Tag:Doc Sadler
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:42 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:58 am
 

Nebraska difficult enough to win - without issues

By Jeff Goodman


It's difficult enough to win at Nebraska. Then when you toss in the rash of injuries Doc Sadler has experienced, it's darn-near impossible. 

That's exactly what Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler is dealing with these days. 

Senior big man Andre Almeida is likely done for the season with chronic knee problems. Junior big man Jorge Brian Diaz, who averaged double-figures last season, is dealing with recurring foot issues and sat out the loss to Nebraska earlier in the week. The status of wing Dylan Talley, another projected starter, is up in the air due to a leg injury. 

Take three of your top five or six guys off your team and it's virtually impossible. 

Especially at a spot such as Nebraska. 

This was supposed to be Sadler's best season in Lincoln. The talent level was as high as he's had here, but the margin for error is so slim at a spot such as Nebraska that everything needs to go right for this program to get into the NCAA tournament conversation. 

Instead, it's gone all wrong. 

"I still believe this is our best team," Sadler said. "That we can get in the top six, but we've just got to get some guys back. We don't have the depth to withstand this." 

Sadler is visibly frustrated with the rash of injuries, and it's especially difficult since it's the program's inaugural season in the Big Ten. The team played with a ranked Wisconsin team for the first 20 minutes before the Badgers pulled away for a 64-40 victory in Nebraska's Big Ten debut. 

Sadler just doesn't have enough bullets. He's is a terrific coach. You won't get an argument from any of his peers about that fact. But again, it's difficult at Nebraska -- where football rules supreme and the in-state recruiting base for basketball prospects is lackluster. 

At least now Sadler doesn't have to make excuses for his facilities any longer. 

The new practice facility stacks up against any throughout the country -- and the locker rooms are superior to anything I've seen. 

Sadler is cautiously optimistic that Diaz and Talley can return sometime soon, but he honestly isn't certain when they'll get back onto the court. He could use them sooner rather than later, especially with the brutal league slate that awaits. 

Michigan State is up next at home on Saturday, then road contests against Ohio State and Illinois follow. Finally the Cornhuskers will be favored in a game against Penn State on Jan. 11, but then Sadler & Co. head to Wisconsin and then host Indiana and Ohio State. 

If you're counting, that's seven of the first eight league games against ranked opponents. 

Welcome to the Big Ten. 

Photo: AP
Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Doc Sadler enters Big Ten with best team

By Jeff Goodman

Doc Sadler has no qualms saying this is his most talented team since he took over at Nebraska.

Now he just needs for this group to get healthy.

For the last few days, he's had difficulty fielding a team in practice. Toney McCray has been out after a pair of foot surgeries this summer. Caleb Walker, Corey Hilliard and Brandon Ubel have all been out for the past few days with ankle injuries and Dylan Talley has missed the last three practices with a thigh injury.

Then toss in 6-foot-11 senior Andre Almeida, whose knee is in bad shape and can't practice at all, and 6-foot-11 junior Christopher Niemann, whose knee injuries have forced Sadler to limit him to one end of the floor in practice.

"He doesn't change ends of the floor at all," Sadler said of Niemann. "When we play up and down, we keep him on the defensive end."

Sadler said he's hopeful that those two big guys can get healthy enough to give him a combined 12-15 minutes per game this season.

Sadler will enter the Big Ten with a team that was a couple of plays away from getting to the NCAA tournament a year ago. Sure, he's without leading scorer Lance Jeter - but there's more overall talent on this team than a year ago.

"This is definitely the best team we've had," Sadler said.

Look for LSU transfer Bo Spencer to battle senior Brandon Richardson (the two can also play together) at the point. McCray and Caleb Walker who started nearly 50 games a year ago - will likely start on the wings and Sadler will have juniors Jorge Brian Diaz (10.5 ppg) and Ubel up front.

Sadler also raves about the potential of 6-foot-7 freshman David Rivers.

"He's going to be special," Sadler said. "He can shoot it, he has a feel for the game and plays his butt off. He's got a chance to be one of the best I've had."

While Sadler is optimistic about his talent, he also realizes stepping into the Big Ten won't be an easy acclimation.

