Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013 AT 9:17 PM / Updated at 9:50 PM
Your Devaney Center memories
Tom Shatel Omaha World-Herald

Last November, I asked you for your favorite Devaney Center memories. Here are some excerpts from your responses.

Feel free to add more in the comments section at the bottom. Let’s make this a Devaney Center memory book:

From GDowding: “I was there in March for the first ever game, a Class A high school tournament game, between Columbus and Burke. … The two things that were tested that day were playing a state tourney game with no bleachers or court seating, and the most ballyhooed sound system in the state. … The first song ever played at the Devaney Center was “Cocaine,” not by Eric Clapton but JJ Cale.”

From Mike Melbye, Lincoln Stars broadcaster: ” I was sitting in the front row of the bleacher seats up top in section 24 (mid-court) when Beau Reid hit a three to beat the then fifth-ranked Michigan State Spartans in 1990. … From where he took the shot I had the perfect angle to watch the ball flight. I remember thinking “NOOOOOO!!” We only needed two points to win. Then losing my mind when the ball went in.”

From Mike McKnight (of WOWT):  “NIT win over Washington. I think Danny’s (Nee) first year. Bill Jackman over Detlef Shrempf. After years of church-like crowds, the place was rockin.”

From Douglas Nelson: “It was either 1976 or 1977. Kansas State was visiting. This was in the good, old days when the second half of a basketball game began with a tip. A K-State guard controlled the tip and immediately drove to the basket. Unfortunately, it was the basket his team had been shooting at in the first half. His teammates stood around at halfcourt, wondering where he was going. About 12 feet from the basket, he pulled up and took a jump shot. It looked like it would be two points for Nebraska. But in the last instant, Carl McPipe, the Husker center, flashed in front of the shooter and swatted the ball into the stands. It’s my favorite Deavney Center moment.”

From Jim Winner: “It was 1983 and the Chairman of the Board, ol’ Blue Eyes himself (Frank Sinatra) was doing a show at the Devaney Center. I was a volunteer for the show and found myself calling Bob Devaney’s office to see if he would like to attend the concert. The tickets were compliments of Mr. Sinatra. … The night of the show, Devaney and Phyllis (his wife) arrive, together with Lincoln’s mayor and his wife. I visited their fifth row seats and asked if they would like to come backstage and say hello to Sinatra. Devaney obliges, and, while heading to Sinatra’s dressing room, takes a left turn down a hallway and stops in to say hello to Jim Ross. The “hello” lasted for a couple of toasts, during which Sinatra’s management team glared at me to fix it. … After a spell, Coach came back to Sinatra’s room, said hello, and presented an Orange Bowl watch.”

From Mary Grieser: “My favorite moments from Devaney? Any time Jack Moore was on the court.”

From BMerrill: “I was a student in the 80′s. … One night Wayman Tisdale got a block on Curtis Moore and was really fired up. Pretty amazing he could get that excited about stopping 6-4 Moore, but with the 44″ vertical he had, he could really sky.”

From Scott Keetle: “In 1993, as a sophomore UNL student, actually seeing Dick Vitale in Lincoln on ABC to announce a game between Nebraska and No. 3 Kansas. There was something special about watching Dicky V gleam with pride over Eric Piatkowski, Mikki Moore, Erick Strickland and others as they went on to beat KU 68-64 that afternoon.”

From Chris Link: “I think I made it to every Jayhawk visit from 1988 on, always wearing my blue. … One year I turned to my friend and said in a pretty loud voice, “Have you EVER seen so many NIT banners in one place in your entire life?” I got a few dirty looks and did notice they quit hanging NIT banners up some years later.”

(Ah yes. The “Orchard.”)

From Kurt Dicke: “Feb. 19, 1986. NU 66, OU 64. My last year of graduate school and I had great student seats three rows up. It may have been (Moe) Iba’s biggest win. It was the combination of having my dad in such great seats and the big win, especially for the time, that makes the game so special.”

From Michael O’Malley: “The game I remember most was the 1982 boys state basketball semifinal between Creighton Prep and Omaha Northwest, Kerry Trotter vs. Ron Kellogg. Prep was trying to get to the finals to defend their 1981 title but Kellogg threw a great ball fake and stepped to his left in the final seconds and let the game-winner fly. I was a sophomore at Prep standing on the floor when the shot went in and couldn’t believe Prep lost. Then Northwest got jobbed by Lincoln refs the next night against Lincoln Northeast.”

From Justin Unrau: “With Steve Pederson and newly-hired football coach Bill Callahan looking on, John Turek and Andrew Drevo led the Huskers to a complete blowout of 12th-ranked Kansas. The game was nice, but the memory for me was at halftime, when coach Callahan introduced the new football staff and thanked the fans for their support. At the end of his speech, he said, “One thing is for sure,” then he paused to look down at the notes in his hand, “that there is no place like Nebraska!” At that moment, I just knew it wasn’t going to work out.”

From David Bierbower: “A great Devaney Center moment would have to be the conclusion of the 1989 boys’ state tournament finals between Wahoo and Lincoln Pius X. Wahoo erased a six-point deficit in a manner of seconds to force overtime and eventually win. I doubt if the Devaney Center has ever been louder.”

From Jan Larson: “I was a student at UNL when the Devaney opened in 1976. My friends and I went to every game, generally standing outside until the doors opened and then rushing down to our usual mid-court, front row seats in the bleachers. … We bought tickets to the 1980 NCAA regional. The crowd for the Missouri-Notre Dame game was mostly neutral at the beginning of the game. … It was hard for Nebraska fans to root for Missouri and few were fans of the Irish. However, as the game went along and it became apparent the underdog Tigers could hang with the Irish, the crowd swung solidly toward MU and by the time the game went into overtime, it was a virtual home game for Missouri.’

Finally, from Brandon Boesch: “My father was a huge Nebraska basketball fan. We tried to make it to games when we could, but my siblings and I were always busy in sports and other activities. … It was a rare opportunity when, my sophomore year, we were able to go to the Creighton game in 2004. … With under a minute to go, Nebraska was down three with the ball. Jason Dourisseau put up this ugly shot, a bank shot from 3-point land. I thought, “Why did you shoot that?’ And then it went in. A packed-house in the Devaney Center and some screaming and high-fiving with my dad makes that one of my favorite memories, even though Nebraska went on to lose.

“It stands out in my head because just a couple years later, my dad had surgery for a brain tumor and within a year of that he died. That was the last Nebraska basketball game we went to together and what a great game it was, even with the loss. Before he died, whenever we would watch a game on TV, he would always talk about that game and how much he loved being there with me. So here is to all the basketball memories from the Devaney Center that don’t involve comeback Nebraska wins or break-out games from different players; here’s to all the games where a father instills a tradition in his son; to the games where fans are born; to the games where cherished memories are made.”

Here’s to your dad, Brandon. Here’s to all of the fans who made memories at the Devaney Center. Here’s to one more memory, Wednesday night.

About Tom Shatel

Tom Shatel is a columnist for The Omaha World-Herald. You can get in touch with Tom on Twitter (@tomshatelOWH), or send him an email at tom.shatel@owh.com.