Pitt men to host rebuilding Howard in Legends Classic
Some might consider Howard basketball coach Kevin Nickelberry's task of rebuilding this year's team featuring 10 newcomers (including nine freshmen) “daunting.”
Nickelberry, however, prefers to think positive when Howard (2-2), on the third leg of a four-game road trip, visits Pitt (2-0) Sunday at 5 p.m. at Petersen Events Center as part of the Legends Classic.
“Patience is needed,” Nickelberry said. “Looking at the big picture, if you have the right pieces, eventually they will fit.”
Among the most important pieces is guard James Daniel, one of three freshman starters who has led Howard in scoring in three games.
Nickelberry learned about making pieces fit when he coached the Libya National Team to an 11th-place finish out of 16 teams at the 2009 FIBA African Championships.
Making its first appearance since 1978, Libya defeated South Africa and Egypt for the country's first wins in the African Championships in the modern era.
“The language barrier was huge. The first couple weeks were tough,” said Nickelberry, a Washington, D.C., native who became Libya's national team coach following a recommendation from a former player at Monmouth College. “I had to cut some guys who had been on the national team for years that were getting older and couldn't play the way I wanted to play.”
Nickelberry applied a similar strategy to this year's team.
“It's easier long term to rebuild with freshmen than junior college transfers,” said Nickelberry, who was 23-69 in his first three seasons at Howard. “I knew the first few years it would be a little rocky, but we have to upgrade the talent.
“Even though they are talented, there's going to be some days and nights and practices when it's just not working.”
Howard is 0-2 on this road trip after blowout losses at Old Dominion (77-55) and Harvard (76-44). Sunday's game against Pitt will be followed by another road game Thursday at Houston, followed by an even longer trip to Brookings, S.D., for two more games in the Legends Classic. Howard also visits USC in December.
“I picked the teams myself, who we wanted to play against, the type of teams we wanted to play,” Nickelberry said.
“From a financial standpoint, the schedule is a factor, but my administration has been good with allowing me to schedule teams that will challenge us. Playing at Old Dominion is tough, playing at Harvard is even tougher, and, obviously, playing at Pittsburgh is going to be extraordinarily tough.
“This is an early wake-up call for our guys to what Division I basketball is about. If you're the little brother and you get pushed around enough, eventually you stand up and defend yourself.
“This team is made up of guys who will stand up and fight back.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Inching closer to return, Pitt’s Wright could boost defense
- Pitt notebook: Chryst keeps Panthers motivated amid adversity
- Pitt football notebook: Panthers’ depth at RB, offensive line shows against Syracuse
- For Pitt men’s basketball team, trouble in paradise
- Assistant coach who followed Haywood to Pitt settles lawsuit with school
- Penn State wrestling gets best of Pitt again
- Pitt beats Syracuse, snaps 3-game losing streak
- Pressure mounts on Pitt coach Chryst as 3rd season will soon end
- On senior day, Pitt not giving up the fight
- Pitt eager to grapple with long-standing rival Penn State on wrestling mat
- Pitt coach Dixon says finding right balance for schedule no easy task