Nerdly Nebraska.

2019-2020 HuskerGeek Ratings Leaders

Sport School Rating
ViPR D1 Volleyball Stanford 2,018.7625
BPR D1 NCAAWBB Baylor 0.8446

Football ohio st 12.3626
Men's Basketball ohio st 13.4320
Women's Basketball uconn 13.4678
Ice Hockey minnesota st 10.2720
Men's Soccer virginia 10.4612
Women's Soccer stanford 13.1583
Women's Volleyball stanford 10.6300
Field Hockey north carolina 12.2787

VERT Challenge Photo Gallery

My VolleyTalk Top 25 Vote for 08-27-2018

The Preface

We have data now, but we have no context.  That makes a lot of organizing extremely difficult at best and a fool’s errand at worst.  So, I’ve given a lot of thought to some of these teams but very little to others.  Alas, sometimes you just have to throw things at the board and see what sticks.

The List

  1. Stanford
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Minnesota
  4. Texas
  5. BYU
  6. Florida
  7. USC
  8. Russ Rose
  9. Baylor
  10. Nebraska
  11. Illinois
  12. UNI
  13. Creighton
  14. Washington
  15. Pittsburgh
  16. Kentucky
  17. Oregon
  18. Washington State
  19. San Diego
  20. Florida State
  21. Louisville
  22. Michigan
  23. Colorado State
  24. Purdue
  25. Marquette

The Justification

I don’t have much today.  There are simply no connections between the pods in our directional graph.  Some teams did stuff that I thought probably deserved some movement and got moved.  Some teams did very little to prove or disprove my initial assumptions and stayed put. I was in Lincoln at VERT(Longer article to come.) and didn’t see much beyond the four teams that were there.  I spent most of the rest of the weekend traveling to and from Lincoln. The official post on VolleyTalk courtesy of user vbprisoner can be found here.  The AVCA’s vastly inferior poll can be found here.

Nebraska’s Place in the Fray

Tough to tell right now.  The first match for Big Red was pretty different than the clean volleyball we’ve come to expect from the Huskers.  However, with all the new players and the losses sustained by graduation and transfers, it wasn’t a totally unexpected start.  Statistically, it wasn’t even that different from Nebraska’s appearance in the VERT Challenge in 2017.  Obviously, I’m not expecting this team to win a National Championship.  That is an unfair expectation at any time, and doubly unfair when half of the team is new to the program.  It does; however, illustrate the incredible transition a team can make from opening day to tournament time.

That’s why they play the games.  That’s why we watch the games.

 

Omaha Challenge Review and Husker Weekend Preview

The Omaha challenge was last week and I was there for all but one game. Nebraska, Kansas State, Northern Iowa all went 2-1 in the competition while the host UNO went 0-3.  However, that’s getting ahead of myself.  Let’s first start off with the games.

Kansas St. vs. Omaha (2017-09-14)

Top Performances

Bryna Vogel

Kansas St.


Game WPA

0.9164

Offense: 0.5001

Defense: 0.4163

Attacking: 0.5912
Setting:0.0426
Serving:-0.1338
Blocking:-0.0286
Digging:0.4449

Sydney O'Shaughnessy

Omaha


Game WPA

0.7576

Offense: 0.2635

Defense: 0.4940

Attacking: 0.0527
Setting:0.3528
Serving:-0.1419
Blocking:-0.1566
Digging:0.6506

Peyton Williams

Kansas St.


Game WPA

0.6339

Offense: 0.5435

Defense: 0.0904

Attacking: 0.5435
Setting:0.0000
Serving:0.0000
Blocking:0.0904
Digging:0.0000
Source: 114210

Game 1.  Kansas State and Omaha.  The Wildcats have fallen off a bit from their typical results.  Usually, near Top 25 status, ViPR started off the week rating the Wildcats around the sixty mark.  Omaha started off just beyond 210th.  Neither team was particularly clean during the match, but Kansas State’s superior talent did show throughout.  Omaha, for their part, played above their predicted level and won the second set handily.  Setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy was the star for the Mavericks and did her part taking the second spot in the WPA Top Performers and contributing thirty-four assists and twenty digs.   Bryna Vogel of KSU took Top Performer awards in the top spot by terminating on thirteen of twenty-eight swings with only two errors.  She also added sixteen digs and two blocks.

Omaha may have lost the game, but they were competitive throughout the game and as it would turn out later, the weekend.

Nebraska vs. Kansas St. (2017-09-15)

Top Performances

Kelly Hunter

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.9255

Offense: 0.5955

Defense: 0.3300

Attacking: 0.1234
Setting:0.4591
Serving:0.0130
Blocking:-0.0494
Digging:0.3794

Annika Albrecht

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.9043

Offense: 0.3837

Defense: 0.5206

Attacking: 0.3018
Setting:0.0023
Serving:0.0796
Blocking:0.0206
Digging:0.5001

Kenzie Maloney

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.5971

Offense: 0.0453

Defense: 0.5518

Attacking: 0.0000
Setting:0.0609
Serving:-0.0156
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.5518
Source: 113054

Game 2.  After a hotly contested first set, Nebraska cruised through the rest of the match and completed a comfortable 3-0 sweep of KSU.  Nebraska swept the Top Performers list as well with Kelly Hunter, Annika Albrecht, and Kenzie Maloney taking the honors.  Kelly Hunter’s thirty-seven assists, eleven digs, three kills, three blocks, and a service ace were enough for top honors.  Annika added an ace, two blocks, six kills, and fifteen digs.  Kenzie Maloney continued a streak of strong performances from her Libero position with sixteen digs.

Both Husker middles had a strong day with Briana Holman acquiring ten kills on eighteen swings with one error and Lauren Stivrins terminating ten times on fourteen swings with three errors.

Kansas State’s Kylee Zumach stands out for the Wildcats with ten kills on twenty-seven swings with only two errors.  She added an ace and two blocks for a solid day all-around.

Omaha vs. UNI (2017-09-15)

Team Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Sets
Omaha142518221
UNI251925253

Top Performances

Bri Weber

UNI


Game WPA

0.8531

Offense: 0.2618

Defense: 0.5913

Attacking: 0.2239
Setting:0.0316
Serving:0.0062
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.5913

Heather Hook

UNI


Game WPA

0.7246

Offense: 0.4673

Defense: 0.2572

Attacking: 0.1554
Setting:0.3326
Serving:-0.0207
Blocking:0.0002
Digging:0.2571

Claire Mountjoy

Omaha


Game WPA

0.6334

Offense: 0.0132

Defense: 0.6202

Attacking: 0.0000
Setting:0.0319
Serving:-0.0187
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.6202
Source: 113383

Game 3.  The last match on Friday between Omaha and Northern Iowa was almost a repeat of Omaha’s previous match with Kansas State.  Both games ended in 3-1 losses for the Mavericks, but that one was a comfortable second set win by Omaha.  In this case, Omaha took the second set 25-19.

Bri Weber takes the Top Performer crown in this game despite having a bit of a rough day hitting.  Weber had fourteen kills on forty-one swings with eight errors but also acquired a team-high twenty-three digs and an ace.   Bri wasn’t the only hitter to struggle as both teams found terminating to be tough sledding.  Omaha hit .105 for the match and Northern Iowa managed only .160 in what was a decidedly defensive struggle.

Claire Mountjoy’s match-high twenty-eight digs propelled her into Third Place on the Top Performers list.

Nebraska vs. UNI (2017-09-16)

Team Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Sets
Nebraska202325211
UNI252514253

Top Performances

Bri Weber

UNI


Game WPA

0.9688

Offense: 0.7238

Defense: 0.2450

Attacking: 0.6294
Setting:0.0404
Serving:0.0541
Blocking:-0.0099
Digging:0.2549

Heather Hook

UNI


Game WPA

0.8775

Offense: 0.8783

Defense: -0.0008

Attacking: 0.2618
Setting:0.5446
Serving:0.0720
Blocking:-0.1299
Digging:0.1291

Karlie Taylor

UNI


Game WPA

0.7745

Offense: 0.3322

Defense: 0.4423

Attacking: 0.4117
Setting:0.0000
Serving:-0.0795
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.4423
Source: 113504

Game 4.  Northern Iowa’s upset of tenth ranked Nebraska was the only game of the weekend I did not see but don’t worry I was watching a game that was equally frustrating for Husker fans if not more so.  Watching the football team spot NIU two touchdowns and fail to recover was pain enough.

