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February 5, 2013After grinding through a stretch of 10 games in a span of just 32 days, Nebraska finds itself in a bit of a unique situation this week.
With their next game not until Saturday's home contest against Penn State, the Huskers are trying to make the most of their week-long break by both recharging physically and also adding a few new wrinkles to hopefully light a spark for the final stretch of the regular season.
During his interview on the weekly Big Ten coaches' teleconference on Monday, head coach Tim Miles talked about his team's approach to the week off and what NU plans to do in order to get back on track against the last-place Nittany Lions.
Miles said there were both pros and cons to such extended time off, and even noted that before the season the Big Ten coaches voted to remove the bye weeks from the schedule. However, after realizing the alternative wasn't much better for teams, the league decided to stick with the original format.
"It's good and bad," Miles said. "It's nice because you get a bit of a mental reprieve, but at the same time, I worry about that, because I'd rather just stay in the rhythm of things and keep it going. I know as coaches, we took a vote and wanted to eliminate the bye, but it didn't improve the schedule at all. So at the same time, it's there, it's part of it. We're going to use it for what we think is necessary for our team, and we're ready to go back and go to work."
Nebraska took last Sunday off before returning to practice on Monday and Tuesday, and will get another day off on Wednesday so Miles and his staff can hit the road to recruit. The team will return to its normal two-day game preparation on Thursday and Friday before hosting Penn State for an 8 p.m. CT tip.
With the two extra days of practice, Miles said he wanted to focus on going back to simple fundamentals while also incorporating some new looks on both ends of the floor.
"We're going to spend early in the week worrying about ourselves and trying to improve and maybe brush up on some things we maybe haven't had a chance look at recently," Miles said. "Just kind of get back to basics for a couple days and then do our regular two-day prep for Penn State as we go.
"I think like anybody you want to focus on special situations, maybe some new plays or new offensive sets. Maybe some zone attack and zone defense and just some of things that go with that. Just some of the things you might practice some and get ready for an opponent, but just kind of go back to the fundamentals of all of those things."
In their first meeting with the Nittany Lions back on Jan. 19 in State College, Penn., the Huskers shot 47 percent as a team and a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line, including a 29-point performance from freshman Shavon Shields.
The difference this time around, Miles said, is that Nebraska was playing with the intensity of trying to get its first Big Ten victory of the season at the time and get a major weight off of its back. Now, Penn State is the winless team in league play at 0-9 going into Tuesday night's game against Purdue.
Miles said it would be imperative for the Huskers to match the Nittany Lions' fight if they were to nearly all but guarantee staying out of the conference standings' cellar.
"I think it's important to understand that we hadn't won a game in the league and we were very hungry (in the first meeting), and that's the way Penn State is going to come in against us," Miles said. "So we're going to need to be ready to fight that battle and meet them, because they're going to come in here thinking 'Hey, we owe these guys one.'"