Yes, a new basketball coach named Doc Sadler has arrived . He's the 26th Nebraska coach and he's excited to be in Lincoln. I watched his first press conference on the Internet. I liked his concept of "free substitution"- that if a player isn't going after a loose ball hard enough, any player on the bench is allowed to go to the sub bench and replace him. I liked his statement that he would guarantee any of his players that he will not waste their time. He mentioned that he came to Nebraska because of the support we provide for our student athletes, athletically and academically.
He was asked where he got the nickname "Doc". He responded by asking - "Who saved everyone on Gunsmoke"? Doc, that's who. Sadler had a hat that he wore all the time when he was young that was signed by Doc from Gunsmoke, so apparently the name stuck there. There is a certain beauty to that. (Gunsmoke is a old TV show for you young-uns.)
There's only one problem.
I have a very hard time caring about Nebraska basketball.
Perhaps it's my festering bitterness towards a sport that requires true athleticism, something with which I was not blessed. My best moment in basketball came in my sophomore year in high school. I was put in the first shot of a two-shot free throw, and taken out the second. It was very embarassing, but it probably fit my skills. My best move in basketball was the highly developed art form of kicking someone's ankle into their other ankle as they raced by me, typically sending them flying. If you're going to foul, foul hard was my motto.
Nothing against Doc Sadler. He did a lot for Nebraska and flew to Australia to convince Alex Mariks that he needed to come back to Nebraska and the team. Nice of Mariks to recognize effort and desire when he sees it and come back. Without him, we'd be awful this year.
Sadler has embraced the students, asking them to come to the games and be loud. Much different than when I was in school and Moe Iba was coaching. I remember standing up in Devaney, screaming at Jackman from Grant when they were playiing Wyoming and being the only loud voice in the place (I am not embellishing that one bit). An old man to the right of me had a stroke. A few people "sussshed" me, and others glared as if I'd given a politically-oriented Oscar speech that was too long.
It was exciting when Danny Nee arrived. Not only was he an upbeat guy, but he scowled better than anyone and his ties were - unique? He got further than any other Nebraska basketball coach, but still couldn't do something that's taken for granted among most basketball programs in Div IA - win a game in the NCAA tournament. He certainly had some shots, but the team would show up flat, scared of what might happen, and choke.
Then Nee failed miserably, really lost it at the end, and we end up with Barry Collier. I was excited. Collier's teams play disciplined basketball. He spent three years underestimating the level of athlete required to win consistently in the Big 12. Just when it seems he has it figured out, Joe McCray turns into a self-indulgent boob. Steve "I Have A Grand Vision" Pederson says he won't fire Collier when we're on the verge of a breakout (quote here) but won't give him a contract extension. Collier smartly decided to hell with Nebraska, goes back to Butler, and I'm supposed to be excited about Doc Sadler?
When it comes to the Doc Sadler era, consider me fickle. Win some games. Win some Big 12 games. Win more than you lose, and then I'll start to care. I have spent too many years waiting for single bloody damned NCAA tournament win, and I'm not waiting anymore. I have a "wait and see" attitude - win some games, Doc, some good games, and I'll start to pay attention.