Since Danny Nee left the program in 2000, Nebraska has had to rebuild itself from mediocrity to respectability. But it isn't done yet. Not even close.
For the past two or three years, Nebraska fans have been led to believe that the next year would be the year that the Huskers would make that leap into the top-six of the Big 12.
The highest finish in that time: seventh.
That season, Nebraska went 7-9 in the Big 12, but 13-3 against non-Big 12 opponents, making it to the second round of the NIT. Unfortunately, Nebraska lost Alex Maric to graduation and was left with a veteran but small group for the following season.
Last season though, Nebraska exceeding some people's expectations going 18-13 including a second straight invite to the NIT.
Again, Husker fans were left thinking that next season would be the season.
It's hard in the Big 12. Especially in a year as loaded as this one. Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M all have promising rosters this season. Not to mention that Baylor still feels it can rise to the occasion and teams like Iowa State and Texas Tech hope to make a significant jump.
Nebraska has young talent. Again.
It seems each year this team loses someone that could provide senior leadership. Players like Ade Dagundaro and Cookie Miller, one lost to graduation another to a transfer.
If a game against Saint Louis is any indication, this team is far from gelling. Brian Diaz is tall, but soft in the middle. Ubel is tentative at best in tough situations. Lance Jeter shows promise, but seems to still be getting a hang of the offense and Brandon Richardson shows flashes but ultimately is still to inexperienced to know exactly what he offers.
What the Huskers gained in height this season they lost in experience and toughness. Players like Paul Velander, Steve Harley, and Ade Dagundaro provided some much needed swagger and toughness in years past.
That aspect is ultimately gone and remains only in remnants of Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry.
Once again this was supposed to be the year. But it seems that with players like Lance Jeter, Tony McCray, and Brian Diaz, next season is the one to look forward to.
But maybe, just maybe, this team can get itself together before Big 12 play with the addition of Christian Standhardinger to the roster. Standhardinger is a long defensive player with scoring skills that would add to the size in the starting five and on the bench.
Right now Nebraska doesn't have a clear-cut rotation of starters. They haven't molded the starting five that we can count on night in and night out. Instead they will be mix-matching the line-ups to find the best combination of players. That doesn't bode well with teams like TCU and USC coming up soon.
If Nebraska wants to compete in the Big 12 this season, it needs to be successful out of conference. Beating up on South Carolina Upstate is one thing, but losing to Saint Louis is another.
This weekend Doc Sadler needs to find a rotation that will work and that he sticks to. With the length on the floor their defense should be stifling. It was last year without the height, it should be better this year with some height.
With 12 games left on the OOC schedule, Nebraska needs to find a combination that works on the floor and in the paint.
Nebraska wants to get to 8-8 in conference play again, and would like to add a cool 12 wins, it will need to win 11 of the next 12 games to have a shot at the goals set before them.
Doc needs to coach like he's never coached before with this young group to do anything note worthy in conference play, but it starts with out of conference gelling and losses to teams like Saint Louis won't help.
The bad news gets even worse for the Huskers, because Kansas comes to town the second Big 12 conference game of the season. At that point, the gelling better have been done, or Nebraska fans may be in for a long season without a postseason bid.