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  1. 2012 Apr 04

    Audible Audibles Feat. Rob Quillen


    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the best and brightest minds in college football as new guests come in left and right to be part of Audible Audibles.

    This week, a Husker fan joins the show, but not just any fan. Award-winning author Rob Quillen stops by to talk Big Red sports.

    Topics include:

    - Tom Osborne's alternate uniform edict
    - How to unveil the new uniforms
    - Will all schools eventually have an extensive wardrobe?
    - Tim Miles' recent house-cleaning

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

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    Tags: uniforms, tim miles, basketball

  2. 2012 Apr 04

    Husker Heartbeat (4/4/2012): Players' Choice, Pelini's Tests and Second set of Purple 'Cats Downed


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Sipple: Give the players what they want

    - Tests aren't limited to Husker football players' classrooms

    - Jorge Brian Diaz and Mike Fox's playing days in Lincoln are over

    - Husker Hardballers blank Kansas State 6-0 and sweep the series

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    Tags: uniforms, jorge brian diaz, mike fox, basketball, baseball, kansas state

  3. 2012 Mar 29

    Five Reasons Nebrasketball Cannot be a Top 25 Program


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Chris Labenz

    We’ve established why Nebraska can have a top 25 program on a consistent basis, but now we’re going to take a look at the flip side of the coin

    Lack of History and Tradition - Every Saturday in the fall, Husker fans flock like Sandhill Cranes to Memorial Stadium to cheer on one of the most historic football programs in the nation.

    Claiming the longest sellout streak in the NCAA, along with multiple national titles and Heisman trophy winners, Nebraska football is rich in winning history and time-honored tradition.

    This is not the case for the men’s basketball team, which hangs its hat on one Big Eight Conference Tournament title and the unfortunate honor of having never won an NCAA tournament game.

    Because of this lack of history, potential assistant coaches and fans have a hard time getting past the notion that Nebraska is solely a “football school,” where basketball is simply a way to kill the time until spring football practice.

    This mindset has to change in order for the Huskers to start attracting high-end talent, winning games, and convincing folks that Nebraska can be more than a one-trick pony in big time sports.

    Nebraska head coach Tim Miles has said that coaching at Nebraska is his dream gig, a place where he wants to build a consistent winner and retire.

    While this desire is a nice starting point, coach Miles will have to overcome decades of futility to make NU a winner. With the deck stacked against him, Miles’ task in producing a turnaround worthy of notice by fans and recruits in the vein of Billy Donovan at Florida will not be an easy one.

    The Big Ten Conference - While it is a positive that Nebraska is a member of the best basketball conference in the country, the flip side is that the Huskers will face stiff competition for both victories and recruits on a yearly basis.

    From top to bottom, the Big Ten will have a gauntlet of great coaches with the ability to lead teams deep into the NCAA tournament. In addition to the big dogs like Michigan State and Ohio State, other conference mates take their hoops very seriously.

    Illinois was down this season, but they signed Ohio’s John Groce to take back control of its fertile Chicago-recruiting footprint and continue being in the hunt for conference and NCAA titles.

    Minnesota will continue to be a competitive squad while Tubby Smith is running the show, and Northwestern was one victory away from gaining a spot in the NCAA tournament and made it to the NIT final.

    Overall, it’s clear that Miles and Nebraska will have to outwork and out-think opponents on the recruiting trail and on the hardwood in order to crack the top half of the conference on a consistent basis.

    Inability to only Recruit Locally – In hiring Miles, Tom Osborne noted that he was impressed with the former CSU head man’s ability to recruit quality players from the state of Nebraska.

    While this is a positive sign going forward, Miles must have a much broader recruiting focus if he wants to land the type of players that can have the Huskers competing on a nightly basis.

    Nebraska has produced some quality players over the years, and it was frustrating to watch them play elsewhere after spurning offers from Barry Collier and Doc Sadler.

    If Miles can land the best the state has to offer, like Omaha Central’s Akoy Agau, it will be a nice springboard to filling the rest of the class with top players from the rest of the country.

    The new head coach made a big statement by bringing ace recruiter Ronald Coleman with him to NU, but going up against the likes of Izzo and Matta on the recruiting trail is never easy.

    Nebraska is Perceived as a Football School - Not only will Miles have to scour the country coast to coast to fill his roster with quality players, he’ll have to overcome the stigma in place when trying to convince players to sign with the Big Red.

    Recruits get excited about offers from Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin, but they won’t have this reaction to an offer from the Huskers, at least not in the beginning.

    However, one or two top recruits can swing the momentum of a college basketball program, so if Miles and his crew can land some surprises, the momentum should build.

    The full effect won’t happen until Nebraska finds itself discussed on ESPN and in the top 25 of the rankings consistently.

    Poor History of Developing Players Over Their Careers - Under both Barry Collier and Doc Sadler, it seemed like players never got better during the course of their careers at Nebraska.

    Key contributors like Joe McCray, Jason Dourisseau, Wes Wilkinson, Brandon Richardson, Bear Jones, Toney McCray and others came to Nebraska with lots of hype, but plateaued or regressed.

    There is no evidence that Miles will have this same problem, but it’s clear that the difficulty in landing quality recruits makes the job of developing players even harder.

    He has eased the concerns of many fans by stating that he wants to avoid signing JUCO transfers and foreign players as much as possible in order to maximize the chances of incoming players making an impact.

    Can they or can’t they? It should be fun finding out.

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    Tags: basketball, tim miles

  4. 2012 Mar 27

    Five Reasons Nebrasketball can be a Top 25 Program


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Chris Labenz

    Nebraska men’s basketball has historically struggled to field a top-notch team capable of competing for conference titles, let alone gaining entry into the NCAA tournament.

    With the recent hiring of Tim Miles, fans are in for yet another change in philosophy and style.

    Will he be able to bottle up his success as the Rams’ coach and apply the same methods to building a winner in Lincoln?