Especially with an unforgiving league slate that includes two games against each of Ohio State and Wisconsin among the first eight.

"You know in the Big 12 how to play people," Sadler said. "You know their strengths and weaknesses. I don't have any idea right now in the Big Ten."
Posted on: April 14, 2011 4:51 pm
 

What does Nebraska see in Doc Sadler?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Doc Sadler's tenure at the University of Nebraska has been decidedly mediocre. In fact, his entire career has been a series of missed opportunities ever since he led UTEP to the NCAA tournament in 2005 - his first season as a head coach. At Nebraska, it's been three NIT berths in five years, and only one postseason win in those three also-ran seasons.

There's been one 20-win campaign. No winning Big 12 seasons. His highest finish in the league has been 7th place.

So why did Sadler survive to make the move to the Big Ten? He has four signed recruits for next year, but none of those is the type that could make a big impact in a power conference. Nebraska's top player, Lance Jeter, has graduated, leaving the scoring load in the hands of 6-foot-11 Puerto Rican center Jorge Brian Diaz, who averaged 10.5 points and just 4.4 rebounds as the second option last year.

And yet, not only has Sadler survived, but he's been given an extension. According to the Lincoln, Nebraska Journal Star, the 50-year-old coach has been given a sweet new deal that raises his base compensation from a reported $425,000 to a new high of $800,000 annually. According to the newspaper, the University also agreed to pay Sadler around $800,000 in guaranteed compensation should he be fired, as well.

Are we missing something here? Sadler was a popular name being bandied about for Big 12 jobs that opened up at Texas Tech and Oklahoma this season, based largely on his reputation as a strong recruiter in the state of Texas. Now that Sadler's team will be in the Big Ten, even he has said that he'll be turning his recruiting eye more toward the Midwest region.

Sadler's teams have always had a certain look. They often resemble a mid-major trying to compete in a power conference, though that changed a bit recently. In 2010, Sadler's team was small, but managed to shoot very effectively from deep. That team won just two Big 12 games. Last season, Diaz and 6-11 Brazilian Andre Almeida helped turn the Huskers into a good inside team that defended well, which helped the team upset upper-echelon teams like Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri on the way to a 7-9 league finish in their final season in the Big 12.

Perhaps Nebraska is hoping to continue that defensive dominance now that Diaz is a junior and Almeida a (hopefully slimmer) senior. Exactly who might draw the defense to free up those twin towers now that Jeter is gone is very much up for debate, but the big men will be needed when teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin come to town.

Maybe there's something we can't see about Sadler. Maybe he's a wiz at sweet-talking donors for the new Haymarket Arena. What we do know is that this new contract will make it very difficult for Nebraska to get rid of Sadler if his teams underperform in their new home. That's a rare commitment for a coach who really hasn't shown an awful lot in his seven years on the bench. If Sadler fails to budge the Huskers from second-tier status as a member of the Big Ten, he won't be able to say that he was sandbagged by his administration. Tom Osborne, the legendary Husker football coach and current Nebraska Athletic Director, gets a ton of leeway with fans of the school, and he'll likely trade some on that popularity if Sadler struggles.

With a new practice facility, a new arena and a new conference, Sadler has been given the freshest of fresh starts, and has been handed every tool he needs to do his job better, including job security. There are no more excuses.

Photo: US Presswire
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:37 am
 

Coach Speak: targets for Oklahoma and NC State

Will Doc Sadler stay in the Big 12?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Two more expected firings have come down the pipe as we prepare for tournament coverage. Oklahoma let Jeff Capel go, and N.C. State finally ended the Sidney Lowe era.

One of the first things we like to do in these situations is look to see which coaches are on fan wish lists and try to sort out which are fantasies and which might actually happen.

Oklahoma: It's hard to believe that the man who brought us Blake Griffin is gone, but everything for Jeff Capel went downhill when the electrifying dunker left school early to go to the NBA. Strange names come up in the local newspapers for this one. Doc Sadler is mentioned, which isn't all that odd except that he's already struggled mightily to build a winning program at a football-oriented Big 12 school. It speaks well to the respect he has in the coaching community that both Texas Tech and Oklahoma have kept an eye on him. Right up there with Sadler is Marquette's Buzz Williams, who has also been mentioned for the Tech job. Billy Gillispie is on everyone's radar, so throw him in there, too.

