Huskers to be Tested by Valparaiso

Posted By: Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2012-13 Record: 1-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 0-0 (1st year)
Career Record: 284-220 (18th year)
Valparaiso Crusaders
2012-13 Record: 2-0, 0-0 Horizon League
Head coach: Bryce Drew
Record at Valparaiso: 24-12 (2nd year)
Career Record: Same
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: BTN and BTN2Go
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24
and 333-SH, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80
SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play-by-play: Kevin Kugler
Color: Shon Morris
Radio: Across the state on the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Color: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 136; XM Ch. 198
The Nebraska men's basketball team opens the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic on Thursday evening when the Huskers welcome the Valparaiso Crusaders to Lincoln. The event honors the contributions of the legendary Husker coach who guided Nebraska from 1963 until 1980, when Cipriano died of cancer just four days short of the start of his 18th season.
Tipoff is set for 8:06 p.m. at the Bob Devaney Sports Center and will be carried across the state on the 29-station Husker Sports Network, including primary flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can be heard for free on and is also available on the Huskers' app on iOS or android devices.
Thursday's game against Valparaiso will also be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call. Thursday's game will also be available on Apple and Android devices on BTN2Go.
Tickets for Thursday's game can be purchased for as little as $5 by visiting, by calling 1-800-8-BIGRED, stopping by the NU Ticket Office during business hours or by visiting the Devaney Center Ticket Office 90 minutes prior to tipoff.
The Huskers are 1-0 on the season and coming off a 66-55 win over Southern University in their season opener Sunday evening. In that game, senior forward Brandon Ubel led the Huskers with career highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds for his second career double-double. Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos added 17 and 16 points, respectively, as Gallegos set a career high in his first action following a redshirt season. On the night, Nebraska led from the start and shot 52 percent from the field, its best shooting effort in a season opener since 2007-08 in picking up a win in the debut of new coach Tim Miles.
Valparaiso will pose a tough early-season challenge, as the Crusaders went 22-12 last year and won the Horizon League regular-season title. The Crusaders head to Lincoln with a 2-0 record following a 69-46 victory over Northern Illinois Tuesday morning. The Crusaders feature reigning Horizon League Player of the Year in Ryan Broekhoff, who has averaged 17 points on 59 percent shooting and eight rebounds in Valparaiso's first two contests.
By the Numbers
46% – In Sunday's opener, 46 percent of the Huskers' total minutes were by players who did not suit up for the Huskers in 2011-12.
2 – Number of double-doubles by Husker players over the last two seasons, both coming from Brandon Ubel (11 points, 10 rebounds vs. Florida Gulf Coast on 12/7/11; 21 points and 21 rebounds vs. Southern on Sunday).
12 – Nebraska has now won its last 12 season openers dating back to the 2001-02 season.
12 – Nebraska committed only 12 turnovers in Sunday's win, despite losing its top three point guards from last year (Bo Spencer, Brandon Richardson, Corey Hilliard Jr.). The Huskers only had 11 games in 2011-12 with fewer turnovers than Sunday's total.
The Joe Cipriano Classic features seven teams – Nebraska, Kent State, Valparaiso, Tulane, Nebraska-Omaha, Bethune-Cookman and Chicago State – playing four games apiece from Nov. 13 to Nov. 24. The Devaney Center will serve as one of the four host sites, and the Huskers will take on Valparaiso, Nebraska-Omaha, Tulane and Kent State during the next two weeks.
The event honors the many contributions of Joe Cipriano to the Nebraska basketball program. He served as the Huskers' head coach from 1963 until 1980, when he died of cancer just four days short of the start of his 18th season. His teams at Nebraska posted a 253-197 record and made three postseason appearances. He was a three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year (1967, 1978 and 1980) and his 253 wins at the time of his death were 167 more than any previous basketball head coach at Nebraska. Cipriano coached the Huskers to a 20-5 record and a No. 11 national ranking in 1965-66, the Huskers' first winning season in 15 years and the most wins at Nebraska since 1920. The team is considered by many to be the best basketball team in the program's 117-year history. The following season, he guided NU to its first postseason appearance, becoming the first Big Eight program to play in the NIT and his 1967-68 squad won the Big Eight Holiday Tournament, Nebraska's only title in the event's history. In the 1970s, his teams finished below the .500 mark only once, while his most successful Husker team of the decade was in 1977-78, which tied the school record for wins at the time with a 22-8 mark and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
The Cipriano family will be honored during the final night of the tournament on Saturday, Nov. 24 during a special halftime ceremony.
