Sunday, March 09, 2008


Sixth inning. A runner on first, one on second, one on third. Hoo boy, the sacks are juiced. Number 21 steps out of the on-deck circle, and music blares.

"Don't stop
Hold on to that fee-eeee-liiinn
Street lights, people o-oh-whoooooaaaaa!"

God bless Nebraska's Nick Sullivan for his choice of walk-up song. If I were a ballplayer, that would be my song forever. Instead, as a promotions gal, I get the YMCA, the chicken dance, and Cotton Eyed Joe.

For the record, Sullivan popped up in the at-bat I described, and the inning ended, leaving the Huskers with three more stranded runners and an 8-4 lead over Northern Colorado after six. Not all things that have awesome beginnings can have awesome endings, but it's fun to try. That's why we, as fans, stick around, isn't it?

Today was Senior Day for Nebraska's basketball team, which meant it was Aleks Maric Day. Prior to standing by the court, I had thought I was ready to see the big Aussie go. I'd been mentally looking forward to next season, thinking about what the rest of the Huskers would be able to do without the guy who has been the star attraction for that last four seasons of Nebrasketball. But during the pregame ceremony in Maric's honor, when the PA announcer was reading a letter from Maric's sisters and nephews, I saw tears work their way down Aleks'cheeks, and I realized I wasn't OK with his departure yet.

I have spent a lot of this season nitpicking Maric, like the no-look hook shot thing, or sometimes for his apparent lack of passion for the game, but the fact is that those nitpicky things are all the bad things I have to say about his game. He has been a huge part of a shift in offensive strategy this season. Last year, as head coach Doc Sadler was figuring out what he had to work with in his first season here, the team relied a lot on the three-ball and on Maric forcing a lot of tough shots right under the basket. This year, as Sadler has had more time to implement better things, the team has leaned on Maric again to open himself up down low every possession, take a pass, and either make a quick 2-footer (and often draw a foul or two) or kick the ball back out to an open shooter elsewhere. That kickout is something that finally seemed comfortable and rhythmic for the Huskers, but they'll have to find another vertex for the offense next year.

Today we hoped our very hardest for about five more of those kickout passes to result in baskets by other Huskers, which would have given Maric enough assists for his first career triple-double to go with his 37 career double-doubles. Sadly, it didn't happen, but Aleks still had a game worthy of cheers, including a jaw-dropping three three-point attempts, one of which fell in gracefully amidst a mighty roar from the crowd.

Now that Texas has beaten Okie State this afternoon, Nebraska will be the #7 seed in the Big XII tournament later this week. Apparently, we will be stuck playing Kansas in the second round with a Husker win in the first. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

Hey. Don't forget about your first round match-up with Missouri! The two teams played two extremely close games this year. I'm going to go to the game Thurs. night. It should be a good one. I would favor Nebraska slightly but again it should be a good game. From this past weekend thru the Sunday of the 2nd round of the NCAAs is my favorite 3 weeks of the year. It's like the baseball commercial....I live for this!!

Minda said...

Oh, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Mizzou again in the first round! I'm jealous that you will be there, but I hope you have fun, Andy. You are absolutely right, the game will be a tight one.

I love this time of year, too. When I was in high school, my youth group went skiing every year, and it always ended up being on the same weekend of Round 1 of the NCAA tourney. So...well I spent a lot of time in the lodge watching games, which is kind of silly, but when weighing March Madness against doing any other activity, March Madness usually ends up being more awesome.

Anonymous said...

That's good stuff about the skiing, I've actually purposely tried to avoid ski trips in March for that very reason, of course I'm out of school now, so that's much easier to do. I actually just got back from Breckenridge about two weeks ago. It was a lot of fun.

I just got done watching Gonzaga play in their conference finals--they lost. They will almost for sure make the NCAAs anyway.

What's your predictions for the Big 12 teams in terms of NCAA bids/seeds. That would be a good blog post this week! I promise to comment on it, with my picks seeds. Of course it's a little hard to do until the conference tournament has played a couple rounds. Too bad neither MU nor Neb. have any hopes in that regard. I think the winner of the game has an OUTSIDE shot at an NIT bid.