If this was the measuring stick the Huskers were looking for, they came up wanting. No one is disputing Nebraska is a more athletic and even better basketball team than they were at this point last year. But when you're facing a veteran and talented team with one of the best players in the country, that's not enough. Not even close. The stage was all set. This year, it was going to be different. the retooled Huskers were hungry and talented. They wanted their shot at the big dog. The Century Link Center was jam packed. The fans were in full throat. The Jays were introducing a new mascot and sporting new uniforms. There was enough buzz for this game as it was. To top it off, the Huskers came out in sharp looking black uniforms. And it was game on. There was just one problem. The Huskers never answered the bell. This young team struggled under the spotlight. They took bad shots. Missed layups. Busted defensive assignments. By the time they gathered themselves, the score was 38-8, bringing back memories of the great Kansas beating of 2007.
Everything the Huskers needed to do to be successful they failed to do. They played exactly into the Jays game plan. They settled for outside shots. They struggled to rebound and defend the Creighton shooters. They got lost in the environment and they wilted. The Bluejays know exactly who they are. They've been through the fires together. They've got talent and when you're a team still trying to figure out those things, it's recipe for disaster. The line between this having been a competitive game and the boat race that it was may have been a thin one, but that chasm on the scoreboard illustrates how big of a difference there is between these two programs right now and how much work is left ot be done for Tim Miles and company.
Many will find solace in the fact that the Huskers "fought to the end" and made the score look much more respectable than the game actually was. Playing to the final buzzer is nice, but if the Huskers want to take the next step in building this program, they're going to have to learn how to start playing when the first buzzer goes off, not the last one, especially vs. a team that wants to embarrass you if you give them the opportunity, which the Jays certainly did. This is part of the learning process for this Nebraska squad that hopes this group one day turns into something similar to what Grant Gibbs, Doug McDermott and Ethan Wragge have be come: one cohesive unit.
Until then, they're going to have to use the tough lessons they face in situations like this. Will this be a date they look back on and say was a turning point or will it be a day where the cracks in the foundation started to show? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, the building process still has a long way to go.