N-Side Tip: See the Arena, Watch a Superstar


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By Randy York

Every once in a while, The N-Sider has a guaranteed tip. We know fans can only measure opportunity with the same yardstick that measures the risk involved, and the good thing about our tip is there is no risk involved. Whether you’ve seen the new Pinnacle Bank Arena or not and whether you choose to buy a bargain-basement priced women’s season basketball ticket or don’t, my tip is a simple one: Take the time to attend the Big Red Tip-Off Tuesday Event for women’s basketball. It’s a two-hour commitment tomorrow night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and please consider this a prime-time invitation to see and to get a taste of one of America’s best basketball arenas. At the same time, you will be able to watch one of the NCAA’s top-tier female hoopsters – Jordan Hooper, who will showcase skills sharpened in Nebraska’s remote Sandhills all the way up to All-American and 2013 World Championship gold medal status.

Playing Let’s Make a Deal isn’t Coach Connie Yori’s style, but Nebraska’s 2010 National Coach of the Year couldn’t resist beginning her Monday press conference with a promotional plug that goes beyond a historic season in a new arena. “I’m putting a little bit of pressure on our fans,” she said, encouraging them “to make sure they get tickets” for a double-dog good reason – first to watch a team that returns four starters from its 2013 Sweet 16 squad and secondly, to watch whichever team will emerge from the recently announced NCAA regional that Nebraska will host in Lincoln from March 29th through April 1st, 2014.

Imagine the impact one opportunity might have on another. Hooper is one of Nebraska’s greatest players ever and making the USA world team was “quite a coup for her and for our program,” Yori said, admitting that life will be different without Lindsey Moore, Hooper’s perpetual sidekick, feeding her the basketball. The Huskers have achieved a lot of things, including Moore going on to play a role for the Minnesota Lynx team that just won the WNBA Championship.

Moore’s ascent and Hooper’s corresponding climb coincided with the finishing touches applied to Pinnacle Bank Arena. Hosting a regional is a significant opportunity. “It’s something that we really weren’t necessarily expecting,” Yori said, adding that Nebraska Athletics’ original bid was for first-round and second-round 2014 NCAA Tournament games. Sheer luck landed the more glamorized and more pressurized opportunity to produce one of the NCAA’s Final Four qualifiers, but now that the unexpected has happened, it’s time to step up and meet the challenge. Even though the Huskers “were really surprised” to host a regional, “the great thing about Nebraskans”, Yori said, is taking that luck and making the most of it. “We can be great at anything,” Yori said before answering her own question if Husker fans don’t respond to such a challenge. “We probably won’t see something like that come back here again,” she said, and I would add that her candor needs to be shared.  

Tuesday’s event is free of charge and gives fans a chance to inspect the arena, to see where their seats are located or to purchase specific seats for a promising 2013-14 season. Thanks to a current marketing campaign, Nebraska has increased its season ticket sales by more than 1,000 over last year’s total and is close to having 3,200 season ticketholders. The campaign for season tickets ends on Friday, Nov.8 – the same date the Huskers will tip off the regular-season against UCLA. Season tickets begin at $80 for general admission seats and $160 for reserved seats. Fans who support Tuesday night’s Big Red Tipoff Event will get the chance to meet Husker players and coaches and get their autographs.

In the last four years of the NCAA Tournament, Yori has guided two teams to the Sweet 16. She’s excited about Lincoln hosting its first NCAA basketball event in 20 years and sees the opportunity for the city of Lincoln and the state of Nebraska to enhance its reputation for supporting a big-time event. Our N-Sider tip to Tuesday’s Tipoff carries this reminder – all Husker women’s basketball season ticket holders will get the first opportunity to purchase Lincoln Regional tickets. Again, no pressure. But in the minds of serious Nebraska sports fans who want to see the Huskers compete on a national level, no-brainer, too.

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