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  1. 2010 May 18

    Podcast 5/18: Doc Hires One Assistant


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mbb, doc sadler, baseball, tennis

  2. 2010 May 12

    Osborne: Arena Makes NU 'Very Competitive'


    By HuskerLocker

    Now that Lincoln voters have approved the creation of Haymarket Arena for 2013, NU will be in the “top ten percent” nationally for basketball facilities, NU athletic director Tom Osborne said Wednesday.

    And with the completion of a basketball practice gym in 2011, “there is no reason why Nebraska shouldn’t be very competitive,” Osborne said, in men’s and women’s hoops.

    “Doesn’t happen overnight,” Osborne said. “But we think we’ll gain considerable momentum.”

    To help sweeten the deal for the city, Nebraska conceded on what University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor Harvey Perlman called “significant revenue streams” to help the city pay off its debt.

    Lincoln will keep concession profits and own almost all of the suites, for example, and while NU can accrue various credits for its $750,000 rent to the city - to the point where the 30-year lease could technically be rent-free during some seasons - Osborne estimated NU was contributing, in terms of relinquished revenue, around $1.4 million per year.

    Considering Nebraska would have spent $50 million renovating the Bob Devaney Sports Center instead of the $20 million it still plans - and considering the recruiting and visibility bump to the basketball programs, it was worth it, Osborne said.

    “We think it’s a good deal for us and a good deal for the city,” said Osborne, who estimated NU’s actual yearly rent would hover around $200,000.

    Perlman agreed. The arena project fit into his overall vision for the future of Nebraska, which includes building an Innovation Campus around Devaney, a plan that might have been complicated by additional parking lots or garages had the voters shot down the arena bond issue.

    Key details confirmed or emerging from Wednesday’s press conference held at Memorial Stadium:

    *The Haymarket Arena will have 36 suites - only four of which are controlled by NU for sporting events. NU and Lincoln will the split the revenue on 100-120 loge seats. On 800 club seats, the Huskers will keep the surcharge for sales made during basketball events.

    In the lower bowl of the arena, there will be 4,700 reserved seats, plus 2,500 for students. The arena’s upper deck should have around 8,000 seats.

    *NU will “divorce” any men’s basketball season ticket plans tied to football donations, Osborne said. Some critics contended this created a milder atmosphere in Devaney of fans who were less interested in men’s hoops than they were in keeping good seats in Memorial Stadium.

    “Those people have been good basketball fans in the past, we will try to make sure their seats are located in very comparable places,” Osborne said.

    *The goal for attendance: 10,000 fans per game for both the men’s and women’s programs.

    *Nebraska will still spend roughly $20 million to renovate the Devaney, which will continue to host gymnastics, track and swimming events, plus add some more wrestling and volleyball matches, as well. Osborne said NU will refurbish the exterior, create new entrances, widen concourses, renovate restrooms and replace the chair-back seats, which Osborne called “terrible.”

    Osborne didn’t say whether capacity would be significantly reduced, but the arena may employ curtains to create a more intimate atmosphere for certain athletic events. Although NU volleyball coach John Cook is “pretty attached” to playing inside the NU Coliseum, Devaney could be better retrofitted for the sport and have more availability for practice, as well.

    Tags: tom osborne, harvey perlman, mbb, wbb, haymarket arena

  3. 2010 Apr 27

    Podcast 4/27: Doc Loses Another Coach


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, doc sadler, baseball, mbb

  4. 2010 Apr 14

    MBB: Doc Signs Duo


    By HuskerLocker

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    On the first day of the spring signing period for college basketball, guard Caleb Walker officially became a member of Nebraska's team.

    But head coach Doc Sadler had another ace hidden up his sleeve, announcing that former Oregon point guard Kamyron Brown signed with NU, as well.

    “I’m excited to add two quality people and proven winners to our program,” Sadler said. “In this recruiting class, the most important thing to me was signing guys who expect to win. Caleb and Kamyron have proven it at the high school and college levels because the teams they’ve played on are successful. And they’ve proven that team goals are more important to them than individual goals.”

    The 6-foot-2 Brown started 13 games over two years for the Ducks, leading UO in assists both seasons. Out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Brown was considered one of the best point guards on the West Coast.

    A true point, Brown will compete with Lance Jeter for playing time. He sat out last season to preserve two years of playing time, completing his associate's degree at Rancho Santiago (Calif.) College.

    Walker, meanwhile, was a junior college All-American for Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College after averaging 16 poinds and eight rebounds.

    Stay tuned to Husker Locker for more analysis.

    Tags: mbb, recruiting, doc sadler, caleb walker, kamyron brown

  5. 2010 Apr 09

    MBB: Doc's Daunting Task


    By HuskerLocker

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    Say you had a glass to measure the faith in Nebraska’s basketball program.

    Nine months ago, that cup truly runneth over. Head coach Doc Sadler had just squeezed an improbably good season out of the smallest team in America. Some booster with a money clip agreed to bankroll a new practice facility. The roster was flush with athleticism and promising offensive skill. Doc had rolled up his sleeves and put NU back in the Big 12 conversation.

    It felt like the last good vibes of the Danny Nee era, when that giant, potty-mouthed man grimaced and stalked and shook his fist at the talent accumulated on the floor. Doc had his share of that charisma, but also demanded, unlike Nee, a consistent, almost ludicrous amount of effort.

    Now, Cornhusker hoops fans look inside that cup of faith, stick their pinky finger in, and collect the water on their fingernail.

