Nebraska lost to another Pac 10 team on the road Saturday night, this time to Oregon State, 64-63.  Nebraska was led by seniors Ade Dagunduro and Steve Harley, who combined for 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals.  Freshman Toney McCray and senior Paul Velander scored 13 and 9 points respectively for the Huskers.  For the Oregon State Beavers, Omari Johnson, Calvin Haynes, and Daniel Deane combined for 46 points and 21 points in the victory. 

Nebraska again struggled to find an offensive identity and was outrebounded 40-25.  Nebraska appeared to have the win as Ade Dagunduro flushed down a pair of free throws to take a 1-point lead with 10.9 seconds remaining.  Nebraska was whistled for a foul while trying to apply pressure as Oregon State tried to bring the ball down the court.  Oregon State’s Daniel Deane hit both free throws and the Beavers regained a 1-point lead with 8 seconds remaining.  Nebraska rushed the ball down the court and Cookie Miller penetrated the Oregon State defense, but a pass to Ade Dagunduro was deflected by an Oregon State defender.  With 1.1 seconds left, Nebraska entered the ball into Dagunduro who put up a floating jumper that just missed as the buzzer sounded. 

Breakdown: 

What’s with the officiating?  What official calls that foul against Nebraska at the end of the game?  That was a loose ball, kids were trying to gain possession.  That was terrible, as were several other calls down the stretch of that game.  Get used to it, the Big 12 officials are even worse.  Besides, horrible calls or not, what the hell is Nebraska doing in a cat fight against Oregon State?  The game should have been decided before the end of the game.  Period. 

Oregon State played their best game of the season.  Their game plan centered around taking advantage of Nebraska’s lack of an inside presence.  They were able to draw many fouls on Nebraska defenders by punching the ball inside and slashing to basket when they had the opportunity.  Nebraska played their worse game of the season defensively and perhaps their 2nd worst game offensively.  The intensity on defense was missing for chunks of the game.  Many times throughout the game, Nebraska’s help defense was a step too late.  Also, there were times where Nebraska didn’t move their feat on defense and reverted back to Barry Collier’s patented “grab-and-slap” defense.  You could just see the frustration on Doc Sadler’s face tonight with some of the defensive effort.  Perhaps it was a hangover from the Arizona State game.  Whatever it was, this team can not afford to have gaps throughout the game where we don’t play well defensively.  Maybe in 2 years where we can put up 75 points a game, but certainly not this year. 

Nebraska still struggled offensively, but it was better than last week.  We are starting to learn how to play against a zone.  Yes, you can beat a zone with passes on the outside when you have an inside presence.  We don’t have Maric this year though, that’s not going to work when teams start extending their zones and cheating towards the outside.  You have to get penetration, you have to collapse the defense.  As you penetrate, you have to send a cutter to the basket.  Sometimes you will get an easy bucket, sometimes the defense will collapse even further.  When it does, you kick out and reverse the ball for an open look.  That’s the only way this team can beat the zone defenses it will see this year.  We don’t have the post player to seal down low to run high-low zone busters.  This is the only way we can consistently score against some of these strictly zone teams.  Virtually every team from here on out is going to run some type of outward zone on us.  Nebraska is just a hard team to play man-to-man against, we have too many quick guards and we can draw their post players out on the perimeter and get some huge mismatches.  The sooner we can learn to defeat the zone, the better off we are going to be because we are about to see a lot of it in the upcoming months. 

For all those Husker fans out there who said, “Maric just slows us down” and “Maric misses too many bunnies, we will be fine without him”, here is a large plate of crow.  We really do miss him, he meant an awful lot to this team.  I’ll put it this way, if Maric was granted another year of eligibility and was on the roster this season, we would be an NCAA Tournament team.  With Maric, we blow Oregon State out by 20+ points and go down to the wire with Arizona State.  That’s how big of difference he made.  Just the mere presence of Maric would give our guards so much more space to work with.  Just imagine this team with Maric.  I would love to see Harley, Ade, and McCray this year with Maric asserting his will on the low blocks.  I know, I know, it’s the past.  I just wanted to illustrate how much a viable post player would mean to this team and show the loss of Maric was much larger than many thought. 

Sek Henry drives me insane.  This kid is so good.  Most people don’t understand how good this kid actually is.  That’s why it kills me to see him drop 4 points in a game like this.  Did you all see his 4 points though?  He just took it upon himself to drive the lane, attack the basket, and score.  Why is this only happening twice a game?  He could be easily doing this 5-8 times a game.  Sek may have been the most talented player on the court last night, why is he not asserting himself?  Could be a reason why Doc has rode him into the ground in practice the past 2 years.  Maybe Doc has just given up and finally accepted that Sek won’t be the type of player he could be.  

Alonzo Edwards needs to get more minutes at this point.  In the next 5 games, we need to really work on developing him.  Alonzo came in and played a couple of decent minutes tonight, Doc pulled him out both times because of stupid fouls.  We also need to get Alex Chapman ready to go before conference play.  Diaz, if he gets here, probably won’t give us any more than Alonzo can give us at this point. 

Toney McCray is going to be one heck of a player for us down the road.  It will be fun to watch him develop the next 4 years.    


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