Thursday, March 30, 2006

Would you have REALLY said that in the Freeman's Living Room?

In a Lincoln Journal-Star article this week on talk radio, "Husker Information Minister" Jim Rose bemoans the negativity and criticism that frequently air on sports talk radio:
“Don’t say anything about somebody unless you’d say that to them from across a coffee table,” he said.

Oh really, Jim? In December, you really would have spent two hours in the Freeman's living room berating Josh and his father?

I think not....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bill Thomas: Hot Sauce/BLT in Wayne's World

Last night, UNO's Bill Thomas made his NHL debut with the Phoenix Coyotes, 4 days after the Mavs season ended. While it's sad that his UNO career is over, it's awesome to see him already at the next level.

Some video clips from
  • Bill Thomas
  • Wayne Gretzky - The Great One says the Coyotes were short handed, and joked that Thomas made it back from the mall (spending some of his signing bonus) in time for the game.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another Steve Pederson SNAFU

Did you enjoy watching the Nebraska-Kansas baseball game on Saturday? Unless you went to the game or were a subscriber to Cox Cable in Omaha, you didn't see the game. After 25 years, Nebraska denied Nebraska Educational Telecommunications the rights to televise Husker baseball, electing instead to sell the rights to Cox. For the first game, only Cox (approximately 2/3'rds of the Omaha area) and Time-Warner (Lincoln, Columbus, Fremont) customers were able to see the game. Cox's technical problems with their first broadcast meant that Lincoln customers saw nothing (getting the game that evening on tape delay) while Omaha viewers saw half the game in split-screen as the vertical hold was malfunctioning.

So the first Husker baseball broadcast had a few technical glitches. Steve Pederson yesterday repeated to Tom Shatel that moving Husker baseball to Cox was intended to improve one thing:

"Recruiting," Pederson said. "The wave of the future for sporting events is cable TV. We want to find out what is out there with cable TV. NETV is fabulous. They're great to work with.

"But the fact is, we have to recruit nationally, in all sports. And getting our product on cable is a way for recruits to see it. This might allow us to be on CSTV (College Sports TV), or the sports cable network in Kansas City, Texas or Colorado, where Mike (Anderson) recruits a lot. We don't know what's out there. This is about finding out."

So, the switch didn't go smoothly for the first game. What does?

The problem is that, once again, the Nebraska Athletic Director is not being completely accurate. I'm not disputing that Pederson wants to get Nebraska baseball coverage expanded beyond the reach of the NET signal. The fact is, the decision to pull Husker baseball from NET has caused the exact opposite effect.

NET and CSTV have a long running cooperative relationship, broadcasting Husker volleyball and baseball, plus UNO Maverick hockey. And now that NET has lost the rights to Husker baseball, the NET/CSTV partnership will now be televising Creighton baseball. Oops!

So why was this change made? Pederson denied to Shatel that this was attempt to influence NET, as I commented earlier this month. Perhaps so. But why Cox? Why not FSN? My guess is that, like the football coaching search, Steve Pederson was caught unprepared and unable to find an alternative. In this case, Cox was all they could find to carry the games.

I don't know if anything else can be salvaged for this season. My guess is that Nebraska will try this again next season. My suggestion is to sit down again with NET and CSTV, and work on an agreement to distribute Husker baseball regionally. Maybe figure out a way that MetroSports in Kansas City and Altitude in Denver can carry the games in those markets.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Good Luck to Frost & Thomas

Well, the line of Parse and Thomas has been officially broken up. Many UNO fans expect Scott Parse to sign with the LA Kings, who hold his rights. (Not that fans want him to go, but after the season and honors he's earned...) Today, though, Bill Thomas signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for a reported $900K a year. The expectation in Phoenix is that Thomas will go straight from the Mavs to the Coyotes, bypassing the minors for now. Can't blame Thomas for taking the money at all. Good luck BLT/Hot Sauce!

