New year, new ITBUUS, and not a moment too soon, either. To get you prepared for tomorrow night's showdown with Nebrasketball (aka Nebraska), we posted several questions to David McGee, a Nebrasketbro who contributes quality hoops coverage to fellow SBN blog, Corn Nation, to which David was kind enough to respond. How does one shed the label of being a football-only school? Will Tim Miles increase the amount of live tweeting during games? These answers and more, if you'll read on...
First things first: Congrats on that upset win over Ohio State but damn it, we were supposed to have an epic 0-fer battle of the basement for the ages! How was Nebraska able to slay this seemingly ferocious beast? Is it a blueprint you feel Penn State is capable of replicating when they visit Columbus next week?
That would assume I've watched any measurable amount of Penn St. hoops (I haven't). I know PSU has a dynamic guard combo in Frazier and Newbill, that's about it. However, considering the Nittany Lions' record, my assumption is there might not be much else around them. I could be wrong about that, your schedule to start the conference play hasn't been easy, so perhaps there are wins to come for PSU. What NU did vs. OSU was rebound and defend. The Buckeyes have talent, quite a bit of it, perhaps, but they're thin inside and right now, they can't shoot to save their lives. If they could, they probably win because the Huskers did a lot of things to give OSU a chance. If Penn St. can do those things, sure, PSU could win. OSU's fragile right now. Once they get that win, though, I expect them to get back to the team we are more accustomed to seeing in Columbus.
Penn State and Nebraska share quite a bit in common: Both are football-mad schools that are historic afterthoughts in the hoops realm (in fact, at PSU, one could argue that men's basketball is the 4th most popular sport after football behind men's hockey, women's volleyball, and wrestling). Obviously, building the brand spanking new Pinnacle Bank Arena was a step in the right direction, but what else (besides winning) must be done to help draw more interest to Nebrasketball?
Honestly, nothing. Not trying to cop out here, but Nebraska fans support a winner, period. If the Huskers start winning that's all they'll need. They've tried the gimmicks before, but Husker fans want wins. If you don't produce those, it's not gonna matter what sort of shine you put on the facilities or the likability of the coach. Win, and the fans will come and the marketing department will have the easiest job in the state.
I know Nebraska's 1-4 start in Big Ten play has been painful at times, especially since it could've been better had a shot or two fallen their way (see: Michigan). That being said, how satisfied is the fan base with the progress of Tim Miles and his staff in Year 2? What are the expectations for Nebrasketball over the next couple of years?
Hmmm, so far, people still love the guy. He can do no wrong, at least so far. Still needs a recruiting breakthrough. I think as long as the team continues to play hard and shows improvement this season fans will be satisfied. The core of this team are sophomores or younger (Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields, Tai Webster, Walter Pitchford). Next year, I expect the expectation be that this team be on the bubble at least. The trend for Tim Miles coached teams is to break out in his third year in whatever program he's at. I could very well see that happen next year. They'll need another post player, though. They're one short.
Tim Miles isn't the first Big Ten basketball coach to use Twitter, but he is the first to actually tweet at halftime of games. How does it feel to be on the pioneering end of technology like this? Any chance he will take it a step further by tweeting during media timeouts?
Like I said, he's taken the fan base by storm. It's a lot of fun to have him at the head of the program and as long as he does at Nebraska what he's done everywhere else he's coached, he'll be a legend. Tweeting during media time outs? I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. I think you'll see him to continue to push the envelope though.
WORD ASSOCIATION (explain in merely a few words, the first thought that comes to mind)
Tom Crean - Perfect fit for the Harbaugh clan.
Pat Chambers - Like the guy, tough job.
Eric Piatkowski - The best there ever was. Except for Tyronn Lue...and maybe Erick Strickland but that's it...oh, and Dave Hoppen too.
Creighton - Don't ever mention their name around me again.
And Finally...give us your piping-hot take on how Thursday night's game will go:
I'll be very curious to see how the Huskers respond to getting a big win. We haven't seen it from this group yet. Historically, the Huskers don't build off those things. Both teams are going to be looking at this game as winnable and the Huskers have won in that building before. This will be an intense game on the floor, I'm guessing it won't be a big time atmosphere in the stands, but going on the road is never easy. The Frazier-Newbill tandem will be a handful, but NU's been good on the perimeter, too, so that should be a good matchup. I expect PSU to play with extreme urgency as they've been close to breaking through and they'll be looking to get over that hump. If NU doesn't get lost in the after-glow of the win over OSU, I like the way they've been playing since conference play began, especially if Shields is back to the form we saw from him vs. the Buckeyes. If that Shavon Shields is back, NU's primed for a run and I think he could be the difference on Thursday. I'll go with a close game, but I see the Huskers coming out on top 64-61. Sorry.
Thank you David for being such a good sport and best of luck this season to Nebrasketball (sans tomorrow night's matchup and the return game in Lincoln, of course).