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  1. 2011 Apr 12

    Podcast 4/12: That Last 10 Percent


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, tim beck, spring football 2011, mens hoops, baseball

  2. 2011 Apr 07

    Podcast 4/7: Back to Practice


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, spring football 2011, big ten, womens hoops, mens hoops

  3. 2011 Apr 06

    Podcast 4/6: Doc Loses An Assistant


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    Tags: podcasts, mens hoops, baseball

  4. 2011 Mar 31

    MEN'S HOOPS: Bear Leaves NU


    By HuskerLocker

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    Nebraska sophomore guard Eshaunte Jones won't return for the 2011 season.

    "It was a good experience at Nebraska, and I will miss my teammates, the coaching staff and the fans," Jones said. "I have a lot of priorities back home and my family comes first. When I told Coach (Sadler), he was supportive and understood the decision. One reason I came to Nebraska was the academics, and I want to finish the semester strong and make sure everything is right academically."

    Said head coach Doc Sadler: ""Eshaunte is someone who I have enjoyed coaching and watching him grow as a person during his time at Nebraska. He has always worked hard and been a good teammate and is showing a lot of maturity by putting a priority on finishing the semester the right way. I wish him the very best in the future."

    Jones, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, averaged 4 points and 1.4 rebounds this year. He is expected to return to his hometown of Ft. Wayne, Ind.

    NU now has two scholarships available for 2011-2012. One of them could go to LSU transfer guard Bo Spencer, who practiced with the team as a walk-on last year. Sadler has been hitting the recruiting trail looking for more players.

    Tags: mens hoops, bear jones

  5. 2011 Mar 24

    Podcast 3/24: Big Guys Headed for Surgery?


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    Tags: podcasts, mens hoops, softball, jorge brian diaz, andre almeida

  6. 2011 Mar 23

    Husker Heartbeat 3/23: Doc On the Clock, Hockey Off The Map


    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.

    *Doc Sadler tells the LJS that Jorge Brian Diaz and Andre Almeida may need offseason surgery, and his team needs to get mentally tougher. LJS Sipple rightly points out that mental toughness is something a coach has to develop and instill in his players.

    Folks wondering why Diaz seemed distant and despondent, well, most of the year should know, according to Sadler, "He can hardly walk."

    We didn't go to enough men's basketball practices to know how many of them Diaz missed. When we were there, he was practicing most of the time - which, of course, necessitated walking.

    That's harsh, but the injury "disclosure" is one of the older gambits in the book. Needing offseason surgery didn't stop Cam Meredith and Jeremiah Sirles from enjoying strong seasons on the football team. It didn't stop Diaz from logging 26 minutes per game - second most on the team to point guard Lance Jeter.

    Look: Diaz is a decent frontcourt guy with good offensive skills. Injury or no, Nebraska fans generally know what to expect from the kid. He needs to shoot free throws better, because a 51 percent average robs NU of two or three crucial points per game. He also doesn't draw enough fouls. That probably has to do with officials being unwilling to give him shooting fouls because of his lack of upper body aggression.

    One more thing: Sadler said he could sign as many as "3 or 4" players this spring. He only has one scholarship available - and that may go to LSU transfer Bo Spencer. Clearly, he thinks there's an opportunity for some players to leave. Whether they will or not...we'll see. A few always seem to.

    *As the Big Ten chooses to create a new hockey conference, don't expect Tom Osborne's Nebraska to join in on the fun.

    *Five Sleepers in Spring Camp, plus 5 Players On The Mend.

    *Brent Qvale and Andrew Rodriguez don't have much time to grow into starters - they have to do it now.

    *Early speculation on offensive and defensive depth charts.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, doc sadler, brent qvale, andrew rodriguez, jorge brian diaz, mens hoops

  7. 2011 Mar 23

    Podcast 3/23: Softball Keeps Rolling


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    Tags: podcasts, softball, baseball, mens hoops

  8. 2011 Mar 17

    Podcast 3/17: Bo on Spring Break


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    Tags: podcasts, spring football 2011, mens hoops, baseball, softball

  9. 2011 Mar 17

    MEN'S HOOPS: Shockers Shuck NU


    By HuskerLocker

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    With a 10-0 run to start the game Wednesday night, Wichita State knocked out the Nebraska men's basketball team early in the opening round of the NIT.

    Because hoops isn't boxing, the Huskers had to keep getting off the canvas for another two hours before the buzzer stopped their bleeding.

    Just 24 hours after NU announced a two-year contract extension for Doc Sadler, his team turned in its ugliest performance of the year in a 76-49 loss to the Shockers, as 7,336 fans at Koch Arena roared with approval. Wichita State led, at various first half intervals, 10-0, 24-9, 34-14 and 40-20 at halftime. A 14-5 run early in the second half gave WSU a 54-25 lead.

    “We didn't give them any pressure at all from the get-go,” Sadler said.

    Said Shocker coach Gregg Marshall: “That's about as well as we've played in awhile.”

    The ESPN2 audience didn't see Nebraska throw in the towel, per se. But name a mistake and NU made it. Dropped passes. Ole! defense in the paint. Non-existent pressure at the 3-point arc, where WSU splashed home 11 treys for the night. Bricks by nearly three dozen – NU missed 33 shots, 16 of them 3-pointers. The Huskers only made two from beyond the arc.

    “You get outscored 27 points at the 3-point line, you're not going to win very many ballgames,” Sadler said.