    Four players left the program within a year of their arrival - Adrien Coleman lasted three months - and it’s quite likely each will be replaced by a junior college player. One assistant coach, Walter Roese, quit NU for slightly more responsibility at Hawai’i, an equally adrift program in an infinitely worse conference.

    Then Sadler said at Wednesday’s hoops banquet that more coaching changes may await.

    “I could see there being some changes,” Sadler told the Lincoln Journal-Star. “I just have to see what’s available out there and try to put the best staff together to help us win.”

    Hopeful, huh?

    Sadler also said he’s scheduled to meet with 6-foot-11, 350-pound center signee Andre Almeida - the only recruit Roese can truly claim as all his own - in the wake of Roese’s departure. Does Sadler cut the kid loose or convince him to buy in?

    Then, there’s no guarantee Lincoln voters will approve a Haymarket Arena, and even if they did - on May 11 - it doesn’t do Sadler much good for next week’s spring singing period. Its approval could help recruiting in the fall, but, even then, will players commit to a coach on a perceived hot seat?

    Oh, the gossamer threads by which progress hangs for Nebraska.

    Doc created some of the problems for himself. Upon seeing them in practice and games, I can’t see why Coleman and Myles Holley were given scholarships. Roese, in hindsight, was a nice guy whose recruiting connections didn’t particularly pay off. The first prospect, Vander Joaquim, was exposed in his senior year of high school and went to junior college. Almeida, depending on who you ask, is either NBA-bound or overrated. And now he may be wavering.

    Roster issues aside, the team lost its way in January and February. Only rarely - vs. Baylor, in the Big 12 Tournament - did Nebraska resemble the confident, plucky defensive team from last year. After a loss to Colorado on senior night, Sadler got back to his forte. It took seven days for the lesson to kick in, but it did.

    But now, with two graduations, four departures (including Coleman, who left in November), the integration of Toney McCray, Christopher Niemann and Drake Beranek into the rotation, the new recruits, new coaches and potentially a new zone defense to teach, well, Doc has to start the lesson again. Imagine throwing 20 chemicals in a beaker and hoping it becomes an elixir.

    If Doc pulls it off - it’ll be some feat. If he wins now, with this jigsaw puzzle of a program, critics will have to hold their peace.

    Tags: mbb, doc sadler, andre almeida

  6. 2010 Apr 08

    Podcast 4/8: Competitive Classroom


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, ron brown, mbb, ryan anderson, brandon richardson, softball, connie yori, kurt giller, baseball

  7. 2010 Mar 30

    MBB: Revisiting the Collier Era, Or Why 'The Butler Way' Bombed at NU


    By HuskerLocker

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    “Were this opportunity not available, I'd still be coaching at Nebraska today."

    -Barry Collier, Aug. 1, 2006, upon becoming Butler’s athletic director.

    Those words ended what some observers considered the worst six-year stretch of Nebraska men’s basketball - a program that didn’t exactly have much history to recommend it in the first place.

    His worst critics called it the “Barely Collier” era: Two winning seasons, a 2-2 record in the NIT, a 1-6 mark against Creighton, and 36-60 record in the Big 12. He had presumably saved his job winning two games in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament, including one vs. Oklahoma. Considering then-athletic director Steve Pederson’s fixation on beating Oklahoma - at anything - Collier’s last win was easily his biggest.

    But when Collier left NU in the dog days of that summer, he’d recently lost his top recruiter, Scott Spinelli, to Wichita State, center Aleks Maric had chosen to leave the Huskers, Jamel White, too, gifted guard Joe McCray had been booted for, among other things, getting fat, and several other talented players had transferred.

    Barry bolted for Butler and left Doc Sadler to clean up the resulting mess, which included a nightmare non-conference schedule of games in Hawaii, New Jersey, Miami and Oregon that left the Huskers living out of suitcases for a month.

    To Sadler’s distinct credit, he won 17 games that first year, and 20 games the next.

    Meanwhile, Collier nestled back into the program he helped rebuild with “The Butler Way," five principles developed by the first legendary Butler coach, Ray Hinkle, and revitalized by Collier. It is:

    1.Humility - know who we are, strengths and weaknesses
    2.Passion - do not be lukewarm, commit to excellence
    3.Unity - do not divide our house, team first
    4.Servanthood - make teammates better, lead by giving
    5.Thankfulness - learn from every circumstance

    Earlier this year, in a fit of extraordinary timing, the Indianapolis Star beat writer even wrote a book entitled "The Butler Way: The Best of Butler Basketball."

    Expect to hear plenty about it this weekend as those Bulldogs head to the Final Four with a 33-yard-old coach, Brad Stevens, that Collier picked against conventional wisdom, a suffocating defense, and just a single NBA-bound player - small forward Gordon Hayward. Freshman guard Shelvin Mack - who escaped Lexington, Ky., because John Calipari blows off four-year players - might evolve into an NBA-caliber talent, too.

    But the rest of the roster are parts that make up an extraordinary sum.

    Big 12 purists surely look at Butler and scoff. Fourth in our league! Fifth! Sixth! And yet it’s the Bulldogs on a long winning streak, with wins over Syracuse and Kansas State. The Bulldogs who will play in front of a fawning, adoring crowd in hometown Indianapolis. The Bulldogs who are two quite possible wins away from the NCAA title.

    And Collier, let’s face it, is one of the reasons why.

    So his failure at NU - and, folks, his seventh year would have been a shattering, resounding thud without Maric, White or any semblance of momentum - raises the questions: Was it him? Was it Nebraska?

    Both. Collier was a bad fit in just about every imaginable way, but some of his mistakes were unintended. As if he didn’t know the secret handshake of a program left on the ropes by Danny Nee, who was fired in April 2000.