    Let’s first examine five reasons why Miles’ Huskers can consistently become a top 25 program. This would include finishing in the top half of the Big Ten, and earning an NCAA tournament bid most years.

    We’ll look at five reasons why the Huskers could continue to struggle and remain a conference doormat a bit later.

    Fan Support - Nebraska is often the envy of most programs in terms of their fans’ willingness to pack arenas, and hit the road to watch their team no matter the locale, filling venues with a sea of red.

    However, no matter how passionate the fan base is, there is a fine line between what they can do and what they are willing to do.

    If Nebraska can start to win games consistently and compete at a higher level, there is evidence from several sports that the Husker faithful will sell out the new arena, and follow the team to East Lansing, Columbus, and the like to cheer for the Big Red.

    Miles was not the hot “name hire” some fans were hoping for, so it may be an uphill battle to sell the program at first.

    If he can get Nebraska to where they are in close battles with most Big Ten foes every game, fans will likely embrace him.

    Should this happen, basketball recruits, much like their football counterparts, will take notice of the loyalty and passion shown by the Big Red Nation, a big selling point in recruiting kids to Lincoln.

    Top 10 Facilities - With the completion of the new practice facility and Haymarket arena, Nebraska will surely be in possession of some of the best basketball facilities in the country.

    The former built-in excuses including the poor condition of the Devaney Center and lack of practice facilities are now gone. As a result, Coach Miles will has great selling points for potential recruits who visit Lincoln.

    Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith commented this year that what Nebraska did in regards to their facilities is exactly what Minnesota needs to do in order to compete every year in the conference. There is clear evidence that the Huskers have a leg up on almost every conference foe.

    The bigger question becomes can Miles take advantage of the new digs? Recruits will love what they see if they visit, but Miles must first convince them to check out the Lincoln campus.

    The Big 10 Conference - This year's NCAA Tournament shows that the Big Ten is currently the best basketball conference in the country. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue and Michigan all represented the conference admirably.

    The Buckeyes, Spartans, Badgers and Hoosiers all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, if not beyond. While this means competition will always be stiff, it also means that the Huskers have a great chance of making it to the national tournament by finishing the season in the top half of the Big Ten.

    While Miles’ group won’t always have a shot at the Big Ten crown, it's not necessary in order to make the Big Dance. This is assuming they play above .500 in the conference and take care of business at home.

    This is no easy task because of other Big Ten teams looking to rebound, but it is clearly possible for Nebraska to meet at least one major fan expectation by making the field of 68 most seasons.

    Limited Past Success Shows it Can be Done - While the Danny Nee era ended unceremoniously, the former Husker head coach showed that with the right effort and focus on recruiting, Nebraska can compete at a top 25 level.

    Nee was able to lure NBA-level talent to Lincoln and led the Huskers to a Big Eight tournament championship, and a berth in the NCAA playoff as a result.

    Nee’s blueprint is one that Miles should emulate in some respects, with a focus on national recruiting and 24/7/365 effort in trying to convince prospects to make an official visit to Lincoln.

    In college basketball, one or two key recruits can lead to immediate success and change the face of the program. Miles must find a way to land these big fish to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

    Other Nebraska Programs Have Made it Happen - The natural disadvantages of fielding a top-tier program at Nebraska are not unique to men’s basketball.

    Various programs' head coaches must overcome the same obstacles that coach Miles will face in regards to basketball.

    This includes the limited local talent base and bad weather. However, these other Husker programs have managed to win conference titles, and compete for championships on a consistent basis despite such road blocks.

    While there is a longer history of success among these other sports, that history had to begin somewhere. With the right combination of recruiting, development and charisma, Miles has the chance to be the author of the first chapter of great success for Nebraska men’s basketball in the Big Ten.

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    Tags: tim miles, basketball

  5. 2012 Mar 27

    TIM MILES: Paving the Road to Nebrasketball Exellence


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Congratulations, Nebraska. You have a brand new men’s basketball coach. Those who’ve been around Tim Miles praise him for his personality and coaching ability.

    Fans, local media, and even some of the national guys didn’t know his name until he was hired. Can he turn around this quagmire of a program?

    First, let’s address the hiring process. The name on just about everyone's lips immediately after the Shaka Smart pipe dream was Ohio’s John Groce. He's expected to be hired by Illinois any time now to replace Bruce Weber.

    Groce's Bobcats kept winning in this year's playoff until Miles was hired, then North Carolina knocked Ohio out of the tournament.

    For anyone suggesting that Nebraska didn’t reach out to Groce’s agent, a poker buddy, his fifth grade teacher, somebody to make contact with him to gauge interest: I’m going to make an educated guess that it happened.

    If you don’t believe me, take CBS Sports’ national columnist Gregg Doyel’s word for it. I didn't have time to scan and e-mail him a script.

    On to why Groce would pick Illinois over Nebraska: People know his name, especially due to Ohio’s recent success, which means his bank account has the potential to grow substantially.

    The Big Ten recruiting connections are there, and I’m going to guess a few of those are in, you guessed it, Illinois. Finally, the Illini have been there before.

    By “there,” we’re talking the NCAA tournament, and unlike Nebraska, they’ve won. Not just once, either. Illinois has gone to the Big Dance 29 times, and usually did pretty well for themselves.

    In 11 of those tournaments, they made the Sweet Sixteen, and nine times they made their way to the Final Four. In 2005, they took on North Carolina for the title. They lost, but they were there. This is the stuff of Cornhusker fantasy.

    Finally, there's Miles himself. Upon the rumors of his hiring last Friday, if anything was drilled into Nebrasketball fans’ heads, it was that he’s funny. I’ve got On Demand service, I can pull up comedians. Can the man coach?

    To make everything official, Miles killed the Saturday press conference, but let’s be real. Who doesn’t kill the first press conference?

