NORFOLK — Fred Hoiberg watched film on the bus.
Across the aisle, Scott Frost did a crossword puzzle.
“He’s a lot smarter than me,” Hoiberg said, sporting a bright red Nebraska polo and black slacks outside the DeVent Center.
Seven weeks into the job, Hoiberg’s been busy. He’s signed 11 new players, attended the college graduation of his daughter at Kansas, tried to buy a house in Lincoln, toured the town with Frost, golfed with Larry the Cable Guy and John Daly. On Thursday, he made his first public appearance with Athletic Director Bill Moos, Frost and a handful of Nebraska coaches. The tour — the Big Red Blitz — made stops in Norfolk, Fremont and Ashland to raise funds for flood victims.
As with all coaching hires, particularly prominent ones, they don’t seem real until they are. But Hoiberg was officially part of the Nebraska team on Thursday. Fans got to experience, for the first time, Hoiberg and Frost, clean cut in polos with short blonde hair pushed to the same left side, answering questions back and forth about Nebraska sports. An image that, in 2015, seemed impossible.
Hoiberg shook hands of fans, joked that had he gone to Nebraska over Iowa State, Tom Osborne would’ve made him into a tight end, and spoke about the importance of raising money for the state he was born in.
“It’s great to come out here and raise some good money for the flood relief. It’s been a crazy spring for what a lot of people have gone through,” Hoiberg said. “So to come out here and be able to spend some time with fans is real important.”
Hoiberg’s summer is just starting. In 10 days, his team will convene for the first time to prepare for a trip to Italy. That foreign trip allows Nebraska to have 10 free practices, giving Hoiberg and his team a chance to find a rhythm. And, really, to actually meet for the first time.
“All I’ve seen of these players is what I’ve watched on film,” Hoiberg said. “And I’ve liked what I’ve seen.”
Hoiberg has 11 new additions to his team. Five of them are transfers, two are from junior colleges, four of them are true freshmen. Though a few won’t be in Lincoln in early June, the opportunity to start to mesh this early is something Hoiberg and his staff will take full advantage of. Yvan Ouedraogo, from France, will be out for the Italy trip while competing in the U18 World Championships. Matej Kavas won’t be done at Seattle University by June 9. Neither will Haanif Cheatham, who has to cross a few T’s before graduating from Florida Gulf Coast.
So Nebraska will deal with what it’s got. But what it’s got is a group already exciting Hoiberg.
During the question and answer session of the afternoon, Hoiberg pointed out Jervay Green and Cam Mack as players he really likes. And compared true freshman Kevin Cross to Georges Niang, the best player Hoiberg coached at Iowa State.
“I think this group is going to come out and play extremely hard and play together, and that’s a good place to start,” Hoiberg said.
Hoiberg set the expectations in front of fans on Thursday, in both the big and little picture. With this team, Hoiberg doesn’t know how pretty it will look. They don’t have size, so they’ll probably be really small at times. They don’t know yet who will play what position, who will start.
But they will run. And they will shoot an extraordinary amount of 3-pointers.
“You’re gonna sometimes look to someone next to you and say, ‘Did they really just shoot that shot?’” he said. “We’re coming into this with an open mind. We have got 11 new faces, we only have two players coming back from last year’s team, there’s a lot of unknowns right now with our group. But we’re excited about our team, the way we put it together.”
After an hour, the program closed, all the coaches receiving a standing ovation. Hoiberg waved and loaded onto the bus painted like a cream Nebraska helmet, his scarlet shirt disappearing into the dark to watch more film on the ride to Fremont.
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Fred Hoiberg was born in Lincoln before his family moved to Ames, Iowa, when he was a toddler. Fred is pictured here with his grandfather, Jerry Bush, the former Nebraska basketball coach.
Fred Hoiberg, bottom right, joined by his two brothers and then-Nebraska Athletic Director Bob Devaney for a ceremony honoring his grandfather, Jerry Bush.
Fred Hoiberg as a child playing football in the front yard of his home in Ames, Iowa. Notice that Fred is wearing a Nebraska shirt in this photo.
Fred Hoiberg received a scholarship offer from Tom Osborne and the Huskers, but instead chose to play basketball at Iowa State. He finished his career with 1,993 points, third most in program history. Hoiberg was also named the 1992 Big Eight freshman of the year and earned first team All-Big Eight honors as a senior.
Fred Hoiberg played 10 seasons in the NBA, including two with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Hoiberg averaged 5.4 points per game and 2.7 rebounds per game during his career.
Fred Hoiberg retired from the NBA on April 17, 2006, and joined the Timberwolves' front office. He underwent successful heart surgery on June 28, 2005 to correct an enlarged aortic root and did not play during the 2005-06 campaign.
Minnesota Timberwolves assistant general manager Fred Hoiberg shows a teddy bear at the 2008 NBA draft lottery. Hoiberg received the teddy bear from 12-year-old Matthew Gamber. Gamber — who was born with a growth around his heart and underwent a liver transplant when he was six months old — loaned Hoiberg the teddy bear that has accompanied him to the hospital for more than 100 surgical procedures in his short life. "He has always brought us a lot of luck when he's in the building," Hoiberg said of Gamber, who attended three victories over Phoenix and one over Utah the past two seasons. "Hopefully, he can help us out with this lucky bear."
Fred Hoiberg is introduced as Iowa State's new head basketball coach on April 27, 2010, replacing Greg McDermott, who left ISU to take the head coaching position at Creighton.
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, left, greets Creighton coach Greg McDermott before a game on Nov. 21, 2010. Hoiberg and the Cyclones finished 16-16 in his first season in Ames.
Fred Hoiberg led Iowa State to a 23-11 mark in 2011 and helped the Cyclones return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2005. The season also included the team's first ranking in the AP Top 25 poll since 2005. Hoiberg was named 2012 Big 12 co-coach of the year after winning nine more games during the 2012 conference season than in 2011, the largest season-to-season improvement in Big 12 history.
Fred Hoiberg led the Cyclones back to the NCAA tournament in 2013, finishing with a 23-12 record. Iowa State defeated Notre Dame 76-58 in the first round before losing to Ohio State 78-75.
Fred Hoiberg became the fastest coach in Iowa State history to notch 100 wins (148 games) on December 31, 2014, when Iowa State defeated Mississippi Valley State 83-33.
Fred Hoiberg holds the 2014 Big 12 tournament trophy after leading Iowa State to its first Big 12 conference tournament championship since 2000.
Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones reached the NCAA tournament for the third straight season in 2014. ISU, the No. 3 seed in the East Region, reached the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual national champion UConn.
Fred Hoiberg cuts down the net with his sons Sam and Charlie after defeating Kansas 70-66 to win the 2015 Big 12 tournament.
Fred Hoiberg and ISU entered the 2015 NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed in the South Regional, but lost to No. 14 seed UAB 60-59.
The Chicago Bulls introduced Fred Hoiberg as head coach on June 2, 2015. Hoiberg, who received a 5-year contract worth $25 million, and the Bulls missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years in his first season with a 42-40 mark.
Former Creighton standout Doug McDermott talks to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg during a preseason game in 2016. McDermott played for Hoiberg for part of two seasons, averaging 9.7 points per game while shooting 41 percent from behind the arc.
Fred Hoiberg led the Bulls back to the playoffs in his second season, but Chicago lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round after taking a 2–0 lead in the series.
On Dec. 3, 2018, Fred Hoiberg was dismissed by the Bulls after a 5-19 start to the season, his fourth year with Chicago.
Fred Hoiberg was officially introduced as the next Nebraska basketball coach in April 2019.