    The Shockers (25-8) forced 16 turnovers and recorded six blocks. They enjoyed balanced scoring; seven players had at least seven points. Nebraska (19-13) was led by Lance Jeter, who finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Center Jorge Brian Diaz also scored 12, but committed five costly turnovers – often simply by dropping the ball.

    But the night was summed up by a single play: Guard Brandon Richardson turning down a wide-open 15-footer to throw a jump pass to forward Brandon Ubel. The ball zoomed through Ubel's hands, off his head, and out of bounds.

    Just a month ago, after beating No. 2 Texas, NU stood at 18-8 with its best chance of making the NCAA Tournament in a decade. Sadler's crew lost five of its last six, with the offense getting progressively worse: 57 points in a loss to Colorado, 52 in a loss to Oklahoma State, and 49 at Wichita State. None of those games were in the cozy confines of the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

    “At some point you've got to step up and win some road games,” Sadler said. “We haven't shown the toughness to do that.”

    Tags: mens hoops, lance jeter, doc sadler, brandon ubel

  10. 2011 Mar 16

    Husker Heartbeat 3/16: Delany, Cassidy, Rex, Doc and Big Ten


    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.

    *We start with Big Ten commish Jim Delany this morning, who talked at a business ethics conference in Omaha, specifically about how the NCAA must be more transparent about its investigations. Delany even suggested that conferences start publishing self-reported violations, of which there are about 300 per year in the Big Ten.

    Lee B asked a perfectly good question: Why shouldn't the Big Ten just lead the way?

    "“If we do it by ourselves and others don't do it,” Delany said, “it looks like we're the ones who have all the issues and all the problems.”"

    And here is where Nebraska folks will begin to have a small-but-real frustration with Delany and the Big Ten. High talk. Not quite as much sacrifice to go along with that talk.

    *Austin Cassidy will play Peso or safety - whatever gets him on the field more quickly.

    *Ron Brown will help make the running backs a tougher bunch, Rex Burkhead believes.

    *More on UNO, as a state senator tries to save football and wrestling and Tom Shatel adds a few more thoughts to his two published columns.

    *Thanks to Huskers Brandon Ubel and Caleb Walker, Nebraska basketball has some sense of Wichita State

    *In volleyball, John Cook is preparing his team for a move to the Big Ten - where the volleyball is more about power than speed.

    *In Happy Valley, Penn State wants one of several young QBs to take firm control of the starting job. One of them, Robert Bolden, considered transferring after the year because he wasn't allowed to win back his starting job after an injury at Minnesota. PSU QB coach Jay Paterno took the appropriate heat for it:

    When Bolden got hurt against Minnesota, he got Wally Pipped. McGloin started the last six games, completing 118 of 215 passes for 1,548 yards with 14 scores, nine picks and a rating of 128.48. Bolden stewed through the second half and considered a transfer. A meeting with head coach Joe Paterno convinced Bolden to stay.

    “Bolden didn’t play much down the stretch,” Jay Paterno said. “He probably should have. That was on me, not on him. He wanted to know, 'Is the competition going to be realistic? Have you guys made your mind up?' Joe said no. Joe told him and his dad, ‘I’ve been doing this for 60-something years. I’ve built up a lot of trust. If I tell you it’s an open competition, you have to have a little faith in me.'”

    *South Carolina's Stephen Garcia has been suspended again.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, ron brown, austin cassidy, rex burkhead, john cook, mens hoops, tom shatel, big ten, jim delany

  11. 2011 Mar 16

    Podcast 3/16: Last Practice Before Break (+ Doc's Extension)


    By HuskerLocker

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    Tags: podcasts, spring football 201, mens hoops, baseball

  12. 2011 Mar 16

    MEN'S HOOPS: Five Keys to Wichita State


    By HuskerLocker

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    Five keys to Nebraska beating Wichita State and winning its first NIT road game since 2004, and its first out-of-state road win in more than a decade:

    Take the crowd out of it: The Shockers have the best home court advantage in the Missouri Valley with the 10,000-seat-and-they're-all-on-top-of-you Koch Arena. It's a passionate fan base that feels like WSU played its way out of the NCAA Tournament over the last several weeks – a controversial one-point loss to VCU was a big part of it – and can legitimately win the NIT with a break or two. Nebraska must cool their jets early. Two years ago, the Huskers failed to do that in a NIT road game at New Mexico's Pit, and they never recovered from the Lobos' hot start.

    Find the shooters: The Shockers have three of them: Guards Ben Smith and David Kyles; and forward Graham Hatch. Here's the thing: They've all been pretty quiet from the field in the last two weeks. With Nebraska's aggressive post defense, they'll get some open looks – unless the Huskers work hard and smart around screens to take those jumpers away. WSU will take bad 3-point attempts over working for a better shot.

    Point guard duel: NU senior Lance Jeter has the rare assignment of facing off against a guy bigger than he is in WSU's 6-5 point guard Toure' Murray. Murray isn't as bullish or quick in the open court as Jeter, but he can get his shot in the paint and rebounds well for a guard. He, too, has stunk in the last month, just as Jeter was playing his very best basketball. There's a sense that Shocker fans are ready to turn a bit on the kid. Jeter has to win this matchup.

