After enduring blow after blow of bad news the past year, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler finally had some good news to share on Tuesday.
During his annual fall press conference, Sadler announced that the NCAA had granted the Huskers a waiver of the 13-scholarship limit for the 2009-10 season, meaning the team could carry 14 players on scholarship through the academic year.
In addition, German forward Christian Standhardinger was certified by the NCAA eligibility center (formerly known as the Clearinghouse) to immediately join the team this fall and be eligible to play this season.
"It was good news for us," Sadler said. "Christian is a guy who I think eventually will be a very, very good player for us."
There is a stipulation to Standhardinger's eligibility, however. Because he played on a team in Germany with what would be considered professional players, his amateurism status was called into question. In the end, the NCAA decided to hand him the maximum punishment by making him ineligible for 50 percent of NU's regular-season schedule, or the first 15 games of the season.
He will be eligible to practice with the team throughout the year and compete in Nebraska's two preseason exhibition games, but won't be able to play in the regular season until the Huskers' Big 12 Conference opener at Texas A&M on Jan. 9.
Josh White, the assistant athletic director for compliance and planning, said Nebraska was able to get the scholarship waiver because an error by the NCAA incorrectly translated Standhardinger's grades in Germany, making him ineligible by NCAA standards.
White said Nebraska went on to sign an extra player -- Adrien Coleman -- because it thought Standhardinger was ineligible. When it was discovered that Standhardinger would actually be eligible, NU was able to attain the waiver on the grounds that it "detrimentally relied on misinformation published by the NCAA."
"Any time you're recruiting international students, it takes a long time to get them through what's now called the eligibility center," White said. "The word came down that he was going to be a qualifier in early August, so immediately we started putting the waiver together, filed it, (and) the NCAA responded within a week - which is very quickly for them."
Sadler said Standhardinger arrived on campus Friday night before officially getting cleared on Monday. By Monday night, he was already out practicing with his new teammates.
Sadler said he was excited to finally get Standhardinger out on the court, and that having four months to pick up Nebraska's style of play should help him make an immediate impact once conference play begins.
"A lot depends a lot on how well he picks up on a lot of things," Sadler said. "(But) it's not like we do a lot of things anyway. It's not like we're real complicated."
Neimann leaves big shoes to fill
When word came out that sophomore center Christoper Neimann tore his ACL on the same knee he injured last season, suddenly Nebraska's bulked-up frontcourt wasn't quite as big anymore.
Without the services of the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Neimann, redshirt freshman Brian Diaz will take over as the Huskers' primary big man - a role he's not exactly accustomed to filling. Though he's also 6-11, Diaz came in as more of a finesse player who was more comfortable facing from the basket.
Now, Diaz will be counted on to bang with the big bodies of the Big 12 Conference.
"By him being here for a semester and summer, he's gotten stronger at least," Sadler said. "In the long run, that's going to help him. But I was really looking forward to playing him and Christopher together. They complement each other because both of them could pass so well. Now he's basically going to be the guy who plays down low a lot."
As for Neimann, Sadler said he had reconstructive surgery on his knee on Thursday. The good news is that he'll be able to take a medical redshirt this season and still have three years of eligibility.
There's also a chance he could get a second redshirt for his injury last season but that would depend on the NCAA's ruling, which would have to wait until he exhausted his initial four years of eligibility.
"That will have to be a waiver that's filed when he's finished playing," Sadler said. "So we won't know on that. But he'll definitely get a medical redshirt this year. He'll still have three years to play."
The other good news in Neimann's situation is that his injury allows him to be the player that would have had to redshirt this season with Standhardinger now becoming eligible. Though Nebraska has 14 scholarship players on its roster, it can only have 13 active.
Sadler breaks down newcomers
In addressing his roster for the upcoming season, Sadler essentially went down the roster and evaluated the majority of the Huskers' newcomers.
To start, here are his thoughts on Coleman:
"He was a guy we added because we didn't feel like Christian was going to be eligible. He brings size, 6-4 wing guy, athletic. We were very fortunate to pick up a player like him that late. A friend that I've known for a long time that was an assistant coach at UAB called me about him. He's going to add depth."
On Lance Jeter:
"Lance is getting in better shape, probably needs to, like a lot of us and at least myself, he could probably afford to lose a few pounds, but he's doing that."
On Quincy Hankins:
"Quincy has a ways to go. He's not in the shape we need him to be in. When he's out there in individual workouts, you can tell he could really help us. We've got now until October to get him in that type of shape, and I think we'll be able to do that."
Finally, on Myles Holley:
"Holley's probably not near as big, but some of you guys remember a player that played at Texas Tech - Darvin Hamm. Myles Holley is that kind of an athlete. Physically, he's not an inside player, but he is a high-rising dude that shoots it better than I thought… He could be somebody that can get a lot of time this year."
***Sadler said over the course of the past two offseasons, he's decided to change his approach to redshirting players and telling potential recruits that he'd like to redshirt them during the freshman years.
"My philosophy hasn't changed, but being realistic, I don't know that kids will let you do it," Sadler said. "I don't know if the patience is there. It's definitely going to benefit Toney McCray and (Brandon Richardson), but kids want that immediate satisfaction to play right now. It's going to really be looked at long and hard before I do it again. They're going to have to convince me that that's what they want more so than me trying to say it's in your best interest."
Sadler said he's actually had some recruits rule out Nebraska simply because he told them there was a chance he might decide to redshirt them as freshmen.
"We've had a couple guys I thought could've helped us maybe not so much this year, but the next two years, and they just didn't want to sit and wait," he said.
***Sadler threw said sophomore Toney McCray has not been allowed to practice with the team this summer, though he did not explain why.
"I personally haven't seen him work out because I'm not allowing him to work with the team right now," Sadler said. "He's having to do it on his own. So we'll se how it goes."
***With the influx of foreign players suddenly joining Nebraska's roster, Sadler was asked if he's had to brush up on his German and Spanish lately to better communicate with his players.
"They've got to learn my twang," he said. "I don't want to learn their language. They gotta learn how I speak. That's their problem. That's another thing Coach Osborne said: 'We've got a lot of guys who speak a lot of languages, including the coach.' There's a lot of foreign language going around here. We're helping the University with their diversity. We should get some credit with that."