Statistically, the game was exceptionally close.  The teams scored the exact same amount of points and a quick back-of-the-napkin calculation tells me that UNI edged out Nebraska by 0.017 in ViPR Point Efficiency.  A razor-thin margin in statistics, but due to Nebraska dominance in the third set, not so close in actual win probability added.

Bri Weber once again stands out for Northern Iowa with fifteen kills and six errors on forty-five swings.  Adding nine digs, four assists, three aces, and a block completed a very good day for Weber and led UNI.  The three aces for UNI were not the only ones on the score sheet for the Panthers as Taylor Hedges added another three and one apiece from Heather Hook and Piper Thomas.  Nebraska’s struggles in serve-receive were not alone as it appears that they struggled to pass and dig.  Despite having one more dig and the same number of kills, Nebraska took five fewer swings than Nothern Iowa which suggest some control issues on the back side of Nebraska’s court.  A team that had graded out as the best defensive team in the country by ViPR’s viewing coming into the weekend, Nebraska’s struggles on the back end of this match must be concerning to those hoping for a deep tournament run.

Kansas St. vs. UNI (2017-09-16)

Team Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Sets
Kansas St.25242923153
UNI2226272562

Top Performances

Bryna Vogel

Kansas St.


Game WPA

2.1140

Offense: 0.8616

Defense: 1.2524

Attacking: 0.9050
Setting:0.0114
Serving:-0.0547
Blocking:0.1806
Digging:1.0718

Bri Weber

UNI


Game WPA

1.9518

Offense: 1.1180

Defense: 0.8337

Attacking: 1.1811
Setting:-0.0116
Serving:-0.0515
Blocking:0.1348
Digging:0.6990

Heather Hook

UNI


Game WPA

1.6296

Offense: 0.8812

Defense: 0.7485

Attacking: 0.2586
Setting:0.9424
Serving:-0.3198
Blocking:0.0262
Digging:0.7223
Source: 113481

Game 5.  Kansas State would top UNI in what was a game of runs back and forth.  Those runs led to a fairly high scoring affair by WPA standards as Bryna Vogel led the way.  Vogel accumulated fifteen kills on thirty-six swings and committed only three errors.  To that, she added twenty-three digs, six blocks, and an ace.  Bri Weber once again led the way for Northen Iowa with twenty-two kills on sixty-two swings and eight errors.  Weber completed her double-double with seventeen digs.

Both teams struggled to stop long runs from their opponents during this match and momentum shifted quickly and completely.  After the first four tumultuous sets, the fifth set was a breather for Kansas State when they took control early and never let go of it.  Their five-set victory completed the cycle between Nebraska, UNI, and Kansas State.  Nebraska beat Kansas State on Friday afternoon and lost to Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon.  Northern Iowa beat Nebraska on Saturday afternoon and lost to Kansas State on Saturday night.  And finally, Kansas State lost to Nebraska on Friday afternoon and beat Northern Iowa on Saturday night.

Nebraska vs. Omaha (2017-09-16)

Top Performances

Annika Albrecht

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.7341

Offense: 0.5808

Defense: 0.1533

Attacking: 0.6382
Setting:0.0317
Serving:-0.0892
Blocking:-0.0314
Digging:0.1847

Sydney O'Shaughnessy

Omaha


Game WPA

0.6763

Offense: 0.4324

Defense: 0.2439

Attacking: 0.1974
Setting:0.2125
Serving:0.0226
Blocking:-0.0220
Digging:0.2659

Kelly Hunter

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.5452

Offense: 0.3790

Defense: 0.1662

Attacking: 0.0972
Setting:0.2732
Serving:0.0086
Blocking:0.0010
Digging:0.1652
Source: 113503

Game 6.  Nebraska concluded the Omaha Challenge by sweeping Omaha.  After a hotly contested first set where Omaha had the chance to take the set, Nebraska cruised to comfortable wins in sets two and three.

Annika Albrecht takes top honors for the match with fifteen kills on thirty-two sings with three errors.  Sydney O’Shaughnessy once again led the way for Omaha with twenty-three assists and nine digs.

Unfortunately, Nebraska’s story of the match was Briana Holman.  The senior middle blocker went down with an ankle injury in the third set and was in obvious pain as she left the court.  According to Coach Cook during his weekly press conference, Nebraska will be playing it carefully on just when Briana will be back.  It appears to be an ankle sprain and Briana could be back at any time, but the staff will undoubtedly be cautious with the senior going forward.

Upcoming

Nebraska starts off the weekend continuing their storied history with Penn State on Friday at State College.  The now fourteenth ranked Huskers will take on the second ranked Nitany Lions on BTN at 7 PM Central.

On Saturday, Nebraska will take on Rutgers.

Nebraska Conjures up a bit of Déjà vu Against the Visiting Bruins

The weekend was supposed to be a clash of conference title contenders.  UCLA and Nebraska entered the weekend ranked eleventh and twelfth.  The Bruins came in the the Devaney Center with the higher ranking and an undefeated record.  However, I believe most would have tabbed the Huskers as the favorite.  Playing in front of the sold out crowd of more than eight thousand, Nebraska would have the full-time services of Setter Kelly Hunter for the first time this season.  Whatever advantages Nebraska had, they took them all and ran past their ranked opponents.

The first match was a surprise, I think, to everyone.  Nebraska took a quick first set 25-15 and never looked back.

Nebraska vs. UCLA (2017-09-08)

Top Performances

Mikaela Foecke

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.8956

Offense: 0.4917

Defense: 0.4039

Attacking: 0.4310
Setting:0.0318
Serving:0.0288
Blocking:0.0173
Digging:0.3866

Annika Albrecht

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.8513

Offense: 0.4669

Defense: 0.3843

Attacking: 0.4737
Setting:0.0000
Serving:-0.0068
Blocking:-0.0618
Digging:0.4461

Zana Muno

UCLA


Game WPA

0.6828

Offense: 0.0114

Defense: 0.6713

Attacking: 0.0000
Setting:0.0276
Serving:-0.0161
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.6713
Source: 111115

Annika Albrecht’s attacking had been somewhat suspect, but on this night she was nearly flawless.  Scoring twelve kills on twenty-five attempts with only two errors completed a performance that every Husker fan was excited to see.  In the back row, Albrecht was no less spectacular.  Tying the team lead with fifteen digs, Annika rightfully deserves first mention and hearty congratulations for a job well done.

Mikaela Foecke continued her strong year with a team thirteen kills and adding another thirteen digs.  Foecke completed her third double-double of the year and has obviously proven her ability to be a six rotation player for Nebraska.

The “return” of Kelly Hunter can’t be overlooked.  The Huskers’ senior setter acquired 44 assists and 10 service points on 16 serves.  The only issue seemed to be Hunter’s connection with middle Briana Holman.  Managing only five kills on eighteen swings with three errors off the UCLA block, Holman struggled to terminate in the opening match of the weekend.

On UCLA’s part, the night was not without a bright spot or two.  Specifically, Madeleine Gates put a strong performance on the scoreboard.  Gates totaled seven kills and seven blocks.  Three solo blocks highlighted her scoreline and hitting 0.353 with a singular error in the box score was a silver lining in what was otherwise a fairly dark cloud.

Certainly, UCLA retired to examine the game tape and search for a way to reverse their fortunes on the second night of the weekend.  It was not to be.  In a bit of déjà vu the Huskers not only repeated their dominant win but improved upon it.  Again starting off the night with a 25-15 win in set one, the Nebraska women led early, often, and by a wide margin.

