To my adoring fans, I apologize. We're in a dead period for sports talk but now will start to heat up a bit with Husker Baseball opening up this weekend.
THE HOT LIST:
1. Husker Baseball: Game 3
2. Husker Basketball Woes: What will it take next year?
3. Eyes on Shawn Watson
1. We begin with what hopes to be a better season for Husker Baseball. Last season we saw Nebraska's team ERA balloon to over 6.00. The highest it has ever been since 1998. Nebraska missed the postseason for just the second time in the past 12 seasons last year. All eyes are on the side of optimism this year, but after losses of 7-5 and 8-2 might have me a bit more concerned about the season than I would like to be.
The keys for this team will obviously have to come on the mound. Nebraska simply struggled last season with getting batters out and continuously found themselves down 3 or more runs in most of their games last season. Yes, the did sweep Baylor but in the heat of the Big 12 conference season found themselves out of series and losing 7 straight in a row last year. Nebraska has young arms again, but now has a mix of guys who had to battle last season just to get guys out. The lack of pitching production created a virus with the offense. Guys at times pressed to get hits and produce runs. The mentality of this team fell apart and now must put itself back together this season.
Its disappointing to see that in Game 1 against Fresno State Nebraska took a nice 5-3 lead into the ninth inning only to have their star ace closer Mike Nesseth blow a save and lose the game for the Huskers. This is an extremely pressing issue here, because I feel that the success of this team will be tied to how many one/two run games they can win. You need Mike to just shake this off, but clearly after last season it was kinda of a statement to hopefully what will not happen much this year.
In Game 2 Mike Mariot simply got out of his element. He tried to be a power pitcher, a guy who can blow stuff right by you with no sweat. The problem is that isnt the type of pitcher he is. He's a finesse pitcher. A guy who needs to locate and keep guys off balance. That wasn't the case when he spotted the bulldogs with 4 runs in the 2 inning. Nebraska must make their pitchers learn their roles quick. The other pressing issue was how Nebraska simply went to the plate and felt like they needed to swing for the fences each time. That lead to only 2 runs and an offense now searching to find answers in Game 3 today.
My outlook on this team this season is just simply improve and become competitive again in the conference. I think a lot will be learned about this team in 3 weeks when they head to Austin Tx to begin Big 12 play. Nebraska just needs to beat teams its suppose to beat and get back to the postseason, no matter how ugly that looks this year at times. I think that it can be done but clearly after 2 games Nebraska needs to do a lot of growing on the mound and at the plate if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top 6 of the Big 12 this year.
2. Nebraska Basketball may be setting records this season while its women's team is rewriting them. The Husker men lost another big 12 game last night to fall to 1-11 in the conference. Its shameful to think that Nebraska has only one win against the Sooners this year. If Nebraska can't win 3 more games they will officially have the worst record in Husker Basketball history. Again Nebraska went over 8 1/2 minutes last night without making a bucket. These long scoring droughts have hurt valuable opportunities to win games. When they have gone cold from the floor, their defense has broken down and they have given up chunks of points to teams. Thus what was a simple 3 point deficit quickly becomes 15 when your not making shots. I honestly don't have any idea why this team can't finish games, they are talented, they have guys who at times have looked really good, but their inexperience has killed any hope of exceeding expectations. Its sad, its disappointing, and pathetic how they still have not been able to turn the corner at this point of the season. If they can't right the ship next season, the pressure no doubt will start to turn on Doc Sadler, for as great of a guy as he has been to this university...fans like myself would like to see us become a bit more consistent on the court each night.
3. Tom Shatel of the Omaha World Herald had a chance to sit down with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson to ask him a few pressing hot questions before the start of spring practice. Shawn made a few interesting points that given the injuries to the team last season Nebraska was simply forced to put itself in a position to just manage the game into their strengths. Thats were criticism came from their "conservative offense" that became the blueprint on how they wanted to win games after playing Texas Tech. I think that looking back at this season when we all found out that Zac Lee played the entire season with a wounded arm, how Roy Helu's shoulders caused him all kinds of problems, how Rex battled back after breaking his foot...you can't blame the guy for the things he did. Looking back Shawn should be commended for installing a gameplan that fed into our strengths (defense, Alex's Henery's foot) to win games. In the long run we won games that most teams probably couldn't do with what we ran. Shawn also stated that it wasn't about style points in the offense it was just about getting W's and thats what they did. I don't know how long we'll end up keeping him, Shawn made a clear statement that someday he would like to become a head coach. Given his success, I don't blame him because I think he'd be a hell of a head coach in the future. Can't wait for spring practice.
Coming back on Tuesday....post will be up at night. Skocz Out!!!