Where to go now

With the season that the Nebraska Men’s Basketball team is having this year, it’s hard to want to watch any basketball at all (if you are a Nebraska fan; and it does help that the women are doing so well), and even get excited for March Madness.

It is hard to watch or even look at, but those men on that court have worked their butts off and should be congratulated for their efforts.  Yes, they didn’t get many wins, only two in confrence, but a lot of things did not go their way. I’m not saying that Ref’s were getting paid or decided to go with the other team, things just happened. They didn’t get what is needed the most, wins, and I am sure that they will be working their butts off, now til the start of next year and continuing on into the future.  I know that Doc will be working his coaching butt off, and I am sure that the players will be working as hard as ever too, so why don’t we all get behind them (or those that call themselves fans of Husker basketball or just fans of basketball period) and encourage them instead of telling them how “horrible” they are, it’s probably easy for them to see.

They did a really good job the first game of the tourney and almost even caught Texas AM off guard at the end of their second game, but at last they couldn’t finish.  We will have to see what happens next year, and Doc is doing the same thing, but if we can give him two more years I think things could be really good. I could be wrong though…

This is an interesting article by Sam McKeon…

Doc is on the clock by Sam McKeon

Attendance is down. Excitement is down. Performance is way down. Belief? Not right now.

The Nebraska men’s basketball team has reached a dip in the road. One of those country roads on a spring morning, in fact. The fog has settled in like smoke. Never mind the answer – you don’t even know which question gets you out of 0-10 against the Big 12 North.

Is it talent? Is it recruiting? Is it work ethic? Is it a practice facility? Is it a new arena? Is it luck? Is it the Big 12? Is it the fans? Is it the ghost of Barry Collier? Is it Doc Sadler? Is it simply the rotten birthright of this university?

An 81-68 loss to Colorado was unusually sobering. Nebraska looked slow and tired. The crowd at the Bob Devaney Sports Center was so quiet you could hear senior Ben Nelson clapping on the bench. The Red Zone student section – which didn’t bother to show up Saturday – launched half-hearted chants at the red-hot Buffaloes and insulted Sek Henry with rude signs on Senior Night.

I’ve argued for Sadler getting another year. Still think he should, because three solid years trumps one awful year. I’ve watched him outcoach just about every bench guy in the Big 12 not named Bill Self. But with each loss, he’s making a miracle turnaround in the fifth year of his tenure harder to envision.

Sadler said Tuesday night he plans to “roll up our sleeves” and “work hard” with 5 a.m. practices. “Soft” doesn’t work for Sadler. Which is fine. Good. Doc’s intense. His team should be, too.

But the Huskers do work hard most nights. They often have to work too hard, especially on offense. They’re not athletic enough. Most of them can’t – or won’t – consistently create their own shots. The ones who can – like Brandon Richardson – are so locked in to playing team ball they pass up open shots in search of perfect ones. And even when NU alights on something that works, it flits away to another strategy.

Colorado didn’t have a single post player who could or would cover center Brian Diaz Tuesday night. Through 25 minutes of play, Diaz hit 7 of 12 shots and had scored 15 points, including six in a row.

He took his last shot of the game with 14 minutes left. He played a total of 19 minutes. As CU went on a game-deciding 12-0 run in the second half, Nebraska ignored Diaz, shooting five straight outside jumpers. Seniors Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry took four of those jumpers. Game over.

That’s been happening to different players, in different stretches of games, throughout the Big 12 Conference schedule. Sadler tailors his lineups and schemes to opponent and situation, but he appears to do it to such an degree that it’s unclear to whose wagon he’d like to hitch the team. The offense has to revolve around someone, right? Is it Diaz? Is it Richardson? Is it Christian Standhardinger?

A better offense will inform a more spirited defense. You win with defense, but if you can’t score – or, worse, if you have no clear idea who will try to score – defense becomes a chore. Especially when, in search of offense, you’re also using a whole bunch of defensive combinations that may not work.

It’s not an issue of potential, though. Richardson, Diaz, Standhardinger. Folks, that’s not a bad trio of potential scorers. Throw Toney McCray in the mix next year, too. But they have to play. They have to burn off the mistakes and make corrections that only come with playing time.

Repeat: Enough talent is here for an NCAA Tournament berth next year.

Some in the media will tell you there isn’t, and they’ll trace Sadler’s recruiting troubles back to a bad admissions team at UNL that bungled a few situations, to the absence of a practice facility and an arena, or in one online chat, to the fan base expecting the basketball coach to have too much integrity in hiring assistant coaches. (The Osborne Effect! Ga!)

They’ll rely on the “birthright” argument, in other words. Or they’ll point to Barry Collier and put the woes on the doorstep he abandoned four years ago. There is a plague on the Husker house that only $364 millon – roughly the combined cost of a practice facility and arena – can truly solve. Why else are Husker fans bombarded with stickers and videos inside the Devaney Center to vote for the new arena?

Context is, yes, crucial. Nebraska basketball is no blooming rose. Sadler’s jumped through some hoops and over some hurdles. That’s part of why he deserves another season.

But Sadler’s recruiting – and subsequent handling of those recruits – invites its own criticism. He gets piecemeal results, which leaves him impatient and shuffling lineups. Then they leave and never become all-around players. He hasn’t taken a chance on a Nebraska kid but he’ll throw a scholarship at a stick of balsa wood like Adrien Coleman, who lasted all of three months.

Sadler’s two primary feeding grounds, in four years, are prep schools and junior colleges. Myles Holley hails from what amounts to a basketball factory unattached to any college. You’ll hit on those players as often as you miss. Is the newest commit, Caleb Walker of Butler (Kan.) Community College a hit or a miss?He fits the Sadler mold, but he’ll have to hit the ground running, too.

Some teams can afford a oft-revolving door. Nebraska can’t. Not right now. NU’s chemistry next year depends on keeping the young core talent from this year and carrying it through the summer. If the Huskers are once again adding four or five new pieces to the team – and, once again, none of those guys are willing to redshirt – 20 wins becomes quite the challenge.

However hard Sadler rides some of those Huskers in the 5 a.m. practice – he has to work that hard to keep them on track and in the program.

Doc’s on the clock, and I think there’s one year left in it, even though his contract runs longer than that. He needs to make the next 365 days about building a successful sum.

The best way to get lost in the fog is to keep switching directions. You can work hard – and still walk in circles. Nebraska basketball has done that long enough.


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