For the first time since the arrival of freshman center Brian Diaz last weekend, Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler finally hinted his personal preference on playing the 6-foot-11 Puerto Rican.
Prior to Tuesday's practice, Sadler admitted that he would like to play Diaz this season, though he said the final decision would be up to Diaz himself. Sadler said he planned to meet with Diaz prior to Wednesday's game against Kansas about possibly burning his redshirt eligibility this season, though his debut may come after the Huskers' showdown with the Jayhawks.
"We'll see kind of what he thinks," Sadler said. "At this point it's his decision. There's no doubt in my mind that he could help us, and I would encourage him to play, because I'm going to play him. It's not like he's a five minute-a-game player. But at the same time, I don't want him feeling the pressure. I want it to be his decision."
Sadler said he planed to give Diaz plenty of work during Tuesday's practice to really test how far along the freshman actually is. While Sadler said Diaz had his best two practices to date on Friday and Monday, he made sure to note that having success against Nebraska's smaller roster is completely different than matching up against the likes of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin and Kansas' LaMarcus Aldridge.
He also said Diaz still had a long way to go in his conditioning to be able to contribute the kind of quality minutes Sadler would like to get out of him this season if he plays.
Even so, Sadler said he's been more than impressed with Diaz's development since his first practice as a Husker last Monday.
"I thought Friday and yesterday were by far his two best practices," Sadler said. "I think he's come a long way offensively."
Despite his progress and Sadler's admittance that he wants him to play this year, the decision ultimately will come down to Diaz. Has Diaz given any indications of which way he's leaning on the matter?
"I don't know," Sadler said. "I have visited with him a little bit about whether or not he wants to play. At first he really wanted to play, and I think probably after the first or second day when he was new to it he probably, I don't want to say lost some confidence, but he probably wasn't as sure.
"But the last two days of practice - Friday and yesterday - there's no doubt in my mind that he could really, really help this basketball team this year."
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