Rumor mill is that several other Mav players may be making the jump to the pros as well. Hopefully not, but then again, it is to be expected when UNO has the talent to make the NCAA tournament and the NHL is finally getting back into business.

Meanwhile, once again some Husker "fans" are branding Scott Frost a traitor. First, it was spurning NU for Stanford with his dream to be an NFL quarterback. Then it was in criticizing Steve Pederson last fall. Now, it's because he's joined Kansas State as a graduate assistant. I'm not sure what people expect Frost to do. Tommie Frazier went to Baylor and coached against Nebraska. Frost has a connection to the new Kansas State defensive coordinator, and Frost has said that he hasn't felt as welcome in Lincoln around the new regime. Sometimes opportunities present themselves in ways you wouldn't expect. I'll bet that John Blake never expected to be wearing Husker Red. Barney Cotton didn't expect to be a Cyclone. Being a grad assistant at a Big XII school is too good of a gig to turn down. Shame on those that brand him a "traitor".

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Period to Forget

Yesterday's UNO-Boston University hockey game in Woostah started off promising, with an early power play goal by Bill Thomas giving UNO a 1-0 lead, and freshman Jerad Kaufmann making outstanding save after outstanding save. But late in the first period, BU tied it up after an interference penalty on Scott Parse, making the Mav faithful gathered in the DCU Centre and sports bars all over town a little uneasy, as BU seemed to be controlling the play after being surprised by the Mavs early on.
In the second period, the Terriers came out like you'd expect the consensus #1 team in the country would, taking a 3-1 lead. The Mavs' Tomas Klempa quickly answered to pull the Mavs within one. But BU quickly countered with 2 goals in the next minute to blow the game wide open, ripping the heart out of the Mavs.
UNO's first NCAA game ended as a disappointing 9-2 blowout. Fans of teams that just missed the Big Skate will point to this game as proof that UNO didn't belong, but they forget that one week earlier, BU beat NCAA qualifier New Hampshire by the same 9-2 score. Boston U just might be that good. Like the Huskers vs. Miami-FL in the 2001 BCS title game at the Rose Bowel, someone else might have had a better matchup, but chances are that BU would have smashed anybody yesterday.

UNO fans can mope about the blowout, or remember a memorable season. UNO made that next step and played in the tournament, getting valuable experience. They've now experienced that environment, and know what champions play like. If they choose to, they can remember that awful taste in their mouth all summer long in the weight room and in training to drive them to take this program to the next level.

UNO loses seniors Mike Lefley and Jason Krischuk for sure, and it's quite possible that Scott Parse will sign with the LA Kings. That leaves quite a few talented underclassmen (Bill Thomas, Tomas Klempa, Alex Nikiforuk, Dan Charleston) with one more year of experience. Plus a solid goaltender with experience in Jerad Kaufmann. This team should still be loaded next year and can make another run for post-season.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Do You Remember?

Remember 10 years ago, when then-athletic director Don Leahy announced that UNO was starting a Division I hockey team from scratch?

Remember 9 years ago when James Chalmers scored UNO's first goal against Manitoba. Remember how that first "U! N! O!" chant rang out.

Remember that first victory against Air Force? No one heard that 6-1 victory because of a city-wide blackout due to a huge ice and snow storm.

Remember Scott Hewson's goonish "welcome" when the Mavs joined the CCHA?

Remember "Tuesday Night" when Jeff Hoggan nearly blew the roof off of the Civic Auditorium?

Remember St. Patrick's Day 2000, when Hoggan and the Mavs took out Michigoon in Detroit to make the CCHA Championship game in their first year in the conference?

Remember when Billy Pugliese scored in double overtime against Ohio State in 2001 to send the Mavs back to Detroit?

Remember the Mavs just missing the NCAA tournament that season?

Remember the Mavs taking that 3 goal lead in the Stampede against defending national champion Minnesota?

