Michigan State men’s basketball (17-9 overall, 9-6 Big Ten) will travel to Lincoln on Thursday to take on Nebraska (7-18 overall, 2-12 Big Ten), a team coached by MSU redshirt sophomore guard Jack Hoiberg’s father Fred.
“Can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything like it,” Jack Hoiberg said as this will be the first time he will play against a team coached by his dad. “I’ll be able to tell you more about it after the game but it’s just going to be a different thing for sure, a lot of emotions but it’ll be fun too.”
Fred Hoiberg, born in Lincoln, is in his first year as head coach for the Cornhuskers. Before moving back to his hometown, Fred Hoiberg played 10 years in the NBA, and acted as a head coach for five years at Iowa State and four years for the Chicago Bulls.
Fred Hoiberg was fired as the Bulls' head coach in December 2018. Before he transitioned to Nebraska he spent time helping out on the coaching staff at MSU.
“It was good when he came up,” Jack Hoiberg said. “I know he was sitting down in the coaching staff meetings. He’d even help us on court a little bit just helping us with our offense, doing what he could because when he was sitting out he was bored so wanted to do anything he could to get back in the game.”
When Fred Hoiberg was officially hired with the Cornhuskers in March 2019, Jack Hoiberg said he considered transferring to play for his dad.
“I thought about it but I feel like I’ve done well here so far,” Jack Hoiberg said. “I’ve kind of been building on something here the last few years and I wasn’t ready to give that up.”
Many members of the Hoiberg family, including Jack’s mom, brothers and grandparents will be in attendance Thursday night.
"Jack, being a coach’s son, he understands the situation,” MSU coach Tom Izzo said. “They all have to pull for dad because that’s where he gets paid and I’m going to pull for Jack because I love him … It’s got to be strange, I never did it, so I don’t know what it’s like but I’m sure it’s an interesting time for him.”
The Cornhuskers are deep into a 10-game losing streak, with their two Big Ten wins coming from home matches against Purdue and Iowa. On Feb. 11 Nebraska lost to Maryland 72-70 due to a missed layup that cost them the game.
“I’m a big fan of Fred Hoiberg,” Izzo said. “Even though they’ve lost 10 in a row they have a strange team and he’d be the first to tell you they have a bunch of players who can fill it up. They play a lot of people tough they just took Maryland right to the wire…They’ve got guys that can hit threes, they’ve got guys that in open court are very, very good.”
Most notable on the Cornhuskers roster is graduate transfer Haanif Cheatham, a 6-foot-5-inch guard who averages 12.4 points per game.
Michigan State leads all time against the Cornhuskers 16-9.
Jayna Bardahl: 65-57 MSU
Paolo Giannandrea: 60-52 MSU