LINCOLN — Mike Peltz has turned into the Nebraska basketball team's Swiss Army knife.
If coach Tim Miles needs minutes at point guard, he'll send in the 6-foot-2 Alliance, Neb., native. The strong results so far: a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with just one miscue every 22.7 minutes.
If Miles wants some muscle against an opponent's scorer, in goes the thick-shouldered Peltz, recently seen completing a takedown under the basket of Creighton All-American Doug McDermott.
Or if Miles seeks a tempo change, the mop-haired Peltz hops off the bench and zips around the court at a pace that has his long locks bouncing.
By definition, that is hoops grunt work. But the last-minute walk-on out of Western Nebraska Community College loves it.
“I'm living my dream,” he said Tuesday. “I'm having a blast. It's my role to provide energy and take care of the ball or guard the other team's best player. Whatever it takes, I'll do it.”
As happy as that makes Peltz, he grimaces on the outside because of knee pain from playing with a partially torn patellar tendon.
“It bothers me a lot,” he said. “They try to monitor me. I've got to play through it, even though I haven't been as confident as I would like.” Postseason surgery is scheduled.
With the winding path Peltz followed to get to Nebraska, he doesn't want to surrender a minute of action.
Coming out of Alliance High, where he led Class B in scoring as a junior and senior, he had a walk-on offer from Liberty University in basketball plus walk-on invitations in basketball and football from Chadron State and Nebraska at Kearney.
“But my goal,” Peltz said, “was always to play Division I.”
So he chose junior college to work on his game. At Western Nebraska, he was a two-time captain and went head-on against some elite players, including Baylor All-Big 12 point guard Pierre Jackson, who was at College of Southern Idaho.
WNCC is where Miles, then at Colorado State, first looked at Peltz, who eventually got 10 to 12 Division II scholarship offers and a walk-on invite from Creighton.
But Peltz landed far away in August — at NAIA St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla.
“I signed there, but it wasn't based on the right reasons,” he said. “My dad was going to retire there. But I didn't like it.”
On the 2,000-mile drive home, with his future in doubt, Peltz was just outside Nebraska City when he called Miles to ask for a chance.
“He said, 'Yeah, let's do it,'” Peltz said. “The second week of school I got enrolled. I was a little late, but I got settled in and here we are.”
The thought of playing at Oregon this Saturday and at Big Ten venues such as Indiana and Michigan State later in the season leaves Peltz beaming.
“I'm very blessed to get this opportunity,” he said. “And I've got a lot of family around here, so that makes it even more special.
“I've had a lot of doubters along the way, but that's what keeps pushing me.”
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