Today I finally print your Husker emails, compiled over the past two weeks. Why are they any more insightful or entertaining than your run-of-the-mill message board fodder? What separates them from bad talk radio callers? Because I tried to remove all the boring stuff!
What’s left is a wide range of opinion that hopefully reflects the public perception of the Husker program. I split the best excerpts into two parts. Part One anchors today’s Chatter. Part Two comes Wednesday.
But before all that, Doug McDermott went off again.
For all the incredible things McDermott did last year in earning first-team All-American honors, I questioned whether he was indeed one of the five best players in the country. I think a lot of people did.
This season, I have no such doubt. In fact, he might be the BEST offensive player in college basketball.
If you follow me on Twitter, you noticed my outburst of praise for McDermott Saturday night. Some people told me to put a sock in it. Well, chew on this:
Over the past seven games, McDermott is averaging 27.7 points on 55 percent shooting. The opponents aren’t great — Wisconsin, Arizona State, Boise State, St. Joseph’s, Nebraska, Akron, Cal — but they’re not exactly Longwood.
Last year, McDermott made his mark near the rim, demonstrating a remarkable ability to get the ball in the basket from difficult positions. This year, he’s showing off his improved ability to hit contested, quick-release perimeter shots.
Over the past five, he’s 21 of 31 from 3-point range. He isn’t wide open — almost all of those have come with a defender in his comfort zone.
As a result, he’s arguably one of the five toughest players in the country to guard on the block. And one of the five best pure shooters in the country. That is a stunning skill set very few college players have ever accomplished. Kevin Durant. Christian Laettner. I can’t think of many more.
Obviously, McDermott isn’t as good as Durant or Laettner. Not yet anyway. He rarely puts the ball on the floor. He hasn’t proven he can defend at a high level.
But that’s nitpicking. We’re so cynical in sports (myself included) that we rarely marvel. At Tom Brady’s ability to move an offense down the field. At Aaron Rodgers’ ability to throw rockets on the run. At Calvin Johnson’s ability to rise above double coverage and snag a ball from the sky.
From a college basketball purist’s standpoint, McDermott inspires the same sense of awe. Stop trying to project his NBA future. Stop questioning his competition. Just sit back and listen to the sound of the ball going through the basket.
>> I wrote a long feature on Josh Jones in Sunday’s World-Herald. One quote I liked that didn’t make the story came from Doug McDermott.
“The thing about Josh is he could talk to our biggest boosters with millions of dollars, he can get along great with them and make them laugh. And then he can talk to a little boy from North Omaha that maybe isn’t doing so well and put a smile on their face.”
>> The battle for seeding in the NFL playoffs is wild, but the only division race with an ounce of intrigue is the NFC East. (The 49ers’ win last night basically clinched the NFC West, taking a lot of steam out of Niners-Seahawks next week.)
It appears the East will come down to Cowboys-Redskins in Week 17. And if I — a Redskins fan — have to count on Kirk Cousins to win Washington’s first division title in 13 years, I’m gonna pull my hair out. I don’t care what Cousins did the past two weeks, I can’t get the image of his 11-for-27, 86-yard performance in Lincoln out of my head. Get well soon, RG3!
>> Chiefs-Raiders? Seriously? Kansas City is a nice place. Barbecue. Baseball. Shopping. But my proximity to the place has never angered me as much as it did Sunday. I was at a family Christmas — without my RedZone Channel. I was 4 1/2 hours from Arrowhead Stadium. And I was stuck with Chiefs-Raiders instead of Steelers-Cowboys. These Chiefs, by the way, are “worse than wet socks, rotten milk and bedbugs.”
>> Mike Gesell is Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Can’t believe Nebraska has to face him eight times the next four years.
>> New York Times statistical whiz Nate Silver looks at the Big East breakup. If Georgetown and Co. wanted to be in a major conference, he says, they had no choice.
>> Rotnei Clarke helped Butler upset No. 1 Indiana Saturday. But his real story is back in Oklahoma, where he was a high school basketball legend beyond anything Nebraska has ever had. Incredible read.
>> A 7-foot-3 tuba player is starting on the LSU basketball team.
>> SI’s Richard Deitsch says “First Take” is giving ESPNers a bad name.
>> We’re looking at one of the most fascinating baseball seasons in a long time. Why? The Yankees, Red Sox and Mets are down. That’s given everyone else, especially in the AL, a chance to grab top players. The boldest team right now: the Bluejays.
>> The watchability guide to the bowl games.
>> And here’s your Husker emails, plucked from a two-week span starting Dec. 1. Again, we’ll have more in Wednesday’s Chatter.
— “We got beat by 70 points by a 7-5 team? We looked like a second tier B1G team played the YMCA (us). This IS our expectation on any given Saturday. You never know what weak NU team will show up any given Saturday. I think a fair criteria would be that if ANYONE beats a Nebraska team by more than 48 points (50+) that there should be a nuclear trigger on the coach.”
– Keith in Washington
— “It was 24 years from national title to national title; we aren’t due yet. Tom’s 9-win seasons were never enough and now Bo’s 10-wins aren’t either ? Give me a break. Most of us are happy with a positive outcome and a program that is strong on academics. We will never be Ohio State or Michigan, the numbers are not there. Allow Bo to do his job.”
– Louis in Omaha
— “Given the way Nebraska lost to UW and the way Nebraska is pursuing JUCO help on the D-line, is it not now more clear than ever that Pelini and his lot have failed to recruit the kind of defensive linemen they need to run their system? Is it not also clear that Pelini’s strict adherence to his match-up zone scheme leaves Nebraska vulnerable to the run without linebackers like Lavonte David or defensive tackles like Suh, Crick, or Steinkuhler?