Nebraska vs. UCLA (2017-09-09)

Top Performances

Kelly Hunter

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.5822

Offense: 0.2887

Defense: 0.2934

Attacking: 0.0010
Setting:0.2956
Serving:-0.0079
Blocking:0.0055
Digging:0.2880

Mikaela Foecke

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.5625

Offense: 0.3481

Defense: 0.2144

Attacking: 0.3425
Setting:0.0044
Serving:0.0012
Blocking:0.0499
Digging:0.1645

Annika Albrecht

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.5602

Offense: 0.4367

Defense: 0.1234

Attacking: 0.3221
Setting:0.0127
Serving:0.1019
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.1234
Source: 111785

The second night was all Nebraska.  Winning in straight sets by a combined margin of 24 points, the Huskers stated their case as a team to be reckoned with when Big Ten play starts on September 22nd in State College.

There were contributions to victory all over the court in a complete performance in front of 8,000 strong.   Mikaela Foecke put another strong performance together with twelve kills on thirty-three swings with four errors, eight service points, eight digs, and an assist.  Annika Albrecht followed a note worthy Friday night with a Saturday that was arguably better.  Albrecht terminated on eight of seventeen swings with a donut in the error column.  Adding 10 service points, two aces, six digs, and an assist completed an all-around performance for the senior. Jazz Sweet continued a strong freshmen campaign with ten kills on seventeen swings with one error totaling 0.529 and added three blocks just for good measure. Kelly Hunter led the Huskers in digs with fourteen and added 31 assists.

Four Bruins tied at seven kills, but three of them also tied with five errors.  Kyra Rogers limited herself to two errors and hit 0.357.  The only UCLA player to break the three hundred mark.  Sarah Sponcil added 30 assists to the 28 she put up on the first night.

The night and the weekend were all Nebraska, and John Cook commented in the post-game press conference that he would not have believed you if you had told him the results of the weekend before the two teams met on the court.  I would not have either.  Nebraska outscored UCLA 150-107 on the weekend which equates to 58.3% of all points played landing for Big Red.

Numbers To Know

33: UCLA scored 33 service points on 109 serves. That equates to a Nebraska side-out percentage of 69.7%.

36: The Huskers scored 36 service points on Friday alone.  Serving 74 times and scoring 36 points limited UCLA to a side-out percentage of 51.4% on the opening night of the weekend.

38: Improving on their Friday performance, Nebraska scored 38 service points on 74 serves on Saturday.  Siding out on only 48.6% of attempts spelled the end of any revenge UCLA might have planned.

Next Up for Nebraska

Nebraska will head down to the road to Omaha and UNO’s Baxter Arena for the Omaha Challenge next weekend.  The Mavs host Kansas State and Northern Iowa in addition to the Huskers with action beginning on Thursday with the host taking on the Wildcats of Manhattan Kansas.  Each team will play three matches in round robin format culminating in Big Red taking on Omaha on Saturday night.

UCLA

UCLA will be back in action on Wednesday against Loyola Marymount.

Husker Volleyball: First Weekend Roundup

The opening weekend proved very difficult for the Husker Volleyball team.  Opening the season with two losses to Oregon and Florida won’t penalize the Huskers too much by the time the tournament comes, but if they want a premier win before conference play begins on September 22nd, it leaves few options.  A two game set against Pac-12 UCLA on September 8th and 9th will be the only other opportunities to get a statement win over a traditional power.  September 15th against a quality Kansas State team also remains before Nebraska opens conference play at Penn State.

Nebraska’s performance to start the season was not wholly unexpected.  Losing four starters to graduation including three former All-Americans was always going to be hard to replace, but the added difficulty of Kelly Hunter being unavailable due to injury added another key loss to the current roster.  Florida and Oregon came in with veteran rosters and the challenge proved a bit too much for Huskers this weekend.  However, Nebraska showed flashes of the team they could be this year.  It will take time and there are a number of things that the Huskers will need to clean up before tournament time, but that’s what the season is for.

Oregon vs. Nebraska (2017-08-25)

Top Performances

Brooke Sickle

Oregon


Game WPA

1.7413

Offense: 0.8589

Defense: 0.8824

Attacking: 0.6648
Setting:0.0358
Serving:0.1583
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.8824

Mikaela Foecke

Nebraska


Game WPA

1.2891

Offense: 0.5734

Defense: 0.7156

Attacking: 0.6494
Setting:0.0000
Serving:-0.0759
Blocking:0.0000
Digging:0.7156

Annika Albrecht

Nebraska


Game WPA

1.0572

Offense: 0.2445

Defense: 0.8127

Attacking: 0.2206
Setting:-0.0191
Serving:0.0431
Blocking:0.1183
Digging:0.6944
Source: 108306

Nebraska started off the year against a veteran squad that has been reinforced with new talent.  The game showcased many of Nebraska’s expected weaknesses coming into the season.  Serve receive and passing were both quite shaky at times.  Hunter Atherton filling in for the injured Kelly Hunter struggled to connect with several of her hitters, and Nebraska’s radio team of John Baylor and Lauren Cook commented believing that her sets to Briana Holman were a bit too low.  That, in particular, is not surprising when you consider that last year John Cook commented on Kelly Hunter having a similar issue connecting with Holman.  Holman, despite standing only six foot one, is an extremely good jumper and this has resulted in her setting being somewhat in consistent during her Nebraska tenure.  Annika Albrecht, listed at six foot even, also struggled to terminate from her outside spot.  Totaling nine kills, two of which came by way of block error, and seven hitting errors on thirty-nine swings is certainly not the day she was looking for.

There were also many positives in the game which, despite being a three sets to one loss, will be highlighted going forward.  Albrecht despite having a rough day offensively showed her prowess as a back row defender.  Sixteen digs and a nary an error in serve receive is a day that I believe the Huskers will take moving forward.  Kenzie Maloney despite several miscues also had a solid day starting her first game of the season in the Libero spot.  Replacing the departed Justine Wong-Orantes was never going to be an easy task, but Maloney has been a solid back row player for Nebraska the past two years including several starts wearing the off color jersey.  It certainly wasn’t the day she hoped for, but it was no disaster either.  Offensively, Jazz Sweet made her college debut in strong fashion terminating on fourteen of thirty-two swings while committing only two errors.  That totaled an Attack WPA of 0.5093 which ranked second on the team.  Michaela Foecke despite a slow start ended up acquiring thirteen kills on forty-nine swings while committing three errors.  Totaling an Attack WPA of 0.6492 showed Hunter Atherton’s penchant for sending the ball Foecke’s way on high leverage points and Foecke’s own penchant for putting the ball down when it really counts.

Nebraska vs. Florida (2017-08-26)

Team Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Sets
Nebraska25182518112
Florida19251725153

Top Performances

Mikaela Foecke

Nebraska


Game WPA

0.9757

Offense: 0.5858

Defense: 0.3899

Attacking: 0.4462
Setting:0.0000
Serving:0.1396
Blocking:0.0294
Digging:0.3606

Rachael Kramer

Florida


Game WPA

0.8242

Offense: 0.7628

Defense: 0.0614

Attacking: 0.7628
Setting:0.0000
Serving:0.0000
Blocking:0.0400
Digging:0.0213

Allie Monserez

Florida


Game WPA

0.6656

Offense: 0.2110

Defense: 0.4546

Attacking: 0.0188
Setting:0.2526
Serving:-0.0604
Blocking:0.0278
Digging:0.4268
Source: 108378

The second game of the year came against a Florida squad who knocked off the de facto favorite for the National Championship in Texas.  A squad that was also playing in front of a larger-than-normal home crowd.  Florida comes into the season with a senior laden squad that is as experienced as they are talented. Rhamat Alhassan might, as the announcers continuously pointed out, be the best combination of height and leaping ability in the college game right now.  However, in this five set match which featured a continuous line of blowout sets, Six foot eight inch Rachel Kramer stole the show.  Acquiring twenty kills on only twenty-eight swings with only a single shot hitting the opposing block.  Kramer was simply unstoppable for a large portion of the match and hitting an astronomic 0.679 totaled for a game best Attack WPA of 0.7650.  An impressive total considering the dearth of high leverage points being played in a five set match.  Every set played was a blowout in volleyball terms.  Large gaps between the team scores happened early and often.  Comebacks were not to be found.

