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)
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Foul Nebraska. 1:01 left.
0-1. 1-2. 80-63.
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.
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.