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Official Husker Locker Blog

2010 Mar 02

MBB: Pioneers of the Sadler Era


By HuskerLocker

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It was Doc Sadler’s first press conference as Nebraska’s new basketball coach, and he kept fielding questions from a kid in the crowd.

Wow, Sadler thought, who’s this guy?

One of his incoming freshman, actually - Ryan Anderson.

“That was kind of - unique,” Sadler said Monday. “But being around him for four years, that’s the kind of person he is.”

For Anderson - one of four seniors to be honored in NU’s final home game of the regular season Tuesday night vs. Colorado - building the foundation of the Sadler era has been “a crazy ride.” Grinning, Anderson means it as a good thing.

He played nearly every position on the floor except point guard. He joined Erick Strickland as the only Husker to notch 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 150 3-pointers, 150 steals and 150 assist in his career. He’s packed on weight to throw down in the paint. He’s lost it to get quicker on the perimeter. He’s rediscovered his high-arcing 3-point shot in the last month.

Anderson even met his wife, the former Danielle Smith, when she was a member of the NU track team.

“A lot of stuff happened, man, but all along it was a great opportunity,” Anderson said.

Anderson and Sek Henry - along with Ben Nelson and Chris Balham - comprise the first four-year class of Sadler players.

While a Barry Collier recruit, Anderson never played a second for him. Nelson played club rugby at NU for a year - he was good at it, too - before switching his attention to basketball. Balham played for three years before chronic knee pain forced him to become a student coach.

Henry, meanwhile, was Sadler’s first recruit in August 2006 out of the Patterson School in North Carolina.

“For him to have the confidence in me to come to Nebraska, you’re always going to be appreciative of that,” Sadler said.

Henry’s never missed a game at NU. He’s played in 124 straight, 95 of them starts. The left-hander from Los Angeles struggled with confidence during this season - “I take things too hard on myself,” Henry said - but busted out of a slump with a career-high 21 points in the 83-79 double-overtime win over Texas Tech.

His mother Juanita - who doesn’t like to fly - will take in her first Husker home game of Henry’s career Tuesday along with Henry’s cousin, who made it to Lincoln despite her plane being struck by lightning.

“I’m going to try not to get emotional,” Henry said. He’d rather be focused, he said, on delivering a win in the 7:05 p.m. game.

Anderson’s parents and in-laws will be on hand for his final home game, unless NU, 14-15 sneaks into a postseason tournament like the NIT or CBI with a healthy winning streak at the end of the season.

Henry hasn’t lost hope of that. The screensaver on his cell phone is a picture he took of the Big 12 trophy while in Kansas City for media days. A conference tournament title remains the goal.

“I’ve been frustrated, but I never doubt we can win,” Henry said.

Tags: mbb, ryan anderson, sek henry, chris balham, ben nelson, doc sadler

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