Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Nebrasketball Is Painful to Watch

I've been a Nebraska basketball fan since the Joe Cipriano era. Carl McPipe, Andre Smith, Brian Banks, the late Jack Moore. Those were the guys I grew up with, though never watching much, except when the Huskers got a TVS game on TV.  More often than not, it was listening to Kent Pavelka on my Soundesign radio.

But this century has really put a damper on my interest. Part of it is my interest in UNO hockey.  But it's also the woeful state of Nebraska basketball for much of the last twenty years. Barry Collier wasn't the answer, and Doc Sadler wasn't either. And frankly, I'm not convinced Tim Miles is the answer either.

In Tuesday's Omaha World-Herald, Lee Barfknecht pointed out some damning statistics about the current state of Nebraska basketball:
Miles has coached 92 games at Nebraska. The rate of his teams scoring less than 50 points in regulation: 15.2 percent. ["Slow" Moe] Iba coached 177 games at NU. His rate: 6.8 percent. And Iba worked just one year with a shot clock and none with the 3-point shot. Two other clod-hopper offenses — those under Doc Sadler and Barry Collier — produced 8.4 percent and 2.8 percent of games with less than 50 points.
Yes, I know that Miles pulled off a six-week miracle last season and got the Huskers into the NCAA tournament. And that was unbelievably awesome.  That's the upside that Miles gave us.  The downside is what we've seen the rest of the time.  How many times has Nebraska embarrassed themselves in the first half under Miles? This year, we've seen a couple of halftime scores of 13...and Sunday's scoring explosion of 16 points.

This isn't to call for Miles' head, or putting him on any sort of hot seat. But by that same reasoning, people simply have to stop saying things like "Nebraska basketball is on an upswing."

Because it's not.

I'm going to be patient with Miles.  It's only year three, and Miles has some interesting players in the wings for next season, starting with Kansas transfer Andrew White.  There's no point in hitting the panic button at this point, just like it was silly to prematurely canonize Miles last season either.

On Sunday, my Twitter feed filled up with lots of references to Bo Pelini, as if that somehow makes the situation better. It doesn't.  Barfknect had a nice quote about the notion, though his pot shot at users of Twitter and Facebook was ill-informed:
Second, the Twitter and Facebook chatter about Miles being on the hot seat supports Charles Barkley’s argument that social media is the best place for people to prove their stupidity. That goes double for those who reference Nebraska football when discussing basketball.
It's rather ironic that Barfknecht would double-down on references to football in basketball discussions proving "stupidity" when he did that very thing last April.
What those officials won't say publicly but is heard behind the scenes is they want the football program to learn something from Miles, and fast.
(Calling Barfknecht out on that one last April earned me a Twitter block from the World-Herald's beat-writer...I guess he showed me that he wasn't as Twitter-inept as I claimed he was.)

I started out skeptical of the Tim Miles hire, and he has set off my "Bill Callahan-BS" detector more than once. I thought last season had proven me wrong, but this season has me walking back to my original concerns.

Is Miles the right coach for Nebraska? I don't know, but frankly, it doesn't really matter at this point. He is the coach, and he deserves much more time to figure out how to turn this thing around.  But let's do us all a favor and turn off the "savior" talk for now...if only to hold off the backlash if Nebraska doesn't return to 2013-14 levels in the next couple of years.

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