Nebraska despite losing their second game of the weekend had a more solid day all the way around.  The Husker starters were led offensively by Michaela Foecke.  The junior managed eighteen kills on fifty-nine swings with six errors.  Four of her errors came by way of opposition block.  An imposing block from Florida caused a number of problems for the Husker hitters.  Foecke’s performance, however, earned her the top WPA score for the game at 0.9808.  An unusually low score for a five set match where players often come near or beyond the 2.0 mark, but as stated before, this was not a normal five set match.

Beyond Foecke, Jazz Sweet impressed a second time with a sixteen kill performance on thirty-one swings with six errors.  Three of those errors hit the Florida block.  Defensively despite several impressive serving runs by Florida’s Carli Snyder, none of the Huskers’ back row players recorded a reception error and five different players recorded sixteen digs.  Kenzie Maloney led the way with eighteen digs and had a better more consistent day than she did against Oregon.  It did appear that there was a lack of communication on the court as other Husker players stepped in front of Maloney on several occasions and collided with her at least once.  Better communication might be one of the key needs and notes from the weekend. After Maloney, four Huskers tied at sixteen digs.  Albrecht, Foecke, Atherton and DS Sydney Townsend created a log jam for second on the team in digs.  Front row defense showed up as well as Briana Holman and Lauren Stivrins combined for 7 block assists.  Foecke added four block assists herself.

Many of the issues from the Oregon match remained during the match against Florida.  Albrecht again struggled to terminate facing a large Florida front line as did the Nebraska middles.  The Husker passing while better was still inconsistent.  These issues and others will need to be improved if Nebraska wants to make noise in the Big Ten this year.

Looking to the future, Nebraska will have games against UMBC, Oral Roberts, and Saint Mary’s when it returns to play next weekend in the Ameritas Players Challenge. Nebraska will be heavy favorites in each match giving them ample opportunity to work out some of their issues before UCLA comes to Devaney the weekend after.

Moments That Linger

There are moments in sports that linger in your memory. Sometimes it is just the magnitude of the moment. For example, Cory Schlesinger rumbling, tumbling into the end zone to put Nebraska ahead of Miami in the Orange Bowl and Tom Osborne on the verge of his first National Championship. When the game was over, I shed tears of joy, the only time I can remember crying from happiness. It had been so long a road. There was so much that lead up to that moment.

The moment moved me. It was an enormous moment for all of us because of the enormity of the situation. The magnitude made the moment memorable. It still lingers.

I’ve been thinking a great deal since Saturday about memories, and moments, and being moved by them. Movies do it so well. Images, playing out in slow motion, the swelling of inspiring music, the faces of winners and losers. It’s cinematic magic. It feels real.

It’s Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford in “The Natural”) hitting the lights, running the bases as the sparks rain down around him and Roy, somehow magically, he appears to be part of the cosmos. It’s acceptable for grown men to be moved to tears by the moment.

It’s the end of a journey.

How about “Brian’s Song?” The original version please. A journey for both Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo. Grown men can still cry thinking about it. I know.

Jimmy Chitwood’s final shot. Movies do it so well.

I didn’t cry Saturday night, but I could have. It was the end of a journey too. I wonder whose journey it really was, Tommy Armstrong’s or the fans? I won’t replay the scene. We all know the four year plot of this one. Good Tommy and Bad Tommy. Love one and hate the other, and then, in the space of a week, we finally see our moment that lingers.

Will Tommy even play? Yes, he will start. How will he play? Will he run the ball or just hand off and occasionally throw? He goes down. Will he get back up? At least it’s not another concussion. The crowd now chants “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy.” But that’s not the moment. Not yet. He comes back in again, leads the game winning drive, runs the ball in for the game winner, and gets carried off the field by Jerald Foster and Tanner Farmer. That’s the moment.

That’s the end of the journey.

There are games still to be played. Never mind. Bring up the music and roll the credits. Let the grown men shed a tear if they want to, for finally, Tommy Armstrong will be embraced for who he is.

He won’t be remembered as the greatest Nebraska quarterback ever. Or the most talented.

But he should be remembered as the toughest. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. He made the journey, took the punishment and the blaming, and never complained. And now he has his Roy Hobbs, his Jimmy Chitwood moment. Strike up the band. Roll out all the credit that is due to Tommy Armstrong, Jr. He, at the end of a long and troubled journey, has given me a moment that will always linger.

I was lucky enough to be there. I am grateful. I hope we all are.

Those single moments are so rare, and thank God they are.

Time to prove it.

This was the first weekend of the 2016 college sports season. Volleyball, and most exciting for me, Nebraska volleyball, had a big weekend, with the Huskers dominating Florida and Texas, both preseason Top 10 teams. The Big 10 as a conference was almost as successful.

College football begins in earnest next week. This should be a time of unbridled optimism for college football fans. That’s the way it’s supposed to be on opening day. I wish Nebraska fans felt that, it’s not the case. It’s a strange experience and not one I want to accept. I went into the Big Red Etc in North Platte yesterday, looking for the new merchandise, hoping there would be an original, clever t-shirt. My thinking was that it was time now to get my game face on. I found nothing.

It seems symbolic. We want to find that enthusiasm, the hope, the belief that we are Husker Nation and that we believe in our team and ourselves. I really want to believe. Yet when I was asked last week if I was ready for a new season, I could say “yes, but . . .” and then I had trouble finding the words. It’s hard to say I believe in the future, when our immediate past seems so disappointing. Why won’t the victories in 2015 over Michigan State and UCLA carry us through an off-season? They should, but they haven’t.

The last three weeks are a big factor. Keith Williams. Derrion Grim. The tragedy of Sam Foltz death. It’s too much, too much on top of a 6 win, 7 loss season. Tommy Armstrong’s interceptions. Purdue. Illinois. Even Bo. Go back further. Callahan. The Solich firing. The debacle in Boulder. I feel beaten down.

Where do I go to find the fire of a new season? I really want to feel it again. I don’t feel like I’ve lost hope. I don’t think I care any less. I really do believe in, and like, Mike Riley. I think he’s put together a quality staff. I think they are recruiting good players, upgrading the talent level (and we do need better players). I look at the schedule and see a minimum of eight wins. Eleven isn’t out of the question. Nine seems a reasonable expectation. This can be a good year, maybe very good.

We have a four year starter at quarterback who will own many passing records at Nebraska when he’s done. There are young potential stars at most positions and more talent visiting as recruits than we have seen for a long time, maybe ever, standing on the sideline. We still have the sellout streak. We are generally recognized as one of the blue-blood programs in college football, even if we haven’t won a championship in so long that the current players have little or no personal memory of one.

We are special. This is a special place. I could go into a detailed analysis of positions and scheduling, the conference, and match ups, but there are others who do that much better than I ever could. I could write about Tommy Armstrong penchant for locking on to one receiver and trying to force something that isn’t there. I could write about luck and confidence and momentum. I could wonder why Lee Barfknecht needs to write about toughness and somehow include Connie Yori in the discussion. Sometimes I just don’t understand what’s happening.

But it’s that time of year. Strike up “Hail Varsity.” Say “Hello, how are you?” to the people in the stadium that I haven’t seen for nine months. It’s a great time of year.

So next Saturday, when I smell runzas and hot dogs, when I hear the band, when I see the Sea of Red and stand and sing and clap and watch the tunnel walk, all those traditions that have built a lifetime of memories for me, I hope I’ll find that belief in myself, because that’s where it must first be. The coaches will have it. The players will have it; of that, I am totally confident. I hope I’ll believe also.

I hope.

Live Blog: Nebraska vs Creighton 12-9-2015

Another round of Nebrasketball vs the other instate D1 Basketball school is upon us!

Wait.  You’re telling me UNO is D1 now.  Who knew?

Outlook

HG#73 Nebraska vs HG#95 Creighton

Nebraska has a slight edge via math at the moment, but it’s early and the map is still very sparse(Warning: Have a good computer.)  Generally, the accuracy this early in the season is dubious at best.  Additionally, given the Blue Jays’ own home court advantage, I would give them a slight edge in reality.  The eye test says neither team has played their best basketball yet.

