LINCOLN — If Isaiah Roby’s on-court gains this basketball season match the offseason improvements he’s made to his body, Nebraska has much to look forward to from the sophomore wing.
A recent picture on social media showing Roby’s far-more-noticeable bicep definition drew attention. Teammate Jordy Tshimanga, who was home at the time the picture went up, said he didn’t recognize at first that it was Roby.
Jack McVeigh, Roby’s roommate and team cut-up, said, “I think he’s injecting something.” (That’s a joke, folks.)
Roby smiled at those comments, just happy that he’s finally able to work himself into full basketball shape and beyond.
An injury diagnosed last July as a pelvic stress reaction that led to hip and lower abdominal pain sidetracked the 6-foot-8 four-star recruit’s development as he was forced to sit until early November.
“Last summer was terrible,” Roby said. “It was like struggle to struggle. Everybody else was getting better and I was just watching.
“They said I could have fractured my hip and been out for 10 months, so we had to really be careful. And during the season I still had some pain, so they didn’t want to push. Just playing was enough.”
Last year, Roby came to Lincoln at about 185 pounds. He recently stepped off the scale of strength coach Tim Wilson at 220.
“Coach Wilson and I have been doing a lot,” Roby said. “Last year, I couldn’t lift with my legs at all. Lifting legs and arms this time, I’ve put on a lot of weight.
“I can’t wait to continue this. This is a lot of fun.”
Through the pain last season, Roby showed flashes of what Nebraska coach Tim Miles wants him to do, which is fill the stat sheet through his versatility.
In NU’s 70-69 overtime loss to Wisconsin, Roby’s line in 15 minutes before fouling out: four points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. For the season, he averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds.
With the strength Roby has gained, his confidence has zoomed, especially the days that he and McVeigh work out with the 6-11, 275-pound Tshimanga, 6-8, 230-pound transfer Duby Okeke and 6-9, 220-pound transfer Isaac Copeland.
“I know Jordy is a big guy, but he doesn’t feel that big to me now,” Roby said. “And Duby is a big guy, but I feel I can hold my own.”
Roby and McVeigh work one week with the shooting guards and small forwards, and the next with the power forwards and centers.
“We want to be able to play both spots,” Roby said. “If we play me and Jack at the same time or us two with Isaac, somebody is going to get mismatched somewhere. We’ll be able to take advantage of that.”
Fulfilling roles set for veteran players and finding roles for newcomers such as Okeke and freshmen guards Thomas Allen and Nana Akenten feels ahead of schedule, Roby said.
“Duby does what Coach Miles says, and he does it well — shot-blocker, defender, post guy,” Roby said. “Nana and Thomas can shoot. We learned that early. From the first open gym, we could see they can shoot.
“This team is going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to be a fast-paced team. We have the athletes to do it.”
Talk of newfound hope is common in summer workouts, Roby acknowledged, especially on a team like Nebraska that went 12-19.
“Our season wasn’t very good, but I don’t think our record showed what kind of team we could be,” he said. “We have to prove people wrong. Everybody will count us out.
“But we’re tired of losing. This is a big year for everybody.”
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Nebraska's Jordy Tshimanga is harassed by Illinois' Te'Jon Lucas, left, and Tracy Abrams. Nebraska lost to Illinois 73-57.
Ed Morrow flies to the hoop for a dunk against Illinois.
Michigan State fans try to distract Tai Webster as he attempts a free throw. The Spartans won that game, 88-72.
Michigan State guard Cassius Winston makes a layup defended by Nebraska forward Ed Morrow.
Ed Morrow slams down a dunk against Ohio State. Nebraska pulled out a 58-57 victory against the Buckeyes on the road.
Jordy Tshimanga swats away the shot attempt from Ohio State's C.J. Jackson.
Nebraska's Evan Taylor celebrates freshman Mohammad Elradi's basket. The Huskers defeated Penn State 82-66.
Jack McVeigh is congratulated after beating the halftime buzzer with a half-court basket.
Nebraska team members celebrate the first Husker basket during overtime at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Feb 9, 2017, in Lincoln, Neb. (Calla Kessler/The World-Herald)
Nebraska's Ed Morrow drives toward the basket at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Feb 9, 2017, in Lincoln, Neb. (Calla Kessler/The World-Herald)
Nebraska's Tai Webster reacts to a referee's call at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, Feb 9, 2017, in Lincoln, Neb. (Calla Kessler/The World-Herald)
Sunday, Feb. 5: Nebraska forward Jack McVeigh passes over Iowa's Brady Ellingson, left, and Peter Jok, right, in an 81-70 loss to Iowa,
Sunday, Feb. 5: Nebraska head coach Tim Miles reacts to a call against his team during the first half in a loss to Iowa.
