I’ve never been so bummed from a UNO basketball win. Why am I so bummed? I’m glad I asked myself.
I’m currently working a seasonal job at Omaha Steaks for a little extra money to help pay for all the traveling my wife and I did this past year. The only schedule I could choose that would work out with my full time job is going to force me to miss out on a few UNO games. I may or may not get off from Omaha Steaks early enough on Tuesday to catch the game on ESPN 3, which I’m clearly hoping for getting off work early.
Anyway, Tuesday night my friend calls me when I’m done at Omaha Steaks and offers me two free tickets to go to the Nebraska football game. I’ve been living in Nebraska for 27 out of 28 years of my life and I have never been to a Nebraska football game, so I say hell yes without even thinking. I quickly remember that UNO basketball is on television on Saturday. I come up with this plan to check the UNO stats on my phone during the Husker game and then head to a bar to watch the second half of UNO-Marquette.
I’m standing there watching the Minnesota Gophers come back on Nebraska, there was a play in the 2nd half when the Huskers are 2nd and 1 and they call a 7 step drop back pass for Tommie Armstrong who gets sacked and it’s now 3rd and 9, they don’t convert the 4th and right there I figured to myself that Minnesota had enough momentum to win this game. So that’s when I start looking up the UNO stats and I see UNO is up by 5 with a little to go in the first half. I’m just standing there thinking to myself – Shit, I’m missing what could come out to be the biggest win in UNO’s short D1 history. All so I could be standing at this embarrassment of a Nebraska football game and wonder if I should ever come back as there could now be a slight possibility that I am the Nebraska football bad luck guy. You don’t want to be that guy.
So the Nebraska game ends and my friends and I head out of Memorial Stadium, which is the quietest I have ever seen 90,000 people. It was like walking out of a funeral, a funeral that no one had respect for the dead since they dressed in red Husker jackets and one guy was even dressed as a pirate, but still the quiet feel of a funeral. We get to a bar, we ask for them to turn to the UNO game, the hipster bartender asks “Who?” The Marquette game is what we have to claim. The bartender searches the television and the bar doesn’t have the channel. So yes, instead of getting to watch UNO’s win over Marquette I had to sit in a bar and watch the stats go by. That is why I am bummed.
Before the start of the season I didn’t really think Marquette would be that good of a team. They have no size, a first year coach, not much depth, and not a great deal of experience. So early on I thought that UNO had a chance, even if they were picked as a 17 point underdog. When I saw Jake White was going to be out, I thought the chances for a UNO win dropped. I thought it took away a lot of UNO’s experience and size. But freshmen forwards Tre’Shawn Thurman and Rylan Murry stepped up in his absence. At Seattle, Thurman got his first start and had 10 points and 8 rebounds, Murry came off the bench for 10 points and three rebounds. At Marquette, Thurman had 12 and 7 while Murry had 10 and 2. Two freshmen came in played big in when UNO really needed it. They combined for 9-11 from the floor in an environment they had ever reason to combine for 3-11. These two guys are going to be sick in a few years. I hear sick is a good thing now.
Marquette isn’t at their best right now, but it’s still Marquette and it was in Milwaukee. Marquette is a big name, they consistently play in the tournament, and Dwayne Freaking Wade played at Marquette. I hope Gabrielle Union gave him crap for it. Also UNO’s older cousin down the street plays in the same conference, so it makes a statement that maybe UNO could hang with Creighton finally. Also, with UNO topping a big name it makes the upcoming UNO-Nebraska matchup far more interesting to people around Nebraska. Early on the locals thought Nebraska would just steam roll the Mavericks, that thought isn’t on people’s minds right now. The Huskers slow starts in an exhibition game and then against Central Arkansas has taken away some confidence Nebrasketball fans. Also, with a little momentum behind the Mavericks, they’re not looking to top their program’s biggest win just a few days later for an even bigger win.
I don’t think there was much excitement about UNO-Nebraska a few years ago when the teams met up in Lincoln. UNO was pretty fresh into D1 and Nebraskans didn’t know how good Tim Miles was really was at that point, nor did they have high expectations in his first season. Nebraska also has Terrran Petteway and Walter Pitchford redshirting. This game, Petteway could be playing on a bad ankle and the Huskers tallest player, Pitchford, has no desire to play in the paint. Mike Rostampour is going to eat that up. UNO also just shot 57% on the road against a Big East team and Nebraska is coming off 36% shooting against an Atlantic 10 team, ad they also shot 15% from downtown. UNO also has an experienced back court that each had 22+ points in each of their wins.
This stretch of games could be some of the most important stretch UNO has ever had as far as marketing their program. A win at Marquette, an exciting match up at Nebraska, a home game against a somewhat big name Nevada, and an away game at Kansas State – who compares pretty well to Marquette in terms of size and experience. If UNO can get a couple more wins in this stretch, the seats are going to get a little more full in Ralston. I may not be able to buy 9 dollar seats and then sit wherever the hell I want due to an empty arena. The Mavericks are making some noise, it’s starting to getting louder in Omaha.