    Go right at Durley: Shocker forward J.T. Durley has a perfect-sounding name for his physical, no-nonsense game. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder averages 11 points and 5 rebounds and often plays better than those numbers. Against the Shockers' toughest opponents, he typically plays 30-plus minutes. He also struggles with foul trouble. Jorge Brian Diaz needs to shake whatever funk he fell into during the Big 12 Tournament and play his most physical game of the year. Durley wants to bull his way around, but if Diaz holds his ground, refs will blow their whistles.

    Keep the game in half-court mode: The Shockers aren't a classic “running” team, but they want to stay out of half-court sets. Only Durley is truly effective in that mode, and teams can scheme to take him away. WSU prefers transition 3-pointers and quick run-outs, which in turns helps set up their man-to-man, slight-pressure defense. The Huskers may have to sacrifice an offensive rebound or two to get back on defense and make the Shockers grind for points.

    Tags: mens hoops, nit, lance jeter, jorge brian diaz

  13. 2011 Mar 14

    Husker Monday Takes: Bo's Vision Taking Shape


    By HuskerLocker

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    Six takes as March Madness truly begins. Check back for our NCAA Tournament primer on Tuesday morning!

    ***On the first day of spring practice, new Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck wore all black. So did a few of his assistants. If you needed a symbol of NU marrying its offense to the Blackshirts' “attack and adjust” mindset, there you have it.

    Moving briskly among his quarterbacks and centers, Beck was vocal, active and consistently teaching. He has a quicker tempo already than the deposed Shawn Watson. And Taylor Martinez looked at home. He's just a little ahead in the quarterback race. I still want to see him make more of the key throws and talk to the media. Don't kid yourself: He'll be at the top of our list for Wednesday.

    Watching just brief glimpses of practice, head coach Bo Pelini's vision is coming further into view.

    This is one of the younger staffs in college football. Young in age and at heart. Even the older guys – Barney Cotton and Ron Brown – don't seem too grizzled. Everybody's in good shape; not a round belly in the bunch. Whereas Ted Gilmore – a guy I liked personally – watched over his wide receivers with a professorial, almost bemused eye, Rich Fisher, after wandering around for a minute Saturday, engaged his young, inexperienced unit in much the way Ron Brown worked over the running backs. And, just by first impression, what a coup graduate assistant Vince Morrow will be for NU. The former NFL tight end – built like a tank – spent a good chunk of the opening session working with Lester Ward on the proper way to come out of a stance.

    ***What will Nebraska's offense look like? Probably a hybrid of different schemes, all wrapped up in a mindset of quick tempo, downhill running and open-field playmaking. I still think Beck uses some under-the-center plays; it's hard to get good playaction passing without it. Maybe a quick throwing game that echoes some of NU's bubble and tunnel screens from 2008. Speed option? Some of that. Two-back plays? I think so. Bo confirmed that the zone read will be part of the scheme. But there are limits to that play, especially against a three-man line.

    If Bo wants to create an offense that gives his defense the most trouble, consider the teams that did just that in his three years at Nebraska: Kansas (under Mark Mangino), Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

    What do all four have in common?

    Quick Tempo: Each ran a version of the no huddle offense.

    Downhill running: And if you don't normally equate Mike Leach with power football – neither do I - just remember Texas Tech's final touchdown drive in the 2009 game: Nine plays, seven of them runs, for 54 yards. When he had to, Leach could dial it up.

    Heady, competent, accurate passer: Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell, Zac Robinson and Todd Reesing stand out.

    Versatility with running backs: Getting the ball to guys like Baron Batch, Jake Sharp, DeMarco Murray and Kendall Hunter in a variety of ways, especially on quick throws out of the backfield. Martinez couldn't make the simplest flare and screen passes last year. That has to change.

    One elite receiver: Who could stretch opposing defenses, draw a safety and create one-on-one matchups underneath the bracket coverage. Nebraska needs to find its Justin Blackmon, Michael Crabtree, Dez Briscoe or Ryan Broyles. And a guy who can throw to him. Sometimes you wonder if Martinez wouldn't be better at the former than the latter.

    ***The offseason grease fires at Ohio State and Iowa – plus a second transition in four years at Michigan – opens the door wide for Nebraska heading into the Big Ten. The Big 12 assured a rough goodbye. Three of the best Big Ten teams seem to be tying one hand behind their back.

    Ohio State endured a withering – and deserved - media attack last week after head coach Jim Tressel admitted he knew Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey were selling memorabilia for tattoos eight months before the NCAA launched an investigation and levied severe penalties. It's the kind of ridiculous mess that usually only happens in college sports: OSU players - unwittingly or not – were hanging around a mid-level drug dealer who was the target of a federal investigation. A lawyer informed Tressel, who promised to do something about it. If “nothing” is “something,” then, well, Tressel did just that.

    The Senator – boy, is that moniker apt now – told reporters he was scared. He chose to keep silent so as not to jeopardize an ongoing federal investigation and protect Pryor and Posey from, well, being knocked off, I guess. Why else would Tressel mention one of his former players being shot in his press conference last week?

    What if those Buckeye players had been involved in the drug stuff? How did Tressel know they weren't involved? As it turned out, they were tangential to the case, one of those weird footnotes that ends up burning a football program. But what if they had been all up in it?

    You can follow this to a logical conclusion.


    *Tressel knew, for certain, his players weren't involved in the drug stuff – which means he did some level of investigating on his own.


    *Or he wasn't sure – which means, in his mind, he was protecting potential felons.

    If it's Door No. 1, I don't see how Tressel arrived at the knowledge without directly questioning the players involved. Maybe even the tat man pushing drugs out the back door.