Nebraska guard Evan Taylor, No. 11, goes up for a basket as Rutgers forward Deshawn Freeman tries to block his path.
Rutgers guard Mike Williams takes a shot as he is fouled by Nebraska guard Tai Webster, No. 0, during the second half of Rutgers' 65-64 win over Nebraska.
Ohio State's Marc Loving is fouled between Nebraska's Nick Fuller, left, and Isaiah Roby during the first half of the Buckeyes' 67-66 win.
Nebraska's Tai Webster drives past Ohio State's Kam Williams.
Nebraska guard Tai Webster, center, goes to the basket, defended by Michigan forward Moritz Wagner, No. 13, and guard Duncan Robinson, No. 22, in the first half of a 91-85 loss to the Wolverines.
Nebraska guard Tai Webster attempts a basket, defended by Michigan guard Zak Irvin, No. 21, and forward Mark Donnal, No. 34, in the second half.
Jan. 8: Nebraska's Ed Morrow dunks as Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey (No. 20) and Gavin Skelly (No. 44) watch during the Wildcats' 74-66 win.
Jan. 8: Nebraska's Tai Webster flexes after Nebraska scored.
Jan. 5: Nebraska forward Jeriah Horne celebrates a 93-90 double overtime win over Iowa.
Jan. 5: Iowa coach Fran McCaffery protests a call against the Hawkeyes.
Jan. 5: Nebraska's Ed Morrow blocks a shot by Iowa's Peter Jok.
Jan. 1: Nebraska's Isaiah Roby reacts after scoring against Maryland. The Huskers went on to win 67-65.
Jan. 1: Nebraska's Glynn Watson drives to the basket as Maryland's L.G. Gil, right, and Damonte Dodd defend.
Dec. 28: Nebraska's Tai Webster, left, and Evan Taylor smile during the second half of the Huskers' 87-83 win over the Hoosiers.
Nov. 28: Indiana's Josh Newkirk and Nebraska's Glynn Watson scramble for a loose ball.
Dec. 20: Nebraska's Glynn Watson Jr. dribbles the ball against Southern, which the Huskers defeated 81-76.
Dec. 20: Nebraska's Jeriah Horne takes a shot in front Southern's Patrick Smith.
Dec. 10: Kansas guard Josh Jackson lands on Nebraska forward Michael Jacobson during the second half of the Jayhawks' 89-72 win.
Dec. 10: Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is fouled by Nebraska forward Nick Fuller.
Dec. 7: Nebraska's Tim Miles reacts to a call in the first half of the Huskers' 77-62 loss to Creighton.
Dec. 7: Nebraska's Tai Webster (No. 0) shoots against Creighton's Khyri Thomas (No. 2).
Dec. 3: Nebraska's Tai Webster weaves his way towards the basket through South Dakota defenders. The Huskers won 73-61.
Dec. 3: Nebraska's Jack McVeigh takes a shot in the second half against South Dakota.
Nov. 27: Nebraska's Jordy Tshimanga, right, gets a rebound against Virginia Tech's Khadim Sy, left, and Zach LeDay during the the Hokies' 66-53 win.
Nov. 27: Nebraska's Jordy Tshimanga, center, defends against Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson.
Nov. 25: Nebraska's Tai Webster drives to the basket in the second half of the Wooden Legacy tournament semifinal game against UCLA, which the Bruins won 82-71.
Nov. 19: Nebraska's Jack McVeigh celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the Huskers' 65-54 win over Louisiana Tech.
Nov. 19: Nebraska's Tai Webster takes a shot while falling backwards as Louisiana Tech's Oliver Powell (No. 35) and Jacobi Boykins (No. 0) defend.
Nov. 15: Nebraska's Ed Morrow drives to the basket against University of Mary's Isaac Lindquist (No. 33) and Rickey Suggs (No. 1) during the first half of the Huskers' 70-38 win.
Nov. 13: Nebraska's Michael Jacobson (No. 12) celebrates a slam dunk by teammate Ed Morrow Jr. (No. 30) in the second half of an 83-61 win over Sacramento State 83-61.
Nov. 13: Sacramento State's Justin Strings shoots over Nebraska's Evan Taylor.
Nov. 7: Nebraska's Glynn Watson dribbles the ball. Nebraska defeated Chadron State 98-45 in an exhibition.
Nov. 7: Nebraska's Evan Taylor drives as Chadron State's Darius Polley defends.