So, recently within the Corn Nation, a revelation was made.
We have an abundance of coverage for these men who play ball, but where are the ladies at? Are they not part of the Cornhusker family? I mean, heck...they are ranked #3 in the nation for pete's sake!
So here we go. Gonna try something new out here, and start posting previews for both teams. Combining the two previews today seemed more efficient at first glance, since both the grunts and the gals are playing on Wednesday night. Please bear with me on the length, we have a lot to cover. Once we get familiar with our female compatriots, the posts will shorten up again.
So...can anyone guess who Nebraskans will be watching on Wednesday night? Okay, not a fair question. The ladies are away at Kansas, so the men will get their 3,000 standard against Baylor...as hardcore fans wait for that second conference win at home. Something tells me that more people will watch the men lose, than to tune into womens basketball. Something about that fact seems askew, when a 13-10(1-7) team can still draw attention away from the undefeated and #3 ranked Husker ladies. Now...when the ladies are at home,that's a whole different deal.
More oddities after the jump..
How hard is it to get into womens hoops? Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm states that the womens basketball program will fall short of a profit this season, despite unprecedented success and drawing 10,000+ crowds in each of the last 3 games. Surprisingly, the $1 million in revenue will be twice the projected profit, yet only half of the projected expenses. In contrast, the mens program looks to make a profit of $200,00-$300,00 despite a 1-7 league record and a last place slot in the Big 12 this year. Fair? Not really.
But hey, who cares about dollars? The women have a chance to accomplish something the men never have. To throw a "Big Red wrench" into the winning regularity of teams like Conneticut and Tennessee, even if only driving deep into the post season tournament. We dare not mention the words "National Champions", but after tossing aside the #13 ranked Aggies in a physical battle..it's hard not to think about it. One of only two remaining unbeaten teams left, the ladies are obviously shooting for much more than middle of the pack.
Graham Hays of ESPN was quoted as saying " I'd vote for Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin as player of the year if ballots were due today." Considering Hays resides in the heart of Husky - not Husker-land, I'd say that's not bad.
Griffin averages more points and more rebounds than the flashy duo of Maya Moore and Tina Charles from Conneticut. Of course we can't forget about the rest of the Huskers, and their contributions. Dominique Kelly stepped up with two huge plays in the closing minutes against Texas A+M, helping squash a comeback bid. In addition to Griffin and Kelly, senior Cory montgomery also chipped in 18 points. This appears to be a gritty bunch of gals, banging with the best of 'em. (Why did that sound dirty?) The Big 12 is a tough league, and Griffin seems to take the brunt of the abuse with a smile on her face. What else would you expect out of a tom-boy from Alaska? While the supporting cast for Kelsey Griffin has been essential, I thought ESPN's Hays summed things up nicely..."Although Maya Moore and Tina Charles are the best players in the country...the Player of the Year is a Cornhusker."
First up: The women:
Kansas hosts the #3 Cornhuskers (21-0), following 3 straight conference wins over Colorado, Mizzou, and Kansas State. Senior guard Danielle McCray led the Jayhawk charge averaging 19.8 ppg and 7.2 boards, before wrecking her knee at practice last Thursday. The Jayhawks persevered with a win over K-State on Saturday, despite the season ending ACL injury to McCray . However, at 4-4 in the Big 12, Kansas has yet to tack up an impressive win, losing each of 2 games versus ranked opponents. Losing McCray was huge. This was the pre-season Big 12 Player of the Year, and you can't just replace that. If Nebraska keeps doing what they're doing, it could be a blood-bath.
Nebraska is riding Kelsey Griffin all the way to the bank this year. Griffin took a redshirt in 08-09 due to injuries to her foot. This year she seems to be making up for lost time, burning through Big 12 defenses and staking her claim as the nations most valuable player. Nebraska is operating as a team, and with impressive efficiency despite the presence of a star player on the team. The lady-Cornhuskers have toppled #5 LSU, #9 Baylor, traditional powerhouse Texas Tech by 42 points, #10 Okie State, and most recently #11 Texas A+M. With the 20th ranked Cyclones coming into Lincoln on the 17th, the only real threat to an undefeated regular season is on the road at #12 Oklahoma.
Next up: The Husker men.
I have two toddlers at home. These beautiful creatures find new ways every day to amaze, frustrate, surprise, anger, melt, and lastly teach me. The most recent lesson? That despite how much positive energy and enthusiasm they have at any given moment, the inevitable outcome is that after all of the running and jumping is done...crying, puking, and fighting will take over. Then they all get baths and go to bed. Wake up, and repeat.
They remind me a lot of this Husker team. How many games have we witnessed, wherein the Huskers jump on the opponent and look to have no fear. Leading or staying close into the second half, the Huskers always seem to hit a critical point in the game where the energy in their young bodies leaks out like a seive..and the puking and fighting starts. Not literally, but you get the point. When that moment arrives, the opponents stay up..while we go flat. By the final buzzer, players and fans just feel worn out, and are ready for a bath before sleeping off the loss.
In both scenarios, I add a gray hair or two on my head and hope that tomorrow we can last a bit longer.
Baylor comes in with a #24 ranking, and a guy named Tweety. Seriously? I would make fun, but thanks to our senior guard, Mr. Henry, we have to hear Kent Pavelka say the word "sex" at least four thousand times per game. (Dry heave) Playing in Lincoln on Wednesday evening may give the Huskers one of their last shots at a second conference win. The glaring comparison for this game is the Bears offense versus the Huskers defense. Baylor will send it's 78 ppg average on a collision course with Nebraska's defense allowing only 61 ppg. The Bears have a slightly less potent lineup than what NU has seen in the past few games, but they get contributions from the whole bench. The depth scares me, as I pointed out in the colorful analogy above. If the Huskers can somehow manage not to turn the ball over 84 times, stay focused, and hit some shots down the stretch...they can easily win. If they fold again?....just turn on the radio, as there is a pretty damn good womens team playing at the same time.
Womens Prediction: Jayhawks for dinner. Nebraska 66 Kansas 45
Boys Prediction: Nebraska 70 Baylor 65
Tipoff: Men - 8:05pm CST Women - 7pm CST
Venue: Men - Devaney Sports Center Lincoln, NE Women - Allen Fieldhouse Lawrence, KS
Radio: Women - IMG Husker Sports Network (98.1 FM - Lincoln, 93.3 FM - Omaha, 880 AM - Lexington)
Radio: Men - IMG Husker Sports Network (Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison) Satelitte: Sirius-122
Television: Women - Fox Sports Midwest Men: - ESPN2
Internet Radio/Stats: www.Huskers.com
Live Game Thread: www.CornNation.com