LINCOLN — Nothing Tim Miles has seen from Jordy Tshimanga after three days of practice has changed the Nebraska basketball coach’s mind on how to use his 6-foot-11, 275-pound freshman center.
“He’s going to play,’’ Miles said Wednesday. “I didn’t recruit him to do anything slow. One, he wants that challenge. And two, I trust him.’’
Nebraska essentially has played without a true post through Miles’ first four seasons. That’s why Tshimanga’s signing was so celebrated, particularly after two years of work recruiting him out of Montreal by way of the MacDuffie School in Massachusetts.
“We’re going to go to him right away,’’ Miles said. “He’s going to have to prove to me he can’t do it.
“You really fall in love with the kid once you meet him. He’s an infectious personality. It’s always great to have a big kid like that. A lot are quiet and shy.’’
The other reason Miles loves Tshimanga is that for the first time since 6-11, 265-pound Aleks Maric played eight years ago, Nebraska will have a low-post presence with the skill to score inside and the defensive ability to protect the rim.
“He just needs to pick up some of the nuances of the game,’’ Miles said. “He’s got the attitude that truly craves improvement. He wants to get better every day.
“He will come and ask questions all the time, and not just dumb ones — really thoughtful questions.’’
Tshimanga isn’t a lumbering old-style center, though he is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket player. He runs the floor with speed, dives on the floor for loose balls and is more than willing to clobber someone who drives the lane.
Tshimanga remains relatively inexperienced. Growing up in Montreal, his first sport of choice was football. This is just his fifth year of playing basketball competitively.
“But he has been well-groomed by his prep school coaches, and he’s an eager learner,’’ Miles said. “That really helps.’’
As for playing time, Miles said he’s more concerned about foul trouble holding Tshimanga back than conditioning.
“Part of that is learning how to play in a stance and being ready all the time,’’ Miles said. “What a lot of young kids don’t get is when you feel you’re most comfortable you’re the most vulnerable on defense.
“I have no idea how many minutes he will play. As long as he’s productive, he’s going to play. And as long as he’s not in foul trouble, he’s going to play.’’
>> Miles repeated Wednesday what he told The World-Herald last week: Freshman Isaiah Roby (hip) and junior Anton Gill (knee) will be held out of full-speed practice — Roby for a month and Gill for two weeks.
Roby complained of hip pain for months before he got to Nebraska. The diagnosis was a stress reaction in his pelvis, with rest as the cure. Gill underwent a surgical procedure on his knee to try to relieve chronic tendinitis and prevent future problems.
>> Miles asked his players to come up with a team motto. Sophomore wing Jack McVeigh suggested, “Win!’’ Miles’ response: “Hell of an idea, Jack.’’ It looks as if “Us Always’’ will be it.
>> True freshman Jeriah Horne, who was more of an inside player in high school in Kansas City, is reworking his 6-7, 222-pound body and will play on the perimeter in college.
>> Sophomore forward Michael Jacobson has grown an inch and gained 19 pounds of muscle since last season. He is listed at 6-9 and 239 pounds.