    If it's Door No. 2, Tressel made the gamble of his career on little more than blind faith, and he rolled a hard eight. The two-game suspension and $250,000 fine pale in comparison to what could have happened.

    Bottom line: Tressel stepped outside the parameters of his job – as college football coaches are wont to do – to make a kind of “life” decision that ends up, in the long run, hurting his program. Did OSU win a national title last year? Was a Sugar Bowl crown really worth it? The only concern Tressel should have – if he cares about the reputation of the program and the other 90 guys on that practice field – revolves around NCAA eligibility. Maybe that seems heartless. Maybe that seems utilitarian to a fault – as if Tressel shouldn't go searching for the one lost sheep, the herd be damned. But a high school teacher can't cover up the smartest kid cheating on a test just because the kid wants to buy, oh, a better laptop. Pryor and Posey's desires – and that's all a tattoo represents – aren't sacrosanct. All this for some ink? If Tressel is going to go all paterfamilias on his bosses, he should pick a worthy cause.

    ***At Nebraska's Pro Day last week, not one former Husker working out seemed to be too terribly concerned about a potential NFL work stoppage.

    “I have confidence they're gonna get a deal done,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said.

    “Of course they're going to get thing settled,” Peso Eric Hagg said. “Everyone wants to play football. Of course they're going to come to an agreement.”

    That was Thursday. Wonder what those guys were thinking on Friday afternoon when the players' union decertified itself.

    The NFL labor fight is simple in principle and complex in emotion. The owners want some money back from the players in form of annual revenues. The players want to know why. The owners say it's because they're losing money. The players don't believe them and demand to see the books. The owners treat that request as if the players asked to dine on their intestines.

    The common belief, of course, is that the owners must simply find the negotiating sweet spot – the point at which the players drop their demand of seeing the books because the offer is too good to turn down. But I wonder – given the national debate over union labor – if the players don't try to fight this one out with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees as the “faces” of their plight. Those three, with seven others, have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

    If the NFL players' lead negotiator, DeMaurice Smith, can convince Manning and Brady to be as vocal as Brees has already been, the owners will have an intriguing fight on their hands. That seems ridiculous, but remember: Americans are easily wooed by silver tongues and prominent chins. Brees carries some cred for his work after Hurricane Katrina. Manning is Manning, a sharp-witted alpha male type who can keep grumbling players in line. Brady's a beefcake who, let's face it, says virtually nothing better than almost anyone alive. It's a formidable trio with little to lose. They've won their Super Bowls. They're millionaires. They're all in the Hall of Fame.

    Funny, to think the NFL's best players could temporarily derail the hopes of its newest members.

    If so, the UFL would be thrilled. Especially the Omaha Nighthawks, which would have no qualms going after a bunch of ex-Husker studs waiting around for the big Derby race.

    ***If Tom Osborne is ready to talk contract extension with Nebraska basketball coach Doc Sadler, well, Doc's name needs to be removed from any burner or hot seat for at least two years. Sadler's contract was set to run out in 2014; two or three more years added to it means Doc can plausibly ensure 2011 recruiting targets – like, say South Sioux City's Mike Gesell – that he'll be around for the duration of their careers.

    Don't expect this to sit well with some of Husker hoopheads still left out there. While nobody wants to start over every five years, some fans feel like NU's entry into the Big Ten – plus a new arena and practice facility – gives Nebraska that one shot to get it right. Some aren't sure Doc is the guy to pull it off.
    Me neither. I'm leaning toward Doc being a solid basketball mind who is, nevertheless, biding his time in Lincoln. He says he wants to stay. But the state gives him virtually no talent to recruit, the fans are wishy-washy and Doc, as of yet, hasn't overcome it. It's going to take vision to make Nebraska basketball work. And maybe a more exciting playing style. And when I say vision, I mean the kind Terry Pettit had to build Nebraska volleyball out of nothing. Or the kind Dave Van Horn and Bill Byrne had to resurrect NU baseball from the ashes. It's larger than being a chalkboard wizard and gym junkie. Nobody works harder than Doc. But hard work alone will not deliver Husker hoops. It has to be more inspired than that.

    Sorry, but watching Clemson, Colorado, Penn State, Virginia Tech and USC play their way into the NCAA tournament in the last two weeks - while the Huskers lost four of their last five – proves again that Sadler's teams struggle with pressure and expectations in the two areas the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee seems to value most:

    *Scheduling and beating good non-conference teams
    *Winning in the conference tournament

    NU makes a middling first impression. And it rarely makes a good last impression. The Huskers tend to peak in the middle of each year, when their superior conditioning and stifling defense catches a few ranked teams by surprise inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. After Valentine's Day, Sadler has a 16-25 record at Nebraska. In just one year – 2008 – did Doc post a winning record over the last third of a season.

    Doc's a shrewd man, and I mean it just so. He'll consistently win between 15-21 games. He'll schedule about 10 of those victories and win five more on sheer coaching ability. That last six will be tied to talent or luck. Maybe he'll squeeze into a NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed. He's the “Pop,” if you will, of a local business. He won't embarrass the Huskers. His teams will play hard. He'll continue to charm local beat reporters with candor and sarcasm, and draw the admiration of his fellow coaches for doing pretty well with much less.

    Is that enough? Maybe. Fans have to ask themselves that.

