Barely 48 hours before Nebraska's much anticipated regular-season opener against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday night, head coach Tim Miles announced a bevy of bad news that could seriously impact the Huskers moving forward.
The biggest news was that senior guard Ray Gallegos, NU's top returning scorer from last year who was named one of three team captains during the offseason, has been suspended for the first two games for a violation of team rules in regard to personal conduct. Miles said he actually learned of Gallegos' situation, which he would not expand upon further, before Monday night's exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney. The suspension will begin with Friday night's opener and continue into next week's home game against Western Illinois.
Gallegos' suspension now leaves the Huskers short two guards who were expected to play major roles going into the season, as junior point Deverell Biggs is also suspended for first two regular-season games after an off-the-court incident that occurred over the summer.
"It's a violation of team rules, and it's a coach's decision on the length of that suspension," Miles said of Gallegos. "It's personal conduct, and that's as far as I'm going to go with it… It is what it is. It's unfortunate because we've got two very good guards out because of conduct issues, and that's with Deverell and Ray, and that's too bad. But you know what? I believe in our team and the rest of the guys we've got that we can figure it out and find a way to win."
Gallegos is the team's lone senior and regarded by many as the Huskers' top scoring threat, as he ranked second on the team last season with 12.5 points per game and led the Big Ten Conference with 83 made 3-pointers. His veteran presence in the locker room was also one of the main reasons his teammates voted him one of their team captains this year along with sophomores Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway.
Miles said the situation is obviously a blow to Nebraska's lineup, especially going up against a Florida Gulf Coast team that advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 in last year's NCAA Tournament, but said he was confident it would actually benefit Gallegos in the long run and help him grow as a person.
"It's disappointing, but at the same time, I'm not sure sure Ray's not going to come back better from this," Miles said. "Give him a couple weeks to re-collect his thoughts, and he's going to have to do some certain things to fulfill his obligations to our program, and I think those can be beneficial to him. I believe in Ray. I believe in him. I think that he can get past this and be a very productive, good player for us and still have a leadership role. I've not stripped him of any captainship or anything like that, at this point."
The bad news didn't end there for Nebraska, either, as Miles also announced that freshman guard Nathan Hawkins had suffered a stress fracture in his foot and would be out indefinitely. Hawkins had already missed significant practice time the past month after dealing with a concussion and then a flare up of an old foot injury he suffered last year in high school. Miles said he would wait and see how Hawkins' injury situation played out before making any final decisions on a potential redshirt this season.
As if all that weren't enough, Miles capped things off by announcing that junior walk-on forward Jordan Tyrance had decided to leave the program for personal reasons. Tyrance joined the team in 2010-11 and played sparingly the past two seasons, averaging 5.2 minutes in 23 appearances last year.
"I support Jordan in this," Miles said. "He's got a lot of obligations outside of basketball. He's trying to knock out his degree, he's got a young daughter, and there's such a time commitment to the basketball piece that at this point in time I think we all agreed that - he and I have had a couple good heart-to-hearts over the last couple days, and Jordan's moving on. I support him and look forward to helping him make sure he gets his college degree and gets out of here with all that."