Tim Miles

Leslee Smith’s knee injury could change things for Nebraska freshman Jake Hammond

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On Tuesday it was reported that Nebraska senior power forward Leslee Smith was expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee. Having posted averages of 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season, it would be easy for some to gloss over his absence as the Huskers look to earn a second consecutive NCAA tournament bid.

However with his size (6-foot-8, 255) Smith is a valuable piece for head coach Tim Miles, as he’s capable of helping Nebraska deal with some of the more physical interior players in the Big Ten.

The question for Nebraska to answer this summer is who steps up in Smith’s absence, with Nebraska needing some added interior depth to go along with returnee Walter Pitchford and graduate transfer Moses Ayegba. One option is 6-foot-10 freshman Jake Hammond, and according to Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal Star Smith’s injury could potentially change things for the newcomer.

So not only does Smith’s injury mean Hammond has, on the court, lost the teammate who’s helped him most, it also could change the true freshman’s plans entirely.

“Yeah, I might not be able to redshirt this year,” said Hammond, listed at 6-foot-10 and 227 pounds. “It is something I was probably going to do. But now that he’s hurt, I don’t know. That’s up in the air still.”

It’s noted in the story that redshirting was considered an option due to Hammond’s need to become stronger, and during Nebraska’s summer program he’s gained seven pounds. The freshman year can be a tough one for college players, especially when it comes to holding one’s own in a league like the Big Ten.

But due in large part to Smith’s knee injury, these remaining months before the start of practice have become far more important for Jake Hammond than he may have anticipated.

COACHES POLL: Villanova is the new No. 1 team in the country

Josh Hart, Jordan Pric
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Just as we expected, there is absolutely no consensus when it comes to the No. 1 team in college basketball.

In the new Coaches Poll released today, Villanova slots in as No. 1 overall, but Maryland received the same number of first place votes as the Wildcats and seven teams — seven! — received at least one first place vote, including No. 8 North Carolina and No. 9 Michigan State.

[NEW PODCAST | LATEST BRACKETOLOGY]

The biggest shock to me?

The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just three first place votes and is ranked fifth by the coaches.

I think the coaches need to pay better attention.

Or they hate Fran McCaffery.

One or the other.

Anyway, here’s the full poll:

1. Villanova (20-3, 11 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 11)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 3)
4. Xavier (21-2)
5. Iowa (19-4, 3)
6. Kansas (19-4, 2)
7. Virginia (19-4)
8. North Carolina (19-4, 1)
9. Michigan State (20-4, 1)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Miami (FL) (18-4)
12. Oregon (20-4)
13. Texas A&M (18-5)
14. Arizona (19-5)
15. Iowa State (17-6)
16. Purdue (19-5)
17. Dayton (19-3)
17. Providence (18-6)
19. Baylor (17-6)
20. South Carolina (20-3)
21. Kentucky (17-6)
22. Indiana (19-5)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Wichita State (17-6)
25. Texas (16-7)

DROPPED OUT: No. 18 Louisville, No. 25 Saint Mary’s
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 25 Texas

NEW PODCAST: Louisville’s ban and who should be No. 1 in college basketball?

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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It may be the day after the Super Bowl, but we still had plenty of stuff to talk about in the college basketball world on Monday.

There’s the question of who in the world should be the No. 1 team in the country. There’s the issue of the top two teams in the country losing to unranked opponents. There’s Oregon, who suddenly looks like they might be the hottest team in all of college basketball.

And that’s before we get into the issue of Louisville’s ridiculous and despicable postseason.

We spent 15 minutes on that before even starting on the games that were played this weekend.

As always, you can listen to the podcast by clicking “play” on the Soundcloud player embedded below. Or you can do so through either iTunes or Stitcher if you so choose. Thanks for listening!