The strange names are these: the Norman Transcript tosses out Miami's Frank Haith and UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma. Haith seems to be on the hot seat in Miami, but his history as an assistant at Texas (from whence he got the Miami job) may make him a popular choice. Auriemma is at the pinnacle of his sport, and has shown no willingness to toss that away in favor of the challenge of rebuilding a men's program just to show he can do it. Until Jim Calhoun retires, I wouldn't expect Auriemma to ever look at making that move.

N.C. State: Sidney Lowe's firing is so fresh that the local columnists haven't really weighed in with their wish lists yet. The website Sports by Brooks has a fanciful list (which they shoot down as well) of Rick Barnes, Tubby Smith, Sean Miller and Mark Fox. Three of those coaches are in the NCAA tournament. Barnes is slotted in at the school that figures to own and operate the Big 12 from here on out. Miller and Fox are seeing their rebuilding efforts start to pay off at Arizona and Georgia, respectively, so why start over after just two years? Tubby Smith doesn't really seem like he wants to leave Minnesota.

The guys at Backing the Pack have some candidates on their list that seems sensible. Xavier coach Chris Mack would be a great get. Some other mid-major geniuses on the list are Cuonzo Martin (Missouri State), Chris Mooney (Richmond) and Blaine Taylor (ODU). Any of those gentlemen would be a fine choice as well.

State allegedly has $3 million a year set aside to lure a top coach, so it'll be interesting to see who jumps at the bait of repairing this once-proud program.

We'll do this again when the next round of coaches gets the axe, and we will, of course, keep you apprised when hirings happen. They're so much nicer than firings.

Photo: US Presswire

More NCAA tournament coverage
Posted on: March 8, 2011 11:52 am
 

MU's Williams generating Buzz at Texas Tech

Buzz Williams is a native Texan, but would he leave the Big East for Lubbock?

Posted by Eric Angevine

So, Pat Knight is out at Texas Tech. Not too surprising. He had the same impossible task Sean Sutton had when he took over a Big 12 program from his Hall of Fame father, if not worse. The Red Raiders don't have anywhere near the hoops pedigree that the Oklahoma State Cowboys do, but their expectations are now sky-high because they once got lucky and hired Bobby Knight for a cameo appearance.

I suspect the younger Knight will get another chance. But where does the Texas Tech administration turn now? Newspapers across the Lone Star state are throwing out wish lists, so let's examine some of the more rational suggestions:

Billy Gillispie (Ronin): His name always comes up first, and for good reason. The guy was a barn-burning success at UTEP and Texas A&M before he got in over his head at Kentucky. Texas is his home state, and he'd likely be welcomed back into the Big 12 with open arms. Billy Clyde looks like the top choice right now.

Buzz Williams (Marquette): Another straight-shootin' Texan, which is why his name seems to come up when locals start dreaming. I don't know how much money Tech has to spend on this kind of hire, but I'd have to think it would take a pretty good upgrade to entice Williams from the powerful Big East to an also-ran in the shrinking Big 12. They'd love his free-wheeling style down in Lubbock, though.

Joe Dooley (Kansas): If you can't beat 'em, hire 'em. Dooley's is one of the top names to come up for every open job when assistant coaches are interviewed. He has a pretty good deal where he is, and he's seen other former KU assistants (Tim Jankovich at Illinois State being the most recent) struggle to succeed when disconnected from the Allen Field House magic. Then again, he probably doesn't want to wait forever, and the Big 12 is a soft landing no matter what.

Doc Sadler (Nebraska): I scoffed the first time I read this, then it came up again and again. He's a former Red Raider assistant who is well thought of at the school, so maybe they will make a run at him. Sadler would have to judge for himself if the risk is worth it: is he jumping before he is pushed out of the Big Ten-bound Husker program, or is he giving up just before new facilities and a new conference home turn things around?