    You’d have to be looked at as a fourth or fifth choice for the cash cow of an athletic program by a good chunk of the fan base, and have made comments that could be taken in a severely negative light while your predecessor was seen as unnecessarily fired by a widely-despised superior for something like that to happen…

    Miles has charm, he gives great sound bites, which makes my job easier, and he appears to have passion. “Give us a chance” came off more as a statement than a plea.

    Let’s pause the conversation on Miles for a minute and take a detour to Haymarket Park.

    Remember when Darin Erstad was hired and a lot of people were really pissed off? This was before Will Bolt and Ted Silva were brought on after he insisted his own salary be lowered and the overall hiring looked like genius, of course.

    Unpause and take into account that Ronald Coleman, who worked with Miles as an assistant at Colorado State, and knows the Chicago recruiting trail like the back of his hand, is now coming to Nebraska.

    He’s also a former Chi-town prep and AAU coach. Good money says that was brought up during the interviews.

    Miles is also bringing his director of basketball operations Jayden Olsen, and has stated that he’s bringing on three more assistants. Coleman was nearly a lock to follow Miles and Olsen was a likely second.

    Knock the final three hires out of the park with well-placed connections to the AAU circuit in Big Ten country. Maybe thank the Big 12 for their hospitality by raiding their traditional stomping grounds. Do that, and Nebraska will have officially Erstaded the basketball program hires.

    Tom Osborne’s not going to do anything that he honestly believes will potentially tarnish his legacy. That includes messing up what is considered to be the biggest hire in the program’s history by at least several hundred fans.

    There's the B1G move, baseball’s potential resurgence, and if Nebraska finds its way to the field of 32 or beyond on a consistent basis, who’s going to complain?

    Step one’s done. Miles passed the public interview with flying colors. It’s time to see what he can get done away from the podium.

    He has bleeding-edge technology, a premiere arena, and the athletic department appears to have his back. More and more fans are doing their research, and taking a shine to Nebraska’s new head man.

    I’m more than willing to give Miles a chance, but there’s the matter of his end of the bargain. He makes bank, and his assistants likely will, too.

    He stepped up and told Husker Nation that once he gets things feng shuied, it’s the Big Dance or bust.

    Miles seems to get that he’s under pressure in Lincoln, and that’s good. He says he wants to come through for Osborne, and he really does.

    No, not in a genuinely “I truly believe it” way. We're talking in a “so much time, energy and resources have been dumped into this project, that the option to fail is off the table” way.

    If he succeeds, he makes T.O. look good, and a final blessing before Osborne departs the athletic department is a reusable Get Out of Jail Free card.

    Time to find out if Miles can pass Go and grab an initial 200 dollars before he collects his first 1.4 million.

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    Tags: tim miles, basketball

  6. 2012 Mar 27

    Husker Heartbeat (3/27/2012): Beck Part Deux, SJB Back in Action and Two New Assistants Hired


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Take an opportunity to reintroduce yourself to Tim Beck

    - Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste is anxious to take back the starting role that he held briefly

    - The Andrew Rodriguez Experiment continues as he's shifted to tackle

    - Defensive end Cameron Meredith is ready to fill a void of Blackshirts

    - New head men's basketball coach Tim Miles fills two coaching spots on his staff

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    Tags: tim beck, stanley jean baptiste, andrew rodriguez, cameron meredith, tim miles, basketball

  7. 2012 Mar 24

    Interview w/ CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel About New Nebrasketball Coach Tim Miles


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska men's basketball has a new head man, and he's a charmer. Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh had the opportunity to chat with CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel about the hire.

    Doyel gives his take on Nebraska's choice of Miles, what he can pitch to recruits, how well the former CSU coach will likely do in Nebraska's new conference and more. Dial in.

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    Tags: tim miles, basketball

  8. 2012 Mar 23

    NEBRASKA BASKETBALL: CSU's Tim Miles to Nebraska?


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Multiple sources are stating that Colorado State head coach Tim Miles will be introduced as the next head coach of Nebraska men's basketball.

    If this the hire made by Tom Osborne and Mark Boehm, it's without a doubt a mediocre at best.

    The timing of this news is terrible considering that Ohio's John Groce has not given Nebraska an answer, and there's been no door-slam on any potential offer by former Creighton and current Oregon head coach Dana Altman.

    Miles' numbers aren't anything worth fawning over. He recently finished his fifth year in Fort Collins, currently holding a 71-88 record with the Rams. He's gone 28-50 in Mountain West Conference play over that half decade.

    He made the CBI and NIT before the Rams made the NCAA tournament this year before falling to Murray State in their first game.

    Miles has no postseason wins at CSU, and went winless in conference play (0-16) during his first year with a roster very similar to what he would inherit in Lincoln.

    Several Husker basketball fans aren't thrilled with the hire.

    They view Miles as the person Nebraska just fired (Doc Sadler) in different clothes, and his potential hiring as a spinning of the wheels.

    Stay tuned to Husker Locker on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.

    Tags: tim miles, basketball

  9. 2012 Mar 22

    Husker Heartbeat (3/22/12): Safety Smith's Playing Time, Pelini Too Optimistic?, and Remaining Candidates for Roundball


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Safety PJ Smith has bigger things to worry about than playing time

    - Should Pelini and the Cornhuskers tone down their expectations for 2012?

    - Reviewing Big Red beasts: Daimion Stafford

    - A good number of candidates remain in Nebraska's sights for a new men's basketball coach

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    Tags: pj smith, bo pelini, daimion stafford, basketball search

  10. 2012 Mar 21

    NEBRASKA BASKETBALL: Husker Nation Weighs In on Coaching Search


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Once again, you have made your voices heard, Husker Nation.

    Earlier last week, we asked you about the Nebraska men’s basketball coaching search. After 24 hours, we tallied 447 total answers.

    What we discovered was definitive feedback sprinkled with a few surprises.

    What are the things you want to see in the hiring of the next Nebraska men's basketball head coach?

