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December 16, 2010

Jeter emerging as Huskers' go-to player

Leading a team has never been an issue for Lance Jeter, but for the first time at Nebraska, he's finally felt comfortable stepping up and taking over the Huskers this season.

After to coming to Lincoln as a juco transfer last year, Jeter admitted that he didn't feel it was quite his place to take charge of the team with the likes of senior leaders Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry on the squad.

Now, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound point guard is the most experienced senior on the roster, and over the course of the first 10 games, it's clear Jeter has made Nebraska his team.

"I definitely feel more comfortable (being a leader)," Jeter said. "I was comfortable doing it last year, but it just wasn't my time, and I understood that. Now it is, and I feel like it's my job to get my team ready and prepare for each game like it's the last game that I'm ever going to play.

"That's how you have to approach every game, because everything ain't promised to you. That's what Coach always says, you've got to cherish these moments. That's what I do every time I step on the court."

Jeter's confidence and attitude aren't the only things that have helped him become the face of the Huskers this season. More than anything, it's the time and production he's put out on the court.

A starter in all 42 of his career games at NU, Jeter played a team-high 1,024 minutes last season, marking the second-highest total by a Husker the past decade. While his minutes have gone down a bit this year (27.6 per game), his statistics certainly have not.

The Beaver Falls, Penn., leads the team in scoring (11.3 ppg), assists (4.4 apg) and steals (1.9 spg) and is fourth on the team in rebounds (4.1 rpg). He's led the team in scoring more times than any other Husker (3), and it's been his efficiency with the basketball that has been arguably the most impressive aspect of his game so far.

Not only is Jeter shooting 48 percent from the field (he shot 41 percent last season), he's also riding an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.53-to-1 on the year, which ranks third in the Big 12 Conference.

All that said, it's easy to see why head coach Doc Sadler calls Jeter the only proven mainstay in the Huskers' backcourt thus far.

"That's Lance," Sadler said. "If we are going to make tough plays, Lance will be the one to make them. He has been there. I think the biggest thing that Lance has done has been when we are struggling, he tries to get his teammates going in a positive way. We don't need to compound the problem by being negative. That doesn't help anything."

Just as he's done every game this season, Jeter said he's more than willing to step up and do whatever it takes to keep Nebraska's eight-game winning streak rolling along as the Huskers get ready for the start of Big 12 play.

With a year under Sadler now under his belt, there's nothing holding Jeter back from putting the team on his shoulders and taking it as far as he can go.

"It's definitely just getting used to Coach Doc and the system and knowing what he wants," Jeter said. "I know I have to be more aggressive knowing that sometimes they are going to look to me to step up, and that's what I've got to look forward to. I've got to be ready when they do need me."

Around the rim

***The Huskers got some more bad luck on the injury front, as junior guard Caleb Walker sat out of practice Wednesday after rolling his ankle during Tuesday's practice. Walker was unable to put any pressure on his left foot, and he said he was unsure when he'll be back, as it would depend on how quickly the swelling in his ankle goes down.

The worst part? Wednesday was Walker's 21st birthday.

***Sophomore forward Christian Standhardinger was once again not at practice on Wednesday, and it's looking like his departure from the team is all but inevitable.

Sadler has said he plans to meet with Standhardinger following the end of finals week on Friday, so official word on Standhardinger's future should come as soon as Friday's practice and likely no later than after Saturday's game against Eastern Washington.

***After calling last week's win over TCU the best all-around performance his team has had all this season, Sadler said the next step for the Huskers is to finally put together a full 40 minutes of strong basketball.

"Just finish the other five minutes," he said. "I think for 35 minutes we played pretty good. The thing that can't happen is that you think you just play good when you shoot the ball. You've got to do the other things, also."

***Junior guard Toney McCray had his best game in more than a calendar year against the Horned Frogs, scoring a season-high 15 points. One of the biggest reasons for his breakout performance was due to him moving from the perimeter to the hybrid small/power forward position previously played by the likes of Ryan Anderson and Ade Dagunduro.

"That position gives the most freedom of anybody on our team," Sadler said. "Athletically, most of the time (Toney) is going to have a mismatch on the offensive end. It just so happened that on Saturday he was making shots."

The other reason for McCray's progression this season has been the simple fact that he's been able to stay healthy, as he missed almost all of last season with an elbow injury.

"Toney's biggest obstacle has just been staying healthy," Sadler said. "Every time he gets going, whether it be an injury or getting sick or whatever it may be, Toney needs playing time. For him to be as good as he can be, he's got to stay on the floor consistently."



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