Totally Unrelated Train of Thought While I Wait for the Game

Why is the Nebraska vs BYU volleyball game being broadcast at 5 Eastern?  That’s a good plan.  Let’s put a game on while both fanbases are still at work.  Additionally let’s put AVCA #1 Washington, AVCA #5 Nebraska, AVCA #11 BYU, and AVCA #14 Ohio State all in the same regional and place that regional in LEXINGTON KENTUCKY.  I congratulate all 52 people who will be there this weekend.  It should be a blast.  I really, really want to see that Washington versus Nebraska match.  Those two have a storied history against each other.

CFP Opinion

I didn’t write a review of the last couple rankings, and I didn’t because I feel they were pretty obvious.  My own rankings aren’t that different apart from their skepticism of Michigan State.  When I sort my own ratings by ELO, Ohio State sneaks ahead of MSU for the 4 spot, but head to head and a conference championship should and does give MSU the nod over OSU.

HERE WE GO!

CBS Intro 8/10 – Needs more not Duke.

CBS Graphic off center on the court, he must like going left.  Nope.  Second graphic is slightly to the right.

Obligatory Dr. Pepper commercial.  Because Playoffs.

Oh nice.  Starting five is different because players were in class. We come here to play school.

Creighton controls the tip.  Down to the post.  Hook shot in 2-0 Blue Jays

Nebraska passes it around the top a bit, Shields to Parker, and back out.  Buzzer beater nope.

Creighton makes a 3. 5-0

Nebraska puts up another jumper. No.  Creighton layup. 7-0.

Andrew White drives and gets the bucket and a foul. 7-2

White blows the layup.  Color man mentions making free throws on the road and it’s high importance.  Playing defense on the road is important too and Nebraska draws an offensive foul.

Shields underneath to Jacobson and back to White who is fouled again.  White makes the first.  Second goes down too. 7-4

Creighton up quickly.  Turnover.

Nebraska blows the shot in transition and fouls back on the other side.

Inbound jumper and Nebraska has Incarnate Word flash backs. 9-4

Nebraska turns it over.

Three pointer for the Blue Jays. Ugh. 11-4

Nebraska miss.  Creighton miss.  Creighton injury.

Creighton passes it around the top, and eventually gets another layup.  13-4.  This could be going better.

Missed 3 by Creighton.  Hammond blows a layup for Nebraska.  Nebraska now 1-A lot.

And Creighton buries another one.  15-4

Nebraska no.  Creighton many, many, many, chances.  No. Steal layup+1.  17-4 with possibility of another after the break.

Commercial timeout and it was needed for the Huskers.  This is a trouncing at the moment.  Nebraska looks tentative.

Free throw in for Creighton. 18-4

Three for Nebraska. 18-7

Foul on Nebraska. Hanson free throws inbound. 0-1, 1-2.  19-7 Creighton.

Nebraska takes a 19 foot jump shot also known as the worst shot in basketball.  Step back and take the three.

.4*3=1.2 vs .45*2=.9

Simple math.

Another layup from the Blue Jays. 21-7.  I have seen this movie before.

Nebraska does some good work on the boards and eventually draws another foul.  That leads us to another break.

I don’t really have any great thoughts at the moment.  This is the story of Nebraska and Creighton for the last decade.  Eventually, you just get used to it.

Morrow gets a bucket after the break. 21-9

Another offensive rebound for Creighton.  Nebraska must rebound better than this.  They are too small to consistently allow second, third, or fourth chances.  22-9

Shields nearly gives up the rock. Out of bounds.  Looked like off Shields to me, but Husker ball.  Nebraska gets a three up and two rebounds.  NADA!

Push off called against Creighton.  Husker ball.

O Rebound of a Shields miss is laid in.  22-11

Gotten a little better for the Huskers.  Creighton misses a corner jumper.  Ed Morrow commits his second foul.  Ball goes back to the Blue Jays.  Nebraska cannot give up possessions.  They need every single one.

Nebraska moving a lot, but not getting a whole lot done.  Makes a three eventually.  Technical called on Miles.  UGH! 22-14.

Free throws. 0-1. 1-2.

Creighton ball after the tech.  And they nail a 3.  26-14.  4 point technical.  Probably not quite what Miles wanted.

White gets a steal after a miss and dunks the ball down.  Fouled but wasn’t called.  Watching basketball this year is confusing.  I no longer know what a foul is.  I see strong collisions on the ball that are let go all the time, but then touch fouls will be called on jump shots well after the ball has been released when the foul makes no difference on the shot.  I simply don’t know what the referees are trying to emphasize anymore.  It’s been inconsistent. 26-16 after the break with free throws inbound.

1-1. 2-2. 28-16

White gets an open three but misses.  Shields and White combine for a steal.  Lay-in by White. 28-18

Creighton answers. 30-18

Nebraska throws it away.

Creighton blocked.

Nebraska miss.

Creighton dunk. 32-18

Decent ball movement from the Huskers.  Hammond eventually fouled. 1-1. 2-2. 32-20 Creighton

Jacobson steals the ball coming from the backside.  Fouled on the layup. 1-1. 2-2.  32-22.

Creighton brings it up slowly.  Slight push off, but not worth counting and Creighton finds another layup.  Nebraska tosses it away.  Again.  Blue Jays blow the dunk.  Nebraska misses long 2 in transition.  Creighton misses a fairly quick three.

Watson bounces one off the frame of the backboard.

Foul on Creighton rebounding.  And we’re into the break again.

ESPN’s box score is broken.

White: 13-2-0

Shields: 0-4-2

Shields needs to start scoring.  Nebraska needs the offense.

Out of the break and Nebraska bricks the front-end.

Rebound Webster. Fouled.  1-1. 2-2. 34-24

Good ball movement by Creighton until Shields steps in front and lays it in on the far end.  34-26

Missed hook shot by the Blue Jays.

Missed layup by Nebraska.

Milliken fouled under the hoop and he will shoot 2 after the break.

Again, it seems like Nebraska consistently has stretches where they are focused and ready and then also has stretches where they lose track of people.

Back from the break.

0-1. 0-2.

Shields misses the reverse.  Hammond cleans up the glass with an And-1.  0-1. 34-28.

Creighton moving around the three and eventually goes baseline for a layup.  Maurice Watson puts Creighton back up 8.  White answers. 36-30.

Foul on a screen by Creighton. 24 seconds left.  Nebraska is not in a hurry.  Webster out front over to Shields and back to Webster.  Off target three.  Not the shot that Nebraska was looking for.

White: 15-4-0

Shields: 2-4-2

Nebraska needs more offense from Shields, but the other people on the court are contributing for now.

The start was really good for Creighton, but Nebraska has crawled back shot by shot.  They will need to continue the defense for the rest of the game to have a chance.  Creighton is better on offense and shooting has been an issue for the Huskers all season.  In order to keep this close, Nebraska needs to keep under control and force Creighton to take contested shots.  They simply cannot get into a shooting competition.

Took a break to check out reddit.  Not much in the game thread.  Big East scoreboard on CBS. Meh.

Still waiting for my words of wisdom from Tim Miles.  I need my words of wisdom.

Ah. That’s the good stuff.

Good movement by Nebraska and a layup for white.  36-32

Missed layup by Creighton.  Nebraska gives it right back. Jump ball.  Creighton has the arrow.

Creighton in.  Loses it out of bounds.  Officials say it’s off of Shields.  I disagree.  That makes us even.

Creighton gets the layup. 38-32

Shields offensive foul.

Groselle gets another layup.

Nebraska stuffed. Layup. 42-32.

Yikes.

Nebraska can’t finish.  Gets a steal.  Shields lays one in.  42-34.

Nebraska gets a rebound but loses it in transition.  No call on the foul.  Probably not a bad no call.

Blocking foul on White.

Groselle uses the same move for the same result. 44-34

Nebraska losing contact.  Nebraska loses the ball.  I disagree, but Husker ball.  Okay we’re not even anymore.  Of course I could be wrong.  I was typing during the replay, but I think it’s 2-1 Nebraska on blown out of bounds calls.