    Ability to recruit talented players that will make a difference: 87.9% (392 votes)

    Ability to win basketball games: 82.7% (369 votes)

    Ability to build a program from the ground up: 67.9% (303 votes)

    A coach familiar with Nebraska basketball: 6.1% (27 votes)

    A former player/assistant with Nebraska: 2.2% (10 votes)

    Ability to graduate players: 37.4% (167 votes)

    Other: 2.7% (12 votes)

    There's no question here. Nebrasketball fans here want to see not only see improvements in recruiting, but they also want to see a winner in Devaney/PBA.

    Fans polled also realize that Nebraska’s program needs to be built from scratch. There will be no short cuts to getting Nebraska basketball on par with the rest of the Big Ten.

    Who is your one choice to take the job at Nebraska?

    Shaka Smart: 37.6% (168 Votes)

    Brad Stevens: 8.9% (40 votes)

    John Groce: 17.7% (79 votes)

    Dana Altman: 5.6% (25 votes)

    Erick Strickland: 1.6% (7 votes)

    Rob Jeter: 1.6% (7 votes)

    Dan Monson: 0.0% (0 Votes)

    Steve Alford: 4.7% (21 votes)

    Gregg Marshall: 6.7% (30 votes)

    Scott Spinelli: 2.9% (13 votes)

    Other: 12.8% (57 votes)

    There’s no secret that Shaka's the man that people want. Since this was before this weekend’s NCAA games, it would be interesting to see if John Groce would get more of the votes.

    A general majority of the “other” responses were for Bruce Pearl. What was more shocking is that a few people (though not many) thought Doc Sadler should be rehired. Why, I dunno. There is also some surprise at the lack of votes for not only Butler's Brad Stevens or Wichita State's Gregg Marshall.

    If you are Tom Osborne/Mark Boehm, what is the biggest selling point you make to the man you want to take the job in Lincoln?

    Chance to coach in the Big Ten Conference: 9.0% (39 votes)

    Money: 12.4% (54 votes)

    Pinnacle Bank Arena and Hendricks Center: 46.5% (202 votes)

    History (first NCAA win, greatest Neb team ever, etc.): 11.3% (49 votes)

    Fan base yearning for a winner: 20.7% (90 votes)

    This proves that yes, the facilities matter. Even with Nebraska being in the Big Ten conference, the Pinnacle Bank Arena opening and what the Hendricks Center provides are the major selling points according to you, the fan.

    If you are asking Osborne/Boehm about this job, what's your biggest concern?

    Recruiting: 46.1% (205 votes)

    Fan Base: 4.9% (22 votes)

    Commitment from the AD office to the program: 35.1% (156 votes)

    Contract money: 4.3% (19 votes)

    Marketing of the program/hire: 8.1% (36 votes)

    Other: 1.6% (7 votes)

    Huskers fans show that they want a coaching staff that recruits well, but that also knows the athletic department has the program’s back.

    While the investment of the facilities are in the forefront, there’s no going back with handcuffing coaches using recruiting limitations.

    Whether it’s the mystique of Osborne's distaste the AAU system to the story of how Bill Byrne wanted local guys in the program when Barry Collier was the the head coach, these preferences must go.

    As long as the program isn’t in trouble with the NCAA, is inside the APR limits and wins, Nebraska needs to do as much as possible to get quality athletes from any available source.

    If this hire is "underwhelming" to you, do you start to question the direction of the basketball program under Tom Osborne and Mark Boehm?

    Question Boehm only: 13.3% (59 votes)

    Question both Osborne and Boehm: 67.2% (299 votes)

    Question Osborne only: 3.8% (17 votes)

    Question neither: 15.7% (70 votes)

    The results of this question are not shocking at all.

    Considering the fact that Boehm probably should have been told to pound sand along with Sadler, he needs to get this hire right.

    Not only to only save his job, but his career in college athletics. His nine-year Nebraska basketball track record is anemic at best

    A question thought of post-poll was if you trust Osborne and Boehm with this hire. However, the bottom line is at least four out of five people who answered will hold someone above the coach accountable for this hire.

    Is it fair to say that this is the most important hire in the history of the Nebraska basketball program, especially with the move to the Big Ten conference, and the opening of Pinnacle Bank Arena?

    Yes: 94.1% (418 votes)

    No: 5.9% (26 votes)

    The fans clearly understand the importance. With the position that Nebraska is in with the arena opening, and Nebraska's new conference being a home of the big boys, this hire has to be a home run.

    There’s no time for another “diamond in the rough." Someone proven and willing to do the dirty work while selling the program is mandatory. I do wish that someone in the six percent that voted "no" would explain why they feel the hire isn't that important.

    Seeing that most of Nebraska’s big targets are still in tournament play, don’t expect much of anything in terms of transactions until these teams bow out.

    One thing is certain - never have so many been interested in a job hunt like this while spring football has been going on.

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    Tags: basketball

  11. 2012 Mar 20

    Husker Heartbeat (3/20/12): Abdullah's Latest, New Name for Nebrasketball and Joseph's Southern Challenge


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Ameer Abdullah is preparing for a sensational sophomore season

    - Oral Roberts' Scott Sutton's name has been linked to Nebrasketball's coaching search

    - Terry Joseph's ready to plant a Husker flag in SEC country

    - Nebraska's pulling in average revenue compared to the rest of the Big Ten

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    Tags: ameer abdullah, basketball, terry joseph

  12. 2012 Mar 19

    Husker Heartbeat (3/19/2012): Spring Storylines, Under-Appreciated Huskers and No Big Red Brooms


    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - There are plenty of hot spring practice storylines after the first few practices

    - Highlighting some of the most under-appreciated Huskers in program history

    - Big Red brooms have to be put back in the closet as Nebraska drops their final game against Louisiana Tech 6-5

    - Lady Huskers get bounced from the NCAA tournament early on behalf of Kansas

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    Tags: spring football, baseball, women, s basketball

  13. 2012 Mar 17

    WEEKEND PANEL: Spring Practice, Nebrasketball Search and Hardball Traits


    By HuskerLocker

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    Every week, the Husker Locker staff sits down and is presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports.