    *Nee left a roster of misfits and effort-optional guys for Collier to corral. Collier tried to institute a “five miles at 5 a.m.” punishment for being late to practice; one Husker, waiting behind one of those endless, lurching coal trains that once clogged up morning traffic on the north side of campus, eventually chose to quit the team than run the miles.

    Center Kimani Ffriend - still the most naturally gifted Husker in the last ten years - spent many of his games at NU freestyling outside of the system.

    “He thinks he’s Kevin Garnett!” Nee used to say. If Garnett played for 11 professional teams across Europe, Asia and Israel during the last ten years, that’d be true.

    *Collier was diffident and vague with the media, rarely a good thing after a slightly-inappropriate raconteur like Nee. He closed practice with thin black curtains. The media hasn’t seemed to forget, either. He dumped on Creighton as a “mid-major program” right around the time when the Bluejays were making noise in the top 25 and pushing for an annual two-game series.

    *Then-AD Bill Byrne was apathetic at best to the men’s program, which, at the time, didn’t aid his pursuit of a Sears Directors’ Cup like baseball, track and women’s soccer did. Byrne low-balled Tulsa’s Bill Self - you know him, right? - with a contract offer before zeroing in on Collier. Self went to Illinois instead. Byrne gutted the sideline student seating a few years before in favor of padded “Nicholson seats” and a more elaborate season-ticket structure; the Bob Devaney Sports Center has always been a lesser venue his choices. The court looked like a chewy Gobstopper. We could go on.

    *Collier tried building the program around home-grown talent - after all, Nee had some Nebraska kids - without knowing that a fruitful 15-year window of high school basketball within the state had closed. He came by this folly honestly, I think, but it was folly nonetheless. Nee recruited Rich King, Erick Strickland, Bruce Chubick, Terrance Badgett and Andre Woolridge, among others. We’re not going to single out specific players but Collier’s options were, to put it bluntly, far more limited. Even Creighton knew better.

    *Unlike Sadler, Collier wasn't really allowed to crawl out of early recruiting mistakes because of the NCAA’s “5-8 rule,” which limited teams to offering five new scholarships in one year, and just eight over two years. The rule was in force 2001-2004, or pretty much all of Collier’s early tenure.

    *Collier was stubborn. Many coaches are, but Collier beckoned scorers like Nate Johnson and Andrew Drevo, then locked them into a system of set plays and Princeton concepts. The greatest beneficiaries of the Collier era were 3-point specialists Brian Conklin and Cary Cochran; NU, by design, was a feast-or-famine team that lived and died by the outside shot, lacking a consistent mid-range/inside game.

    Even against opponents where Nebraska had decided athletic advantages, the Huskers didn’t always exploit them. That’s how you lose to teams like Sam Houston State, Ball State, Alaska-Fairbanks, Missouri-Kansas City, Murray State and Pacific.

    He was a purist, Barry Collier, although you’d presume Nebraska holds blindly to such people, our state has always been more populist and pragmatic than that. Crops, after all, have to grow regardless of the weather’s shifting moods. Sadler’s natural toughness better fits the mood. Possessions aren’t lost just because NU couldn’t organize itself into a playset quick enough.

    But can Sadler, who’s a better game coach but prone to the same revolving door of talent, rally in year five? And is there any way to create a successful Butler-style team in the Big 12? Should NU even aspire to try?

    Is a player like Hayward, the gangliest, skinniest player left in the Big Dance, all that Nebraska needs? Or is it the four-year talents of guys like Willie Veasley and Ronald Nored - whom Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim called the best defensive guards he’s seen in ten years - that make the most difference?

    The Butler Way works beautifully at Butler. But Collier-as-AD isn’t necessarily Collier-as-coach. When he first left Butler for NU, the Bulldogs were a nice team who took Florida to the wire in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The pride of Hinkle Fieldhouse is a whole different animal now.

    Nevertheless, minor as it may be, Butler’s run to the Final Four - with Collier’s name somewhere in the background - is still a painful reminder that Nebraska toils for a just a taste of the NCAA Tournament.

    Tags: mbb, barry collier, doc sadler, danny nee

  8. 2010 Mar 30

    Husker Heartbeat 3/30: PJ, LT, The Next TP, A Tebow Marriage and The Stench of Old Roses


    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    Cool? Cool!

    *We’re talking peso! Nebraska’s new base defenseis really a nickel formation with some new positions for certain players. Enjoy!

    *Tim Tebow has a weird life, man. Now he’s an “extra” in a wedding proposal.

    *Excellent LJS story on the growth of safety PJ Smith. You’re going to like this kid.

    *Is Joe Broekemeier the next Todd Peterson? Because they’re white and from central Nebraska?

    *Husker basketball assistant Walter Roese will interview for a job at Hawai’i.

    *Urban Meyer says he’s sorry.

    *Tyler Farst got the bench as a designated hitter. Because of an injury to true freshman Josh Scheffert, he’s back in the mix.

    *LJS’ Steve Sipple chastises some Nebraska fans for not caring about the women’s basketball team, including ESPN 1620 in Omaha. Then Sipple appeared on 1620 later that afternoon talking Husker football, so, you know, lots of hard feelings there.

    *LaTravis Washington holds out hope for the starting QB job. Well, good for him. He’ll also earn a degree out of his time as a Husker backup, too.

    *Lane Kiffin wants a quarterback controversy at USC between Matt Barkley and Mitch (The Switch) Mustain.