I think Nebraska’s loss to Wisconsin leads to the following questions: Without linebackers who can pursue or defensive tackles who can push, shouldn’t Pelini have had some back-up plan (i.e., a traditional zone) to keep plays in front of the defense (rather than behind it)? Is Pelini not playing to his personnel’s strengths, as a proper coach should? Or is Pelini just too proud to admit when his players can’t do what he needs them to do to be successful?”
– Nathan in Alliance, Neb.
— “Bo is saying he has never been a part of game like this! Hmm! Guess he wasn’t at the Ohio State game this year, or the Wisconsin game last year, or maybe the Michigan game last year, or perhaps the MIssouri 52-17 home loss in 2008, or maybe the 62-28 Oklahoma game-it was only 49-14 at halftime there!, and just for the heck of, how about the 2010 loss to Washington in the bowl game after routing the same team in Seattle the same season!”
– David in Houston
— “Let’s call it like it really is here. The engine of any offense is the O-Line! If I bought a car with all the most modern electronics and equipment, I’d still hate it if the engine only worked a portion of the time!”
— “Is 9-10 wins with no conference championships in 5 years good enough? No- I think Bo understands that. Does he have a lot of room to grow as a coach or has he hit his ceiling after 5 years? I do not think he has hit his ceiling. Hopefully he understands we need players (and better recruiters). I do not think that stats and wins truly show what type of coach he is and I think he has made improvements albeit subtle each season”
– Brandon in Lincoln
— “This may have been Nebraska’s worst loss ever. Their defense was just daring us to run but we would not and the defense was non-existent. You couldn’t have played a better game on Playstation against the easiest level of competition you could select to play against.”
— “Seriously, either the anger thing has got to go or Bo has got to go. When he is screaming at players and up in their grills, he is NOT coaching. Sure, I’m the guy at home in front of the TV who is not there. What do I know? But, I’ve taken enough young kids into combat and dangerous situations as members of aircrews that I know that screaming at them is not going to help them do their jobs better, not make mistakes, and ultimately have confidence in the leadership of their superiors (coaches). … My neighbor and I (another Nebraska military member) were “that close” to doing a road trip from Washington DC area to Indianapolis for the game. I am glad in retrospect that I did not make the trip.”
– Chris in Virginia
— “This off season will tell us a lot about Bo. If he doesn’t make any changes to the assistants, then I’m going to write off his ability to be a leader. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. If he steps up and makes some needed changes, then I’ll give him some more time to see how it goes.”
– Randy in Omaha
— “Watching the SEC and the Big Ten title games from my couch, the contrast was striking. Borrowing from basketball, the Big Ten game had a distinctly “mid-major” feel to it. Kind of like watching the ACC hoops tournament and then the MVC tournament back to back. … When you watch an SEC game vs. a Big Ten game, it seems that the SEC game is being transmitted at about a 20% faster rate. … If NU’s starting 22, and, say, Alabama’s starting 22 compete for jobs, Seriously, how many Huskers end up as starters. Maybe 3 or 4, if that.”
— “More and more I hear that people like me are growing tired of forking over bucks to travel to humiliation. A Championship game not sold out to one team’s fan base – for any reason- is ominous. When we see empty seats – or underwhelming Husker following in the seats – for Orlando, it isn’t long until Nebraska’s proudest record, sellouts at Memorial Stadium, is at risk. Fan attendance is looming as Bo Pelini’s sternest job evaluation going forward, IMO.”
– Randy in Seattle
— “Is the program in good enough shape to win at least 8 or 9 wins next season? Most likely. Will we contend for a conference title? Perhaps (our schedule is quite soft next season). But will Bo Pelini make the necessary changes to get over the proverbial hump so we don’t get embarrassed at some point along the line? I’m willing to bet no. And so here we are, a decent team that is able to win at home, a few games on the road against lesser foes, and not much else. The fact that we play in a weak conference will likely mask our deficiencies for another year…or at least until we get shelled by Michigan, or Ohio State, or Wisconsin, or in a bowl game.”
– Justin in Virginia
— “This notion that Bo Pelini isn’t the right guy for the job is absurd. He got 70 hung on him. It was embarrassing, it was awful. I cringe every time I see there’s going to be a replay on the BTN. Bottom line though, Nebraska fans have to recognize that A) they’re lucky Bo has stuck around this long and B) They’ve created an environment where the job isn’t among the most attractive in the country. Sure the facilities are sparkling and the support is top notch, but when a state’s identity hangs on one man’s shoulders and what he can do with 100 18-22 year olds, then they have to take a step back sometimes and give some space.
I’m no more pleased than the next guy that it’s been 13 and will be at least 14 years before Nebraska wins a conference title, but the question I keep tossing around in my head is if not Bo, than who? Who has the pedigree to win at least 9 games every year, win conference championships and deal with the media and fan crush that comes along with the job? I’m not sure that person exists right now in college football…
Nebraska can’t become a revolving door. Not now. Not with Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan where they are. Iowa is Iowa but they could awake any year, so could Michigan State. I’m interested to see what Fitz does in the coming years in Evanston. Bo has built the right culture, I feel he’s just a few tweaks away – I think mostly with his coaching staff and recruiting for defense a little better. But to start all over would be a disaster. These people wanted to start all over when Frank was only winning 9 games a year and look what’s happened.