Remember when Dan Ellis became UNO's first NHL player, winning against the LA Kings?

Remember Jeff Hoggan scoring his first goal for the St. Louis Blues, then thanking UNO fans on

Remember the artistry of Bill Thomas and Scott Parse, such as the game winning goal against Michigan State with 27 seconds left in overtime?

Remember Bryan Marshall scoring twice in the final 51 seconds on New Years Eve against Yale?

Remember the determination of Alex Nikiforuk, who ripped the hearts out of the Weasels by scoring the game winning goal 6 seconds after Michigoon tied up the game?

Tomorrow, the Mavs open up a new chapter in their history with their first NCAA tournament appearance. Many teams will dismiss the chances of UNO, saying they are just happy to get the invitation. They doubt UNO's ability. They think UNO will wilt under the pressure.

They don't remember.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Difference in Two Coaches

Last night's Creighton-Miami NIT game featured an occurance that we've seen quite a bit of lately; the head coach gets steamed over a non-call that potentially decided the game, reacts inappropriately, and the fans start throwing things. Does this sound familiar?

It does at first, but that's where the similarity ends. That's because Creighton coach Dana Altman acknowledged that he was in the wrong and accepted responsibility immediately after the game:
"I'm disappointed for our players, and my frustration at the end of the ballgame was that I wanted that opportunity to play one more time for them," Altman said. "That's where your frustration boils over, and you act like a fool. That's what I did, and there's no sense to that.

"The officials made their calls, and I apologize to the fans and the officials and to everybody else. I have done that too often in 12 years, but there's no excuse for that. We shouldn't have done that as a crowd, but that's my fault. They reacted to my reaction, and that's not the way we do things here."

Contrast that to the response from Husker football coach Bill Callahan after "GestureGate". When originally contacted hours after the Nebraska-Oklahoma game, Nebraska's Sports Information Department didn't respond to inquiries about the incident. On the Big XII conference call on Monday, Callahan feigned ignorance. And at Tuesday's press conference, he once again refused to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. Three missed opportunities to make amends for his actions, and Callahan ended up being reprimanded by the Big XII conference for his actions. The whole incident would have never gotten as far as it did if Callahan and the Nebraska Sports Information department would have handled this late Saturday night or Sunday. Even a response on Monday might have limited the damage.

Creighton's Altman showed a lot of class in how he handled his mistake. I sure hope that the folks in Lincoln followed this and learned something.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

NCAA: Mavs @ Boston U; Where are our TV stations???

UNO fans are celebrating the Mavs first NCAA tournament berth today; they will play Boston University at 3 pm on Friday afternoon in the East Regional, hosted by BU.

So far, the only announced television coverage is on ESPNU, which isn't on any local cable system. However, it is available via ESPN+ for any local television station to pick up.

Paging all our local television stations; paging all of our local television stations. This game demands local broadcast coverage. Don't give us excuses, call ESPN and get this game on the air where it belongs.

Local TV Station Contacts
I'm excluding KMTV-channel 3 because of their commitment to the NCAA Basketball Tournament. A Saturday regional (6pm against Miami or Boston College) would pre-empt March Madness...

Local TV stations! This is a historic event in the history of UNO... It should be broadcast to the entire viewing area, whether they have cable or not.

Make it happen.

Friday, March 17, 2006

UNO Clinches NCAA Tournament Bid

Adam Wodon of College Hockey News has declared that the UNO Mavericks have clinched their first ever NCAA tournament bid:

Omaha can breath a collective sigh.

From everything we can tell, as opposed to previous assumptions, Nebraska-Omaha is definitely IN the tournament, no matter what.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Scott Parse: CCHA Player of the Year & Hobey Baker Finalist

UNO's Scott Parse received a couple of awards today. At the CCHA's Player of the Year tonight at the CCHA Awards Banquet in Detroit this evening. Also, Parse was named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker award.