    *The full text of Eugene police’s investigation against Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, with Masoli playing the role of resigned, almost proud crook. The Rose Bowl is over, my friends.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, baseball, lane kiffin, tim tebow, urban meyer, todd peterson, joe broekemeier, latravis washington, walter roese, mbb

  9. 2010 Mar 29

    Podcast 3/29: Sweet N (Mostly) Sour Weekend Roundup!


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, wbb, mbb, doc sadler, baseball, softball, gymanstics

  10. 2010 Mar 26

    MBB: Three Leave NU


    By HuskerLocker

    The doors of most college basketball programs revolve in late March and early April. Nebraska’s is no exception, as NU players Ray Gallegos Quincy Hankins-Cole and Myles Holley, announced their transfers after spending less than 12 months in the program.

    “I’m disappointed and I told them that,” head coach Doc Sadler said. “They were among the most enjoyable players I’ve coached in my career, but I told them I understand each of their reasons.”

    They join guard Adrien Coleman, who transferred in December. It’s rare that players actually explain their reasons for departure in a press release - thanking Sadler in the process - but Gallegos, Hankins-Cole and Holley did.

    Gallegos, a freshman guard from West Jordan, Utah, cited homesickness: “I wanted to be closer to my mom and my family. I’m really close with them and want them to see me play and enjoy my college basketball years with me.”

    Hankins-Cole, a JUCO transfer who will be a senior forward, said he had a “personal situation to take care of (back home), and it’s a responsibility that I don’t think I can do from here.”

    Holley, a sophomore forward from Baltimore, pointed to family and playing time: “The reason I wanted to move on is to find playing time and be closer to my mom. I only have two years left and I want my mom to be able to see me play and enjoy those years with me.”

    All three were role players for the Huskers. Gallegos started three games and Holley started one. Hankins-Cole had the best numbers, averaging 4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

    Nebraska now has three scholarships to fill, on top of the likely signing of Butler (Kan.) County guard Caleb Walker April 14. Sadler was on the recruiting trail this week, and spent last week scouting prospects at a national junior college tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.

    Tags: mbb, doc sadler, ray gallegos, quincy hankins cole, myles holley

  11. 2010 Mar 24

    Podcast 3/24: Huskers Hammer Northern Colorado


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mbb, wbb, connie yori, baseball, adam bailey, josh scheffert, tyler farst, springtime with bo 2010, bo pelini

  12. 2010 Mar 15

    Husker Monday Takes: A Trench Mate for Crick


    By HuskerLocker

    Six strong takes and we plow - you know, figuratively - toward St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness.

    *We’re roughly ten days from the start of spring football; we’ll be offering six “Springtime with Bo” questions next Monday.

    One question that didn’t make that list: Who settles in next to Jared Crick at that defensive tackle position?

    Conventional fan wisdom suggests Baker Steinkuhler. But it would benefit NU more if Terrence Moore, a tank of a junior tackle from New Orleans, rises to the starting occasion.

    Nothing against Steinkuhler, a sophomore, but it’s asking a lot of your run defense to consistently rely upon two 6-foot-6 guys down in the trenches. Taking double teams, like Ndamukong Suh often did, takes an enormous amount of leverage that a longer, leaner player Steinkuhler may not yet have.

    Moore, a squat, giant-legged fire hydrant, battled nasty foot injuries that more or less sidelined him for all of 2009. His return is crucial to NU’s interior success. He has to eat up double teams inside and penetrate into the backfield with his quick first step.

    Watch for the maturation of true freshmen Jay Guy and Chase Rome, both of whom could quickly vie for playing time in a defensive tackle rotation. Redshirt freshman Thad Randle, if he’s big enough, could fit the bill, too. Defensive coordinator Carl Pelini has previously praised Randle’s first step and ability to play with his hands.

    *Wide receiver Niles Paul captured Nebraska’s ten-yard dash record with a 1.40-second burst in recent winter testing. No surprise there; Paul’s always been a workout warrior. If this means he gets off the line a little quicker, all the better; his frame is too big for smaller cornerbacks to jam him at the line.

    But Paul’s big-play abilities are hardly in question; he averaged 20 yards per catch last year. Where Paul needs to improve in 2010 is consistently getting open on third down in traffic, when the entire stadium knows where the ball is going - and Paul grabs it anyway. Ten catches like that are worth one or two wins.

    *If you still think Bo Pelini made a mistake in booting Quentin Castille off the team, consider that Castille, after one thoroughly average year at Northwestern (La.) State (333 rushing yards) is declaring for the NFL Supplemental Draft. The Supplemental Draft is rarely a good option, and Castille “couldn’t talk” specifics as to why he was leaving NSU.

    In retrospect, Castille should have taken his redshirt year and stayed in Division I-A. He needed time to integrate into an offense, not an immediate platform on a team that was often playing up a division in weight.

    As always, transferring is tough, tough, tough. Nebraska should consider and accept transfers with that thought in mind at all times.

    *Hats off to Oregon’s Chip Kelly for making a stand in suspending his star quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, for an entire year after Masoli pleaded guilty to stealing laptops. Not only did Kelly need to send a message to all the rotten apples former coach Mike Bellotti happily welcomed to Eugene, he eliminates any doubt for Masoli’s backups, and can spend an entire offseason preparing whoever might emerge as the starter.

    And former Omaha Central quarterback Daryle Hawkins will be among those Ducks vying for the starting job. Hawkins, who missed most of his senior high school season in 2008, was offered a scholarship by wide receivers coach Scott Frost at the last minute; he’s been more impressive than UO coaches anticipated. Although he redshirted, Hawkins traveled with the team a few times last year, just in case.

