Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm / Updated at 6:15 pm
Barfknecht: Huskers hoops coach Tim Miles joins ranks of NU-torious club

LINCOLN — Tim Miles has officially been welcomed to the Nebraska basketball coaching club.

In his second season, Miles has a signature moment — which sounds like a good deal, except in Husker hoops parlance it means a game you'd just as soon not have your name associated with.

Most previous coaches had two burned-in-the-memory notables: one early in their tenure, and one late.

Danny Nee had a home loss to 1-9 Grambling State in his second year and a 39-point undressing at No. 8 Oklahoma State in his 14th and final season.

Barry Collier had enough to fill a book. Among them: a third-year loss to Division II Alaska-Fairbanks and a 42-point blowout in his sixth and final season to unranked Kansas, the fifth-worst setback in NU history.

Doc Sadler's first season included a 43-8 deficit after 18 minutes in a Big Monday home game against No. 6 Kansas. (KU won 76-56). In his sixth and final season, Nebraska suffered its worst home loss in history — 34 points — 79-45 to No. 6 Ohio State.

For Miles, the score “38-8” after 13 minutes will be his lasting memory and that of many who attended Sunday's game at Creighton. The unranked Bluejays coasted from there to an 82-67 victory.

From my view, it was the poorest showing by a Miles team in his 42 games at NU.

The Huskers suffered some larger-margin losses last season, but were excused because they often used as few as six or seven scholarship players. Never last year did the team look as star-struck and ill-prepared as Sunday.

The bug-eyed play wasn't a total shock.

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It was the first true road game for a team with seven scholarship newcomers. Of the returnees, only two had played in Omaha before.

One game hardly makes a season. But this should slow the emails and questions to my weekly chats about Nebraska (6-3) finishing in the top half of the Big Ten. A cold reality lies ahead, which Miles warned about before the season.

After home games Saturday against Arkansas State (5-2) and Dec. 21 against The Citadel (3-8), the Huskers will be decided underdogs in the next six games:

» Dec. 28 at Cincinnati (7-1), which is receiving votes in the Top 25.
» Dec. 31 at No. 23 Iowa (10-1).
» Jan. 4 at No. 3 Ohio State (9-0).
» Jan. 9 at home against Michigan (6-3), which is receiving votes.
» Jan. 12 at Purdue (8-2).
» Jan. 20 against Ohio State again, this time in Lincoln.

If those games all go to form, the Huskers would be below .500 by the third week of January.

Remember, “quick fix” and “Nebraska basketball” have never appeared in the same sentence. Too bad for NU the game to refresh that memory came against its in-state rival.

Other observations as the sporting scene shifts down a gear:

» A big irony to the Big Ten football championship game is that Ohio State got beat by a team that employs the Buckeyes' old style of play.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is a staunch disciple of former OSU coach Jim Tressel. Dantonio worked five years under Tressel at Youngstown State and three more at Ohio State.

Dantonio is a strong adherent of “Tressel Ball,” in which defense and special teams are tied for first in importance in game plans, followed by the offense. By sticking to that philosophy, the Spartans are headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 26 years.

» Don't get fooled into thinking Ohio State's loss to Michigan State makes the Buckeyes just one of the pack in the Big Ten.

Urban Meyer has done phenomenal work to go 24-1 while integrating almost an entirely new staff and only one recruiting class. This is clearly the elite program in the Big Ten, and the depth of talent will ramp up even faster. All others had better pedal hard to try to keep up.

» Talk about a late scoring change. The box score from Nebraska's first game in the Charleston Classic has been revised to show Terran Petteway with 30 points instead of 28. That makes Petteway the 25th player in 118 years of Husker basketball to record a 30-point game.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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