January 15, 2009

Thursday notebook: Henry, Harley have rough night

AMES, Iowa -- Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler already had plenty of reasons for concern about his team's dismal shooting performance in Wednesday night's 65-53 loss to Iowa State, but one number in particular just might be the most worrisome of them all.


Five.


That was the total number of field goals produced by senior guard Steve Harley, NU's leading scorer this season, and junior guard Sek Henry, the team's No. 3 scorer.


Though none of the Huskers were effective offensively in the loss, Harley and Henry especially disappointing. Harley finished the game just 4-of-14 from the field, but still managed to end with 10 points.


Henry, on the other hand, was even worse, as he made just one of his 11 shots from the floor - a 3-pointer late in the second half - to end the night with three points. He also shot just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.


Harley's performance was obviously not what he and the Huskers had hoped for, but he at least managed to score in double figures for the 12th time in Nebraska's past 13 games.


Henry's numbers left a lot more to be desired. Coming into the game, Henry boasted a team-best field goal percentage of 54.9 and had been shooting better than 44 percent from beyond the arc.


As his numbers in the box score would indicate, that hot shooting went cold in a hurry in Wednesday's loss. However, to his credit, Henry's lone basket came a pretty good time, as his 3-pointer brought the Huskers to within two at 50-48 with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game.


After the game, Sadler wouldn't call out any player individually after the loss, placing the blame for Nebraska's shooting woes on the shoulders of the team as a whole.


"If you shoot 37 percent like we did tonight, to even have a chance to win the basketball game is amazing to me," Sadler said Wednesday.


Anderson trying to find his role


If it looked like junior guard Ryan Anderson was out of place a bit against Iowa State, there's a good chance he probably was.


However, because of Nebraska's lack of size down low, Anderson was forced to try and match-up with the Cyclone big men - including four of which who stand 6 feet, 10 inches or taller.


At just 6-4, Anderson has been a bit out of his element trying to serve as one of NU's primary big men. On Wednesday, he finished 0-for-3 from the field with four rebounds, three turnovers and three personal fouls.


The guy he was mainly responsible for guarding - 6-10 forward Craig Brackins - scored a game-high 21 points to go along with his game-high 12 rebounds.


Slowing down Brackins, who came into the game as one of the hottest players in the Big 12 Conference - was obviously no easy task, and Anderson certainly isn't the only Husker responsible for Brackins' performance.


But for a player that made a name for himself as more of a perimeter shooter last season, making the transition to banging in the post with players far bigger than himself has proven to be quite the adjustment for the Seattle native.


"Ryan's Ryan," Sadler said. "Ryan's going to do whatever he needs to do. Obviously he would like probably to be playing on the perimeter more, but he's willing to do whatever this team needs him to do, and that's what all these guys out here are doing."


Getting Velander shots easier said than done


There's no question that no player is more dangerous from 3-point range for Nebraska than senior guard Paul Velander.


The problem, however, is getting him decent looks from beyond the arc has been a little difficult as of late.


Coming into Wednesday's game, the Blacksburg, Va., native was shooting an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range. In last weekend's win over Missouri, though, the Tigers were able to hold him to shoot just 1-of-2 from the perimeter.


Some credited the Tigers' man-to-man defense for preventing Velander from getting open on the outside, and that Missouri head coach Mike Anderson was able to essentially take Velander out of the game by locking him down with tight man defense.


Sadler disagreed, saying he was more to blame for not running enough plays to get Velander open looks.


"I don't think I did a very good job Saturday of getting him more than three shots," Sadler said on Tuesday. "Mike Anderson probably thinks he did a great job of keeping him to three shots. The fact of the matter is I do think I've got to figure out a way maybe to get him a few more shots."


Velander got a few more 3-point looks on Wednesday, as he finished 3-of-7 in the loss. Two of those three came during a crucial stretch that brought the Huskers to within three at 45-42 with 7 minutes to play and then tied the game on ensuing possession.


However, that would be the last the Huskers would get from Velander, as the Cyclones were able to shut him out the rest of the game and eventually run away with a 12-point victory.


Sadler said he plans to continue to do his best to get Velander open looks, but it will also continue to be a difficult task the rest of the season. Because of his reputation for being a game changer with his 3-point shooting, Sadler said Velander isn't a secret anymore around the Big 12.


"The dude's shooting over 40 percent from the 3-point line," Sadler said. "It's not going to be a surprise. If he gets an open look, that's going to be the surprise. We've got to do some things to help him."



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