    This week:

    What's the vibe you get after Nebraska's first three spring practices?

    Brian: That not only both sides of the ball have some serious competition going, but there is also a refining of roles, if you will.

    There are the lines that we've heard before (Taylor’s footwork/confidence level, involvement of Kyler Reed, rotation on the O-Line). Did these statements just have the dust blown off a few days ago?

    Do fans want these things to happen? Of course, but there’s a big difference between the first few spring practices, and a Big Ten away game in November with a BCS berth on the line.

    Brandon: It’s hard to get much out of three practices, but if anything sticks out, it’s not just how willing new defensive backs coach Terry Joseph is to speak with the media, but how open he’s been. I like his style when it comes to earning your spot as a player and as a coach.

    You earn the starting spot, but he also has to earn the players’ trust and respect. If that’s how it really goes down, I’m not nominating him for an award yet, but he has encouraging habits.

    Pick a coach, any coach for Nebraska's next men's roundball gig.

    Brian: Phil Jackson (you said any coach!).

    I’m taking John Groce. What he did against Michigan proves how good of a coach he is. Furthermore, he’s built Ohio from the ground up with the Bobcats improving every year.

    Nebraska basketball is going to suffer next year (at what level, who knows?), but Groce is the man you can trust to take a team at the bottom and improve them every year.

    Brandon: I find myself getting more and more enamored with the idea of snagging Ohio’s John Groce.

    One of the essential components of having a successful athletic program is a head coach who can scare the hell out of you. If Nebraska wants to make the official break for Groce, I’ve got bad news: Ohio can take South Florida.

    After the Bobcats and Bulls both knocked off their higher seeded opponent, I see no reason Groce can’t take Ohio into the Sweet Sixteen.

    Don’t think his value doesn’t go up with every step forward Ohio takes. I can’t even say they have no shot of advancing to the Elite Eight. If you’re a Nebraska basketball fan, you’re rooting for South Florida to win tomorrow.

    Is there a trait you like most about Darin Erstad's hardballers?

    Brian: I do like that this team is relentless from the first pitch to the twenty-seventh out and beyond sometimes. The bullpen has also stepped up in a big way.

    However, the two things that worry me are the slow starts on both sides of the ball and the pitching starters. While the bats went crazy yesterday putting up three touchdowns, Louisiana Tech did have 10 hits through eight innings.

    Even though they scored only three runs, that’s one-plus hit per inning, meaning you have that many baserunners per inning. This has to get better before Big Ten play.

    The team WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) was hovering around 1.7 for Nebraska before Louisiana Tech, which is a horrible number. It needs to shrink to 1.35-1.4 prior to the conference slate.

    Brandon: I can’t remember the last time I saw a college baseball team that looked so punch-you-in-the-mouth aggressive.

    After years of Mike Anderson’s Wait-and-See approach, it’s refreshing to see a club that gets after it, and this is important, has faith that they’ll be successful by doing so. This is a team that people will pay to see night after night and rightfully so.

    Who's in your Final Four?

    Brian: Wanna know how many brackets I filled out for this tourney? Zero. None. In my estimation, it’s much easier to enjoy something like this without worrying about what my bracket looks like. Final Four? Mizzo...wait, Duk...oh dear.

    On a side note, yes we all know the lane violation is a rule, but please show me every instance it was called in the regular season and conference tournament season.

    Both times this “rule” (which it turns out isn’t even a rule in the NBA) has cost the team charged with it a victory. UNC-Asheville and Notre Dame were victims of officials that wanted to control the game instead of letting the players decide the outcome, and that’s a shame.

    The NCAA punished two players who hustled and got into position for a rebound, especially in the UNCA/Syracuse game. Quit being a Ted Valentine or Ed Hightower and making the game all about you. No one drops 90 dollars per ticket for a two-game session to hear you blow the whistle. Change the rule and get it right.

    Brandon: I always promise myself I'm going to stop doing this next year.

    It’s still intact (as of this writing), so that’s a plus. I’ve got Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State with the Wildcats beating the Buckeyes to take home nets.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @huskerlocker
    Brian: @btbowling

    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: spring practice, basketball, baseball

  14. 2012 Mar 14

    NEBRASKA BASKETBALL: Reviewing the Coaching Candidates


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Even with the start of spring football practice and the hopes that Connie Yori’s gang will make noise in the women’s NCAA tournament, the interest about who’ll fill the role of men’s head basketball coach continues to grow.

    To say that this is one of the most important hires in the history of the program isn’t a stretch. Nebraska’s now in a basketball powerhouse conference and will be opening the Pinnacle Bank Arena in November 2013. The athletic department needs to capitalize on the commitment to a renaissance for men’s hoops.

    There are several coaches that Tom Osborne and Mark Boehm would like to speak to. Who are they, and are they a fit for Osborne and Boehm’s new Nebrasketball?

    First Call Coaches:

    John Groce – Ohio University

    Groce is the man that most fans and the media want, and with good reason. The 40-year-old has done well with the Bobcats. Heading into the 2012 NCAA tournament, Groce has an overall record of 83-55 including two Ohio Valey Conference tournament titles.

    Before landing the job in Athens, he was an assistant from 2004-2008 at Ohio State. While with the Buckeyes, he was part of a staff that saw two Big Ten regular season titles and a Final Four run. Groce was also the lead recruiter for players such as Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden.

    He is ideal for Nebraska with his age, passion, and leadership abilities. No doubt Groce knows how to recruit the Midwest, and would be as close to the perfect candidate to take the reins of a floundering program.

    Nebraska’s Chances: Very good. It’s a perfect situation for him to walk into, and odds are if Osborne wants him he’ll write Groce the check he wants.