    How does Sadler change those expectations in the Big Ten? What evidence is there that he will? Which player will he recruit to flip the switch? Is one of his 2011 recruits – 6-1 point guard Corey Hilliard, 6-5 shooter Josiah Moore and 6-6 forward David Rivers – really that guy? Is it Gesell, an explosive point guard who eats Class B competition for breakfast but will face some brutes in the Big Ten?

    ***Although it still must be approved by the University of Nebraska's Board of Regents, UNO's decision to join the Summit League and move full-time to Division I - cutting its football and wrestling programs immediately – will have dividends for a variety of sports at NU.

    The Mavericks couldn't absorb the cost of going from 36 football scholarships in Division II to 63 in Division 1-AA. Blame it on the TV, which keeps college football fans glued to their couches and recliners for 20 hours on a Saturday. There's just no time for a lovely three-hour hiatus to midtown Omaha. It stinks to lose UNO wrestling. That sport continues to get spanked by Title IX despite a thriving existence in Big Ten. What's funny is UNO probably should have asked to join the Big 12 for wrestling. There's an immediate opening, last I checked.

    But I expect the Huskers to benefit.

    Football: The Cornhuskers lose a major competitor for preferred walk-ons. And certain UNO starters could find a spot on the three-deep at NU, which needs some help at a few positions like tight end and defensive end. Since UNO will honor those scholarships despite the end of the sport, however, players would have to be willing to make a big financial risk.

    Basketball: Doc has another team to schedule – he hasn't shied away from “transitional” Division I programs in the past - and he could even get a true road game out of it if UNO plays at the Civic Auditorium. Connie Yori will probably make the addition, too.

    Volleyball: If John Cook ever wants to head back to NU Coliseum for a “remember when” game, the Mavericks can play the willing foil.

    Baseball: Three more wins for Mike Anderson, who can always use legitimate ones, now that Fresno State took a series from the Huskers over the weekend.

    Athletic Department: Just got the time it needed to evaluate UNO AD Trev Alberts as a potential successor for Tom Osborne. With the help of UNO Chancellor John Christensen, Alberts has orchestrated a bold move for the Mavs. The man has an ego. He did not sit still or drink in empty praise. And in this media market, he could have. And it probably would have played well with lots of folks.

    Instead, Alberts approached UNO's systemic problems – especially the football elephant – head on. He hired a terrific hockey coach and got that team a spot in the WCHA. He found a home for Mav hoops in the Summit – which plays up-tempo, exciting basketball that I suspect will be a hit in a state with two half-court mavens (Doc and Creighton's Greg McDermott).

    But I want to see Alberts handle the backlash and the transition first. It's one thing to tear it all down and etch Xanadu in your mind; it's another to address hurt feelings and convince the UNO community to buy in. Steve Pederson excelled at the former – just look at Osborne Complex and the Hawks Championship Center. He failed miserably at the latter.

    Alberts will probably oversee UNO for the next two or three years. In that time, his reputation will either grow despite grumblings or wither on the vine because of negativity.

    Tags: husker monday takes, spring football 2011, bo pelini, tim beck, rich fisher, vince marrow, ron brown, rex burkhead, taylor martinez, mens hoops, uno, trev alberts, tom osborne, big ten, jim tressel

  14. 2011 Mar 14

    Husker Heartbeat 3/14: No Doubts for a New Bo


    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.

    *Bo Pelini is ever confident, as he continues to reveal in a nice column from LJS Sipple. As usual, he creates a conflict where there probably wasn't much of one with the intent of using it for motivation.

    Midway through, Sipple writes a very accurate line:

    "Now I think we're seeing Pelini moving back to center. His tenure at Nebraska, in many ways, starts afresh in year four."

    Agreed here. The Big Ten move is part of it. The coaching staff changes are another. It all seems like a brand new project for whole enchilada: Fans, football team, athletic department, university. I don't think Bo gets a grace year - far from it - but fans may not look back much. It will be hard to compare whatever it is Tim Beck is doing with what Shawn Watson did.

    *And what is Tim Beck doing? Restoring some much-needed energy to the offense.

    *Hey There! Join our Tourney Pick Em Contest on Yahoo. Click right here! It's a private group, but the password is gobigred The winner gets a free year's subscription to Locker Pass and a DVD of one of last year's games! Second and third place get Locker Pass subscriptions, too!

    *Doc Sadler's OK with a NIT trip to Wichita State. At least Nebraska made it into a postseason tournament. Baylor struck out entirely.

    *UNO decides to drop football and wrestling and head to Division I in hoops. Good move? We'll see. It's a bold move by Trev Alberts, we know that. Supporters of the wrestling program are pretty fired up.

    *A handful of rowdy Ohio State fans are driving Kirk Herbstreit to move from Columbus to Nashville. We're not kidding.

    "I love Ohio State. Love the Blue Jackets. Love the Reds. Those are my hobbies. I don't like moving. I love living here. I don't want to leave. But I just can't do this anymore. I really can't keep going like this.

    "Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It's the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless."

    *There is trouble to be had in Aspen. Ask these two Michigan State football players.

    *Why Jim Tressel is even more a villain than some think, according to this writer.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bo pelini, ncaa tournament, nit, mens hoops, big ten, jim tressel

  15. 2011 Mar 14

    Podcast 3/14: Hitting the Ground Running


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, spring football 2011, bo pelini, mens hoops, nit, baseball, softball, track and field

  16. 2011 Mar 13

    MEN'S HOOPS: NU Lands No. 5 seed in NIT


    By HuskerLocker

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    A late-season swoon denied the Nebraska men's basketball team a chance at a NCAA Tournament bid. It also cost NU a home game in the 32-team NIT announced Sunday night.

