CHICAGO — One year ago, Glynn Watson and Evan Taylor sat at a table in Madison Square Garden and might as well have been invisible.
Big Ten Media Day was in New York City, and the Nebraska men’s basketball team was picked near the bottom of the conference. While players from Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and others spent their time answering questions from a host of media, Watson and Taylor essentially had a free hour to scroll through their phones.
Things were different Thursday in Chicago. Tabbed as one of the league’s preseason favorites, with as much star power as anyone in the room, the Huskers were among the day’s most popular draws.
“Last year it was just, they (the media) didn’t believe in us. I think that’s what it basically came down to. I think they had us projected last, or something like that,” Watson said Thursday. “So I think it’s just them believing in us because of the year we had last year.
“It’s fine, but none of this means anything until you step on the court and play.”
Watson, joined Thursday by James Palmer, Isaac Copeland and Isaiah Roby, won’t step on the court for a game that counts for another few weeks, but Thursday offered Nebraska’s top four players a chance for league-wide recognition that has mostly eluded Nebraska in the past.
“I’ve never brought more than two (players), so bringing four, I think they all four deserved it,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “And they’re all four worthy and are interesting enough to be talked to.”
Palmer was revealed as a member of the Big Ten’s preseason all-conference team in the morning, the first Husker named to the team since Terran Petteway in 2014 and just the second Nebraska player on a preseason all-conference team since Aleks Maric in 2007. In an unofficial media poll released earlier in the week, Nebraska was picked fourth in the league behind Michigan State, Michigan and Indiana.
Roby and Watson, Illinois natives, got their share of love, too. Copeland was attending his third media day in the past four years, after representing Georgetown at Big East media day in 2015 and 2016. All of the attention, Miles said, was warranted.
“You know, what’s really cool is seeing that table loaded with people talking to those guys,” Miles said, gesturing to the group. “Because they deserve that respect, and that’s the cool part about it. We always blab as coaches. That’s what we’re paid to do, it seems like. So for me it’s great, but I think it’s better when it looks like that.”
Watson, now a veteran of media day in his own right, said it’s up to the Huskers to handle the expectations placed on them ahead of an anticipated season. Like this year, Nebraska arrived at the 2014 Big Ten media day off a fourth-place finish in the league with much of its talent returning.
“I think we have to be mature enough that we can’t get too big-headed. We can’t take this all like, ‘We made it. We’re going to make the (NCAA) tournament,’” Watson said. “All the teams in the Big Ten are trying to prove a point. No team is going to lay down. That’s why we’ve got to have that motivation and have a chip on our shoulder. We’ve got a bigger picture.”