Earlier this week, Omaha World Herald columnist Lee Barfknecht took a serious shot at Nebraska basketball, detailing a long list of complaints that included shoddy announcing, bad half-time entertainment, and stating:
Think this stuff would fly in football? Think Roburt Sallie's enrollment mess would have happened? Think trailing in facilities as long as Husker hoops has would be acceptable?
Not a chance. Yet durable mediocrity too often passes for the norm around NU basketball.
Sometimes I believe Barfknecht is just some crotchety SOB intent on sucking up to Omahans, but he deserves some credit for driving the conversation forward regarding Husker hoops. And for all the complaining Nebraskans have done about how the athletic department handles the media - kudos to them for a well-done response as yesterday Tom Osborne revealed the long term plan for the men's and women's basketball program.
After last night's win over Oklahoma, Nebraska moved to 5-6 in Big 12 play (and sixth in the conference), more than doubling their conference wins all of last season. Maybe it's time we all stopped complaining about the program so much, relaxed, and started enjoying the games once in a while.
After the jump is an itemized list of what the athletic department says is proof of a commitment to improve the basketball program.
- Construction of the Hendricks Training Complex which includes two basketball practice courts, new dressing rooms, new offices for the men's and women's programs, a new weight room and expanded athletic medicine facility
- A commitment to play in the new 16,000-seat Lincoln downtown arena beginning in 2013, and support for the arena ballot initiative
- A strong commitment from Nebraska staff to be a part of the planning process for the new arena to ensure the best possible fan experience for Husker basketball for years to come
- An increased financial commitment to Coach Sadler's revamped coaching staff
- A renewed emphasis on getting more students to attend Nebraska home games through affordable ticket prices and a Big 12 Conference ticket package
- Basketball players reaching out to UNL students in dorms and Greek houses to encourage them to attend basketball games
- A plan to have students seated on three of the four sides of the court when the Huskers move to the downtown arena for the 2013-14 season
- Maintaining ticket prices that are among the most affordable in the conference
- Replacing 1,800 B-level seats at the Devaney Center with plans to replace the remaining seats as the building is transformed when Nebraska moves into the new arena
- A commitment to improving basketball parking once the new arena is completed, and finding the best possible solutions to parking and traffic issues in the mean time
- Osborne said the athletic department plans to survey basketball season ticket holders following the season for suggestions on ways to improve the overall fan experience.
I have to admit, it's a fairly impressive list, and after reading it you'd be hard-pressed to say that they're not moving in the right direction. Building a new arena is obviously the most impressive item on the list, but also impressive is the emphasis on student seating (at least until the team gets good when they can be moved into less desirable seating).
I have one suggestion that might help. In the future, perhaps the athletic department could be more pro-active in letting fans know what they're doing rather than having to react. If there's one change they could make that'd be for the better - start driving the conversation instead of letting it drive you.