These are the most frequently mentioned names for the gig, and it's not a bad list. The issue at this point will be finding the right fit vs. reaching for the exciting, sexy headline pick. Which is not to say that the headline pick is always a fraud - look at Steve Lavin's first year at St. John's for proof that it can work. But there might be an assistant coach out there, perhaps someone as near as Rodney Terry or Russell Springmann from Texas, who is the right fit for the job, yet won't get his due as a candidate because he's not a big name. We watched other large-conference schools (Oregon, DePaul and Wake Forest come to mind) go through this last summer only to be turned down repeatedly.

Having just attended the CAA final yesterday, I'd like to throw another name into the hat. Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor is not a Texan and has no ties to the state that I'm aware of. But the former Montana Grizzlies point guard just won back-to-back conference championships, can recruit, coaches tough defense and has a way with the media. If his team pulls another upset or two in the NCAA tournament this season, he'll be a very hot commodity. Someone at Tech should have the vision to look far and wide to find Taylor and others like him who might be ready for the next step, regardless of name recognition.

Updated NCAA Division I coaching changes

Photo: US Presswire
 
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 24, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: January 24, 2011 4:01 pm
 

Coach Speak: Will league jumpers fire coaches?

Don't look back, Doc, they might be gaining on you.

Posted by Eric Angevine


Hot Seat

Today, rather than calling out a specific coach who's dragging tail (I'll get back to that next week), I have a philosophical question for you, the reader. I hope you'll give your thoughts in the comment section.

Following this most recent round of conference roulette, several men's basketball coaches are heading to new challenges despite rather disappointing results for their programs this season. My question is: if you're making a big change already, do you let the new guy have a shot at recruiting for the next league, or do you fire him and start fresh with someone new? I'll give my thoughts on a few of those coaches below.

Doc Sadler, Nebraska - Kenneth Sadler has been Nebraska's head coach since 2006. He had a couple of nice seasons at UTEP before taking the job, and had three straight winning seasons after taking over. Those records never got him above 7th place in the Big 12, however. Last season the team fell off a cliff and ended up dead last, and this season's lineup is still wildly inconsistent, especially after Christian Standhardinger's bizarre story unfolded. As the Huskers head into the Big Ten, it's time for new management. There are plenty of current Big Ten assistants who look mighty attractive and know the recruiting grounds.

Tad Boyle, Colorado - Tad is in his first season at CU, and despite some recent stumbles, his ability to win some road games in the Big 12 is a great sign for the Buffs' chances at hitting the ground running in the Pac-10. Obviously, you stick with this guy and see what he can do.

Jim Boylen, Utah - Boylen is probably the toughest case here. He has been a top assistant with the Houston Rockets and Michigan State Spartans, but his record with Utah is not great. He has one NCAA appearance in four seasons in the Mountain West, and he's currently clinging to a perfect .500 record: 10-10 overall and 3-3 in conference. Boylen may be able to make hay with recruiting now that this team is moving to greener pastures, so unless there's a home-run hire out there this summer, I think I'd stick with him and give him a chance.

Of the WAC teams that are moving on, I'd say everyone but 6th-year Fresno State head coach Steve Cleveland is safe.

Thoughts? Wishes? Coffee-fueled rants? Deposit them below.


Quotable Coaches


“When they see Georgia Tech on the shirt, if they are open, it’s going in. I promise you. At halftime, I was thinking, 'seven for eight.' You can put teams in a gym by themselves that wide open, and they are not going to make seven out of eight.”

-Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Hewitt talks about his team’s perimeter woes after Virginia shot 66.7 percent from deep to earn a 72-64 win.

"I really think the single biggest stat in the game was Tristan Thompson's five blocks. Those were all huge plays."

-Rick Barnes credits defensive effort in Texas’ streak-snapping road win over Kansas

“I don’t know why Jordan got one. I don’t know why Marcus got one. I don’t know why J’Covan and Josh got those at the end. Gosh dang, I mean, there’s more dialogue with negative with this guy talking to his best friend than some of those things.”

-Bill Self reacts to the four technical fouls called in Texas’ upset of Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse

“He kept shanking the ball, and he kept blaming the clubs. And the clubs are all bent up. We had a heckuva time. There were a couple of Humvees 150 yards away. That’s what we were aiming at. There were no flags. You had to hit the anti-bomb craft.”