Nebraska has started off really slow again.  It’s not a new problem.  Creighton has figured out that the Huskers are short.  It’s not a new problem.  This might be rough coming home.

Nebraska miss. Creighton miss. Nebraska miss. Creighton three.  47-34

Another turnover on Nebraska.  Taking care of the rock needs to be more of a priority.

Watson foul.

Huff makes one.  49-34.  Nebraska really losing contact now.

Block on Creighton.

Another 19 foot jumper by Nebraska.  Another missed.

Foul on Nebraska.  Looked like he stepped on the right foot.

Nebraska rebound.

Nebraska turnover.

Offensive foul on Shields.  Announcers disagree. So do I.

Webster knocks the ball away.

Three pointer Creighton.  52-34

Webster draws a foul.

Well that was a foul.

White from the charity stripe. 0-1. 1-2. 52-35

Nebraska nearly loses it off the dribble again. Is the ball oblong? Layup Webster.  52-37

Block by Morrow.  2 seconds for Creighton to shoot after the break.

The same issues for Nebraska remain.  Long stretches of no points.   You cannot go 4-6 minutes without scoring in college basketball.  It is a problem that has existed for the better part of a decade and a half at this point.

Rough half so far for the Huskers.  Blue Jays have to be pleased with the way they are playing right now.  Under control and consistently getting good shots.

Travel by Andrew White is not called.

Nebraska misses a jumper.

Groselle with the same move. 54-37

Morrow is stuffed.  Then fouls.

Nebraska triple teams Groselle.  Creighton misses a three.

Parker dumps of a two foot pass to White who throws up an awkward shot and Nebraska commits a foul on the rebound.

Groselle free throws. 1-0. 1-2. 55-37

Nebraska is running out of time.  White 3. 55-40

Watson dumps on in on the floater. 57-40

Hammond follows and dunks it.  Was not a goal tend and referees get it right after some discussion.

Creighton tabs out an offensive rebound and Groselle again. 59.42

White. 59-45

Milliken floater. 61-45

Shields loses it out of bounds on a rebound.  The announcers call it a microcosm of the game and I couldn’t agree more.

Into the break again.  It’s so frustrating watching this team.  We’re talented enough to compete, and at times we play like it.  At others, this happens.  I don’t know what it is.  This was a must win for Nebraska.  They need signature wins out-of-conference and it isn’t happening.  This team can play very well.  I wonder if they ever will outside of the Vault.

Seven minutes to play.

Creighton is in no hurry at all.  Wide open 17 footer.  64-45

Nebraska passes it around.  Parker gets in trouble.  Webster draws a foul.

Layup for Shields. 64-47

Huff drops a jumper. 66-47

Nebraska jumper. 66-49

Nebraska foul and bails Creighton out 27 feet from the hoop.

1-1. 1-2. 67-49.

Nebraska drops a jumper. 67-51.

Creighton misses.

Webster drops an awkward layup. 67-53.

3:30 left.  Milliken drains a three. 70-53.

The game is safely out of reach at this point barring something very bizarre.

Parker layup. 70-55

Shields steals it.  Double dribble.  Ball back to Creighton.

Rough night.  It won’t be the last.

2:39

Nebraska starts fouling.  It’s the only choice at the moment.

McDermott continues to have Tim Miles number.

Creighton blows the front-end, but Nebraska blows a layup.

Foul Nebraska. 0-1. 0-2.

Watson misses off the block.  Fouls.

1-1. 2-2. 72-55.

Layup Nebraska. 72-57.

Timeout Nebraska.

Early fouling is going to extend this game, but Nebraska is going to need a lot of help coming home.

The ticker just informed me I’ve passed 2,000 words which is awesome.  I would like to do one of these where I can say the same thing about our performance.

Turnovers have been killer.  I’ve said that a lot recently.

Nebraska foul. Webster.

1-1. 2-2. 74-57

Webster layup. 74-59

Timeout Nebraska.  These last few minutes are going to be slow and probably painful.  Not unlike Nebraska’s offense for the decade before Tim Miles arrived.

Timeout Creighton on trouble getting the ball in.

Reach in.  Foul on Nebraska.

1-1. 2-2. 76-59

Layup Whilte III.

Timeout Nebraska.

Five in a row.  Gonna start bugging people back in Lincoln.  That’s according to the announcers.  Oh, we’re already there.  However, Miles has brought a lot of talent to Lincoln that we haven’t had in a long time.

Foul Nebraska.

0-1. 1-2. 77-61.

Foul Nebraska.  Crowd does not appreciate it.

Announcers not happy with the  stoppages.  I am though.  We need some fight.

1-1. 2-2. 79-61.

Layup. 79-63.

Foul Nebraska. 1:01 left.

0-1. 1-2. 80-63.

White. 80-65.

Foul Nebraska. Fans are really booing now.

1-1. 1-2. 81-65

Nebraska miss 3.  Lost out of bounds.

Over the back on the rebound.

1-1. 2-2.

Nebraska layup. 83-67.

Nebraska is done fouling.

Final score. 83-67.

This is the life of a Nebraska basketball fan.

The announcers spent the last two minutes of the game telling Nebraska to let it go.  Stop fouling.  I would ask that they walk in our shoes before making those pronouncements.  If we just folded, just conceded when the going got difficult.  If we just stopped when our goals seemed out of reach, we would have given up long ago.  I am so tired of the national media, of CBB Blue Bloods judging how we play our games.  Walk in our shoes, and then tell me that we should just give up.

I don’t want our guys to ever stop believing.  I don’t want them to ever stop playing hard.  I don’t care what the score is.  I don’t care what the record is.  Play basketball.  I can ask no more of them than that.  I will ask no less.  I have supported this team for nearly my entire life, and I will not give up on them.  I ask that they not give up either.

So, the rest of the basketball world can make whatever statements about us they want.  Fans can make whatever judgments they wish to make.  This is my team.  This is our team.  As long as they fight, we will have their backs.

I know, as fan of a college football blue blood, that it can be easy to dismiss the tenacity of the downtrodden.  I know, as fan of the college basketball downtrodden, that sometimes the tenacity is all you have.

This is Nebraska.

Villanova vs Nebraska Live Blog

I hope this doesn’t go nearly as badly as I think it might. (Spoiler Alert: It did.)

6:45 – We won the tip!  Highlight of the night!

6:45 – See. (Turnover)

6:47 – Villanova 2-0.  Followed by a quick turnover courtesy of Tai Webster.  This is going really well so far.

6:48 – Misses.  Rebounds.  Foul on Nebraska. 2-0 Villanova.

6:48 – Free throw 3-0. Free throw 4-0.

6:49 – Shields draws a foul on Brunson.  Only 4 more to go.

6:50 – Turnover Nebraska(3). 3pt Nova 7-0

6:50 – 3pt Parker 7-3

6:50 – 2pt Nova 9-3

6:51 – 3pt Andrew White III 9-6

6:51 – Miss Nova. Miss Nebraska.

6:51 – Turnover Nova.  3pt Andrew White III 9-9.   I really hope the hot shooting continues.  We’ll need it.

6:52 – Big man over smaller man 11-9 Nova.

6:52 – Andrew White 3pt in and out.  Blog curse.  I’ll stop hoping for things now.(Not really)

6:53 TV Timeout.  Not sure I can keep this pace up.

So far I think that the game has started fairly well for Nebraska.  Mostly they need to whether each storm and just consistently get points.  The several minute slumps the team has been prone to go through for the past decade have been problematic.  It would not be good for them to have that issue against a team the quality of Villanova.  It is also already apparent that defending posts will be an issue this year.  That is not unexpected given the lack of size across the board.

Back from commercial.  Whew.

6:57 – Free throw Nova 12-9.  Miss. Rebound Huskers.

6:57 – 19ft fade-away for Glynn Watson goes in.  Don’t like the shot but it is points.

6:58 – Misses for both Nova and Big Red.  Foul on Watson. 12-11 Nova

6:59 – Miss by Nova, Shields takes on the break.  That was an awkward move at the hoop which combined contact results in a miss, but Nova gives it right back on the other end.