    The 19-12 Huskers earned a No. 5 seed and will play an opening-round game at No. 4 seed Wichita State at 6 p.m. Wednesday. ESPN2 will televise it. A win there and Nebraska likely heads to Virginia Tech, the No. 1 seed in NU's portion of the bracket. The Hokies were considered by many a lock for the NCAA Tournament until a surprising snub rewarded VCU and UAB as well.

    It's the third NIT bid in coach Doc Sadler's five years. In 2008, NU beat Charlotte and lost to Ole Miss. In 2009, Nebraska lost to New Mexico.

    The 24-8 Shockers were upset in the semifinal round of the Missouri Valley Tournament by Indiana State. Its NCAA at-large hopes were dashed two weeks earlier by a one-point home loss to VCU, which made two free throws with 0.8 seconds left to win.

    WSU played a more challenging non-conference schedule than Nebraska, losing 83-79 to Connecticut and 83-69 to San Diego State and beating Virginia, LSU and Tulsa. The Shockers lost their eight games by an average of five points. Ten players average double-digit minutes; only one of them is an underclassman.

    NU is joined in the NIT by Big 12 teams Colorado (No. 1 seed) and Oklahoma State (No. 3). The Buffaloes were another team considered by many to be in the NCAA's field of 68 after beating Kansas State for a third straight time this year.

    Along with No. 5 seeds Ole Miss, UTEP and Milwaukee, NU was one of the last teams to get an at-large berth in the NIT. All teams seeded on the No. 6-No. 8 lines were regular season conference champions who lost in their league tournaments.

    The full field:

    Left bracket:

    No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. No. 8 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Tuesday.

    No. 4 New Mexico Lobos vs. No. 5 UTEP Miners on Tuesday

    No. 3 Missouri State Bears vs. No. 6 Murray State Racers on Tuesday.

    No. 2 Miami Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Florida Atlantic Owls on Wednesday

    No. 1 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 8 Texas Southern Wednesday a

    No. 4 California Golden Bears vs. No. 5 Mississippi Rebels on Wednesday

    No. 3 Colorado St. Rams vs. No. 6 Fairfield Stags Tuesday

    No. 2 St. Mary's Gaels vs. No. 7 Kent St. Golden Flashes on Tuesday

    Right bracket:

    No. 1 Boston College Eagles vs. 8 McNeese St. Cowboys on Tuesday

    No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats vs. No. 5 Milwaukee Panthers on Wednesday

    No. 3 Oklahoma St. Cowboys vs. No. 6 Harvard Crimson on Tuesday

    No. 2 Washington St. Cougars vs. No. 7 Long Beach St. 49ers on Wednesday

    No. 1 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. No. 8 Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Wednesday

    No. 4 Wichita St. Shockers vs. No. 5 Nebraska Cornhuskers on Wednesday

    No. 3 Dayton Flyers vs. No. 6 Charleston Cougars on Tuesday

    No. 2 Cleveland St. Vikings vs. No. 7 Vermont Catamounts on Tuesday

    Tags: mens hoops, nit

  17. 2011 Mar 10

    Husker Heartbeat 3/10: Can-Do Kinnie, and Doc's Day of Reckoning


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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.

    We'll start with the utter flameout of Nebraska basketball of these last several weeks, as NU unceremoniously lost four of its last five games - by a combined total of 16 points - to whiff on its best chance at the NCAA Tournament since 1999. The 53-52 loss to Oklahoma State was a sour capper to a rough close to the season.

    Tom Shatel, in one of his better recent columns, goes right at the heart of the Doc Sadler question: Is he staying at NU for sure, or will he look at a courtship with Texas Tech? Doc publicly said he wanted old boss Billy Gillispie to get the job. But he also said this to Shatel yesterday:

    “I know what you’re going to ask me,’’ Sadler said with a grin. “Let me just say, ‘Coach’ has a lot to do with it. You know this business as well as I do. Coach Osborne is as good as there is.

    “I mean, how long is coach Osborne going to do it?’’

    Have you asked him lately?


    Are you going to?

    “Yes, I will. Quickly.’’

    It’s quite possible there’s no story here. But Doc bringing up Osborne’s future is a curious thing and could be an interesting loophole if and when Tech calls.

    Doc-to-Tech is burning up the rumor landscape. Billy Gillispie, Doc’s coaching buddy, is the natural “fit” candidate. But will Tech want to deal with Billy Clyde’s baggage?

    Sadler says he’s been talking to “people connected with Texas Tech’’ to pump up Gillispie to them. He says no one from “inside’’ Tech athletics has called him about the job.

    If they did, would he talk?

    “No, not until I talked with coach Osborne,’’ Sadler said. “I want to be at Nebraska.

    “The one thing that you’ve learned about me, man, I want this thing to work. This is something that Nebraska’s never had, and you can put your own stamp on it. I love Lubbock. My oldest, Landon, was born there. My wife likes it there. But we like Nebraska, too. I want to get it done here — and if coach wants me to get it done here.’’