    Shaka Smart – VCU

    At only 34 years of age, Smart has a fire that could work wonders in Lincoln. While only being on the job for three years, he took the Rams on their improbable run to the 2011 Final Four, knocking off the likes of Southern California, Georgetown, Florida State, and Kansas. Before that, he lead VCU to the 2010 CBI championship.

    Smart is known for coaching teams that are relentless on both ends of the court with a swag that you wouldn’t believe comes from a team in the Colonial Athletic Association.

    Nebraska’s Chances: Not as good as fans would hope. Since Illinois fired Bruce Weber, they've had Smart in their sights. With a big piggy bank and key Midwestern areas to recruit from, there aren’t many scenarios where Smart doesn’t become the next head man in Champagne. If talks should stall, however…

    Gregg Marshall – Wichita State

    Marshall is an intriguing prospect for a number of reasons. The fifth-year head man at Wichita State lead the Shockers to last year’s NIT championship. Husker fans may remember the 76-49 skull-kicking that WSU administered to Nebraska in the opening round.

    Over the last two years, WSU is a very impressive 54-18 and has continued to see the success that Marshall had during his career at Winthrop.

    Nebraska’s Chances: About the same as with Smart. South Carolina’s honed in on Marshall after the dismissal of Darrin Horn.

    Interestingly, VCU and Wichita State play each other in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Might Osborne beat South Carolina and Illinois to get the first interview with one of the first teams to bow out of the Big Dance?

    The Unlikely:

    Dana Altman – Oregon

    Altman, the well-known former Creighton coach, has spent some time in Eugene and done well. Oregon has recruited hard and looks to be on the way up in a conference with no real threats to step up and take control.

    However, Altman is from Nebraska, still has family there, and has those Midwestern values. Do all Huskers want him to lead their team? No, because they feel like he underachieved at Creighton, especially in his last two years as he dealt with player issues.

    What Has to Happen: Nebraska has to sell that Altman can succeed in Lincoln. There’s a semi-hefty buyout with Oregon, and he’ll likely need his current pay equaled to move back home.

    Would it be the best hire or even a splash hire? No. Is it a safe hire that will get people interested in Nebrasketball again? Probably. Word on the street is that Osborne and Altman have a mutual interest in discussing the gig.

    Dan Monson – Long Beach State

    The former Gonzaga/Minnesota head coach is another intriguing choice. While having a great record during his two years at Gonzaga coupled with a not-so-great record during his six years in Minneapolis,

    Monson has had a great turn around at Long Beach State. He started out slowly, but his teams churn out progressively better results each season. That includes regular season and conference tournament title this year.

    What Has to Happen: Both Smart and Groce have to decline. Monson needs to be enthused about taking a second crack at the Big Ten. Knowing that Tubby Smith has struggled at Minnesota almost as much as he did while having to deal with the Clem Haskins scandal might help.

    Steve Alford – New Mexico

    Alford’s another candidate that might enjoy another shot at a Big Ten slate. Having some success with Iowa, the one-time Indiana Hoosier sharpshooter also did well with then-Southwest Missouri State before heading to Albequerque to take over New Mexico. Since arriving, Alford has led the Lobos to three regular season titles and one conference tournament crown.

    What Has to Happen: Nebraska has to open the checkbook and sell the big picture. New Mexico has made life comfortable for Alford with a hefty paycheck and a contract extension. Add the strong commitment to upgrading “The Pit”, and it’s almost impossible to leave. Almost.

    If Nebraska can somehow show Alford that not only are the Huskers’ new facilities on par with New Mexico’s, but that he can be a big dog in the conference he cut his teeth in, then the odds are better than some might think. Iowa would laugh at this hire, yet might be passed like a car stuck on the shoulder of a freeway as a result.

    Not Gonna Happen

    Scott Spinelli – Maryland

    Spinelli, a former assistant of then-Nebraska head coach Barry Collier, has been talked up by Maryland head coach Mark Turgeron. Not only should Nebraska avoid an assistant cutting his teeth, but hiring a man who is associated with Collier wouldn’t be the best PR move.

    Josh Pastner – Memphis

    Before last February, Pastner would have been at the top of everyone’s list, including mine. A great coach and recruiter, he's lead Memphis back to respectability in his three years on the job.

    However, that was before Memphis announced that they were moving to the Big East conference very soon. This gives Pastner no reason to leave considering it gives him the big time basketball conference he was yearning for.

    Erick Strickland

    The former Husker star’s name has been thrown out for his want to be the next head coach of Nebraska. Strickland has no formal coaching experience in college or the NBA mind you, but some fans think it’s a good idea.

    While there is no problem with Strickland being an assistant or a lower level support staffer, starting your career as head coach of a Big Ten team isn’t the way to dip your toe into the pool. It will get ripped off.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
    Follow HuskerLocker on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: basketball, jim groce, shaka smart, dana altman

  15. 2012 Mar 14

    Husker Heartbeat (3/14/12): Pensick Pushing for Starting Role, Big Red Benchmarks and Another Nebrasketball Candidate


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Cole Pensick works through spring with the aim of making his mentor, former Husker center Mike caputo, proud of his efforts

    - Benchmarks set for Big Red football's success this spring

    - The then and now of Jared Crick's ill-timed 2011 injury

    - UW-Milwaukee's head man is being looked at as a potential Sadler replacement

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: cole pensick, jared crick, basketball

  16. 2012 Mar 13

    Husker Heartbeat (3/13/12): Turner's Every Down, Carnes in Football School and No. 18 Cal Splits Series with Huskers


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Jamal Turner's now on the field every down instead of third down

    - Brion Carnes is determined to do everything he can to push Martinez including pouring effort into NU's Football School

    - Dennard and David are two names now showing up in NFL Draft first round predictions

    - Could Ohio's John Groce be the next men's Nebrasketball coach?