Hobey Baker fan voting has now begun voting at Each person can only vote one time, so every vote counts.'s "Section 14" has been researching the PairWise ratings, and has come up with the following formula to lock in a UNO NCAA bid tomorrow night:

* Bentley to lose Friday or Saturday
* UMD/SCSU winner (tonight) to lose either Friday or Saturday to Minnesota
* Dartmouth and Colgate to both lose either Friday or Saturday (Go Harvard & Cornell)
* Northern Michigan to lose either Friday or Saturday

By the way, if you are asking who the &#($ Bentley is, they play in the Atlantic Hockey Association. Why Bentley? Simple, a Bentley championship gives them the AHA automatic bid, but also bumps Holy Cross into an at-large NCAA bid as it also supercharges Holy Cross' "Teams Under Consideration" factor. If anybody else wins the AHA, the AHA just gets their champion in.

Oh, and if any of those items don't happen on St. Patty's Day, there are about 1,000 remaining possibilities.... :-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Husker Cone of Silence

One of the more disturbing trends over the past couple of years in the "Husker Nation" is a lack of tolerance for criticism. In the past 2 years, Pinnacle Sports has terminated both Gary Sharp and John Bishop, both of whom weren't afraid to speak critically when they felt it was necessary.

Now, Nebraska is beginning to pull sports from NET, Nebraska's public television network. In January, a Husker wrestling match was pulled from the airwaves. And now Nebraska has signed with Cox Cable in Omaha to televise Husker baseball, ending a 25 year run of baseball on ETV. Why Cox Cable? Possibly for money, since Cox can sell TV commercials unlike ETV. However, outside of Cox Cable subscribers, this will black out Husker baseball to the majority of the state. Time Warner Cable, who serves Lincoln and many other areas of the state, doesn't sound optimistic. Certainly, this will not expand the audience for Husker baseball with the games only on in part of the Omaha metro area.

Folks in the media business think that Nebraska is pulling the broadcasts from ETV to "punish" Kevin Kugler for critical commentary of Steve Pederson and Nebraska on his "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" radio show on KOZN 1620-AM.

What does this mean to the fan? Simply put...less coverage of Nebraska sports. It's bad for the fans, and worse, it's also bad for the Cornhuskers.

Why is it bad for the Huskers in the end? Simple. It won't silence the criticism. And furthermore, it opens up broadcast opportunities for Nebraska's competitors. NET will now carry Creighton baseball statewide.

This afternoon, KXSP's Matt Perrault called out Nebraska's coaches, asking them to push to end Pinnacle's exclusive contract with Pinnacle Sports to allow the coaches to be interviewed on other Nebraska radio stations. Currently both KXSP and KOZN feature weekly interviews with Dan McCarney, and frequently interview coaches from other schools, such as Kansas State's Ron Prince. With the growth of sports talk radio, the teams that Nebraska is now fighting with for recruits are now gaining unprecendented access to Nebraska's radio airwaves to influence folks.

Nebraska can't keep on trying to silence criticism. It is simply counterproductive.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Reflections on a Wacky Weekend

I must say that last night's annoucement that Barry Collier was not being fired shocked me. Frankly, it still doesn't make much sense. If you were truly going to give Collier every opportunity to succeed, you would not have pulled out the "no comment" card last month. On the other hand, if you aren't sure Collier is the right guy, why should the two victories in Dallas change your mind? And I'm not even going to touch the comparison's with the Frank Solich situation. I think we're all tired of that discussing that. Perhaps it was a financial decision in the end, though Steve Pederson denies that. (Of course, we've heard plenty of his denials that turned out to be not-quite-so-true though not-quite-a-lie either...)

