Nebraska is hopeful the 6-foot-9 forward will be able to avoid surgery.

"We feel good about where things are right now with him rehabbing and strengthening, and we'll just continue to see how that progresses," Hoiberg said. "We're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves on it, not take it too quickly. 

"We do have time ahead of us, so we're going to do this thing the right way. And to see the progress he's already made has been a great sign."

Andre bulking up: Second-year freshman forward Eduardo Andre is up to 240 pounds, Hoiberg said, after an offseason spent bulking up after he came to Nebraska weighing about 220.

The 6-10 Andre solidified himself as Nebraska's top frontcourt option behind Derrick Walker late last season, averaging 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game over his final six games while shooting 80% from the field.

That came after Andre missed NU's first six games after contracting COVID-19, and four years after he first began playing competitive basketball at age 14.

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

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Husker men's basketball/baseball 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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