Sorry for the obscure 1980's movie reference. I forget how old I'm getting sometimes. ( Can anyone guess the movie?)
Sigh...So, here we are with the K-State Wildcats on tonight's slate. There are two ways to look at this game, and a myriad of angles you could take.
1. This is a chance to build a little winning streak, and gain some much needed ground in the conference. The Wildcats are tough, but this is a home game...and we looked great against OU. We could realistically pull this off, allowing our confidence to skyrocket as we head to Lawrence to face the Jayhawks.
2. This game sucks. We expelled so much effort beating the snot out of the Sooners, we can't have anything left for this game. The Cats are ranked #11 in the country, and regardless of where they play...they play tough. Our guys look like middle-schoolers when standing near the K-State starting five, and this will be the first in a string of losses against ranked teams. The season is over, let's get ready for the spring game.
I could use the Normandy beach landings as a metaphor here. Confidence was at a peak early on as preparations were made, and exercises performed as the team readied for the real battle ahead. From the jump, it was ugly. Bodies strewn everywhere, confusion amongst the ranks..and the youthfulness of our guys showing as they take a heavy beating from the more experienced enemy. (..more after jump)
Adjustments are made however, and a key victory is had. A minor battle, yet still somewhat of a stake in the ground in hopes of propelling the team forward. Confidence has started to build, and the war is far from over...even in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds. What will happen from here? Can the young troops regroup and start kicking some a**? We'll see tonight in Lincoln.
Kansas State is scary. With the 2nd hardest schedule in the country, and an RPI of 8...this team is capable of pushing deep into the post-season tourney. If not for an OT loss to KU, and a 4 point flubb at home versus Oklahoma State...these guys could be a top 10 team. Granted, they do have 3 conference losses...and a pretty un-impressive win over Colorado. So the task in front of the Cornhuskers is not impossible. The Cats boast the conferences' #4 offense, and #8 scoring defense. Points can be scored on them, but they are also difficult to stop on the offensive end. Guards Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen will be the biggest scoring threat, and the Husker defense will most likely struggle with clamping it down on these two players. I really like what I've seen from Clemente thus far, including not only his play on the court...but his calming down of sometimes-fanatical coach Frank Martin.
Nebraska saw a different kind of team on the floor last Saturday night. In addition to some solid shooting, the Huskers played a tougher brand of ball than what we've seen so far this year. Banging with the Sooners from the start led to Nebraska imposing it's will upon the opponent. We will need more of the same tonight to have a chance. The Nebraska guard play will be critical tonight, on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. It's time for seniors Sek Henery and Ryan Anderson to shine. A stout defensive effort, and some hot shooting might give Nebraska a chance here. The paint will be owned by the purple punks tonight, no doubt . But if we can limit KSU's output to just those guys, we have a shot at pulling off an upset.
To further the previous analogy, the Cornhuskers will need to throw a few grenades into precisely the right positions...all while charging the enemy with no fear. A fast start, and a bully attitude could go a long way in showing the young Huskers how to win in the big game. In that same vein...forget the young guys. Forget about Standhardinger, and Diaz, and Gallegos. They had good games last week, but tonight calls for something else. Tonight we need our captains.
This battle will come down to the perimeter play and senior leadership for both teams in my opinion. I know that we are undersized down low, but it's a point we must concede while hoping to counter-balance in other areas. The Wildcat forwards are not going to be pushed around, as they literally outweigh us across the board. I'm hoping that fans show up tonight and get loud, as it would be nice to see a little intimidation and fury out of the good guys for once.
I struggle with a prediction here, but I have to put my helmet on and charge with the rest of the troops. I'm calling an upset...however miraculous as it may be. Nebraska 68 Kansas State 65
Tipoff: 7:0pm CST
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Network (Kent Pavelka and Andy Markowski)
Television: Big 12 Network
Web stats/radio: www.Huskers.com
Game Thread: www.CornNation.com