    Let's pause here to say something: Doc Sadler is a shrewd man. And that's precisely the word for it: Shrewd. He'd probably scoff at the description, which is another part of that shrewdness. Sadler plays the "aw shucks" role quite a bit, but underneath that is a smart, calculating person who knows the absolute best thing he could say to Nebraska basketball fans after flushing a NCAA Tourney bid down the toilet relates to tickling their football funny bone: Dr. Tom. He doesn't want money. He doesn't want private jets. He just wants a good boss whose reluctance to meddle in any sport - after he recommended Bo Pelini keep Shawn Watson and Ted Gilmore, of course - is pretty legendary. Osborne believes in a long-term process. And that fits Nebraska basketball just fine and dandy.

    And yet there's the collapses late in games. The surprising lack of energy at the beginning of those same games. Drake Beranek, a senior who left Nebraska-Kearney to play a smaller role for NU, told several reporters he felt like the constant criticism of Husker hoops was part of the problem:

    "I think a lot of people in Nebraska are pretty judgmental toward Nebraska basketball," Beranek said. "I think if more people would have faith in the basketball team, (instead of) at the first sign of trouble criticizing it, I think this program would be a lot better off."

    Other players strongly defended Sadler after the game. As most players often do.

    Sadler, meanwhile, pointed to a bright future. He also employed some curious math to measure his tenure at NU.

    "I don't mean it wrong, but you look at it and it should be my third year here," Sadler said. "I mean my first year (in 2006-07) you get in here and you get the job in August. At least for me, I think we finally have some things to work with, consistent things to work with? I think for the first time we've got enough pieces coming back with a lot of experience."

    We're going to let this week breathe a little bit before we weigh in with our full thoughts. But know this: We'll take dead aim at this "third year" comment.

    *BRN focuses its attention on the defensive ends. It's a good place to start, considering NU won't have much proven talent there in the spring.

    *Brandon Kinnie wants more out of his senior season, especially when it comes to being a vocal leader.

    *After getting the snub from the NFL Combine - why? Never have figured it out - Mike McNeill has to do his real work at NU's Pro Day Thursday.

    *Indiana begins its spring camp.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, brandon kinnie, mike mcneill, mens hoops, doc sadler

  18. 2011 Mar 10

    Podcast 3/10: New FB Salaries, Same Ol Hoops Team


    By HuskerLocker

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    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcasts, tim beck, mens hoops

  19. 2011 Mar 09

    MEN'S HOOPS: NU Exits KC Early


    By HuskerLocker

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    They don't make gravestones for teams that narrowly miss the NCAA Tournament, but if they did, the epitaph for Nebraska men's basketball might read like this: Three one-point losses to the three of the four worst teams in the Big 12.

    A 72-71 loss to Texas Tech. A 83-82 loss to cellar dweller Iowa State. And, in Wednesday's opening of the Big 12 Tournament, the latest stumble: An ugly 53-52 loss to Oklahoma State. The 19-12 Huskers will now wait for their seeding in the NIT, a likely destination now that the Big Dance bubble has popped for good.

    “The NCAA option is out,” head coach Doc Sadler said. “That's not an option, unless somebody's really looking out for us.”

    Much like Nebraska's other close losses, this one had a familiar, frustrating look: An inexplicably sluggish start for a team with so much on the line. Frontcourt struggles for center Jorge Brian Diaz, ripped mercilessly for his disinterested play by the Big 12 Network's color commentator. Untimely misses at the free throw line. And a self-destruct button in the game's final minutes, when the feckless Cowboys gave NU numerous chances to win.

    The last of them came with ten seconds left and the Huskers trailing by one. Point guard Lance Jeter – whose energy and playmaking ability helped bring Nebraska back from a 14-point deficit – dribbled through traffic, ignored two open teammates – forward Toney McCray at the 3-point line and Brandon Richardson on the baseline – and tried to attempt a pull-up jumper. Instead, he crashed to the floor and time ran out.

    “Pretty much got tripped,” Jeter said. “No call, which it shouldn't be, especially in the last second. You gotta make a play. And I didn't do that. So I guess they got the last possession, and they won the game.”

    Sadler was more frustrated by NU's abysmal start. OSU hit eight of its first 11 shots – five of them were wide-open 3-pointers – and raced out to a 25-11 lead in the game's first eight minutes.

    “When you get to this point, you don't have time to get going,” Sadler said. “You've got to come to the
    game ready to play.”

    Jeter, who scored 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and forward Brandon Ubel – who finished with 11 points and six rebounds – both agreed that Nebraska, with so much to play for, still began the game “sluggish.”

    “We pretty much knew what was wrong, not being aggressive on offense and defense, being sluggish and slow,” Jeter said. “Coach Doc definitely told us what was wrong.”

    Added Ubel: “It just didn't look like we came out with a sense of urgency that we really needed to, to get done what we wanted to get done. We looked slow on offense and on defense. I think we just didn't come out with the energy we needed to do that.”

    The Huskers' turned up the defensive heat, though, allowing just five OSU points over the final 11:41 of the first half. NU's offense wasn't much more efficient, making just 2 of its last 20 attempts in the first half. The Cowboys led 30-21 at halftime.

    Nebraska quickly took a 39-38 lead in the second thanks to two Jeter coast-to-coast layups and a seven straight points from Ubel, who averaged 10 points and six rebounds over the last three games of the year. The Huskers stretched their lead to 48-44 with 5:58 left in the game.

    NU scored four more points the rest of the way. The Huskers missed six consecutive shots, committed two turnovers and Jeter picked up a charging foul.