If we're going to move forward with Barry Collier, Nebraska has to get Husker Hoops back in the mindset of fans in this state. First of all, Nebraska needs to seriously upgrade the schedule. Husker fans will show up for big games; look at the crowd that showed up for Texas Tech, for example. Nobody wants to see Lipscomb, even if they were good enough to make the NIT. Secondly, Nebraska needs to find a way to get an Omaha station to televise the Big XII package of games. Nebraska has ceded practically the entire Omaha market to Creighton.

The doom and gloom from Northern Michigan's sweep in the CCHA quarterfinals over UNO is starting to clear. Last night, UNO's luck started to turn with North Dakota eliminating Minnesota State-Mankato. Then Minnesota-Duluth upset Denver to eliminate the 2-time defending National Champs at home. Today, people started crunching the PairWise numbers and UNO now is in a 4-way tie for 10th. Still on the bubble, but things are looking up. Many of the teams UNO is competing with for an NCAA spot are playing this weekend--- and playing each other.

USCHO has posted a PairWise predictor on their web site and fans have been trying all sorts of combinations. And to the surprise of many of the previously negative folks, most of the combinations seem to work in UNO's favor. It's not a guarantee by any means, but there are more ways UNO gets in than misses. One almost assured way for UNO to lock up a bid is for the Harvard Crimson to beat Dartmouth on Friday in the ECAC semifinals. A Cornell victory over Colgate in the other ECAC semifinal would also be helpful.

UNO's biggest fear is to have a team win an automatic bid in an upset and take away an at-large spot. However, that's not a universal truth. If Northern Michigan wins the CCHA, they jump up in the standings and remove Minnesota State-Mankato from UNO's calculations, and thus boost UNO's ratings. Ah the fun of the math!

Needless to say, the March Madness many Omaha sports fans will be watching this weekend isn't the one with the round orange ball....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Collier to stay

Well, I didn't see this coming. Steve Pederson has just announced that Barry Collier will remain as Nebraska's head basketball coach.

Awaiting the Barry Collier Announcement

In this morning's Omaha World-Herald, Steve Pederson said that he plans to sit down with Barry Collier and then make an announcement to talk about the "future of the program". Does that quote sound familiar?

Tom Shatel commented on several possiblities for Barry Collier, and I think the following is the most realistic: "Pederson is going to make a change, but he's going to do it deliberately. Pederson is still smarting from the roasting he took after firing Frank Solich in 2003. Remember, there were as many critics of how Pederson fired Solich as the fact that he was fired."

In any event, Pederson did say that this would all happen before the NIT game, which is scheduled for Thursday night at Hofstra. What do I think will happen? I still believe Collier won't be back as Nebraska's coach next season. Whether that's the right thing or not, I don't know. I see arguments on both sides. But almost every sign I see points to "gone". I expect the press conference either tomorrow afternoon or Tuesday. I don't think they'll delay it too much closer to game time Thursday. I think it's all a done deal at this point, and here's hoping that it goes much smoother than the Solich dismissal.

The NIT Brackets are now out, and it's interesting that they put Nebraska and Creighton into separate brackets, so they couldn't meet until the semi-finals in New York. Creighton's game is scheduled for Friday night, but the Qwest Center is booked with Arena Cross. So will Creighton lose their home game, or will they get bumped to the Civic?

By the way, how close to the NCAA tournament was Creighton? Hint: They only managed a #2 seed in the NIT...

Is UNO Toast?

In the aftermath of this weekend's sweep by Northern Michigan, many Mav fans are thinking that the season is over.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra:
It ain't over till it's over.
UNO fell to 14th in the Pairwise ratings. And USCHO's latest Bracketology has them the last team out. But look a little closer: Who is the last team in? New Hampshire, a team UNO beat 5-3 in October. Also, note that USCHO has given an automatic berth to Dartmouth, who still must win the ECAC tournament this weekend. If #5 Cornell or #8 Harvard wins the ECAC, then they get the automatic bid and UNO could move from "last team out" to "last team in".

Another game of interest include Denver vs. Minnesota-Duluth tonight. Denver is lurking just under UNO in the Pairwise, so the sooner they are eliminated, the better.