Second-year coach Bryce Drew brings an experienced Crusader team into town, as Valparaiso is 2-0 following a 69-46 win over Northern Illinois on Tuesday. One of the most experienced teams the Huskers will face in 2012-13, Valparaiso brings back five senior starters from a team that went 22-12 and won the Horizon League regular-season title. The school has seven Division I transfers on the roster, from schools in the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, SEC and Big East among others.
Only a loss to Detroit in the league title game prevented the Crusaders from making the NCAA Tournament a year ago, as Valparaiso lost to Miami in the NIT. Drew is in his second season at Valparaiso after spending six seasons on the Valparaiso staff and a six-year NBA career following a storied career at the school.
Valparaiso, which was an overwhelming choice to win the Horizon League, returns a pair of first-team selections in forward Ryan Broekhoff and center Kevin Van Wijk. Broekhoff, who spent part of the summer with the Australian national team, averaged 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to be named Horizon League Player of the Year. Van Wilk averaged 14.1 points per game on 61.7 percent shooting, and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Nebraska leads the series, 2-0, but this is the first meeting between the schools since a 35-20 road win on Feb. 28, 1920. The Huskers and Crusaders played on consecutive days that season with NU also winning a 30-17 decision the previous day. The Huskers are 8-6 against current members of the Horizon League.
The debut of new Nebraska men's basketball coach Tim Miles was a successful one, as the Huskers topped Southern, 66-55, in the season opener on Nov. 11. Brandon Ubel paced the Big Red with his second career double-double, totaling 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-10 senior forward set career bests in both points and caroms, as Nebraska shot 51.9 percent from the floor. Ubel took over in a key second-half run, scoring nine of his points in an 11-3 Husker spurt after Southern pulled to within 31-28 in the opening minute of the half. The senior, who was NU's only returning starter from last season, scored seven straight points, as his 3-point play gave NU a 38-28 lead.
Ubel was one of three Huskers in double figures in the victory. Junior guard Ray Gallegos, who redshirted in 2011-12, had a career-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting while Dylan Talley added 17 points and seven rebounds for Nebraska, which shot 51.9 percent from the field and held Southern to 39.6 percent shooting.
•-The win was the 1400th in school history, as Nebraska is in its 118th season of competition. It also snapped a five-game losing streak dating back to the end of last season.
•-Nebraska improved to 78-39 all-time in season openers and has won 12 season openers in a row
•-Nebraska has now won 23 straight home openers and improves to 35-2 in Devaney Center openers
•-With the win by Tim Miles, Nebraska head coaches improved to 14-13 all-time in Nebraska debuts.
•-Senior Brandon Ubel established career highs in both points (21) and rebounds (12) in Sunday's win. It was his second career double-double and first since Dec. 7, 2011 (vs. Florida Gulf Coast). Ubel's previous high in points was 17 against Iowa while his 11 rebounds came against Florida Gulf Coast. Ubel's eight field goals were also a career high.
•-Ray Gallegos finished with a career-high 16 points in a career-high 30 minutes of action. His previous best was 15 against Grambling on Dec. 21, 2010, while his previous best in minutes was 27 against Eastern Washington on Dec. 18, 2010.
•-David Rivers set personal bests in minutes (27), assists (three) and rebounds (six)
•-Nebraska shot 51.9 percent from the floor, including 50 percent or better in both halves. Last year, NU shot 43.4 percent in the season opener against South Dakota.
With four new starters and a 10-player rotation which featured three current or former walk-ons, it has taken some time to implement a new offensive system and the headline has been a common mantra of Coach Miles during his first season on the job. The Huskers made strides on the offensive end from their only exhibition game, shooting 40.3 percent in the opener to 51.9 percent from the floor in the opener against Southern. Nebraska also committed just 12 turnovers despite having to replace its top three ball-handlers from last season.