    - Nebraska takes down No. 18 Cal and splits the crucial series 2-2

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: jamal turner, brion carnes, alfonzo dennard, lavonte david, john groce, basketball, baseball

  17. 2012 Mar 12

    Husker Heartbeat (3/12/12): Spring Two-Deep, NU Football March Madness and Basketball Coach Criteria


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Projecting the two-deep heading into spring practice

    - The media savored the opportunity to watch practice live and in living color

    - Nebraska football has its own brand of March Madness

    - Osborne has no recruiting guidelines for Nebraska roundball's new head man

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: spring practice, basketball

  18. 2012 Mar 11

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Knee-Jerk Reactions (3/11/2012)


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - Seeing Sadler go was necessary, but damn hard to watch. What made it harder to watch wasn’t Doc breaking down or the obvious desire to succeed, but how Tom explained the situation. It was like watching a funeral. The death of a good man’s efforts.

    - In brighter news, how Erstad’s sluggers are an entertaining bunch to watch if nothing else. A fun 8-8 tie after being down six runs was fun, but Cal tipped it with experience. Yesterday was complete and utter revenge.

    - It was beautiful.

    - Spring ball starts with nothing staggering to report. If no one else gets severely injured between now and mid-April, that’s about the best anyone can hope for.

    - Consider those who got the opportunity to talk shop with Bill Belichick extremely envied.

    - If Lavonte David actually ends up being the Husker taken highest in the draft, look forward to the career of Michael Rose. He has the same work ethic.

    - He was also at practice yesterday.

    - Not really a fan of Pensick at center. Caputo was a special guy. You can’t keep plugging in 275-pound guys in against Big Ten defensive interiors.

    - Slide Spencer Long over to compete with Ryan Klachko and Mark Pelini.

    - Not that Mark Pelini.

    - Digging the implementation of QB cams during seven-on-sevens.

    - Starting to question if Andrew Rodriguez should continue to have a scholarship following 2012 at this rate.

    - PARTING SHOT: If you hadn’t heard, LSU Senior goalkeeper Mo Isom is trying out for the LSU football team ala KaLena "Beanie" Barnes did for Nebraska back in the day. Turns out she’s really, REALLY good:

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
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    Tags: doc sadler, basketball, baseball, cole pensick, ryan klachko, mark pelini, spencer long, andrew rodriguez, mo isom

  19. 2012 Mar 10

    NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Weekend Panel (3/10/12)


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Every week, the Husker Locker staff sits down and is presented a number of questions addressing various aspects of Nebraska Cornhuskers sports.

    This week:

    Which unit do you have the most and least confidence in as the Huskers begin spring ball?

    Brian: Most: Running backs. With the continuation of Rex, Ameer, and Aaron Green into a second season with Ron Brown and Tim Beck, there is no ceiling high enough for this group.

    These three guys along with Mike Marrow and Imani Cross (if he doesn’t redshirt) will be a stable to lean on next year.

    Least: Defensive backfield. So many questions to answer with a new coach, obvious holes to plug from graduation (Dennard, Cassidy) and a third position coach in three years.

    Bo is going to put his focus on this group with the hoping that once Mohammed Seisay arrives, there will be others that will step up and be players. The sooner these players are refined, the better off Nebraska’s defense will be in 2012.

    Chris: The running backs, primarily based on the return of Rex Burkhead, who has shown to be Nebraska's most consistent and perhaps best player since Suh.

    Burkhead should cement himself as an all-time great this year, but ideally the coaches will find a way to get Aaron Green and Ameer Abdullah more involved so that the senior workhorse has his legs during the important stretch to end conference play.

    Pelini has shown that when a play has to be made, No. 22 will be called on, and Burkhead has almost always answered the call. However, Pelini needs to be able to have trust in Green and Abdullah in big games, and this trust must be earned through spring practice and when Burkhead's not needed in blowouts.

    Luckily for Nebraska (and Rex’s legs), Green and Abdullah possess elite athletic ability and with another offseason behind them, both should be ready to show the coach they deserve more carries.

    On the other side of the coin, I have the least confidence in the linebacker corps heading into spring ball. With Lavonte David gone, I look at the Husker roster and don’t see anybody who can fill that void.

    Granted, No. 4 is not someone you can replace with one player, but I am doubtful that the Huskers’ current linebackers can improve to a level sufficient to make the Blackshirts an overall better defense in 2012 despite the absence of David.

    Brandon: I can’t believe I’m saying this after watching Nebraska football for so long, but the wide receivers have my vote of confidence. There’s so much young athleticism for Rich Fisher to work with. Plus the kid he essentially brought with him to Nebraska (or is it the other way around?), Taariq Allen will likely get an opportunity to shine.

    I have the least confidence in the defensive line, primarily due to severely thin depth at the interior spot. Too many players of an already-depleted depth chart are going to be standing on the sidelines.

    The Huskers are at a point where one player’s absence in the middle goes from potentially helping depth to having so many out that they may end up killing morale of the guys who do get snaps. It’s early, but I look for the running game to have a great day come mid-April.

    With the men's basketball season over, do you believe that whoever the next coach is can make Nebraska men's basketball a competitive sport?

    Brian: That’s a question that only people like Tom Osborne and Mark Boehm can answer right now. Doc made mistakes but he also couldn’t get momentum going with how much of lack of support (true or perceived) he had from North Stadium.

    The new HMOC will have that still shiny Hendricks Complex and Pinnacle Bank Arena to use when wooing recruits, but it doesn’t make a difference if you have the Staples Center to play in if the atmosphere sucks.

    Whoever comes in has to want to grow the program every day whether it's on a mountain or deep in a valley like it is now.

    The next guy will have no pity to worry about. Instead, he's the next in line to rid the program of a 12-year black cloud ever since Danny Nee was escorted out with pitch forks and bonfires.

