Actually, I'm not all that excited for this game. I will tune in as usual, and host the thread...but I can think of better ways to spend a Saturday evening. Something about weekend games in college basketball that just seem to lack energy. Weather issues in the south have delayed the start to prime-time, but that also means they've pulled it from television. The 7:05pm start helps, if at the very least giving Nebraska a few more hours to prepare for this game.
The title of this "column" is Husker Hardwood, but the "wood" for nebraska has never been so soft. Not since the 1989-90 season have the Husker men played so poorly in conference to start the season. Much like tonights game, the Huskers faced Oklahoma in an attempt to avoid an 0-6 league record. That night, they failed to do so in Norman losing by 41 points. Hopefully we can avoid such a fate in Lincoln, and hang with the 12-8 (3-3) Sooners.
At 12-8 (0-5) the 2009-10 season looks to be fried, leaving the majority of discussion regarding this program around the freshman class, young players, and in particular Christian Standhardinger. Doc Sadlers body language during press interviews implies that he is sick and tired of talking about this guy. Quoting him at the Friday press conference..."I've never seen so much fascination with one guy who hasn't done anything." Just to clarify, he wasn't bashing "Bratwurst", he was simply annoyed by the fact that the media has placed so much expectation on a young kid from Germany, who has never watched college basketball, trying to grow in a major powerhouse conference. I posted earlier about how Christians lack of playing time is probably nothing more than being a freshman, and making freshman mistakes. Doc has confirmed this fact by stating "..he ain't no different than any other freshman. If we were to put (Senior) Matt Karn in there right now, he would struggle. It's going to take playing time." Sadler also added that he thought it was unfair to place so much focus on Standhardinger, and that the kid has been giving all the effort in the world. Good to know we don't have a motivation issue..especially after the Huskers piss-poor start this winter. (More after the jump)
So yes, the focus is now on what our young players can do to help this team grow...and possibly put us in a position to win a lot of games in the near future. It's a sad fact, but unless Nebraska goes on a tear from here on out..Sek Henery and Ryan Anderson will be ending their college careers on a pretty sour note. That's too bad, as these guys have done some great things in Lincoln. Hopefully we'll see these guys down the road, but it's not likely.
The "diaper dandies" on ths team, however, have a huge opportunity in front of them tonight. A chance to help those seniors get the first conference win, and build some momentum moving forward. Oklahoma is not the elite team they were last season. With Blake Griffin moving on to the NBA, and guards Tony Crocker and Willie Warren dealing with ankle injuries, Nebraska has a legit chance to win this game. The Sooners eeked one out in Norman against Iowa State on Wednesday night, winning by only 4 points at home against a team we should've beat. If we can get a solid performance out of Richardson, Standhardinger, Gallegos, and Ubel to compliment Henery and Anderson...we could see a Husker win tonight.
The keys here? Halting the Sooners efficiency. Again, we face a team with 4 players averaging double figures in scoring. Harassing the guards will be key to a win tonight. Tommy Mason-Griffin stepped up in the absence of Crocker and Warren....and proceeded to drop 38 points on the Cyclones. We can't afford that, and need another 60 point defensive effort. On the Big Red's side, we need that balanced effort. Teams cannot be allowed to focus on Anderson alone. He is at his best when guards are penetrating and kicking out to him on the perimeter. A catch-and-shoot guy, Ryan relies on others to draw attention away from him and then kills you with his accuracy. Standhardinger may be young, but he has proven that he can be a force inside, and I think he and Diaz need to have a big game. Big enough to confuse the Sooners on who they should be worried about.
It's unknown whether Oklahomas Warren and Crocker will play tonight, so keep an eye on that situation. If they decide to sit the bench, I think we get a win here. If not, we say hello to 0-6.
GO BIG RED!
Tipoff: 7:05pm CST ( Delayed due to weather )
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center - Lincoln, NE
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Network (Kent Pavelka/Andy Markowski)
Satelitte Radio: Sirius - 122 (Away channel) 126 (Home channel)
Internet Stats/Radio: www.Huskers.com
Game Thread: www.CornNation.com