Explaining The Grades:
Many schools would say its a bad thing when somebody says their offense was too "individualized" or too "one on one" oriented.
For diehard Husker Hoops junkies, however, these terms are music to our ears, for they mean that perhaps finally, we have seen an upgrade in our talent.
Of course, I'm talking about the play of Bo Spencer and Dylan Talley, who scored 22 and 7, respectively. Throwing Talley's name out there seems a bit odd on a 2-8 night, but if you have watched Husker Hoops for many years like we have, you know that Talley's importance to this team can't be understated. He was a bit off tonight, but as he learns more control, he is going to have many games like Spencer tonight. And it's so nice having guys who both crave AND are capable of taking the big shot.
And let's not forget the local boy, Brandon Richardson, who is our Player of the Game after tying a career high with 4 three pointers and coming up with the steal of the game.
Oh, and how about Toney McCray, who stepped up to the line and knocked down four clutch free throws. Had he missed any of the four, the Huskers lose.
While we're on the topic of free throws, NU shot 74% for the game, or 17-23. If they keep this kind of shooting up, they will be in the NCAA Tournament this year. Had they not hit their free throws, it would have been the same old close road loss. (ask USC, who shot 55% tonight and left 10 points at the foul line. That's the Huskers we've known in recent years)
Bad news tonight - that it took well over 43 minutes to score 50 points. That has to improve.
But I'm too proud of our effort tonight and excited about the ability to have scorers who can create, so I'll turn a blind side to it for now.
It was the Maurice Jones show for the Trojans, but the Huskers did quite a good job at holding him to 18 points. Jones connected on less than 30% of his field goal attempts (6-22) and the Huskers had great rotations off of their double teams and cheats.
Nebraska was quick all night long at defending ball rotations and really, had NU not given up a few cheap second chance points off of offensive rebounds, would have held USC to well under 50 points in regulation.
Just 33% from the field tonight for SC.
Nebraska out boarded the Trojans 43 to 36, but did allow USC to garner 11 offensive rebounds, including some key ones that led to points (as mentioned above).
However, anytime you can go on the road and out rebound an NIT team by 7, that is a good thing.
Solid job by the NU bigs, including Jorge Brian Diaz, who brought down 8 boards while playing a warrior like 43 minutes. Yes, for as negative as I was about him last report card, I was as positive tonight. He played with guts and without fear, had some huge blocked shots, some huge rebounds and some big points. His free throw shooting looked a bit better, too.
Nebraska did great in the first half, turning the ball over just 6 times.
However, during the second half of regulation, the 'Skers amassed 10 turnovers, en route to 19 for the game.
Obviously, it goes without saying that NU needs to stay at 15 or less. I believe fatigue played a big role in this one, as the turnover bug didn't really hit until the last 10 minutes of regulation.
Doc made some real nice calls out of timeouts and did a great job of managing timeouts.
His rotations were nearly spot on tonight, although again, Mike Fox in a game situation, double OT, after not playing the entire night?
But let's quit beating that horse dead.
Let's instead look at the fact that NU just went into USC and defeated the #7 team in the Pac 12, or a solid NIT team. It wasn't pretty, and Doc will be the first to tell you his team must get a LOT better, but the Huskers kept battling, played GREAT defense and made free throws.
If we're going to give Doc "C's" when we lose a close game like this, he damn well better get an "A" when NU pulls out a huge road win.
Kudos to Doc.
Should it be an "A"? Probably. After all, as the late great Al Davis says, "just win, baby."
However, we need to remember that NU was VERY LUCKY to win this game. Not quite Philip Rivers against the Chiefs on Monday night lucky, but somewhere in that ballpark.
USC had this game in its win column on many occasions, but missed way too many free throws, missed a few open shots that were nails in the coffin, etc.
Granted, they did have an extremely biased officiating crew and a guy who liked to call fouls 35 feet from the basket when USC was shooting, that the other two refs weren't calling, but still.
Congrats to the Skers and see you at the Devaney on Sunday!