The veteran of the Husker lineup, senior Brandon Ubel will be heavily counted on for the Big Red this season, and provided the Huskers with that leadership in the opener. The senior from Overland Park, Kan., led Nebraska with 21 points and 12 rebounds in posting his second career double-double. Ubel totaled 17 of the 21 points after halftime, including nine points in an 11-3 spurt after Southern pulled to with three points in the first minute of the half.
The 6-foot-10 forward is the Huskers' top returning rebounder (5.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (6.7 ppg) and has the skills that could flourish in Tim Miles' new offensive system. Throughout his career, Ubel has been one of NU's top shooters, as he is a career 80.9 percent shooter from the foul line, including 82.5 percent during his junior year. With a 5-for-5 effort from the foul line in the opener, he is just 12 free throw attempts from qualifying for Nebraska's career list in free throw percentage. Ubel has the shooting range that reaches out to the 3-point line, including his freshman year when he went 11-of-21 from 3-point range.
Ubel closed out his junior season by playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 9.3 points on 68 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in the Huskers' final six contests. He reached double figures in scoring seven times in 2011-12, including a season-high 17 points against Iowa on Feb. 28, on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor.
While Nebraska had six returning letterwinners back from the 2011-12 team, it is a pair of redshirts who will play a major role in the Huskers' fortunes this season. Senior center Andre Almeida and junior guard Ray Gallegos were relied on heavily in Nebraska's season opener.
Almeida missed all of last season following a knee injury after playing 30 games in 2010-11. He was hampered with foul trouble for most of the opener, finishing with a pair of points and two rebounds in 19 minutes after scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds in the exhibiton win. In 2010-11, he averaged 5.2 points on 56 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Almeida reached double figures on five occasions, including a 20-point, seven-rebound effort in his debut against South Dakota. Two of Almeida's best efforts of 2010-11 came against a pair of top-five teams, as he had 10 points and seven rebounds at No. 3 Kansas and 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench in Nebraska's win over third-ranked Texas. Almeida was a force on the defensive end, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots and recording two-or-more 12 times in 30 games.
Gallegos used his redshirt year to get stronger and worked on improving his all-around game and the signs were evident in the opener. He racked up a career-high 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in a career high 30 minutes of work. As a sophomore, he played in 25 games, including a start in the season opener, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 rebound per game. The Salt Lake City native's best game of 2010-11 came against Grambling, when he came off the bench for 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 22 minutes of action. Gallegos is one of NU's most experienced players, as he ranks second among Husker returnees in both games played (56) and starts (5).
Senior Dylan Talley will be counted on to be one of Nebraska's top offensive threats this year, as the 6-foot-5 senior was third on the team in scoring at 8.9 points per game while seeing action in 25 contests in 2011-12. Talley made his second career start in the season opener, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and grabbing seven rebounds.
Talley tied for the Big Ten lead in scoring by a reserve, averaging 8.9 points per game, as he was in double figures 11 times in his first season as a Husker. Talley has been a prolific scorer throughout his collegiate career, earning America East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2009-10, averaging 11.8 points per game at Binghamton University. At Blinn (Texas) College, he was sixth nationally in scoring at 23.0 points per game. In 51 career games at the Division I level, Talley has been in double figures 28 times.
The lone freshman in the Husker starting lineup, Benny Parker joined a short list, becoming only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker turned in a steady effort, totaling eight points and committing only one turnover in 31 minutes of action. Including the exhibition game, Parker has committed just two turnovers in 56 minutes of playing time.
Parker was a four-year starter at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, leading the school to an 85-15 mark and a pair of state titles during his high school career. As a senior, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game, winning the 2012 DiRenna Award, representing the top player in the Kansas City metro area.
Of Nebraska's three active point guards playing this season, two are Division I newcomers, as junior college transfer Mike Peltz joined the team in October. Sophomore Trevor Menke is the Huskers' other primary point guard, as junior college transfer Deverell Biggs will redshirt this season.
Throughout the summer and the preseason, one Husker returnee who was flying under the radar was sophomore David Rivers. The 6-foot-7 wing totaled only 20 points and 16 rebounds in 19 contests as a freshman, but has added nearly 20 pounds since last year. Rivers' improvement has been evident early on, as he established personal bests in minutes (27), rebounds (six) and assists (three) in the opener. That followed on the heels of an exhibition game where he had nine points and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Rivers was also 4-for-4 from the foul line after shooting 40 percent from the line as a freshman.