Kelsey Griffin is a big reason for the women's success. Connie Yori's teams have continually improved. Nebraska is taking the same approach with Doc Sadler - the men just need more time. Photo By Dennis Hubbard.
The Husker women's basketball team continued their undefeated season, knocking off ninth-ranked Baylor this Sunday. They're 16-0 and one of only three undefeated teams left in the nation. The win puts the Huskers at 3-0 and tied in first place in the Big 12 with Oklahoma State. It will mean a top ten ranking for Connie Yori's squad and by now everyone should be asking - how far can this team go?
On the other end of the spectrum, the Husker men lost to Iowa State at home, moving them to the Big 12 basement at 0-3. It was a sad loss for a team wanting to make some noise in the Big 12, but if they can't defend their home court against teams like the Cyclones it doesn't bode well for the rest of the season.
It's Doc Sadler's fourth season at Nebraska, and he's still trying to find a consistent group of players to put on the floor. By now some fans might be wondering if he's the right guy for the job - whether or not the athletic department should go out and get a big name coach and build the basketball program into a Big 12 power. It's easy to advocate that approach, but it's doubtful it'd work any better than what they're currently doing. Besides, there's no doubt Sadler can coach - any guy who can take the shortest team in the country and finish 8-8 in the Big 12 knows what he's doing.
The big downside to hiring a big name guy is the money and the uncertainty whether or not Husker fans would support the program. We're the greatest football fans around, but being a fan of a team that has won the vast majority of it's games over the past forty years is as easy as being a fan of ice cream. Whether or not the state would support a big-time basketball program is a gamble - one not worth taking.
Head coach Connie Yori is showing what it takes to build a basketball program in Nebraska - a lot of patience. It's Connie Yori's eighth season at Nebraska. Four of those seasons resulted in women's NIT appearance, while two have seen the Huskers in the NCAA tournament. Other than 2008 when the team suffered heavy injuries, Yori has made constant progression towards success and this season that patience is paying off.
If Husker fans take notice of what Yori's team is doing, it'll be proof that the athletic department's approach is working.