7:00 – Nebraska is nice enough to return the favor.  Stepping out of bounds.  Yikes.

7:00 – Low post shot by Nova and that brings it to 14-12

7:01 – Shields for three! 14-14.

7:01 – TV Timeout

I know for a fact I can’t keep this pace up. It’s impossible.   But I shall press on!

Short segment there.  Mostly good play by Nebraska and Villanova.  Nebraska’s hot shooting continues.  Would like to know how many points Nova has from the posts already.

Back from TV Timeout.  Nova coach stresses the three pointers.  4 so far.

7:04 – Nebraska tosses it in against the press.

7:05 – Miss by Nebraska, followed by a travel.  Turnovers are starting to mount for both teams.

7:06 – Travel by Nebraska.  I refer to my previous statement.

7:06 – Nebraska gets a long rebound. Two on One.  Nada.

7:07 – Rebound Cornhuskers.  Morrow pushes off, but gets away with it and scores.  16-14 Nebraska.

7:08 – Nova slashes in and lays it up and in to tie at 16.  Not unexpected.

7:08 – Huskers answer under the hoop.  Morrow doing some good things early.

7:09 – Block by Nebraska.  Transition three is off target.  I would have liked  a better shot, but Nebraska gets another turnover courtesy of Villanova.  Andrew White draws a foul.  Nebraska under the hoop.

7:10 – Shields gets a leaner in the lane to drop and draws a foul.  Chance at the old fashioned 3pt play.  21-16 Nebraska after the make.

7:11 – White takes it to the hoop and gets the layup to go after what appeared to be a no call on a walk by Shields.  23-16 Huskers.

TV Timeout.

Wow that was good for Nebraska.  They need to take advantage early because holding off Villanova later in the game could be very difficult.  Especially if the shots stop falling at some point.

Back from timeout.  Promo for Fox Fight Night.  Meh.

7:14 – 7:38 left in the 1st half.  Nova takes a shot that’s off target, but Nebraska fouls on the rebound.  Ugh.

7:15 – Another off target three from Nova, another offensive rebound, and this time the 3 goes in.  23-19 NU.

7:16 – Scramble on the floor.  Jump ball favors Nova.  That will not do.  Nebraska must make it across half court every time. They canont give up possessions.

7:17 – Nova 3.  23-22 Nebraska.

7:17 – Teams trade turnovers.  I think.  Have to check the play by pay later.

7:18 – Off target shot from Nova.  Off target shot by Nebraska.  Neither team is having a good stretch right at the moment.

7:19 – Nebraska fouls and that will put Nova at the line.  0-2 but a lane violation gives him another chance which falls.  23 all.

7:20 – Three pointers are starting to find iron instead of net for Nebraska.

7:20 – Ochefu gets to and Nova takes back the lead at 25-23.

7:21 – Nebraska immediately turns it over, but gets it back as well.

TV Timeout.

That was a good stretch on the scoreboard for Villanova, but neither coach is going to be particularly happy at the moment.  Some gifts to each team.  Nebraska needs to play more controlled after a rebound. Pushing the ball up the floor is great, but we can’t get out of control.

Back with 4:26 left in the 1st.

7:24 – Webster gets caught in the air and the ball escapes out of bounds.  Turnover Nebraska.

7:25 – 10-0 since Nebraska’s run.  Ochefu gets another offensive rebound and lays it in. 12-0.

7:26 – Two more quick baskets 16-0 and Nebraska turns it over.  This is starting to get out of hand and this is the long drought I mentioned earlier.  Almost six minutes of game clock since Nebraska scored.  Now 32-23 Nova.  Yikes.

7:27 – Air ball Nova.  White repays off the front iron.

7:28 – Another lay in makes it 18-0 since the run.  34-23 Nova.

Nebraska must get something quick.

7:29 – Blocking foul on Nebraska.  19-0. 20-0.

7:30 – Dunk Nova. 22-0.

7:30 – Foul on Nova, but Nebraska is losing contact.  This problem is not new for Nebraska.

7:30 – Finally a jumper falls for Nebraska.  38-25.

7:31 – Nebraska gets a steal, but Watson can’t maneuver the score.

7:31 – Off target three and a travel leaves 0.2 on the clock.  The lob is over Shields head.  That brings the half.

That was more like what we expected from this game.  Once the shots stopped falling, it became very difficult for Nebraska to score.

Long stretches without scoring have been a major problem for Nebraska in the past.  It continues early this season.  Sometimes you need a guy to go to the hoop until one falls.  Nebraska does not always have that person.   The last two years would have seen Terran Petteway putting up a couple shots during that sequence and often he was able to make it work.  This season, we might not have found that person yet.  Hopefully there is someone that will be able to accomplish that in the future.

Nova looks like a dangerous team.  Smothering on defense at times.  Aggressive on the boards.  They will be tough to beat, and that goes double at home.

Nebraska has 13 turnovers in the half.  Let that sink in a little.  13.

Tim Miles halftime tweet adds to the turnover discussion.  Four minute segments.  That’s not incorrect.  Basketball is a game of runs.  You have to win more than the other team.

7:49 – Nebraska starts with the ball after halftime and promptly travels.  14.

7:49 – Villanova 3. 41-25.

7:50 – Shields gets a shot to fall.  41-28

7:50 – Brunson draws a foul and makes both.  43-28.

7:51 – Nebraska brings the ball up confidently against the press, but the offense has issues finding space until Webster takes it to the hoop.  43-30 Nova

7:52 – Nebraska commits another foul, Hammonds’ 4th.  That will bring in Morrow and the Nebraska lineup gets very small.  Both shots go in. 45-30.  Nebraska turns the inbounds pass over to Nova. 15.

7:53 – Nova draws another foul on Morrow. Three for him.

7:53 – Airball Nova.  Nebraska needs to attack here.  Shields three rims out.

7:54 – Nova returns the favor.

7:54 – White goes to the rim and gets the fall on a close one.

7:54 – Free throws brings it to 45-32.

7:55 – Short fade away for Nova is too strong, but another offensive rebound keeps the ball on their side.  Another off target shot.  Another offensive rebound.  Size is going to be a factor all season.  Nebraska needs to attack the boards stronger.  Period.

7:56 – Foul on Webster.

TV Timeout.

Nebraska didn’t win that stretch, but they didn’t lose any more ground either.

Tim Miles stresses rebounding during the timeout.  I couldn’t agree more.

8:00 – Another short shot goes in for Nova.  47-32.

8:00 – Nebraska loses track of a Villanova post, but commits a foul before any damage can be done.

8:01 – Villanova buries another jumper. 49-32

8:02 – Nebraska makes a three courtesy of Andrew White. 49-35.

8:03 – Nebraska makes a great save on defensive end, but then turns it over immediately.  16.

8:03 – Another jumper from Villanova. 51-35.  Nebraska turns it over. 17

8:04 – Nova misses. Nebraska turns it over. 18. Nova dunk. 53-35.

8:05 – Timeout Nebraska.

Nebraska is out of control right now.  Three turnovers in 2 minutes.  Poise will be very important for this team.  They are undersized, and will have less talent than many teams they face.  Rebound and turnovers will be crucial.

Right now, it’s been difficult for the Huskers to find any kind of momentum.  18 points is a big deficit with 12:50 to play.

8:08 – Nebraska takes the inbounds having turned the ball over 3 possessions in a row.  This time a Shields three goes off target, but Nova gets hit with a push off foul.  Shields grabs his own rebound after a floater and Nebraska draws a shooting foul.

8:09 – White misses the first.  Second drops. 53-36.

8:10 – Brunson charges the hoop and draws a foul.

8:11 – The front in bounces out.  Nebraska makes another jumper and puts the press on.

8:11 – Nova breaks it without trouble and great ball movement gets them an easy one at the end.  55-38.

Commercials enter the screen again and Nebraska still hasn’t made up any ground.

18-5 on the turnover front.  That will not win games.

Foul trouble for the Huskers as well.  4 for Hammond, 4 for Parker, and 3 for Morrow.

