Nebraska won the first game of its Italy trip on Monday.

The Huskers beat Stella Azzurra Academy, a third-tier professional team, 87-56.

Let's break down what you need to know from these games in Italy by sharing some thoughts as we followed along from Lincoln:

» The starters: Dachon Burke, Jervay Green, Haanif Cheatham, Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Matej Kavas.

Nebraska clearly knew Stella was small, because Kavas won’t play much 5 in the Big Ten. Green played point guard most of the time.

» The leading scorer: Green led the team with 15 points and did it by getting to the hoop. Green didn’t take, nor make, many jumpers. But he was smooth on his way to the bucket and made five free throws.

Freshman Kevin Cross added 13 points for Nebraska, including one 3-pointer. Shamiel Stevenson scored 11, as did Dachon Burke. Kavas, the lanky 3-point shooter, made two triples and ended up with 10 points.

Everyone who played scored. Derrick Walker, the Tennessee transfer, was the only player who didn't see the floor. He was held back in practice leading up to Italy.

» 3-pointers made: Eight. Nebraska made 7.5 per game last season.

Four of Nebraska’s eight 3s on Monday came in the fourth quarter. And two of them came from walk-ons.

Nebraska really didn’t take that many 3s — and honestly didn’t look for many — which was surprising for a Fred Hoiberg team.

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» Who looked good: Stevenson had a thunderous tip slam that showed just how important it will be for Nebraska to try to get him eligible next year. He looked solid and has a nice looking shot.

Cross was able to maneuver in the lane better than you'd expect, which led to some nice moments on both ends.

And find some nice stationary and a pen. A lot of you have an apology to write to Thorbjarnarson. He scored just two points Monday, but he had multiple assists and when he's in, the ball moves so well. He gets the game. He'll play a lot next year — deservedly.

» The main takeaway: You can’t fake chemistry. That has to be built over time. As does trust.

Top to bottom, Nebraska was hesitant. They didn’t swing the ball to find the best shot. Lots of 1-on-1 from the wings, lots of turnovers, not great communication rebounding.

It was, as you’d expect, kind of a mess.

Yes, Nebraska won by 31, but a lot of that was just by the sheer amount of talent on the floor. And Stella really wasn't that good, or even close to fundamentally sound.

A lot of NU's offensive possessions were spent with one guy dribbling around and four guys waving for the ball around the perimeter. This is a side effect of only 10 practices, 11 new scholarship guys and 10% of the offense installed. So no, it isn’t anyone’s fault. But this is far from a finished product. And it isn’t clear when that product will be finished.

» Final thought: Some advice, from me to you. Take it or leave it. But I don’t plan on adjusting my expectations for players or the season based on anything that happens on this trip to Italy. And so, I’d say, proceed through the next week with caution.

It is tempting, I know. This team is so new and so young, and any semblance of a solid piece of information to lean on is appetizing. But the makeup of this group in Italy is odd enough that it’s hard to treat it as the same team that’ll play in 2019-20.

Dalano Banton was involved all over the court, but he has to sit out next year. His presence changes the way Nebraska plays, the way Hoiberg coaches, and the dynamics of the game plan for the next three games overseas. Without Cam Mack and Yvan Ouedrogo — two newcomers who I imagine will play serious minutes next year — it’s hard to say if success in certain areas this week will still translate on American soil.

And the talent overseas is hard to judge, particularly compared to a Big Ten team. Cross scored 13 points, but could he do that against Michigan State's bigs? Green got to the bucket easily, but will that happen at Illinois next year? It's apples and calzones. It doesn't compute.

The team still barely knows each other. Teams in November are often much different than they are in February or March. See: Nebraska’s 2018-19 season. And teams in August are much different than they are in even October.

So did we learn a bit today? Sure.

But hold off on that $5 bet with your buddy on win totals for next year.

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email:

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