Nebraska had its first practice of the season on Tuesday. The Huskers are coming off a disappointing 12-19 season.

FRANCIS GARDLER, Lincoln Journal Star

LINCOLN -- There are two truths every season as college basketball practices get underway across the country.

The Big Ten is probably going to be pretty good. And Tim Miles is going to be a fired up, joke-cracking flurry of activity ready to see if his team can make some waves.

"I think we're going to be a lot better. I think we can make a charge, and I'm glad nobody's talking about us," Miles said Monday. "That's just fine. I'll talk about us."

Miles talked plenty at Memorial Stadium two days after the Huskers opened official practices. Nearly as much as the football coach who spoke just minutes before him. He likes what he has, even if others outside of Nebraska's practice facility are still waiting for results after last season ended with a 12-19 record, the graduation of the team's best player (Tai Webster) and four transfers (Ed Morrow, Michael Jacobson, Jeriah Horne, Nick Fuller).

"I thought we reinvented ourselves really pretty well. We had losses, we had transfers, we had a key player graduate, and the year before we had a key player transfer again," Miles said. "And when you get those losses, it just feels bad, looks bad, the whole thing. But I really kind of like where this team's at mentally and physically."

Much of the hope for improvement centers on newcomers Isaac Copeland, James Palmer, Duby Okeke, Thomas Allen and Nana Akenten, all of whom figure to play roles of varying sizes. For now those players are pushing returners such as Isaiah Roby and Jordy Tshimanga, and giving guards Glynn Watson and Evan Taylor defense-stretching complementary pieces.

It's led to more defined roles, and more comfort, for players up and down the lineup.

"Last year at this time I had three guys in my office wondering what position they were going to play," Miles said. "This year I've had none. There's something to be said about that."

It will be a bit, though, before any lineups are finalized. Tshimanga recently underwent a minor knee procedure to alleviate some chronic tendinitis, and should be back on the court in about five practices, Miles said, and only after the NU coaching staff can get a look at all of their pieces together will they be able to make any final decisions.

"It just kind of depends on how everybody gels together, and can we do everything well: can we handle the ball, take smart shots, play excellent defense, all of those things," Miles said. "And if every group can do that, then you've got great flexibility."

FBI investigation: Miles called the massive FBI investigation that has uncovered widespread corruption in college basketball "sad", saying he is "confident that our program is in the right direction doing the right things, so (we) don't worry about it."

"You worry about what the ramifications are for college basketball," Miles said. "And at the same time maybe it's a good thing, you know? Maybe this had to come out the way it did. And maybe it will be a better world because of it."

Nebraska, of course, is one of the flagship schools for Adidas, the company whose director of global sports marketing, Jim Gatto, is at the center of the accusations. The NU athletic program signed an 11-year, $128 million extension with Adidas in August.


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