That will be a buzzword for the Nebraska offense as spring practice commences. One year after switching conferences, coordinators and schemes, the Huskers suddenly have an edge. Same quarterback. Same coordinator. Same playbook.
You know how many Big Ten contenders can say the same?
Not Ohio State.
Not Michigan State.
Not Penn State.
Only Michigan. The Wolverines will be picked by all the pundits to win the Legends Division. But Nebraska’s offense finally has continuity. We’ll see how much it’s worth in October.
>> Today is Darin Erstad’s home opener as Husker baseball coach, the first of 17 straight games at Haymarket Park. It’s a real opportunity for Erstad. If his team can get hot and roll through March, you’ll see big crowds at Haymarket in April and May for Big Ten home series. You’ll see an atmosphere that resembles the glory years much sooner than people anticipated.
There’s a pocket of die-hard Husker baseball fans that will sit through 30-degree doubleheaders against Northern Colorado. But there’s a much larger block of casual Husker baseball fans waiting for a reason to believe again. Erstad has a chance this month to give it to them.
>> The home opener will be notable for more than the weather. The opponent is Kansas State. You know, the same K-State that Nebraska faced for decades in conference play. I hope the men’s and women’s hoops programs follow baseball’s lead in non-conference scheduling: Play as many old Big 12 rivals as possible. Why not?
>> A former bartender named Jimmy Patsos is taking his team to the NCAA tournament. Read his incredible story. You’re going to hear a lot about Patsos in the next week.
>> Count me among those who would rather see schools like Drexel and Iona in the NCAA tournament than schools like Seton Hall and Texas. The former pair lost in their mid-major conference tournaments after winning their regular-season titles. The latter pair have played a lot of good teams — and lost to almost all of them. When in doubt, give me the little guy.
>> Having said that, I care far less about “who’s in” and “who’s out” than about the actual bracket. Too often, the selection committee seems to spend too much deciding between 68 and 69 (they could just flip a coin) and not enough time on the national title contenders.
Priority one should be making sure the regions are balanced. Don’t put the best No. 2 seed, for example, in Kentucky’s bracket. I understand the hunger to know if Northwestern gets in the tournament over Oregon, I do. But my focus on Selection Sunday will always be those top-4 seeds. Make sure they’re treated fairly.
>> Aside from a bastion of sports intellect, the Brunch Bites is home to mindless sports phenomena! Like this one: With the exception of the Big Ten, every BCS conference’s best traditional basketball school wears blue; every conference’s best football school wears red — or a shade of red. (I would look at the Big East, but I can’t remember who even plays there anymore).
SEC: Alabama; Kentucky
ACC: Florida State; Carolina/Duke
Pac 12: USC; UCLA
Big 12: Oklahoma; Kansas
Go down the line. I’d say 80 percent of great basketball schools wear a shade of blue (Louisville and Indiana would be notable exceptions). Maybe that’s why Nebraska can’t win.
>> I stumbled Monday on this column. My ode to Creighton and Nebraska basketball, written two years ago this April. A few weeks later, the McDermotts arrived in Omaha, beginning Creighton’s renaissance. Meanwhile, Nebraska has dipped even further into the depths. I can’t imagine the gap between the Jays and Huskers could be much wider that it is right now.
>> Check back Thursday for more Husker basketball.
>> Finally, a little teaser to a
story about Doug McDermott that will appear in Thursday’s World-Herald. This quote is from Bill Self, who recruited Doug’s high school teammate, Harrison Barnes:
“We all knew he was a good player; we didn’t know he was this good,” Self said of McDermott. “Nobody did. I don’t know if his dad did.
“This is a guy who, when people saw Harrison, they saw him because he put up numbers. He hadn’t really grown into his body yet. He was kind of gangly, but he just kind of had a knack for getting the ball in the basket…I liked him, but certainly he’s surpassed what I thought he would be in a short amount of time.”
What is McDermott’s gift?
“He’s been around ball. He understands how to score before he catches. He understands where balls are going to come off the board or the rim on rebounds and how to wedge and get position there. He’s a guy that, if he’s not going to out-jump you, he’s going to out-quick you by getting it off quick. He can go over both shoulders. He uses both hands. And he’s got touch. If I’m not mistaken, the kid’s shooting like 45 percent from 3, maybe better than that, I don’t know. Maybe 50. He just has a natural gift.”
“I’m really happy for him, but I’m really happy for his family because his dad’s a terrific coach and a great guy.”