One in a million

Okay, I’m sorry. I apologize. My bad.
I should have called in sick, hopped aboard an airplane for New York City and bought a ticket to Nebraska’s basketball game with Michigan on Friday afternoon.
But because I didn’t, I’ll take full responsibility for the Huskers’ lousy showing.
And lousy is putting it mildly.
When the Husker men beat Michigan 72-52 back on Jan. 18, Cindy and I had tickets for the very top row in PBA, up in the rafters, where the rims look the size of a hangnail. At halftime, however, after spotting some open seats, we moved down to row 9, just behind the Wolverine bench.
Needless to say it was a fun second half.
“We could have beat the Knicks that night,” Husker coach Tim Miles would say just prior to Friday afternoon’s rematch at Madison Square Garden.
Cindy and I witnessed history that January night, the Nebraska program having fallen to the team up north a total of 10 consecutive times prior to that, dating all the way back to 1964.
It just so happens that I was at that game, too.
Back in the old Coliseum, with my dad, sitting in the southeast corner, the only thing still etched in my brain was some player (Fred Hare from Omaha) holding the ball with his back to the basket as time wound down, the Huskers behind by one. I remember yelling and then the next thing I knew, Hare flipped the basketball over his head, the ball finding the bottom of the net as time expired.
The Husker crowd went nuts. I went nuts, but that’s all I remember because I was was only 5 years old.
Turns out Michigan was ranked No. 1 at that time.
So after Friday afternoon’s debacle, I now consider myself a good luck charm, one the Huskers certainly could have used to advance to the Big Ten semis on Saturday, a win that most likely would have assured them an invitation to the big dance this Sunday.
Now, most likely we’ll get a top seed in the NIT.
I feel bad for letting the Huskers down, not making the trip east to The Big Apple, but come on guys, eventually you’re going to have to stand on your own two feet.
I can’t keep bailing you out.
Of course it’s not me, but that’s where I see this Nebraska program as they wrap up the season and head into next year. I see the guys still needing to take that next step, maturing to win some of those high profile games (just ask Bo Pelini).
The program must be able to take a punch to the gut and then come out swinging. It must continue to move away from futility on their way to accountability, and it must not taking anything for granted with the expected return of some all-conference players.
In short, a year from now there won’t be any excuse not to make the NCAA Tournament. There won’t be any excuse not to contend for the Big Ten regular season title. There won’t be any excuse not to dominate lesser opponents, and there won’t be any excuse not to beat some of those top 20 teams.
Oh sure, this Sunday the Huskers might hear their name called, but it’s a long shot, kind of like Hare’s over the head heave.
One in a million.

DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net.

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