    Chris: I have always believed that Nebraska should have a top 25 basketball program. With the Huskers' rabid fan base, which will spend significant income to support a winning team, there is no reason the men’s basketball program can’t sell out home games, consistently compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament, and be competitive in every contest.

    The new arena and practice facilities have removed any built-in excuses regarding lack of support by the athletic department. The question now becomes, "Who's next"?

    If the athletic department is serious in its commitment to the program, not only by conducting a full scale search for the best possible hire, but also by being willing to spend the necessary money to attract the coach discovered, then I’m confident that men’s hoops will be taken more seriously by both fans and recruits.

    Should Tom Osborne compile a list that reads: “1. Dana Altman, 2. TBD,” then I can safely advise all fans that the price of season tickets is better spent on an NCAA Basketball television package.

    Then their dollars will go towards watching entertaining games from the comfort of home, instead of another round of 50-point slugfests by Nebraska, complete with an extra 70 bucks in concessions and parking.

    Brandon: Absolutely. Tom Osborne said last Friday that he doesn’t subscribe to the theory of a “football school” or “basketball school.”

    While one may be dominant, Nebraska can still have a solid Big Three (football, basketball and baseball). With competent recruiting and a coach that knows how to win rather than is experimenting to find the formula, Nebraska could see a rapid turnaround.

    How important is Nebraska's baseball series with Cal?

    Brian: Somewhat important in that Nebraska has to show that the Gonzaga series was a fluke. The Zags are not a bad team this year, but Cal went to the College World Series last year.

    The RPI stroke that a three-win set goes a long way. Also, being at home with massive crowds expected, Erstad and Little Van Horn (Bolt) can get back some of that fan passion back that disappeared with the end of Mike Anderson’s tenure.

    People do still care about Nebraska baseball. a 4100-plus person crowd for a Tuesday game against K-State proves that.

    Chris: I don’t think this series should act as a barometer for Nebraska's future on the diamond. Fans often think too short-term about the baseball team, concluding that a big series win means a sure trip to Omaha or being swept means that the ballclub just can’t cut it this year.

    Fans should not treat the series with Cal as anything more than a fun way to get out to Haymarket Park and see how the sluggers compete against good talent. Coach Erstad is only just beginning to get the players to buy-in to his system, and Coach Silva has a long road ahead of him working out the kinks on the mound.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see NU lose three of four, but also showing off competitive fire in all games, fighting all the way to the ninthinning. That alone would be a good sign, only adding to the positive results Erstad has gotten so far in his short tenure.

    Brandon: It’s a great measuring stick, but it shouldn't define Erstad in a sigifnicant way, positively or negatively. The initial loss was painful, but coming from such a huge hole to send the game into extra innings speaks volumes about this team’s personality. I don’t think you can give credit to just Darin Erstad for this change. This is truly a team effort by him, Bolt and Silva.

    New Nebraska defensive backs coach Terry Joseph said the following, "The Nebraska brand is powerful because it ‘s nationally known. It’s simple, but it has a lasting effect on everyone who sees it. When you start talking about a school like Nebraska, you don’t really have to explain who you are to recruits." What does this tell you?

    Brian: Can I call this statement hogwash? Because it is.

    A 18-year-old kid who is being recruited by schools will look at Nebraska football and realize that they were not in kindergarten the last time Nebraska won a national championship. They weren't in fifth grade the last time the Huskers won a conference title and played in a BCS game.

    Nebraska is nationally known by Generation X who remembers the 60-3 run in the mid 1990s. To today's high school senior, it’s just a team that wears a lot of red, has a stadium that is full all the time, and has won the Alamo Bowl and the Holiday/Gator Bowl a few times.

    The Nebraska “brand” is powerful to kids/parents who live near Lincoln, the ones that realize what it meant and still means to walk out of the tunnel. To kids in Texas, Florida, California and into SEC country, you have to do more than sell a brand.

    For someone that doesn’t see what you see, you have to get them to Lincoln to experience it themselves. The game day atmosphere, the home grown kids who walked on and have the burning urge to go headfirst into a brick wall for the red "N" on the side of their helmet.

    If you have someone who is paying their own way sell the program or a coach that has experienced it themselves, only then do you have the person that can give that high school senior who doesn’t know what it’s like to hear "Husker Power!" chanted, to throw the bones after a three and out or how the fans appreciate effort win or lose.

    Sorry, Terry Joseph. You do have to explain it to recruits. You have to install that passion that people in Lincoln and around Nebraska have for this program. If you solely go off what you “think” the brand is, then you’re not getting it.

    Chris: It tells me that despite Nebraska's lack of recent success in finishing off conference title games and getting to BCS bowls, coaches around the country still hold Nebraska in high regard, and will still seriously consider a chance to coach here.

    Joseph’s hire might represent a change in Bo’s mantra of only looking internally for coaches, but also shows that Nebraska can still go out and land quality assistants when it wants.

    I also hope it helps Pelini realize that 1.) Nebraska is a big-time program and should be treated as such and 2.) going forward, he can attract good coaches, even if they’re already employed by another a top-notch or tradition-rich program.

    Brandon: When Joseph gets out on the recruiting trail, he can confidently sell quality as opposed to convince recruits to take a chance. Nebraska’s lack of overall recent success hurts to an extent.

    However, when you bring a kid in to a school where football’s the money sport and millions of dollars are being poured into their athletic success both now and in the future, you’re not exactly trying to sell him a rusted Geo Metro.

    To properly sell anything, you have to believe in it. From all early reports, Terry Joseph believes in Nebraska.

    Follow the panel on Twitter:

    Brandon: @huskerlocker
    Brian: @btbowling
    Chris: @chris_labenz

    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: terry joseph, basketball, baseball, spring practice

  20. 2012 Mar 09

    NEBRASKA BASKETBALL: Names Already Surfacing to Replace Sadler


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Find out some of the hot names already associated with the Nebraska men's basketball head coach search.

    Tags: basketball

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