Sophomore forward Christian Standhardinger was supposed to be one of the key pieces for Nebraska this season, but he's hardly been on the court enough to even be a factor.
Due to what head coach Doc Sadler has called academic issues, Standhardinger has seen limited playing time all year long and has been benched the past two games. In fact, the 6-foot-9 native of Munich, Germany, hasn't even been practicing with the team since before the Huskers' home game against Jackson State on Dec 1.
"He doesn't practice," Sadler said. "That's my decision."
When does Sadler expect Standhardinger to rejoin the team on the court?
"I don't know," he said. "Until I decide to let him practice, I guess. When he gets caught up with his academic stuff, then I'm going to sit down with him and see where we're going to go from there."
What Sadler means by "go from there" is Standhardinger's future at Nebraska could very well be in doubt should he not meet the academic requirements of the team as well as show a total commitment to NU both on and off the court.
Asked bluntly if Standhardinger would still be with the Huskers next semester, Sadler didn't have an answer.
"Who knows? He's on the team today," Sadler said. "I would say that'll be a decision that he and I sit down and visit about. But as I told him, there's no decision - it's not even up for discussion - until he gets the one part (academics) taken care of, which he is doing. He will be in good shape going into finals, and that's what I was concerned about. He's working hard. That's a credit to him."
Another player who has been held out of action for even longer is junior guard Kamyron Brown, who was suspended from the team prior to NU's trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off for an undisclosed reason.
The transfer from Oregon has played a total of four minutes in one game this season, but unlike Standhardinger, Brown is currently practicing with the team.
Again, Sadler said he had no timeframe for when Brown would return to the lineup, saying it would likely be a day-to-day situation.
"It will be a deal where you'll come here and he'll be playing," Sadler said. "We'll a make a decision. He's doing good in school, so that's my No. 1 concern."
In the end, Sadler said the growth and performance of the players in the classroom and off the court would always take priority over everything else - even winning.
"I want to win basketball games, guys, but I'm not going to do it at the expense of cheating them out of something that could affect them for a lifetime," Sadler said. "I'm not going to do it. There's no question that (Brown) and Christian both could've helped us win in the two games that they didn't play in, but so what? I was willing to do that, and whatever happens, happens."
Around the rim
***In an effort to help fix Nebraska's recent first half scoring woes, Sadler said he's going to make his team work more than ever on the east basket of the Devaney Center during practices. Before, the Huskers did the majority of their shooting in practice on the west basket, but seeing how they always start home games going to the east, Sadler said he thought mixing it up might help.
"That's one of the things we've talked about, is obviously to spend more time on (the east) end in practice," Sadler said. "We split it up, but we're going to make a more conscious effort shooting on the other end of the floor."
***Sadler also updated on the status redshirt sophomore center Christopher Niemann, who has been held out the past month after suffering meniscus damage in the same knee he'd already had two ACL surgeries on.
Originally it was expected that Niemann would be out three to four weeks after having an MRI done on his knee a month ago, but Sadler said he was still unsure when Niemann would be ready to rejoin the team and play in his first regular-season game as a Husker.
"I couldn't tell you," Sadler said. "I think it's just going to be a deal where he says, 'Hey, I feel like trying it.' He's getting rehab every day, he's out here every day. When he feels mentally that he's ready to do it, that's his decision.
"His knee is just sore, and it's going to be. He's had 20 months of bad luck. I'm more interested in him feeling good about it than me trying to get him back."