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By Randy York
With the Big Ten Conference women’s basketball standings as jumbled as a whole row of Scrabble letters falling off the kitchen table, the league’s youngest team needs a little help from its friends. Nebraska welcomes the support of its loyal fan base Thursday night when the 19-5 Huskers host 13-12 Northwestern. It’s Pepsi Pack the House Night at the Devaney Center. General admission tickets are just $1, and UNL students will be admitted free. Once inside, fans can buy 24-ounce Pepsi products for $1 and 32-ounce drinks in Souvenir Cups for $2.
There’s one other major lure for families to pack up the car, load up the van or crowd into the SUV and head to Antelope Creek Valley Parkway: The Inflatamaniacs will meet and greet them. They will perform and entertain them, and they will help make a memorable night as the Huskers try to climb back into the thick of a Big Ten race that looks like this: Penn State in first place at 10-3; Ohio State and Purdue tied for second place with identical 9-3 records; Nebraska in fourth-place and still in contention at 8-4.
What’s an Inflatamaniac? Think Lil’ Red. Inflatamaniacs are four cool kids and their fictitious friends. There’s 8-foot-tall Hollywood, the leader because of the way he dances and his stage presence. There’s Ice, who’s barely 6-foot-tall. She’s “The Prima Ballerina” as well as Hollywood’s girlfriend and dance partner. G Money is the rough-and-tough intimidator of the group with his own unique groove and style. Last, but certainly not least, is Munchie, the make-believe imaginary friend of the Inflatamaniacs. Munchie likes to eat anything in his path, and he’s always hungry. Think Cookie Monster.
The Inflatamaniacs are coming off trips to Milwaukee, Charlotte and Palm Springs. They’re fitting Lincoln into the schedule before heading to Atlanta, Tampa, Myrtle Beach, Louisville, Colorado Springs, New Orleans, Memphis, Madison and on and on. Andy Wenstrand from NU’s athletic marketing staff tells me kids will love the Inflatamaniacs because Hollywood and his friends will greet them at the door, entertain them twice, including halftime, and they will mingle with the crowd in between. Think Photo Day.
In case you’re wondering, in the graphic above, Munchie (left) and Hollywood (right) flank Lindsey Moore, Nebraska’s versatile point guard. Moore, of course, directs an offense that features Jordan Hooper, a Double-Double Maniac because she leads the Big Ten in rebounding and ranks second in scoring despite being just a sophomore. Based on total number of minutes played through its first 12 conference games, Nebraska is indeed the league’s youngest team. Not to be forgotten on this special night is NU head coach Connie Yori, who will seek her fourth 20-win season in six years, nearly half of Nebraska’s all-time total of 13 20-win seasons.
In addition to Pepsi Pack the House Night Thursday, the Husker women will benefit from another marketing promotion Sunday when they host Wisconsin in a 1 p.m. tip-off. The afternoon is being billed as Play4Kay Day to support breast cancer. The first 1,000 Nebraska fans will receive pink pom-poms, and all fans are encouraged to wear pink on Sunday.
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