See Chris' answers at Corn Nation
See Chris' answers at Corn Nation
Welcome back to one of our favorite series, where we catch up with our friends from around the blogosphere for a preview of Villanova's upcoming opponent. Next up we've got the Nebraska Cornhuskers out of the B1G for the inagural Gavitt Games. Not the sexiest of names, but the Huskers did the same thing that Villanova did on opening night - blow out an inferior opponent. That shouldn't be understated on a weekend of embarrassing defeats all across the country.
So, we decided to catch up with Patrick L. Gerhart of SB Nation's fantastic Nebraska blog Corn Nation to get a sense of just how important basketball is in Lincoln, expectations for the season, and what to expect on Tuesday night. Enjoy!
We’re very unfamiliar with the Nebraska basketball program. How important is it to the fans and what investments have been made in the program (facilities, coaches, etc.?)
It really goes without saying but Nebraska is historically a football school. However, the fan base supports pretty much every sport the university sponsors pretty well. Our volleyball, baseball, and softball, etc. teams have all had varying success over the years and our enthusiasm spills over to each game.
This support also goes over to our basketball program. While we have never had a deep history, the fan base has always given a fair level of support. Unfortunately for many years our athletic department only allocated so many resources to the sport. Luckily, the administration starting investing heavily into the program with the state of the art Hedricks Training Complex and the newly built Pinnacle Bank Arena (PBA or The Vault). Both of which has helped recruiting. The old saying "if you build it, they will come" fits perfectly into our situation as the PBA is in it’s third straight year of being sold out. That’s not too bad considering it holds a little over 15,000 fans and we have only made one NCAA tournament since 1998.
Even with all the fancy facilities we have now it would probably not be anything without coach Tim Miles. With him we are playing better ball and getting better recruits. Guys that wouldn’t have sniffed at us 5 years ago are starting to show an interest and he is a major factor in that. Miles has also been really open to the fan base which has gone over well.
(Editor's Note: See guys, these situations DO exist at other schools!)
With Terran Petteway off to the NBA, who should Villanova fans be watching?
This is a relatively young team with some good upperclassmen leadership. The first player I would mention is Andrew White III. He is a junior transfer from Kansas and has already shown great scoring prowess. He sat out last year due to transfer rules and we have been waiting in suspense for him to play. I would not be surprised if White makes it on a few all conference teams by the end of the year. Another good player is senior Shavon Shields who has been one of our best all around players since he came to campus.
Two freshmen that you should take note of are freshmen Ed Morrow Jr. and Jack McVeigh. Both have shown good leadership and playing ability early on in the season so far.
Nebraska has been known as a defensive team for the last few years and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that our scoring has been limited. However, Coach Miles has been working with them on improving their offensive side of the game in the off season and it has shown in our last two games.
At Villanova we’ve got a grassroots movement for a new basketball arena that may or may not come to fruition. The Pavilion stinks. Talk to me about how great Pinnacle Bank Arena is.
To put it bluntly, it’s awesome. I’ve had tickets since the mid 2000’s in the old Devaney Center and this is a gigantic step up. Not only is it more accommodating to the fans, it has also started a new business district that popped up around it. The Rail Yard, which is an extension of the Haymarket area of Lincoln, has become a destination for pre-basketball get-togethers and also football and baseball game days. It’s just across the street from campus and makes an easy walk from Memorial Stadium and Haymarket Park where the baseball and softball teams play.
The university is also lucky that the city of Lincoln itself is a big supporter of the programs it has. They know the importance the institution plays in the city and state. Nebraska has no pro sports programs and we are a sports hungry state. Without the city and it’s leadership, the area probably would not have gotten off the ground and Nebraska would probably still be playing in Devaney.
Is Creighton your biggest basketball rival? Let’s run through the things you’d rather see happen than the Bluejays knocking off the Huskers.
Our biggest basketball rival? At this point I would probably say yes as no one has really come up in the move to the Big Ten. Most of it stems from what we call "Jayskers". These are folks, mainly from Omaha, who support Husker football and Creighton basketball. A lot of them are Nebraska graduates, which makes matters even worse. You would be surprised the people who will root for Nebraska during the fall and then throw a blue jersey on in the winter. Personally, I think it’s more of a Lincoln vs. Omaha deal but I’ll get to that at a later time.
Our state’s love of all things sports probably has something to do with it too. Creighton started becoming a basketball power in the late ‘90s and early 00’s when Nebrasketball was really in the cellar. All of a sudden people started having a good team to cheer for during the winter months and well…...
What would I rather see happen than the Bluejays knocking off the Huskers? Let me put it in a way that might hit close to home for you. I’d rather the Patriots win the Super Bowl again blatantly cheat the entire way and not get caught.
How is this game vs. Villanova viewed to Nebraska? Is it registering or are the fans just focused on ruining Iowa’s perfect season in football?
As much support as the Husker basketball team gets, it’s still second fiddle to football. Basketball season doesn’t start here until December for a lot of people and really doesn’t kick off until after the National Championship game in January. So I would say ruining Iowa’s season takes precedent.
With that said, the people who support Nebrasketball are looking forward to it. Even in the early season games to directional colleges that no one knows about the PBA fills up pretty well and can get rockin’. To the many who follow the basketball team as much as I do, this is a big game for us.
Prediction time! Can the Huskers hang with Villanova on the road and spring an upset?
As of now I would say the Huskers should be able to play well against the Wildcats. Even in our rough years we can be a pretty salty defensive team. I see this game coming down to how our long range shooting ends up.
May the ghost of Bus Whitehead strike me down! Villanova 73 Nebraska 62.