Two N-Sider Tips for Men’s, Women’s Hoops

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Jordan Burroughs will speak about protecting your own personal brand.

By Randy York

Okay, here’s something you need to know before “Dunk City” invades the “Star City” in Friday night’s men’s basketball season opener at Pinnacle Bank Arena. One N-Sider Tip of the Day is make sure you’re in your seats early before the Huskers and Florida Gulf Coast tip off at 8 p.m. Better yet, set your DVR for at least the first 30 minutes of the nationally televised game on BTN, whether you’re going, watching at home or checking in after dining out. Trust me, you’ll thank me for that advice. It will be one magical moment after another. Even those who experience the pregame for Season One in live, living color and with the best screens and speaker system in college basketball, you’re going to want to hit the replay button at least once, if not more.

Now, here’s another solid N-Sider Tip of the Day – play a little hooky from work and treat the Nebraska-UCLA women’s noon tipoff at PBA as a very special Friday treat. Arena food is more than good, and this Top 25 season-opening matchup gives you the opportunity to help Nebraska make history. The No. 12 Huskers hosting the No. 25 Bruins promises to be the best women’s game of the day. Even if you can only skip work for a half to see the new arena and watch one of the world’s best young women’s  basketball players, Jordan Hooper, it’s worth your time and a few bucks out of your pocket. Do it. You’ll thank me, too.

More Than 4,300 Middle Schoolers Will Be at PBA

The crowd for the women’s game will surprise you because it will include more than 4,300 middle school kids and chaperones from the across Nebraska in what could be the state’s best field trip ever. There will be 530 kids and chaperones from Plattsmouth, 500 from Norris, 220 from Wahoo, 220 from North Bend Central, 183 from Beatrice, 171 from Lincoln North American Martyrs, 145 from Crete, 141 from Lincoln St. Joseph, 140 from Waverly and 100 from David City West. Thirty-six other schools also will participate in a Life Skills/Sportsmanship Pep Rally from 9:30-10:45 a.m. Friday inside the arena. All 4,326 middle school kids and their chaperones will eat lunch and join the loyal Nebraska women’s season ticket holders for Game One Presented by Ameritus

What a treat that will be with Keith Zimmer, Nebraska’s Associate Athletic Director of Life Skills, working with Larry Munksgaard, the Executive Director of the Nebraska High Schools Sports Hall of Fame. Last spring, an estimated 1,700 Waverly middle school students kicked off the first-ever Sportsmanship 4 Life Pep Rally. “The dramatic jump in attendance indicates that middle schools see the value in this assembly,” Munksgaard said. “Students have been impacted by the messages that Nebraska student-athletes and coaches share. It’s worked well for us because they help us promote our education mission of character and sportsmanship. Keith Zimmer and Husker student-athletes help us all prove that there really is no place like Nebraska.”

Miles Will Be One of Many Motivational Speakers

Last spring’s rally was so successful, the sequel has more than doubled in participation and features another captivating program, which will include a motivational message from Nebraska Head Basketball Coach Tim Miles. Husker Head Baseball Coach Darin Erstad also will inspire with his pride/work ethic message. Olympic Gold Medalist Jordan Burroughs will explain why it’s important to protect your personal brand. Husker hoopster Shavon Shields will focus on sportsmanship and respect. Former Husker women’s player Meghan Williams will talk about relationships. Nebraska softball player Mattie Fowler will encourage kids to “dream more, do more and become more”. And NCAA discus champion Chad Wright will zero in on “becoming a champion”. Acrodunk will show why it’s a national performance act, and Bathtub Dogs will provide musical entertainment. Even though three Nebraska football captains have to catch a plane for Ann Arbor Friday morning, Spencer Long, Quincy Enunwa and Ciante Evans, along with some younger players, will deliver their own messages through HuskerVision.

Several schools across the country are tapping into youth-focused basketball events to communicate positive messages and increase attendance, but no one seems to come close to matching the numbers Nebraska is reaching. Friday’s Husker women’s game will attract national attention from a Tweeter like Rebecca Lobo, who will follow the Nebraska-UCLA action. Brenda Van Lengen, a former University of Nebraska-Kearney player and Husker women’s assistant coach, is a national analyst for BTN, Fox and the WNBA. She will work the Friday noon game for NET. Who knows? She might even catch part of the pep rally, so she can reinforce what undoubtedly will become one of the best annual field trips in America.

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