    *At 30-1, the Nebraska women’s basketball team better not get robbed out of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There must have been a twinge of worry on the part of head coach Connie Yori, who kept her starters in the game toward the end of a 80-70 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday so NU “didn’t lose by 20.”

    Even with top billing, NU should expect a serious grind on its way to the Final Four. The opening-round game figures to be a walk, but round two is a frequent graveyard for good women’s teams not named Connecticut and Tennessee; Iowa State and Kansas State have both played spoiler in past years in that very round. Should the Husker women progress to the Sweet 16, they’re likely to play teams with more depth and overall talent. Nebraska just has the best player in Kelsey Griffin and a tenacious style.

    Watching Griffin at the Big 12 Tournament, it’s hard to overestimate her worth to the Huskers. She’s definitely the straw, and a good part of the drink. If anything, she doesn’t get the ball enough as NU’s guards take early, undisciplined shots that rarely fall in March, because your legs are worn down and shots aren’t quite as crisp.

    Griffin, meanwhile, is a picture of efficiency inside relentless effort. She scores baskets in such unorthodox, funny ways that she’s nearly impossible to defend with any consistency. Although Griffin outworks her opponents, her innate creativity, combined with that tenacity, is the strength of her game; she snakes a single arm into spaces where it looks like it won’t fit, flips the ball with her hand, scores and draws a foul.

    Basketball is still a game of balance, coordination and timely improvisation. Griffin, the nation’s best player, is a reminder of that.

    *For the first time in years, the Nebraska High School Boys’ Basketball State Tournament (OK, breathe) piqued my interest with players who could actually compete - and excel - in the Big 12 Conference.

    South Sioux City sophomore point guard Mike Gesell provided some must-see TV with 25 points in a 60-56 win over Omaha Skutt in the Class B final, while Omaha Central freshman Akoy Agau went for 18 points and 15 rebounds in helping beat Norfolk in the Class A final. Nebraska’s already offered Gesell, and Agau won’t be far behind, I suspect. Central’s Dev Biggs might catch on somewhere - he’s a senior - while Chadron’s near 7-footer, Elliott Eliason, is headed to Minnesota with a thin frame and an unpolished game. I’m curious to see how much he actually plays for defensive taskmaster Tubby Smith.

    NU head coach Doc Sadler a good chunk of the day conspicuously milling around the premises. Not that he hasn’t before - and not that Creighton’s Dana Altman wasn’t there, too - but it’s good to see him optimistic and undaunted after struggling through a difficult season.

    Win Prizes with HL's NCAA Tournament Challenge!

    Tags: husker monday takes, jared crick, terrence moore, mbb, wbb, doc sadler, connie yori, kelsey griffin, baker steinkuhler, niles paul

  13. 2010 Mar 12

    Husker Heartbeat 3/12: Suh Comes Home...One More Time


    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    Cool? Cool!

    *Ndamukong Suh heads to Lincoln for Pro Day with an NFL Network crew in tow - and can’t make time for the local media. But some of the other former Huskers working out did - including Matt O’Hanlon.

    *Sipple of LJS puts the heat on the returning players of Nebraska’s basketball team to find and develop their own leaders in the dead of summer. Doc Sadler, meanwhile, will put himself under the microscope.

    *Doc doesn’t sound too sweet on a CBI bid, does he?

    *Forbes gives Ann Arbor the nod as best college town. How an uppity hamlet of bluebloods beat out places like Madison and Austin is beyond us. And how in the hell did Norman, Okla., finish third? You mean a bedroom community of Oklahoma City. That town? Oh…we get it! Extra points for being good at minor, Olympic sports. Hence, the key to OU is its top-notch gymnastics teams, and its one-hit-wonder men’s basketball bunch.

    *Before he was fired, Mike Leach made a repeated idiot out of himself in locker room speeches. Serious language warning here. Low intelligence warning, too, for misplaced, insensitive comments about religion.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, ndamukong suh, mike leach, mbb, wbb, steve sipple, lee b

  14. 2010 Mar 12

    Podcast 3/12: Yori's Crew Storms KC


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, mbb, wbb, softball, baseball, connie yori

  15. 2010 Mar 12

    BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: After A&M Loss, What's Next for Doc and NU?


    By HuskerLocker

    For a second straight afternoon at the Big 12 Tournament, Nebraska’s basketball team resembled the one head coach Doc Sadler hoped he’d see throughout the conference season. The one all of us saw in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

    Tough. Methodical. Crafty. Undaunted.

    Thanks to Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan’s 23 points - and some timely Aggie 3-point shooting - it wasn’t enough in a 70-64 loss. But NU, at 15-18, had already made its point. Doc had too.

    The Huskers’ will to win, reasonably questioned after awful losses to Colorado and Oklahoma State last week, was still there. And Sadler, instead of fiddling around with lineups and pushing too many buttons, stuck with a core group of seven, kept center Jorge Brian Diaz well-fed, and trusted Diaz to kick the ball out to shooters when necessary. On defense, the Huskers communicated in their zone and fought for rebounds.

    At long last, a return to a recognizable identity, with players who might get tired and make mistakes, but at least fit the roles they’ve been given. It shouldn’t have taken this long, and the losing and constant shuffling may cost NU a few offseason transfers, a notion to which Sadler appeared resigned after Thursday’s game.

