Welcome back to Nebrasketball. Yep, it’s that time of year again. I know many of you struggle with the overlap of football and basketball but we are here to help. Tipoff for the season starts this week and oh boy, it should be a hum dinger.
Being a Nebrasketball fan is not easy. In fact, it can be down right mind-numbing. The history of success in the program is spotty at best. There’s less than a handful of conference crowns and we still have yet to win a single NCAA Tournament game. In fact, we are the last “Power 5” school to hold that distinction.
That last point will be brought up a lot during telecasts. Trust me, a lot.
No, being a Nebrasketball fan is not for the weak. You cannot come in with a soft heart and Cocomelon playing in your brain. If you do, you will probably be posted up into oblivion and only wake up when the cheerleaders toss your body into the dumpster behind Pinnacle Bank Arena.
If you are a long time Husker fan you most likely have built up a physical, emotional, and mental defense system that protects you from just about anything. Think of it as a tick layer of calluses that protect you from any harm that might come your way.
You are basically the opposite of your counterpart which is the Husker football fan.
I bring up Husker football because a majority of you are both. This is a good thing. If you were already a Nebrasketball fan then you have weathered the past 20 or so years of Husker football with relative ease. Or, at the very least you have perspective and are most likely the more rational of your peer group.
Thus the benefit of Nebrasketball.
This season might be different though. For once, the Huskers might just put a squad out on the court that could turn into something. Coach Fred Hoiberg has literally gutted this team since day one and has done everything he could to mold this team into something that can compete in the Big Ten and also nationally.
I’m not saying that the Huskers will be a perennial NCAA Tournament team. No, I’m a Nebrasketball fan. I have no use for such dreams yet. However, they should be able to at least compete and make Nebraska into something that we can look forward to for years to come.
It takes a lot to win the Big Ten. Most of the top teams have taken years and decades to get where they are. Nebraska is just starting on this journey.
For years the Huskers have basked in the basement of the Big Ten. Every once in awhile we would pop up to the middle to see what was going on. Only to be sent back down with our luke warm Coors Banquet and half eaten bag of pretzels.
On paper, this is probably the best team Nebraska has had since the 1990’s. The returning starters from last year are good. Top quality that know the in’s and out’s of the Big Ten. Guys like Trey McGowens, Lat Mayen and Kobe Webster who have been beaten up but have also come so close to success that they know it is within reach.
Those players have bought in to Fred system. They know what is expected of them and what needs to be done to achieve it.
Coming in we have of course the highest rated recruit the Huskers have ever had in Bryce McGowens. How did we get him? Well, it was a mixture of his brother Trey and the coaching staff. He could have gone anywhere but he chose Lincoln. Not Tallahassee, Athens, or College Park.
With Bryce comes transfer Alonzo Verge Jr. A transfer from Arizona State. A guard who might just be what we need a point. The guy can make it rain and has in preseason play. Yeah, you read that correctly. A full time point guard.
Keisei Tominaga comes in from the Jr. College level and has played in the Olympics for Japan this past summer. Throw Wilhelm Breidenbach with him in this class and you have talent that will last beyond this season. Both can shoot and both can play defense. Well, hopefully defense once conference play starts.
This is a team that can score which is a hallmark for Hoiberg’s teams. However you can’t live off of scoring alone in the Big Ten. This isn’t the Big 12 as you have to play a solid defense. Luckily we still have Doc Sadler and his defensive background to make that work. If last season’s team is any indication then the Husker should be able to work well on both ends of the court.
Score quickly and play tight on defense.
Wear the opposing team out.
Nebrasketball can be crazy and boring but it also has the potential this year that we have not had in years. Fred’s team this season may not win the Big Ten or make it to the Final Four. But, it is projected to play well and challenge those at the top. The Huskers will snake bit some teams this season and also be entertaining at the same time. Ideally the Huskers will not put you to sleep like Wisconsin or Purdue. Good teams but...zzzz.....
If not, we will still be here. Come rain or shine, we are Nebrasketball fans.
We are the ones referenced in the fight song.
“We all stick together in all kinds of weather for dear old Nebraska U”
This year, just might be the year that sticking together pays off.