In the wake of Nebraska's disappointing performance in its 67-61 loss to Creighton on Sunday, head coach Doc Sadler and his players had slightly different opinions on the reasons for the poor showing.
Some Huskers said it was because of a lack of focus and concentration from the opening tip, which led to their season-high 20 turnovers. Sadler, on the other hand, said his team was simply out-played and out-hustled by the Bluejays.
Whatever the reasons, Nebraska took a big step back after assumedly making big strides after its win on the road over Southern California. Fortunately, the Huskers open a three-game home stand to regroup and refocus, which begins tonight against Chicago State at 7:07 p.m.
After three tough road trips right out of the gate, Sadler said the Huskers should definitely benefit from the early challenges as the season wears on.
"You set your schedule up obviously thinking you're going to have some other guys (available to play), but we didn't have that," Sadler said. "So it's probably been a little more difficult. We've won one of them, and that's probably, looking back on it, that's probably the one that we should have won. We didn't play well enough against Saint Louis, nor did we play well enough against Creighton to win. Down the road I think it will help us."
While Sadler wouldn't exactly agree, at least a couple players cited a lack of concentration and mental toughness on their part for the let down against Creighton.
Junior point guard Lance Jeter said the Huskers simply weren't on the same page from the very beginning of the game. As the game wore on and NU still had a chance to win in the final two minutes in spite of the mistakes, Jeter said he and his teammates couldn't find a way to pull together and get over the hump.
That's why Nebraska has put an emphasis on getting mentally tougher the past three days of practice. Jeter said Sadler has pushed the team when they're tired in practice by putting them in game situations and testing how they respond.
Jeter said the goal has been to toughen up the Huskers in practice in the hopes that it will translate on game days.
"The miscommunication (against Creighton) is something that just shouldn't happen," Jeter said. "The last three practices that we had were really physical and more intense to help make us more mentally tough on the road. That's what we're trying to do. We're working hard on being tough and being physical."
With three home games against Chicago State (3-3), Oregon State (4-3) and Jackson State (0-6), Nebraska is hoping to get back on the winning track in time for its biggest road test of the season at the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22-23, when it will face the likes of Tulsa and BYU or Nevada.
By then, the Huskers hope their woes on the road - whatever the cause may be - will be a thing of the past.
"It's going to be tough to win on the road," Jeter said. "We've got three homes games in a row, and this will be a chance to get to get another start before we go to Vegas for the tournament. We're just going to keep working hard, practicing and getting tough. We're still learning each other, and once we get that down pat, we'll alright."