    “Hey, that’s just the way it is today,” he told reporters inside Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

    That’s true at each school - for different reasons. At Nebraska, more than some, it often appears to be because the coaching staff miscalculated the talent of a player. Or recruited a guy who ultimately didn’t fit Doc’s style. We’ll know in the next month…well, we’ll know a lot of things. Whether NU really wants to drag itself through a CBI Tournament. Who transfers. Who signs in April. Which assistants, if any, Sadler reassigns or fires.

    This also is true: There is enough talent on the roster, right now, for a NCAA Tournament berth next year. An offseason in the weight room - and possibly a trip overseas for some exhibition play - will make an even bigger difference. Sadler can search for his Donald Sloan or James Anderson in the JUCO ranks, but just in case he doesn’t find that guy, wise NU fans can’t just settle for mediocrity.

    Doc won’t; he’s too proud and hard-working for that. But fans don’t need to make excuses for him in year five and simply write off next season, as some already have, to a sad-sack narrative of no tradition + no arena + no practice facility + the Barry Collier era + no “commitment” + no recruiting = little hope.

    No, you can’t put the cart before the horse. But you also can’t leave it out in the February snow with 13 good enough horses in the barn, either. This nebulous debate over “commitment” is precisely the one Colorado and Iowa State (and Kansas and Kansas State and Missouri) would like Nebraska to have. For several years, preferably. If the thinkin’ in Lincoln is always “a dream deferred,” then so, I assure you, it will be.

    The weight of history does bear down on Nebraska basketball. But history can be changed.

    Is it easy? Of course not. Is Sadler charged, in many ways, with the same daunting tasks as Bill Snyder once was at Kansas State? Yes. Snyder probably had it worse. And yet, by year five, Snyder’s Wildcats finished 9-2-1, and won a bowl game. Former Nebraska baseball coach Dave Van Horn took over a team that used to schedule twin bills with UNO and Peru State to rack up easy wins. In his fourth year, NU earned a trip to the College World Series.

    Maybe those comparisons are unfair. But they’re reminders of what’s possible.

    “Let’s be real,” Sadler said Thursday. “I’ve got to get some wins.”

    Refreshingly candid. And a darn good place to start.

    Tags: mbb, doc sadler, big 12 tournament

  16. 2010 Mar 11

    BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: Five Keys to Texas A&M


    By HuskerLocker

    After a surprising 75-60 win over Missouri on Wednesday, NU's bid for a second-straight upset hinges on these five factors:

    Attack: Unlike Mizzou's extending pressure defense, Texas A&M's prefers to defend at or just below the 3-point line. That means NU's guards - specifically Lance Jeter, Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry - have to dive into the, create kick out opportunities and draw fouls.

    Munich Man: Christian Standhardinger rode the bench for the entire Missouri game, but the German import's offensive game should be more effective against the Aggies. Look for head coach Doc Sadler to give him quality, if not extensive, minutes.

    Sek's Trek: Henry, along with Brandon Richardson, will most likely draw the defensive assignment of guard Donald Sloan - a controlled, smart guard with one of the Big 12's best mid-range games. Henry has to play Sloan tightly without fouling. Sloan uses his body wisely, and gets a lot of calls.

    Wipe the Glass: A&M is likely to abuse Nebraska on the defensive boards - so offensive execution is a must. Where NU has to battle is in keeping the Aggies off the offensive boards. Eight or less would be an accomplishment and recipe for victory.

    Don't Settle in Transition: Nebraska did an excellent job of controlling tempo vs. Missouri by pulling the ball out for long possessions. A&M is just the opposite: Push the slower, more methodical Aggies, and don't let them set up their strong interior defense.

    Tags: big 12 tournament, mbb, five keys, ryan anderson, donald sloan, sek henry, christian standhardinger, lance jeter

  17. 2010 Mar 11

    Podcast 3/11: Husker Baseball Wins, Suh's Pro Day


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Join Husker Locker today - it's free!

    Tags: podcasts, mbb, baseball, ndamukong suh, golf

  18. 2010 Mar 10

    BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: NU's Surprise Masterpiece


    By HuskerLocker

    One of the biggest upsets in Big 12 Tournament history was the game head coach Doc Sadler has been waiting all conference season for his Nebraska men’s basketball team to play.

    Faced with the long odds of winning four games in four days in Kansas City, the 12th-seeded Cornhuskers improbably - and impressively - took the first step with a 75-60 trouncing of fifth-seeded Missouri in Wednesday afternoon’s opening round at the Sprint Center, which spent most of the second half moaning in frustration and disbelief.

    “Our guys understand there’s not much room between their back and the wall,” Sadler said. “We’ve got to come out and give everything we’ve got and see what happens.”

    Well, one game down, with No. 4 seed Texas A&M on deck Thursday at 2 p.m.

    For Wednesday night, Nebraska could enjoy being the second No. 12 seed in league history to win a game. Colorado needed double overtime to beat Baylor in 2008.

    No such thing for NU, which never trailed, used a 16-1 run to bust open the game, and repeatedly made shots - often with the shot clock salting away - to keep the Tigers at bay.

    “They pressured us and we executed offensively,” said senior guard Ryan Anderson, who scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

    The biggest dagger was sophomore guard Brandon Richardson’s 4-point play with 3:36 left to pad the lead back to 14 when Mizzou had cut it to ten. The shot broke six-minute dry spell that the Huskers often seem to suffer. Fortunately for Nebraska, Missouri suffered through it, too.

    “Our perimeter defense was pretty good,” Sadler said. “Therefore they missed some shots, and we were able to hold them down on offensive rebounds…I don’t think we can play much better defense.”