Villanova’s coach confidently tells his team that if Nebraska just plays straight man, they got ’em.  He’s probably not wrong.  Nebraska will need to shoot very well in the home stretch.  They will also need to create some turnovers on defense.

8:16 – Nebraska comes up empty and Morrow fouls for the 4th time.  That brings up another 1 and 1 for Villanova.

8:16 – 56-38.  57-38.

8:17 – Nebraska nearly gives it away early.  Long jumper with 3 left on the shot clock goes in and out.  Nova gets another dunk.  59-38.

8:18 – Webster is off target on a three.

8:18 – Another foul on Nebraska.  That brings up three from the charity stripe.  Bridges makes the first.  The second goes off target.  Third one drops in. 61-38.

8:19 – Glynn Watson tosses the ball away. 19.

8:20 – Knocks the ball away to stop a layup.  Three pointer Nova.  64-38.

8:21 – Watson off target 3.

8:21 – Josh hart knocks in a jumper. 66-38.

8:21 – Watson bangs in a jumper as well. 66-40.

8:22 – Shields gets a steal and takes it right to the hoop.  2 + a foul.  66-42.

Commercial break before the free throw.

Villanova has been unrelenting and is now shooting nearly 48% from the field against what has recently been a very strong Nebraska defense.  Make no mistake, this is a very good team.  Sometimes the other guys are just better.  Nebraska could have played better, but much of their struggling can be attributed to Villanova’s own intensity. The turnovers stand at 19-6 and it isn’t a mistake.

8:25 – Shields knocks in the free throw.  66-43.

8:26 – Another offensive rebound for Ochefu which grants him a double double.  He lays it in to take it to 68-43.  Nebraska bangs in a three. 68-46.

8:27 – Nova gets another easy shot and drains it.  70-46.

8:27 – Nebraska returns fire. 70-48.

8:28 – A quick miss and Nebraska draws a foul for free throws.  70-49

8:29 – Three pointer Nova.  73-49.

8:29 – White grabs an offensive rebound and gets it to go, but Villanova returns with a 3.  76-51.

8:29 – Nebraska promptly turns it over. 20.

8:29 – Villanova promptly dunks it. 78-51.

Timeout Nebraska.

This game is not unexpected.  Painful to watch? Yes, but not unexpected.  Nebraska has a long way to go.

8:31 – Nebraska offensive foul for the turnover. 21. Villanova 3 which brings it to a thirty point lead.  81-51.

8:32 – Watson drains a shot. 81-53.

8:32 – Villanova misses a couple times, but gets an offensive rebound and a tip out by Nebraska to retain possession.

TV Timeout.

Villanova is now shooting 50%.  Nebraska is shooting 38.5%.

3:37 left in the half and we are approaching mass substitution time.  Early enough in the year that they might wait a bit longer, but it’s coming.

At this point, you just want Nebraska to keep competing.  Play hard to the last buzzer.

8:35 – Morrow grabs an offensive rebound and lays it in. 81-55.

8:36 – Villanova off target for what seems like the first time this half.  Webster draws a floor foul and misses the open end of the 1 and 1.

8:36 – Villanova shows that their last shot was fluke and Nebraska grabs another offensive rebound for 2.  83-57. 2:02 left after a Husker foul.

8:37 – Substitutions inbound.  Front end goes down. Second does as well. 85-57.

8:38 – Some offensive rebound and a lazy pass that gets deflected out of bounds and the ball stays with the Huskers.  Nebraska draws a foul.  The Villanova crowd is clearly not happy with the referees at the moment.

8:40 – Nebraska gets both. 85-59.

8:40 – A rebound goes to Nebraska, and they turn it over. 22.

8:41 – Villanova grabs an offensive rebound, and drains another shot. 87-59.

8:41 – Nebraska fouls on a rebound sending Nova to the line.  The Nova crowd singing “Hey Hey Hey Goodbye.” Unfortunately a sound I have heard far to often in the history of Nebraskaetball.  The game comes to a merciful end at 87-63.

Sometimes, the other guys are just better.

Twenty-two turnovers is many too many.

That was a tough game for Husker fans.  Many things that we’ve seen before.  Nebrasketball has often seen rough starts, and that was definitely one of them.  The guys did continue to compete until the end.  There were also a lot of promising things.  Nebraska is young and it will take sometime for the team to come together.  This team has the talent to give teams some scares.  However, they aren’t there yet.

They must be able to handle the pressure better.  They must also be able to slow down the tempo.  Villanova was able to control the tempo and playing at that tempo will hurt Nebraska.  Half court defense has been a strength the past several years, but transition defense against more talented teams will always be a problem.  Nebraska needs to limit transition opportunities.  Despite the size differential and foul trouble, Nebraska did a pretty good job on the boards.  Totaling 17 offensive rebounds, Nebraska needs to continue to create opportunities.

The result was not unexpected, and there are positive takeaways.

The Wildcats did a great job of controlling the game.  After the initial surge by Nebraska, they never gave up control.  The game moved at their speed the rest of the way.  It will be interesting to see how this Nova team does against some of the other upper echelon teams.  I suspect they’ll hold up quite well.  When they meet a team that focuses on half court offense and stopping transition, it will be more difficult to get those layups.  If they continue to shoot like they did tonight, they’ll be just fine.  If I were a Nova fan, I would have liked them to trap Nebraska in the press.  Trapping on the press has been Nebraska’s Kryptonite for years, but with a 24 point win any strategic criticism is nitpicking at best.

Nebraska comes back home on Thursday to face Delaware State on BTN Plus if I’m not mistaken.

Villanova moves on to East Tennessee State on Friday.

Twenty-five hundred words in just two hours and fifteen minutes, and I am signing off for tonight.

The Agony of Almost

Harry Good.

That’s the answer to the question, “Who was Nebraska’s coach the last time they won a regular season conference title in Men’s Basketball?”

_________

That’s the answer to the question, “Who was Nebraska’s coach when they won their first NCAA Tournament game?”

Nebraska Basketball or as it’s commonly referred to “Nebrasketball” has a somewhat noteworthy if decidedly ignominious history.  The number of Power 5 Conference schools that have not won a NCAA Tournament game can be listed on one hand with fingers left over.  Nebraska and Northwestern.   That’s the list.

Northwestern has never made the NCAA Tournament, and Nebraska has never made it beyond the first round.

Seven appearances and seven losses.

1986 – 9th seed Nebraska loses to 8th seed Western Kentucky 59-67

1991 – 3rd seed Nebraska loses to 14th seed Xavier 84-89

1992 – 8th seed Nebraska loses to 9th seed Connecticut 65-86

1993 – 10th seed Nebraska loses to 7th seed New Mexico State 79-93

1994 – 6th seed Nebraska loses to 11th seed Penn 80-90

1998 – 11th seed Nebraska loses to 6th seed Arkansas 65-74

2014 – 11th seed Nebraska loses to 6th seed Baylor 60-74

Heartbreak and Nebraska Basketball have been frequent companions, but the most frequent companion has been apathy.

It’s difficult to describe the life of a Nebraska Basketball fan, especially the fan who cares more about basketball than football.  You cheer for football.  You bask in their successes, despair in their failures, but you take comfort in history and tradition.  There is no comfort in Husker Basketball.  There is only longing.

You long for the day that Nebraska finally makes it passed the foot of the mountain.  The mountain you’ve long stood at the foot of and watched numerous teams scale to the top.  I’m 31 and still waiting.  My father is 67 and still waiting.  Apathy is the result.   Eventually, you simply stop going to games, turn off the television, avoid the game.  Apathy is one of the most dangerous things that a program has to combat.  So, the program makes changes to excite the fanbase.  The program must, at all costs, bring hope to its fans.

Nebraska is now in the fourth year of its seventh head coaching reign since winning a regular season conference championship, and hope has for the time being returned to Huskers.   The hope has been brought back by the new talent that has been brought to Lincoln, and the first tournament appearance this century two years ago.

Nebraska does not need to make the tournament this year, but they do need to take a step forward.  There is hope in Lincoln.

Apathy is the death a program, but hope is the death of apathy.

Until our hope is rewarded, we wait.

HuskerGeek
HuskerGeek