Those PairWise ratings also do not take into consideration the NCAA's bonuses for "good wins"; when applying some suggested bonus values (.003/.002/.001) to the Pairwise, they move to a tie with New Hampshire.

Bottom line: UNO is on the NCAA bubble. Much like Creighton basketball, they need some things to work out in their favor to get in the tournament.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Implosion at Marquette

UNO gets swept by Northern Michigan this weekend, losing 4-1 last night and 3-2 tonight. Not only did that knock UNO out of the CCHA playoff chase, but it also may prove to be a mortal wound in UNO's NCAA tournament chances. Their PairWise rating plummetted to 14th, which puts them on the outside of the NCAA tournament bubble.

UNO still might find a way to sneak in, though they will need help over the next week. Lots of scenarios out there that can help UNO's strength of schedule and also hoping that teams below UNO in the PairWise ratings don't win their conference championships and get automatic bids.

In many respects, UNO is in the same predicament as Creighton; blowing chunks in their conference tournament and hoping and praying that somehow they might still get in the tournament. At least Creighton knows they will play again, as there is an NIT in basketball.

Speaking of basketball and the NIT, the Husker basketball team sure made things interesting down at the Big XII tournament by beating both Missouri and #19 Oklahoma before sucumbing once again to Kansas. It now looks like Nebraska is in the NIT, which will delay the anticipated coaching change a little while longer. I've heard rumors on all sides, but the strongest ones seem to indicate that Barry Collier has agreed to a buyout of his contract.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Jerad Kaufmann's Biggest Save

Last summer, Mav fans all over town were anxiously awaiting this hockey season. A 4th place finish in the league with a team loaded with talented freshmen and sophomores led to visions of greatness for this season.

Then the New York Rangers came in and made goalie Chris Holt an offer he just couldn't resist. Hard to blame Holt, but it sure put UNO in an awkward position. The only returning goalie for UNO had a rough freshman year. So all eyes were on the goaltender position as the season opened up.

Sophomore Eric Aarnio started the season, but was injured after his second game. True freshman Greg Barrett, signed after Holt left, played inconsistently in his first few games. Then, against Bowling Green, coach Kemp gave freshman Jerad Kaufmann a shot, and he grabbed hold of the position. He played well enough to keep the starting job through November and December.

Then came January, and hit his stride, shutting out Ohio State in Columbus. His hot streak coincided with UNO's hot streak, and UNO rode Kaufmann up the standings to where they are today. While Hobey Baker candidate Scott Parse is clearly the star of this squad, Kaufmann is the unsung hero.

In today's Omaha World-Herald, Chad Purcell covers Kaufmann's journey from his recruitment as the "practice goalie" (door opener???) to leading UNO into the NCAA tournament.

Let's compare Kaufmann's numbers in his rookie year to his predecessors final year, who have both played in the NHL:
Dan Ellis (2002-03) 11-21-5, .900 save percentage, 3.18 goals allowed/game
Chris Holt (2004-05) 19-14-4, .903 save percentage, 2.88 goals allowed/game
Jared Kaufmann (2005-06) 17-8-6, .907 save percentage, 2.72 goals allowed/game

Exceeding expectations would be a quite an understatement. Kaufmann's biggest save was with UNO's dream season.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Haven't we seen this before?

Northern Michigan's Puckheads are busy trolling the Maverick nation in preparation for this weekend's 2nd round of the CCHA playoffs. Northern practically needs to clinch the Mason Cup to advance to the NCAA tournament, while College Hockey News feels UNO is a lock to get a bid at this point.

Thanks to the CCHA's tie-breaker mechanism, this series is in Marquette instead of Omaha. 4 week ago, UNO travelled to Northern Michigan and swept the Wildcats 2-1 then 8-3. The Puckheads point to their subsequent sweeps of Lake Superior State and Ohio State as evidence that the Wildcats have turned it around.