    After pitching a bunk in the basement of the Big 12 with a 2-14 record - and ending the regular season with pitiable, double-digit thumpings to Colorado and Oklahoma State - NU played with pluck, patience and controlled aggression while Missouri (22-10 overall) settled for bad jumpers and pleaded for bail-out calls from the officials.

    The Huskers (15-17) had four players in double figures, led by Richardson’s 19. They outrebounded the smaller Tigers 38-22 and held them to 34 percent shooting. Grabbing loose balls - of which there were many - is typically a Missouri specialty, but Nebraska held its own.

    NU also busted Mizzou’s press enough to get open 3-pointers for Eshaunte Jones and Anderson and layups for center Jorge Brian Diaz, who alternately slipped behind screens at both the top of key and the baseline for 10 total points. When Diaz was flanked, the 6-foot-11 freshman found shooters three different times for 3-pointers. The last of them was Richardson’s rainbow late in the game.

    “That’s a credit to Brian,” Richardson said. “They committed two guys to him, he kicked it out, I made a shot.”

    See also: Five Keys to Texas A&M

    Tags: mbb, ryan anderson, big 12 tournament, brandon richardson, jorge brian diaz

  19. 2010 Mar 10

    BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: Five Keys to Missouri


    By HuskerLocker

    Guess what? Nebraska's basketball team has a remote chance vs. banged-up Missouri at the Sprint Center. Here's how:

    Dish to Diaz: With the season-ending injury to Missouri forward Justin Safford and a wrist injury that may limit forward Lawrence Bowers, minutes, NU center Jorge Brian Diaz must bring his "A" game. And Nebraska must make a concerted effort to get him the ball.

    Outside/In: In two losses to Mizzou, Nebraska has allowed shooters Miguel Paul and Marcus Denmon to sink far too many open shots. NU has to deny the long jumpers and make the Tigers earn their points. If it gets physical, so be it. NU has the fouls to burn.

    Board Battle: Missouri is beatable in the rebounding department, and Nebraska has to protect and eat glass with ferocity. Guards Lance Jeter, Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry need to have big afternoons.

    Plan for a 40-minute game, not a 28-minute one: Too often this year, Nebraska checks out of its offensive gameplan - which should be to feed Diaz the ball as much as possible - to chuck up ill-advised 3-pointers the minute an opponent gets a small lead. For once Wednesday - do the opposite. Work, work, work for openings inside, and let Diaz kick out as necessary. He's a good enough passer to do it. NU doesn't immediately have to resort to panic mode.

    Create some turnovers: Nebraska has to give Mizzou a dose of its own medicine with stingy defense. NU hasn't played great defense in...some time. Possibly since the Oklahoma game earlier this year. The Huskers are due for it.

    Tags: big 12, mbb, big 12 tournament, five keys, jorge brian diaz, lance jeter, sek henry, ryan anderson

  20. 2010 Mar 09

    BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: Your Phone Dome Primer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It’s time for the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament from the Sprint Center in Kansas City - in our parlance, the Phone Dome - and Husker Locker is breaking down the seeds and the players who will matter. At the end, we’ll make our picks, too! Enjoy!

    Seed Report

    No. 1 Kansas (29-2) The Big 12’s Tiffany program has developed a hard edge in the Bill Self era and a sixth sense for winning tight games. Guard Sherron Collins knows when to attack a vulnerable opponent on the ropes, and center Cole Aldrich adjusts more shots than he blocks, which is plenty. If freshman shooter Xavier Henry is knocking down his 3-pointers, KU morphs into a pick-your-poison squad.

    No. 2 Kansas State (24-6) Ignore that loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 season finale; the Wildcats are built for a Phone Dome run so long as the referee’s whistles keep tweeting consistently. KSU shoots more than 30 free throws per game; at that rate, you can afford to make only 66 percent of them. Tough draw with Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals; lose there, and Kansas State could drop as far as a four seed.

    No. 3 Baylor (24-6) The Bears claw out more than seven blocks a game. The BU crew can score - but its secret to success is defensive rebounds and the aforementioned block party. Forwards Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy can match up with any frontcourt in the league.

    No. 4 Texas A&M (22-8) A quick check of the stats reveals little about the success of this team; the Aggies are in the middle of the pack of nearly every category, and don’t lead any of them. A&M simply wins close games, and has the advantage of a go-to player (guard Donald Sloan) that other Big 12 teams don’t enjoy. The very definition of a sum being greater than its parts.

    No. 5 Missouri (22-9) The Tigers probably stamped their Big Dance ticket with an overtime win over Iowa State last Wednesday, but they’d like to leave nothing to chance in an opening-round game against stinker Nebraska. Mizzou would sorely love a third game against KU at a neutral site; to get there, Tiger guards must perfect their drive-and-kick style over two preparatory games.

    No. 6 Texas (23-8) The Longhorns are doing a swan dive into a empty pool in the last two months with a 6-8 record; UT has forgotten how to feed its best player, Damion James, with the ball consistently. Hey - that’s what you get when Rick Barnes merely wants to act as a conveyor belt to the NBA. Texas should slay Iowa State - although the Cyclones seem to have found a little life in these final weeks - but Baylor, which awaits in the quarterfinals, is not a good matchup.

    No. 7 Oklahoma State (21-9) The games aren’t being played inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, so OSU will have to, you know, man up a bit in the Phone Dome. With James Anderson, newly minted player of the year, anything is possible. With OSU’s so-so defense and effort, anything is possible in the other direction, too.

