Lance Jeter isn't used to losing. In fact, he can't even stand the thought of losing a game.
It all goes back to the success Nebraska's junior point guard became accustomed to while playing at Beaver Falls (Pa.) High School and Polk (Fla.) Community College. During his four years of high school and two years at Polk, Jeter's teams posted a combined 128-31 record.
Basically, Jeter expects to win every time he steps onto the court. When the Huskers take on Jackson State (0-8) tonight at 7 p.m. for their final game before heading down to the Las Vegas Classic next week, his expectations will obviously be no different.
"It goes back to high school," Jeter said. "My high school coach, he always told us, 'You've got to win. The community wants you to win. They need you to win.' I feel like ever since I was little, I've had to win. Coming to Nebraska, Coach (Doc Sadler) wants to win. You can tell it in his eyes and the passion he has for coaching. You've got to respect that. I want to win so bad, so there was a connection there that we want to win, and this whole team wants to win so bad."
At 7-2, Nebraska has gotten off to a decent start in Jeter's first season as a Husker, and much of it is a credit to his performance. Jeter ranks second on the team with 9.1 points per game leads NU with 31 assists.
However, Sadler said Jeter's biggest impact has been in helping create an expectation to win among the rest of Nebraska's players.
"Lance has probably had to come in and play the most difficult position that there is, especially as a junior college player," Sadler said. "But man, he has been nothing but what we thought he could be. He's just really, really solid. He brings a presence about him that he never gets rattled. He comes from two great programs - his high school program and his junior college program - so he expects to win. I think that rubs off a little bit on some of our guys."
One teammate who has noticed Jeter's impact is sophomore guard Brandon Richardson, who said he could tell from the moment Jeter first showed up in Lincoln that losing simply wasn't an option.
Richardson pointed to the five-on-five games many of the Huskers played in this summer, where he remembered seeing Jeter call out his brand new teammates because he felt they weren't playing up to their potential.
"As soon as he got here, you could tell in his demeanor that he was all about winning," Richardson said. "When we were playing in the summer, we played five-on-five and he would get after his teammates when they lost. He would take it upon himself when they lost, but he would get after his teammates too because he knew what they were capable of doing. It's no surprise to me that he's so eager to win.
"It gives everybody confidence to know that you've got a leader in Lance and to know that we're behind him. He's going to give his all, so we know we have to give it our all. We've got a quarterback who's able to lead not by talking, but by doing it, and that helps everybody else out."
When Jeter committed to Nebraska, he knew all about the Huskers' recent struggles and how they hadn't posted a winning record in Big 12 Conference play since the 1998-99 season.
Even so, he had no doubts about coming to Lincoln to play for Sadler. Sometimes all it takes for a program to turn itself around is a little attitude adjustment. With players like Jeter, winning is the only option.
"You've got to do the hard work so that people can believe in you," Jeter said. "I feel like people are starting to believe in us. I feel like our team knows that we can win, and the people that don't think we can win, they're not in her every day practicing with us, so they don't understand the type of dedication that we have for Coach Doc.
"We're just going to keep playing, doing what Coach Doc want and hopefully we get a few more believers down the line."
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Nebraska has spent the past week of practice focusing on improving its play on offense. After three straight lackluster scoring performances, the Huskers know they need to get back on track offensively before heading down to the Las Vegas Classic next week and starting Big 12 play in a few weeks. Keep an eye on what kind of changes Sadler and his staff have made to NU's offensive approach this week and how it translates in tonight's game.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS:
While the majority of the Huskers haven't done much of anything with the ball, senior guard Ryan Anderson has provided some consistency on the offensive end. He leads the team with 11.1 points per game and is also Nebraska's leading rebounder with 5.2 boards per game. In last week's win over Oregon State, Anderson registered his third career double-double with points and 14 rebounds.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE TIGERS:
Guard Garrison Johnson has been one of the few bright spots for Jackson State this season. Johnson leads the Tigers with 15.6 points per game and has hit a team-best 10 3-pointers. He's also the only player to start all seven games for JSU this year.