The Jackets take on Nebraska as part of the ACC - Big Ten challenge. Before the game, we sat down with Kevin Knight from Corn Nation to get his insight on what he expects when the Huskers and Jackets battle in Atlanta.
FTRS: Year one under Fred Hoiberg, what are the expectations for the program this season? Next season? Going forward in general?
Kevin: For me at least, this first season I don’t have much expectation wise beyond hoping to see improvement over the course of the season. It’s a cobbled together roster of all new players so nobody truly expects an NCAA berth, or even probably an NIT bid. As for moving forward, the expectation is definitely that Hoiberg will get the first program win in an NCAA game, and ideally make a run to the second weekend. I don’t see him building a program to be a perennial conference title contender, but he definitely has the resume for consistent NCAA bids and wins in the tourney.
FTRS: How are fans feeling about this year’s team after the first 7 games of the season?
Kevin: I think most fans generally see a few signs for long term optimism, but are ready for this season to be a difficult one when it comes to the win column. There are flashes of the fast pace offense Hoiberg brings that is exciting to watch, but defense and rebounding has left much to be desired so far.
FTRS: Who are the players to watch on Nebraska? Who could be a potential X-factor?
Kevin: Freshman Yvan Ouedraogo out of France has been exciting to watch so far this season. He’s only 17 and didn’t have a weight lifting program back home, yet he has a powerful physique already and flashes of a high ceiling of play in the years to come.
FTRS: Cam Mack has one of the best assist rates in the country. What makes his game successful?
Kevin: Mack is a lightning quick guard who can push the pace up the floor to get easy transition points for teammates, or drive and dish it out to a team filled with perimeter shooters. The Hoiberg style of offense values three-point shooting and lay-ups, so having a point who dishes it out for quick shots to open teammates will more often than not setup a great assist opportunity.
FTRS: Nebraska ranks in the bottom 10 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Is this an area that James Banks and the rest of the Georgia Tech team can take advantage of?
Kevin: Oh yes, this team is plain awful at rebounding and shows very little promise of improving much in the near future. If Tech wants to make a priority of winning at the boards, they won’t have to make too much effort to win this stat line.
FTRS: What’s your prediction? Who wins and why?
Kevin: I think Georgia Tech gets the win in this one 88-72. Between home court advantage, and this team’s lack of experience playing together, it will be a tough first true road test for this Husker squad against an ACC squad that has already faced NC State, Georgia, and Arkansas.
Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure to check out some Nebraska coverage over at Corn Nation.