1. Before I left the Devaney Center last Saturday night, I sat down on one of the Jack Nicholson seats at courtside and tried to take it all in. There was a good chance this was my last hoops game at the Devaney Center.
I was looking for ghosts. I kept seeing Beau Reid, the sharp-shooting kid from Ohio, take down national-champ-to-be Kansas in 1988, and who would have ever guessed where KU was headed after that? I kept repeating the image of Alonzo Jamison picking up a steal and racing downcourt for a game-clinching dunk at the buzzer, but here comes Bruce Chubick sprinting behind him, timing his last-second leap perfectly to block Jamison at the buzzer. What a play. My all-time play at the Devaney Center. That sent the game into overtime and there wouldn’t have been a Jamar Johnson shot to make the place explode without Chubick’s dynamite heroics first.
Mother Nature insisted I wasn’t through. So I’m headed back tomorrow for Huskers-Hawkeyes, in a match I think has plenty of intrigue. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my Devaney memories to myself. Mr. Lee Barfknecht, the curator of the Devaney Center, is planning a huge Sunday spread full of good stuff from his life inside the house that Devaney (and cigarette taxes) built. It’s must-read stuff.
I’ll hit on my memories, including a few you may not expect, later this season. And I’ll include the stories and vignettes that readers sent me.
2. Nebraska coach Tim Miles has already met my expectations. I had NU with 12 wins. He’s got ‘em. NU can make it 13 with one more, and that’s not bad at all, considering the Huskers’ strength of schedule is 19th. Yes, 19th. Behold the power of the Big Ten. If NU can ever get on the bubble, and it’s not a far leap in the Big Ten, they’ll have plenty of résumé muscle.
3. When asked on Friday if NU would consider a tourney lower than the NIT, if it were to get that far, Miles said no Big Ten team had ever played in anything lower than the NIT and he didn’t want to be the first. I did not know that. But I love it.
4. I predict a big, big crowd (13,000) at the Devaney Center tomorrow. That will include a ton of Hawkeye fans. Should be a wild atmosphere. The Hawk fans will bring out the best in the corn.
5. I have no idea which Creighton team is going to show up Saturday, or any day. I don’t think the coaches do either. But my hunch is that a non-conference game is just what the birds need, a step out of league where everybody knows their name and their game. I think Doug McDermott will have a big day. CU will have to guard well to win. It starts with energy. We’ll see how much is left in the tank.
6. St. Mary’s has 2,823 undergrads and is located 20 miles east of San Francisco. Tuition and fees is a cool $37,000. At least the gym is understated. It’s so small it’s called a Pavilion — McKeon Pavilion holds 3,500 seats. That probably won’t be loud or anything.
7. I didn’t hear Greg McDermott’s comments the other night, I read them. I understand what he’s saying. The Jays are a nice bunch. Mac likes to recruit and coach nice kids. I think we’re putting too much weight on the players. McDermott and his staff haven’t had a great month, either. Mac, for that matter, is a nice guy. Maybe too nice? Let’s wait a week and see where the Jays take us. This is a big week. Keep in mind: the nice guys and their nice coach won 20 games and were 17-1 at one point, thanks to a chip on their shoulder in the non-conference. They need to get that chip back.
8. Apologies to Darin Hansen and UNO. I was headed to your BracketBuster game at Ralston until UI-NU called. The Mavs have had a long, but interesting season, lot of ups and downs. They’ve hung in there. A win over North Dakota would be another indication of that.
9. Where would a win by Danica Patrick in the Daytona 500 rank among female accomplishments in sports? With apologies to Wilma Rudolph and Jackie Joyner, I have no idea. Let’s wait and see if it happens. Keep in mind, it would come in a man’s sport, in a man’s world. I’m sure the ratings will be better than normal. Wonder who the husband roots for and whoo the wife roots for.
10. I love match play. I wish the PGA was a match-play major. I don’t need Tiger or Rory to watch. I do think Nike should run that commercial with Tiger and Rory on the driving range all weekend. That would be apropos.
11. Bill Walton is a guy you take or leave. I’ll take him all day, all season. I’d like to see Gus Johnson, Jay Bilas and Walton call the NCAA Final Four. If Gus is busy, give me Kevin Kugler.
12. Good to see Huskers and Longhorns back on the diamond again. It’s fun, it’s nostaglic, and it’s always worth watching. Too bad neither program is what it used to be. And while it’s tempting to think of NU lighting the fire for Texas, I wonder if time away from the Big 12 has doused that flame. We’ll see. Nebraska’s problem isn’t showing up for games. It’s locking the door on victory.
13. Have a great sports weekend. Rest up for next weekend: Jays-Shockers, Mavericks-Badgers, and a little thing called the first day of spring football.