    No. 8 Colorado (15-15) Defense-optional against just about every ball club other than Nebraska, the Buffaloes would like a two-day stay in KC, which means beating Texas Tech in the first round, then losing honorably to Kansas in the quarterfinals. Such a combo probably gives CU an outside shot at an NIT berth. The Buffs are a three-man team, essentially, of Cory Higgins, Alec Burks and Marcus Relphorde complimented by some good ball-handlers and shooters. Colorado shoots 77 percent at the free throw line - a league best.

    No. 9 Texas Tech (16-14) We hardly got to know Pat Knight; if the Red Raiders lose their eighth straight game to end the season, there’s a chance the Knight Era in Lubbock is over. Tech lacks the athletes to play good defense, but the motion offense always seems to create shots and points. Should be a fun matchup with CU.

    No. 10 Oklahoma (13-17) Little could revive the Sooners at this point. OU’s talented freshmen are burnt to a crisp - still playing but getting less effective with the day. Star guard Willie Warren hasn’t played in a month. Oklahoma is DOA in KC. Big loss to Oklahoma State awaits head coach Jeff Capel.

    No. 11 Iowa State (15-16) ISU has a pulse! The Cyclones took Missouri to the wire and beat Kansas State in Manhattan in the last week, so Texas can’t go to sleep on Curtis Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. Iowa State isn’t deep enough to win two games in a row, but for a single-shot wonder, one never knows.

    No. 12 Nebraska (14-17) NU could not have drawn a better first-round opponent, really, than Missouri, a team small enough to exploit, playing a style that Doc Sadler’s teams have unlocked in the past. Does Nebraska have one upset in it? One? If so - Sadler will get some of the criticism off his back. The Huskers have to shoot lights out to win - but that is possible.

    Five Game-Changers

    Sherron Collins, Kansas: He’ll be a more valuable pro than he is college player, but Collins is absolutely the best player in Kansas City with the shot or game clock running down.

    Denis Clemente, Kansas State: He can create his own 3-point in the time it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings. The bigger question is: Will he make the shot? Clemente lacks a conscience, so he’ll keep shooting, and shooting, and shooting.

    James Anderson, Oklahoma State: When he’s on, he goes off for 30 points, and there’s not much stopping him. He can change the way an opposing defense attacks OSU, and when that happens, Anderson’s teammates benefit the most.

    Zaire Taylor, Missouri: When the Tigers need a clutch basket, the ball magically appears in Taylor’s hands to take it. He is neither Mizzou’s best offensive or defensive player. But, in a pinch, he gets the big looks.

    Epke Udoh, Baylor: Unlike Kansas’ Cole Aldrich, Udoh gets a number of his blocks away from the basket, closing out on shooters. Averaging four blocks per game and altering many more shots, Udoh is an effective deterrent to perimeter teams.

    Five Wild Cards

    Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State: Opposing teams can limit Curtis Brackins, but not if forward Gilstrap is rattling home 3-pointers. When he’s hot, ISU becomes a load to handle. Plus - he’s the Big 12’s most aggressive rebounder. Not necessarily the best - but the most aggressive.

    Marcus Denmon, Missouri: This 42 percent 3-point shooter has to be marked everywhere on the floor. Look track of him, and pay the price.

    Curtis Kelly, Kansas State: With enough talent to take over when he chooses to, Kelly is a frustrating enigma who bursts for three or four minutes at a time, then retreats back into the woodwork. If he realized his potential in the Big 12, and NCAA Tournaments, KSU is top five team.

    Marcus Morris, Kansas: The garbage man, who scores a lot off of offensive rebounds. He’s more consistent than a wild card, but, on some nights, he’s KU’s best player.

    Avery Bradley, Texas: One of those talented UT freshmen who’s likely to make the leap to the NBA after this year or next. He’s mostly a stand-up shooter, but he possesses strong passer abilities, too, when the mood strikes. Some NBA Draft analysts think Bradley’s performance in the postseason may determine whether or not he declares for the Draft.

    Favorite: Kansas. No brainer.

    DOA: Oklahoma. More than any team, OU has zero hope or interest in this tournament. Nebraska will head to KC more optimistic.

    Dark Horse: Oklahoma State. Has there ever been a more dangerous No. 7 seed than OSU? The Cowboys should throttle Oklahoma on opening night, then draw No. 2 seed Kansas State, whom OSU already beat in Manhattan. Any team that has the Big 12 player of the year (James Anderson) can burn through a conference tournament.

    Wild Card: Texas. If the talented freshmen wake up from their extended slumber over the last half of the regular season, the wheels are greased for a nice run. Baylor and Kansas State are talented and playing well. But both are beatable.

    Best first-round game: Colorado vs. Texas Tech. The Sprint Center will be empty for the opener of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday, but there might not be a more entertaining game in the whole party. Expect one team - and maybe both - to hit 90 points.

    Worst first-round game: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma. It’s going to be ugly, the Cowboys will eventually grind out a double-digit win, and OU will limp home.

    Best Potential Quarterfinal Game: Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State. Especially considering OSU beat the Wildcats in Manhattan. Two of the more athletic teams in the Big 12.

    Our Picks

    First round
    Colorado 95 Texas Tech 90
    Missouri 69 Nebraska 60
    Oklahoma State 72 Oklahoma 59
    Texas 80 Iowa State 69

    Kansas 92 Colorado 69
    Kansas State 67 Oklahoma State 65
    Baylor 78 Texas 74
    Missouri 69 Texas A&M 63

    Kansas 73 Missouri 69
    Baylor 70 Kansas State 66

    Kansas 85 Baylor 77

    Tournament MVP: Sherron Collins, Kansas

    Tags: big 12, mbb, big 12 tournament

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