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Friday Flakes: Proud of Those Boys and Zach Duval Says Old Nebraska is Almost Back

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Michigan State v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Coaching is hard. There are times you wonder why you do it.

Monday night is a reminder of why you coach.

All year long we were undersized and depending on the game, we were undermanned. We had injuries and other issues sporadically throughout the season. Add that to the fact we had one of the toughest schedules in the state.

Against what a lot of people expected, we were one game from the state tournament. We were a couple shots, decisions and calls (players, coaches and officials) away from beating an exceptional team in the district final.

There was a lot that went against us this year, both self-inflicted and outside of our control, and yet we were there right there at the end.

This senior class was pretty big. On Monday night there were eight of them in the locker room. I think there might have been 14 of them in 7th grade, but in the end eight of them remained.

  • Among the seniors we had a point guard who plays with a chip on his shoulder the size of a mountain. Didn’t back down from anybody. He injured his shooting hand a couple weeks left in the season. Prior to the injury, he had our highest 3 point percentage on the team. After the injury he couldn’t shoot outside of the lane (we hoped the opposition wouldn’t find out.) Hitting a half-court shot at the buzzer kind of holds off the suspicious that your senior point guard can’t shoot anymore.
  • Then his brother, who also plays with a chip on his shoulder sacrificed his offense all season long because he always guarded the other team’s best player. When you are constantly chasing around the other team’s best player, you sacrifice your legs which hurts you on the other end. He accepted that role.
  • Then a kid who set the school record for three-point percentage the year before was asked to play in the post. Again, he sacrificed some of his offensive skills for the team. He ended up being the second best rebounder on the team when the year before he made his living at the three point line.
  • Then we have a kid who is hard to describe. He spends more time on the floor than any player we’ve ever had. Unfortunately, we have a freshman that might take that honor away by the time he is a senior. He seriously hurt his knee in the summer, and then likely broke his wrist diving for the ball during the season. All he did was tape it up and continued to play. He couldn’t shoot anymore. This was not lost on any team except for one who left their scout at our school. They called him a “good 3 point shooter.” Except little did they know that he was 0-2 on the entire season behind the arc. Hilarious. When he was a freshman, he spent his practices at 6:30 a.m. with me and I told the head coach then that I would buy stock in this kid. I think it paid off.
  • Then there one of the best offensive players on the team. Unfortunately because we had a team dominated by guards, he did not get to see as much time on the floor as we all would have liked. He accepted his role. There were times we needed him to play in a pinch, and he did a great job. He might have won us a game we otherwise would not have if he wasn’t ready.
  • Then the kid with the Pokemon socks. Probably the best overall athlete on the team. He also did not get as much time on the floor as we all would have liked. I would give him credit for continuing to work hard during practice, but I’m pretty sure I could run him all day and he would never get tired. He had a great attitude all season long and also accepted his role.
  • Then there are the two bruisers. I have a anecdote which explains these kids. During scout our first team wears black, and the scout team (usually freshmen and sophomores wear white). We were going to play a team that fouls all the time on defense. We continued to yell at the scout team to do whatever they could to foul, pinch, pull, hold the first team. They weren’t doing it right. Then I look to my left and I see these two seniors look at each other. They change their jerseys to white and insert themselves into the scout. We didn’t say a single thing to them. They did it themselves. They knew their role. I’m sure every coach reading this wants to give them a standing ovation. It was one of my favorite moments of the year.

So those are the eight seniors who finished their high school basketball careers earlier this week.

After a loss that ends the season there is the last meeting in the locker room. When it was my turn to talk I mentioned how I had been coaching the seniors since they were in 7th grade. I moved up to be an assistant coach on the high school level when they were freshmen. The senior class is now done with basketball. Six years and flown by.

Regardless of how you finish it, there is something to be said about finishing the race.

Unlike most teams with that many seniors, only four of them played on a regular basis. That means there are four other kids who did not play as much as we all would have liked. Like the kids who consistently played in games, the seniors who didn’t also had to endure the conditioning, the morning practices, the bus rides, the scouts, the ups and downs and dealing with the coaching.

Many kids would have quit, but they didn’t. That says more about them than anything else could.

The eight seniors went through the 2018-2019 season together.

Proud of them all.


Duval Sent A Text Heard Around Husker Nation

I told myself I’m not going to fall for the off-season news cycle. Every year my season prediction starts really low and goes up a game or two the closer we get to the season.

It’s because we hear the players are stronger than ever. Faster than ever. Understand the playbook better than ever.

Remind ourselves that every other team is saying the same thing.

But Frost said that Duval texted him and said, “Old Nebraska is just about back.”

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fight off the optimism for much longer.


On to the flakes...

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Thanks for reading!