LINCOLN — On Feb. 4, Tim Miles received an email from Athletic Director Bill Moos with a one-word subject line.
The basketball coaches had a planned meeting on Feb. 5. Moos and Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm, the email said, wanted to attend.
And in that meeting, Miles said on Tuesday, Moos told the coaches not to worry. He was there for them.
“He said he’s gotta make a decision after the year on what to do. Retention is certainly an option, and he wanted us to know, ‘Don’t listen to any noise out there,’ ” Miles told The World-Herald.
Check Twitter or message boards and Miles is considered a dead man walking after this season’s collapse from 11-2 to 13-11. So that encouragement from Moos out of the blue, amid this losing streak, energized Miles, he said.
“I think at his heart, Bill is a coaches (A.D.), and he loves the locker room, he loves the interaction with the people. It’s what he’s best at,” Miles said. “It felt great. It was a nice boost of energy. Everyone had a little more hop in their step after.”
Moos said on his weekly radio show Tuesday night that he and Miles had “a real nice talk” during the meeting.
“Tim Miles is a good coach, very passionate,” Moos said. “I wanted to get a feel for what their thoughts were.”
Since the meeting, Nebraska has lost to Maryland and Purdue. But those words from Moos last week have Miles and the team feeling hopeful heading into this final stretch of games, starting with Minnesota coming to town Wednesday night.
Both Las Vegas and Ken Pomeroy predict the Huskers will win. But in a seven-game losing streak, there are no guarantees.
“They’re a very capable road team,” Miles said of Minnesota. “And they’re a tough matchup for us. Why? Because they draw fouls, we don’t have good depth and we’re minus Nana Akenten. He’s been out sick two days.”
Miles said he didn’t expect Akenten to play on Wednesday. That would mean more minutes for Amir Harris and Thorir Thorbjarnarson. Thomas Allen will start again, Miles said, after coming off the bench the past two games. Allen scored 18 points at Purdue, including 12 in a row.
The Gophers enter 16-8 and on a three-game losing streak. A 20-point surge in the final five minutes helped them beat Nebraska on Dec. 5 in Minneapolis. That night, Nebraska was led by Isaac Copeland with 17 points. Both Harris and Thorbjarnarson will have to try to make up for that absence with Copeland out for the year. Those two will also be tasked with slowing Amir Coffey and Jordan Murphy, two Gopher bigs who bullied Nebraska in December. Coffey scored a season-high 32 points, and Murphy put up a double-double.
During losing streaks, you have to find the small victories for confidence, especially with a team that lacks confidence. For Nebraska, some encouragement has come from its first 21 minutes of play at Purdue. NU was tied with the No. 15 team in the country at 33 on the road. But a 14-2 run from the Boilermakers blew the game open, and Nebraska never recovered.
After the game, Miles said there were positives to take away from the loss, but his team likely wouldn’t realize that until they looked at the film.
Which he was mostly right about.
“Yeah, I think it helped a little bit,” Miles said. “I still think you need to get one on the win column. I don’t think there’s any better way to say it. I wish there was a more elegant way to say it.”
Minnesota at Nebraska
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: KNCY 1600 AM, 105.5 FM