Thursday, November 24, 2011

Duck Duck Lose

PYB received a bevy of texts and tweets and Blackberry messages from disappointed friends and fans last night, as the Nebraska basketball team was in the process of taking the fist up the ass during its 83-76 loss to the corn nuts from Oregon.

Comments included:

--JB Diaz is a pussy and lost the game. His 21 points on 8/11 shooting, six rebounds and three blocks say otherwise.

--NU still can't make free throws. NU went 21/25 for 84%. Unfortunately, the four they did miss were all front ends of one-and-ones. However, the last missed FT came with 5:45 remaining and the Huskers trailing 73-64.

--Terrible possessions. NU only had 14 turnovers (three coming on bullshit illegal screen calls. We thought Dick Bavetta had this fall off from work?) and PYB didn't see an inordinate amount of wasted possessions.

For some reason, PYB came away from this loss with a more positive outlook than negative. We're pinning this loss squarely on the officials and their untimely, horrendous calls. The illegal pick on Brandon Ubel with 1:07 remaining and NU with the ball and a chance to take the lead was one of the most atrocious calls we've seen in 25 years. Given the history of officiating in the Big 8/Big 12, that's saying a HELL of a lot. We've watched it four more times on DVR this morning, and it gets worse every time. The reach-in call on Brandon Richardson was nearly as bad.

Those calls and a couple other factors led to NU's first loss of the young season. Most importantly, outside of the ref job, was the fact that Oregon made shots in the second half while NU's wouldn't fall. The Quacks shot 45 percent from field and 44 percent from three-point range. Doc's crew had some tough misses and in & outs and shot 40 and 20 percent, respectively. Not an excuse, obviously, but some games the shots won't fall. This was one of them.

Our biggest concern is NU's lack of a good power forward. Despite bringing some assets to the team, Ubel will never compete with athletic big men on the boards and will never change opponents' shots. Toney McCray played just eight minutes and is just too up and down to ever be a reliable contributor. This team seems to be just one 6-foot-9, athletic shotblocker/rebounder/dunker away from being a true threat.

Bo Spencer had just 11 points, but Oregon made a point of shutting him down. Still, he had five assists and is clearly a team leader. His game-tying, double clutch layup into contact made the score 75-75 and was impressive. The fact that he's garnering so much attention opens opportunities for his teammates.

In the end, NU just couldn't get over the hump Wednesday. A fact made clear when Doc Sadler drew up a perfect play with NU down two points with 27 seconds remaining. Ubel swung it to the win to a wide-open Dylan Talley and the three barely missed. Two Duck FTs and missed Spencer three later, the game was over.

The referees had to be happy, as they had their fingerprints on another college basketball game. So did Dana Altman and the Ducks. Doc and his crew had to be disappointed, but if they're like PYB today, they have a lot of reasons to look forward to the rest of 2011-12. Maybe we're just searching for a team to believe in, with another lost football season on our hands. We loved the Thanksgiving Eve game. It should happen every year.

The game was by no means perfect, but at least it was an entertaining brand of basketball. At least the team didn't quit when it was down 15 points in the second half. At least 10,881 fans showed up and made a little noise. Perhaps they realize that the hoops team may be the only team on campus playing with heart and intensity this fall. Let's hope they don't quit coming to the games.

We'll have plenty of chances to see if this squad will develop into something, as tests against Wake Forest, Creighton and TCU remain in the non-conference schedule. (Side note: the BlueGays win over Iowa doesn't look as impressive this morning, as the Hawkeyes got destroyed by the Camels of Campbell last nite)

Onward and upward. Happy Turkey Day.

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