Only problem with that logic is that the Lakers and Buckeyes tanked down the stretch; the Lakers going winless in their last 7 (losing 6) and the Buckeyes losing 8 out of their last 10.

The Olympic sized ice at NMU is an advantage to UNO's high flying offensive players. Scott Parse, the nation's leading scorer, scored 4 points a month ago, and freshman Tomas Klempa is back in the lineup after missing the first series.

Creighton Brie Whining on the Hilltop

I see Creighton has already started the whining up on the Hilltop as they watch their NCAA tournament chances fading away. Limping through the month of February after Josh Dotzler's injury, they now hope to sneak into the NCAA tournament on the new-found respect for the Missouri Valley conference.

Is that respect earned? It depends. In the Valley's defense, they are a pretty good mid-major conference. Maybe the best of them. But after watching some of that conference tournament and some selected games this season, it's pretty obvious that the Missouri Valley is not on the same level as the "BCS Conferences". And was that championship game between Bradley and Southern Illinois tough to watch or what? Dennis Dodd summed it up best:
"Everybody's favorite mid-major topped off a weekend of physical, ugly and almost traumatic basketball with more of the same."

I've watched the Missouri Valley tournament for years, and thought the sights of fans jumping around in a mostly empty Saavis Center with their silly "Missouri Valley Champs" signs was pretty humorous. It's nice to win your conference title, but let's face it, the Missouri Valley is still a mid-major conference. A very improved Valley, that's for sure. But, the RPI gives the Valley much more respect than they deserve. And Monday morning, I bet the brass at CBS were thinking the same thing.

Creighton is pinning their hopes on their victories of George Mason (who? They lost in the semis of the Colonial Conference tournament), Nebraska, and Xavier (tenth in the A-10). Well, shoot, if we're going to name drop, Nebraska beat Marquette (4th in the Big East) and Oklahoma and we know Nebraska isn't even remotely close to the tournament.

I really admire what Dana Altman has done at Creighton. He's one of the best coaches in the country. He did an excellent job with his best player out for the season, and his next-best player out for the past month. But, Creighton is what Creighton is. A decent team in a mid-major conference. Last year, they had to win the Missouri Valley tournament to get in. This year, their hopes are fading.

Are we setting up for another NIT rematch of Nebraska and Creighton? Hard to say, especially since the NIT is now set up with brackets and seedings. In the past, they tried to set up matchups like NU/CU to sell tickets, but with the NCAA running the show, that might not be in the cards for this year.

Monday, March 06, 2006

More Bulletin Board Material from Billy C

This morning, Bill Callahan decided to put some reading material up on Kansas State's bulletin board at the Special Olympics breakfast:

“We want players who want us, because we feel Nebraska’s a special, special situation,” Callahan said during his keynote speech at a Special Olympics fund-raising breakfast in Omaha. “If you’re a prima donna, if you’re a drama queen, there’s no room for you at Nebraska. You can go to Kansas State.”

Compared with some of his previous comments (Hillbillies, Dumbest Team), this one is pretty mild. And while I agree that Nebraska is a special place, there's no need to keep bashing Josh Freeman. This is Nebraska, and losing a quarterback recruit to Kansas State isn't worth getting worked up over. We're bigger than that.

This is Nebraska. Let's act that way.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Barf: Expecting a Collier Resignation?

In this morning's World Herald, Lee Barfknecht writes that several basketball "boosters of substance" (Bill Byrne's words, not mine or Lee's) expect Barry Collier to resign at the end of the season with a negotiated settlement.

Barf also mentions Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott as a candidate for the Nebraska job. Northern Iowa recently gave McDermott a raise, even though their athletic director seems to be encouraging McDermott to move to Nebraska. McDermott started his coaching career at Wayne State.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hobey Baker!