    Meanwhile, 5-foot-9 OSU point guard Keiton Page drained back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Cowboys a 50-48 lead. The Cowboys pushed the advantage to 53-50 in the final minute. Jeter found Toney McCray cutting to the basket for a dunk to cut the lead to 53-52. Then Page – a 90 percent free throw shooter – missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 16 seconds left to set up Nebraska's final opportunity.

    After Jeter fell to the floor, and time expired, he stayed there, head buried in his hands. OSU coach Travis Ford made a beeline for the senior and consoled him first before any other Husker players.

    “It's sad because I wanted to do it for them because I know how hard they worked and how hard the coaching staff works,” Jeter said. “You just want to be the hero, and unfortunately that wasn't the case at that time.”

    Tags: mens hoops, lance jeter, brandon ubel, jorge brian diaz

  20. 2011 Mar 09

    Husker Heartbeat 3/9: Bo, Beck, Doc, Logan Tressel and the Big Ten


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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.

    We got a big one today...enjoy!

    *Early reactions from Nebraska's stuffed spring football presser are in from Sam McKewon, LJS Sipple and Tom Shatel.

    We start with Tom, who gets a fireside chat with Bo Pelini after Bo's formal presser, allowing the head coach a considerably wide berth to explain his odd hiring and firing/parting ways/finding guys other jobs practices over the last two months.

    To the column!

    You want to know Bo? Don’t pay attention to the words. Pay attention to the actions.

    Pelini offered a peek into his soul this winter. Even as people were railing on about how he delayed the announcement of firings and hirings, Pelini was showing his wares.

    He didn’t want Watson or Gilmore on the streets until he had helped them find a job. Watson landed a quarterbacks coaching job at Louisville, without Pelini’s help. Gilmore landed at USC with Pelini’s assistance.

    “I had a plan the whole way,’’ Pelini said. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do, how I wanted to get there. I wanted to do it the right way for me, and for the guys. People may not agree with how I did it, but I have to do it the way I see fit.’’

    Would you do it the same way again?

    “Absolutely,’’ he said.

    “If I start making decisions based on what the fans want or what the media want ... I have to do it the way I feel is the right way. It may not be the right way for everybody. But at the end of the day, that’s how I had to do it. I stuck with it, and I’m happy I did.’’

    An ironic twist: Pelini said Watson wanted to leave. It was an amicable parting.

    “I consider Shawn a friend,’’ Pelini said. “He’s a tremendous coach. It got to the point where he couldn’t be right no matter what ...

    “There was such a negative air around everything ... It was his decision as much as anything. He had said, ‘I’ve got to move on.’ You get to the point where you get beat up the way he was getting beat up, I mean, he has goals. He’s done a lot in his career. It had become like the snowball was running so fast, it was out of control. He wanted to remove himself from the situation as much as anything else.’’

    Bo appears to be putting Watson's "parting of ways" on the fans and media. We're the source of negativity.

    To which we shrug. The recent past is still the past, but Watson was given parameters last year that made it very difficult for him to be right in the ways he wanted to be. Negativity wasn't that high on Watson through the first half of the year. Not even after the Iowa State game, when his Wildcat attack saved the Huskers' hide. But when Taylor Martinez returned as a starter considerably less than 100 percent, and Watson's up there using his usual "man, he's great" one-liners, it creates the wrong impression.

    LJS Sipple focuses on the potential strength of the defense and Carl Pelini's ascension to full-time defensive coordinator.

    *Ohio State's Jim Tressel gets atwo-game suspension and $250,000 fine after OSU self-reports a major NCAA violation. To hear Buckeye AD Gene Smith say it, a Yahoo report detailing that Tressel knew about a couple of his players selling bowl swag to a tattoo parlor dude eight months before his superiors did had nothing to do with the punishment. tOSU knew about Tressel's transgressions before the story hit the Interwebs.

    We buy that. What we don't buy were some of Tressel's ludicrous assertions about why he didn't alert his bosses to potential eligibility issues the minute he realized that two of his players were part of a relatively-unrelated federal investigation.

    ESPN's Mark Schlabach, who usually does a pretty middling job of writing anything, found a little anger for this one, and wrote perhaps the best of the national columns on the matter.

    Facing the biggest crisis of his career, Tressel never once apologized for knowingly breaking NCAA rules during a news conference on the Ohio State campus on Tuesday night. Worse, Tressel never owned up to not telling his bosses or NCAA investigators that he was aware that at least two of his players might have accepted improper benefits from the owner of a tattoo parlor in Columbus, Ohio.

    When Tressel was asked if he was worried the scandal would tarnish his reputation, he said he's always been his biggest critic.

    "I don't think less of myself at this moment," Tressel said.

    How's that for looking in the mirror?

    Here's another take from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

    We'll have our own take later in the week.

    *Speaking of the NCAA, it ruled that Nebraska pitcher Logan Ehlers must sit out 60 percent of this regular season because, the NCAA ruled, Ehlers hired an advisor to figure out whether he should turn pro or not. That advisor could have been construed as an agent. NU is appealing the decision.

    *Memorial Stadium is getting bigger and biggerby the day thanks to greater demand.

    *With his name being thrown around as a potential candidate for the Texas Tech job while he prepares the Nebraska men's basketball team for the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Doc Sadler says he's the coach at Nebraska so long as Tom Osborne still wants him to be.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, ljs sipple, tom shatel, shawn watson, big ten, ohio state, jim tressel, baseball, mens hoops, logan ehlers, doc sadler

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