basketball

Miles holding out hope NU can fight through 'defeatist' mentality

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After four straight blowout losses to end the regular season, Tim Miles is focused on regrouping the Huskers for one last run in the Big Ten Tournament.
Associated Press

Following Nebraska’s record home loss to Michigan to close out the regular season on Sunday night, head coach Tim Miles said he planned to meet with each of his players to try and figure out how to solves the Huskers’ woes going into the Big Ten Tournament.

During a league coaches’ teleconference on Monday morning, Miles said he would hold those meetings later in the afternoon, and he was very clear as to what his message would be.

“Basically, it’s just going to be more of a come to grips with what do you see as your role, how do you see you can help us, what do you have confidence in, what are you struggling with?” Miles said.

“Just kind of getting through all of the minutiae and shedding that so we can get to playing good basketball and focused basketball and not worry about consequences as much, or this defeatist attitude that I mentioned last night that I think is obvious to everybody. We look like a team that’s walking around with a cloud over our head ready for lightning to strike.”

Miles was asked what the mood was like in the locker room after Sunday night’s 93-57 drubbing by Michigan, which marked the worst home defeat in 121 years of Nebraska men’s basketball.

As could be expected, Miles said it was “dead silent” and “everybody had their head down” in disappointment. As concerning as anything for the fifth-year coach was how close it started to look like the Huskers were about to completely give up on season.

“Sometimes when you get so disappointed, you just shut down,” Miles said. “That’s what it looked like to me last night. That’s what bothers me. If things are going badly, it’s like fight or flight. This has to be a response where we are just going to go 100 miles an hour in one direction.

“We’re going to go forward, and we’re going to fight, and we’re going to fight, and we’re going to fight. I just don’t see that right now.”

Looking ahead to this week’s Big Ten Tournament, Nebraska will go in as the No. 11 seed and face No. 12 Penn State in the first game of the bracket on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The Huskers actually had one of their best overall performances of the season in their lone meeting with the Nittany Lions this season, an 82-66 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

At the moment, though, Miles isn’t really concerned about the Huskers’ opponent. He’s already got enough work to do with his own team.

“More than anything, we’ve got to get ourselves right,” Miles said. “I don’t think anything will matter that an opponent does until we are mentally in a healthier shape. We have the chance to be a good team.

“We’ve proven that we can play with the best. Now it looks like a confidence issue, a mental issue, a competitive issue, and it’s all that whatever amount of inches between the ears.”

In his 22 seasons as a college basketball head coach, Miles said he has seen a little bit of everything from his teams as the year goes on. He’s coached winning and losing teams, and even teams “that hated each other” or were already “checked out” by the end of the season.

However, Miles believes this Nebraska squad is too close and too talented to be done just yet.

“It feels like we’re at Shawshank again here,” Miles said. “We have to come out on the other side in the rain storm where we can cleanse ourselves a little bit, and that’s what these meetings have to provide.”

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