UNO completed their sweep of Bowling Green tonight with another 4-2 victory. In the 3rd period, Hobey Baker
candidate Scott Parse teamed with linemate Bill (L or "Hot Sauce", your choice) Thomas to score a sweet highlight reel goal that ended up being the deciding score in the game.

Next up for UNO is Northern Michigan in Marquette, Michigan; last month, the Mavs went up to Marquette and swept sending NMU Puckhead Emeritus Mojo into the hospital. Here's hoping for a repeat, except of course that the only heart problems Mojo has is a broken heart...

UNO's loss last week at Western Michigan looks a little better after the Broncos went to Sault Ste. Marie and swept Lake Superior State. But, more and more, it looks like the trend of playing up or down to the perception of the opponent continued last week and to some extent, last night. If that trend holds, UNO should be in good shape; they won't be seeing anybody that UNO could "play down to" from here on out.

The sweep of the Falcons, combined with the Nanooks sweep of Notre Dame boosted UNO's PairWise rating back to a tie for 5th with Michigan State. UNO may have just punched their NCAA tournament bid tonight, though there's still 2 weeks of hockey left to prove it. (And not to mention their seeding...)

And let's go back to the man of the evening: Scott Parse. With his sweet goal in the 3rd, Parse became UNO's all-time leading scorer, passing David Brisson.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How Many Licks Does It Take?

Hockey fans know that there is NOTHING like playoff hockey; everything gets kicked up a few notches. And these 2 teams already are 2 of the top 3 scoring teams in the league: UNO with 133 goals and Bowling Green with 120 goals. The big difference is in defense; UNO has given up 116 goals while the Tootsie Rolls have given up 139.

Back in early November, Bowling Green swept UNO, and they hope to repeat that feat. However, things have really changed in the last 4 months. In the Friday night game, Bowling Green blasted freshman Greg Barrett for 6 goals in the first 2 periods. Saturday night, freshman Jerad Kaufmann got to make his first start for UNO and lost 4-3. Since the Christmas break, Kaufmann has become a solid goaltender, putting up numbers similar to his predecessors Dan Ellis and Chris Holt, both who have seen action in the NHL.

Meanwhile, both teams feature players in the top 10 in scoring in all of college hockey. Hobey Baker candidate Scott Parse leads the nation, while BG's Alex Foster is tied for 2nd. The Mav's Bill Thomas and BG's Jonathan Matsumoto are tied for 8th.

UNO's weakness this season has been against the tight defensive teams, while they have flourished when the ice opens up. And with offenses like this, things will definitely open up.

Speaking of the NHL, they've noticed UNO stepping things up this season, ranking them #10 in the country and featuring them in an "On Campus" story.

How many licks does it take to the Tootsie Roll center and pop the BG bubble? One Friday night, and one Saturday night. Go Mavs!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brokeback Falcon

The average sports fan in Omaha probably wouldn't name Bowling Green as a rival. Heck, most aren't even aware where the heck Bowling Green is.

And when UNO applied to join the CCHA, they certainly weren't a rival.

But something happened along the way. Namely, Scott Hewson decided to goon up the Civic Auditorium and "welcome" the Mavs to the CCHA back in the 1998-99 season. And the rivalry was on.

The rivalry intensified in the Mavs inaugural season in the 2000 CCHA playoffs "play-in game" when UNO defeated Bowling Green to qualify for the CCHA semi-finals in a game forever memorialized as "Tuesday Night"; quite possibly the loudest sporting event ever held at the Civic Auditorium.

Then last year, 7 Bowling Green players were suspended after a team hazing incident where a teammate was photographed naked with profanity and racial slurs written across the victim's body. They were reinstated just in time to play UNO. Hence, the birth of the "Where's my Sharpie???" chant.

Remembering 5 years back to that memorable run, it featured defeating Bowling Green in Omaha, and Northern Michigan in Marquette, MI en route to the Joe Louis Arena and the CCHA semi-finals. Will history repeat itself?