-Dayton coach Brian Gregory recalls a round of golf he and Fordham head coach Tom Pecora played with troops in Iraq two years ago

“When Kevin first approached me on it, I said to Kevin, ‘I’d rather not make that call. I’d rather you stay put. I think you have a great team at Iona and I’d rather you stay put and wait.’ My first conversation with him was discouraging.”

-Rick Pitino explains how he tried to talk his former assistant Kevin Willard out of taking the job at Louisville’s Big East rival Seton Hall

"We just can't score.”

-Auburn head coach Tony Barbee puts his finger on the problem that has Auburn winless in the SEC

“We thought it would be good for our guys to pay respects to the people that dug the well for this program, so to speak,”

-Sidney Lowe describes his team’s visit to the gravesites of legendary N.C. State coaches Everett Case and Jim Valvano.

"For me, he's the hardest cover since Ike Diogu was at Arizona State. We just really tried to find ways to get Ike locked up in a closet before we played them or something. He was such a difficult to cover, and Derrick Williams is becoming just like that. He's hard to deal with."

-Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar heaps praise on Arizona star Derrick Williams

We also have a couple of links to some longer videos that offer some insight into coaching at the mid-major level. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader has video of Fort Wayne coach Dane Fife after his team took a tough road swing through the Dakotas. AExtra has a nice look inside the coaching life of Boston University's Pat Chambers.



On our video today, we hear from legend-in-the-making Thad Matta, discussing his team's ascension to 20-0 on the season.
Posted on: January 7, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 5:05 pm
 

Will Nebraska win in lame-duck season?

Posted by Eric Angevine

Doc SadlerWhat’s the deal with Nebraska?

As the Cornhuskers prepare to join the Big Ten, there are a few questions that the team may want to answer before they exit the Big 12. Do they have what it takes to compete in an elite conference? Can they win enough in this lame-duck season to keep Doc Sadler employed through the impending move? This is what hoops watchers want to know.

Nebraska is a bit of an enigma. It’s evident that Doc Sadler is an excellent defensive coach. His Huskers are in the national top 25 in almost every category tracked by kenpom.com. That includes a 38.2 opponent shooting percentage inside the arc – the best in the land. Sure, you say, but who have they played?

TCU. Hofstra. Both Dakotas. Half of the SWAC. Nothing too impressive there. However, the Huskers did beat USC and Creighton (in a game they might struggle to win today), and dropped low-scoring grinders to Vanderbilt and Davidson in November for their only losses of the season. There’s something there. But can the current lineup put that potential in motion when it matters?

The glaring problem is that the best player Doc Sadler had to start the season is a Husker no longer. Christian Standhardinger, a 6-foot-8 sophomore who was the clear star of the team, left in December, unhappy with his role. An incredibly efficient scorer and rebounder, the German import never averaged more than 18 minutes per game. His departure leaves the interior offense in the hands of 6-11 sophomore Jorge Brian Diaz. A native of Puerto Rico, Diaz is a slightly better scorer than Standhardinger, but has so far proven to be far less effective on the boards, despite a three-inch height advantage.

This Husker team in general is much bigger than past editions have been, which makes the rebounding issues all the more surprising. The team also boasts 6-10 sophomore Brandon Ubel and junior transfer Andre Almeida, a 6-11, 300-lb. Brazilian. If Sadler can get more production out of either, Nebraska may be able to beat some Big 12 teams they ordinarily wouldn't, but time is running short.

What the team does have is an able distributor in Lance Jeter. The senior averages 2.4 to 1 in assists to turnovers ratio, and has the steady hand to run the team even in hostile environments.

Doc has yet to make inroads into Big Ten recruiting hotbeds yet, though he has stated in the past that he will begin to look that way. Next year's crop of freshmen are all wing players again, so Sadler really needs to see what he can get out of his big men. Otherwise, it's back to the junior college ranks again - a stopgap measure that the Huskers have employed frequently to little effect.

The odds are not in Sadler's favor at this point. If the Huskers end up below .500 in conference play, don't be surprised if Nebraska's AD decides to enter a new conference with a new coach.

Photo: AP

 
 
 
 
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