Basketball Post Season Musings

As we wind down the collegiate basketball season, there are a couple of big things to still play out. It is time to reflect on the win and loss record of your favorite team and look forward to post season tournaments, or other moves for your favorite squad…which might be a change of venue.

The high schoolers in my area have just wrapped up their state titles, and in Lincoln, Nebraska, that also brings an end to the Bob Devaney Sportscenter.

Smoke Em if you Got Em.

LIL' RED Nebraska Husker mascot

LIL’ RED

Affectionately called “The Bob” the Basketball arena is in fact a multi-use facility. It house the swimming and diving programs for the University of Nebraska, was home to some Olympians and NCAA titles for Gymnastics, and has one of the fastest and best indoor track facilities in the country.

These sports are not as mainstream for the fans, so it was also known as the basketball arena.

A little known fact is that the construction of the building was under a bunch of scrutiny from the get go. The building was built at a cost of under 14 million dollars (of course remember this was the early 70’s and that was a LOT more money then) Most all of the funding was provided by cigarette taxes in the State of Nebraska. Ironically the Devaney Center has always been a non-smoking facility.

Nebraska landscape 07-25-2012

Nebraska

The place was truly state of the art on the National level when it opened in 1976. Over the years the Bob hosted 3 different NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games ( in 1980-84 and 88) Many who had visited the Devaney Center did so after the heyday of Nebraska basketball, or as longtime fans call it….NeeBrasketball, after coach Danny Nee.

In 1986 Nee was hired to replace Moe Iba, the son of legendary basketball mind Henry “ Hank” Iba. Nee coached the Huskers from 1986 to 2000. In his tenure, Nebraska became a team to be reckoned with in the conference, as they went to 5 NCAA tournaments, and won the NIT tourney in 1996. There has not been as much success at Nebraska before or since the Nee years.

The crowds in those days, and even during the highlight of the Iba years often exceeded capacity by 1,000 or more. It was standing room only. The place was loud, and it was a great building to watch a game.

I should know, my dad has had season tickets since the place was built…and I have attended most every one of those 595 games over 37 years.

Bye Bye Birdie

Pope in Fatima

Introducing the new Big East commish

With the new Catholic 7 league…which will evidently use the Big East name, 7 schools DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Villanova have agreed to be in the new conference. There are a host of other schools that are hoping to be asked. Among those rumored to be are schools such as Butler, Xavier and, most likely, Creighton. It is also expected that Dayton and St. Louis would come into the party in 2014.

Suddenly my Blue Bird friends of a Creighton Feather talk about the Missouri Valley – , a conference they have been so proud of for so long, – as a second rate citizen. Sport talk radio in Omaha is already planning trips to the Big Apple, and is talking about the fantastic match ups on the basketball court.

This makes me realize how much Husker fans scorned the old Big XII, and how much they lauded the Big 10 when they were leaving just a couple of years ago. Of course the main difference is the Huskers were eating at the big kid’s table already.

Creighton has traditionally had some very good basketball teams over the years, and the Mo Valley is likely one of the more heralded mid-major conferences. But playing the likes of Evansville, Northern Iowa and Illinois State is a long way from playing Villanova, Georgetown, and Marquette night in and night out.

While you might enjoy seeing a much higher level of talent and athleticism coming to your arena 10 times a year, you also better forget the days of the 20 wins season. You won’t be rolling along as the league favorite any time soon with those teams on your league schedule.

Until Next time, get those pencils sharpened for Selection Sunday, and may your brackets be full of correct upset winners.

 

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Johnny Goodman writes a weekly sports column for The Soap Boxers. His articles can be found in The Goodman File.

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