By Randy York
A famous comedian once said you can’t teach timing because it’s something you have to hear in your head. Well, clear your heads out, Husker fans, because we have a Code Red Alert screaming for your attention this weekend – two nationally televised college basketball games in Year No. 37, the final season inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. So strike up the band with Hail Varsity, throw in some March of Corn and finish the weekend off with the Nebraska Fight Song, a Husker Power cheer and a salute to a retiring athletic director shortly after you hear a stirring National Anthem from the only Husker football player ever to have that honor inside Memorial Stadium.
What we have here in Nebraska’s Capital City for the first weekend of 2013 is a women’s basketball rivalry considered so sizzling hot that the Huskers will make their first-ever appearance on CBS-TV at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. It’s a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship Game against Purdue, prompting Matt Coatney to categorize the showdown as another possible epic battle between the Huskers and the Boilermakers, and why wouldn’t the voice of Nebraska women’s basketball use that wondrous word to describe this budding rivalry? I mean, last year’s two NU-Purdue games even left me speechless.
I was driving home from a 2012 TeamMates banquet listening to Coatney and Jeff Griesch on the radio when Emily Cady drilled an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer to force a third overtime in the Huskers’ 93-89 win over the Boilermakers in West Lafayette. Listening to the Coatney’s call, I almost drove off Normal Blvd. (The previous link includes game highlights, including Cady’s one moment in time that begins at the 3-minute, 25-second mark). That hard-fought triple overtime thriller was followed by another epic – Purdue’s 74-70 double-overtime triumph over Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. (Watch Griesch and Connie Yori discuss that game in the previous link).
Coatney, Griesch Recall Rivalry’s Memorable Moments
Life is all about timing. My wife and I were visiting my daughter and her family in Jacksonville, Fla., when that Big Ten Championship Game was played, so I made sure I watched the televised feed on a computer with the sound turned down while listening to Coatney’s call and Griesch’s analysis.
This much is certain. Even though Coatney concedes that rivalries are forged over a number of years, Nebraska-Purdue already qualifies because they’ve played a two-game series and the score is tied, 163-163. If that’s not enough, understand that two Nebraska High School Players of the Year will be wearing different uniforms for this bruising basketball battle. Alliance native Jordan Hooper (2008) is Nebraska’s leading scorer (19.1 ppg) and leading rebounder (8.6 rpg), and Lincoln native K.K. Houser is Purdue’s second leading scorer (12.4 ppg).
Did we mention that this will be Purdue’s first and last-ever appearance at The Devaney before the rivalry moves to Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena? Please credit CBS for scheduling two nationally prominent and currently ranked teams well in advance. And here’s hoping you choose to do what we’re doing Saturday: Setting the DVR on CBS, so after we watch the game live and in person at The Devaney, we can come home and catch our favorite parts of Saturday’s historic game again.
Steels Will Sing; Miles Will Honor Man Who Hired Him
Saturday’s game can serve as an emotional springboard for Sunday’s Nebraska men’s Big Ten basketball home opener against Wisconsin. The Huskers will wear red adidas jerseys similar to the ones worn by NBA teams on Christmas Day. Later this season, Nebraska will wear 1976-77 throwback jerseys that commemorate NU’s first season in the Devaney Center for the Legends Weekend against Michigan State on Saturday, Feb. 16. Former Husker star Tyronn Lue will be inducted into the Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame at halftime of that 7 p.m. game.
If the timing’s right and the basketball gods are with us, something special is going to happen for the Husker men Sunday when first-year Husker coach Tim Miles makes a presentation to NU Athletic Director Emeritus Tom Osborne after one of his former players, Anthony Steels, sings the National Anthem. Steels is the only Husker player in history to sing the National Anthem inside Memorial Stadium.
As a bonus for a growing basketball fan base, the Alexandria Aces, one of the nation’s more popular halftime acts, will perform at halftime for both Saturday’s Nebraska-Purdue game and Sunday’s Husker-Badger battle. So use the links above, buy and print your tickets asap and get to The Devaney as early as possible. Your timing, after all, is an important part of making the experience memorable.
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