When Will Nebraska See a Return on Its Basketball Investment?

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on October 25th, 2013

Most college basketball fans haven’t been paying attention to what’s happening in Lincoln. And honestly, unless they know a Cornhusker personally, why would they? The Nebraska program has been mostly abysmal since its inception. In its 118-year history, the basketball team has only made the NCAA Tournament five times and has yet to get past the first round. It’s won only 20 games once in the last decade and hasn’t been ranked since 1994 when part of something completely foreign called the Big 8. Despite all that, fans may want to start paying attention to the team in the state not named Creighton; otherwise they may miss the story arc of a program rising from the ashes. How’s that? Well, largely because the boosters and athletic department in recent years have decided to finally start investing in basketball.

If nothing else, Tim Miles and Nebraska head into the Big 10 tournament knowing they are capable of knocking off a quality opponent after their upset of Minnesota. (Getty)

Tim Miles has another tough season ahead of him, but he has the tools around him to right the ship. (Getty)

It started four years ago with the decision to build an $18.7 million, 84,000 square feet practice facility. Next, the administration green-lit the construction of a brand new $179 million, 15,000 seat arena which will open this year. Nebraska fans have responded in kind by selling out the Cornhuskers’ first season in the shiny new building. And last year, the program hired a young and well-respected head coach in Tim Miles from Colorado State. They were able to lure him to Lincoln by offering a competitive Big Ten salary – he is set to make $1.5 million this year. But perhaps more importantly, they promised Miles he would have the resources to pay his assistant coaches competitive salaries as well.  True to their word, the university has stepped up. Currently, all three assistant coaches make $200,000 or more, which, in terms of college basketball, is on the high end for an assistant coach.

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Big East Morning Five: 02.10.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 10th, 2012

  1. The 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game rosters were announced yesterday. A prestigious honor for 24 four-year high school seniors, the event will take place on March 28 at 9:30 PM eastern at Chicago’s United Center and be televised on ESPN. The East roster will feature two Big East commits in center Dajuan Coleman who will attend Syracuse and point guard Kris Dunn who is headed to Providence. There are also five Mc-Donald’s All-Americans who have yet to make their pledge, including three who are being coveted by Big East schools. While Duke is rumored to be the favorite for Philadelphia forward Amile Jefferson, Villanova remains a strong contender and Connecticut is in the mix as well. The Huskies are also in the picture with Georgia forward Tony Parker, as is Georgetown who would also love to lock up Devonta Pollard, a forward from Mississippi.
  2. Perhaps even more astounding than Villanova’s comeback victory over Providence on Tuesday was that the Wildcats were able to climb back from a 19 point second-half deficit without their leading scorer Maalik Wayns, who was forced out of the game for good with a knee injury prior to the run. Wayns (17.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.0 RPG) has been held out of practice since the game while awaiting results from an MRI he underwent on Wednesday.  Those results came back yesterday and revealed a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee. Wayns’ playing status is day-to-day. Fortunately for Wayns and Villanova they do not play again until Wednesday, February 15 at South Florida, so it is possible Wayns will not miss any game action.
  3. After dropping a close overtime contest to #2 Syracuse, Georgetown received some good news yesterday when it learned that assistant coach Kenya Hunter was released from the hospital. Hunter was not able to make the trip to Syracuse as he was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital upon becoming ill and passing out after the Hoyas’ practice on Tuesday. While in the hospital Hunter underwent tests but no other information about the cause of his illness or current condition have been reported. Certainly Hunter’s release from the hospital was an encouraging sign however.
  4. We always knew Rick Pitino could recruit players, but what about programs? Pitino has been a vocal proponent of Big East stability since things went into flux as a result of conference realignment, and if you listen to Josh Pastner, head coach of newly minted Big East member Memphis, Pitino’s lobbying sealed the deal for his Tigers. “We play Louisville next year as part of a home-and-home series,” said Pastner, “I really believe Coach Pitino deserves a standing ovation when Louisville comes here because one of the main reason we got into the Big East was through Coach Pitino’s public politicking for us to get in.” Memphis represents a welcome addition to the Big East from a basketball standpoint, bringing with them a tremendous hardwood tradition and great backing as evidenced by their average attendance of 16,500 per game.
  5. Like any good recruiter Rick Pitino, despite landing his big fish in Memphis, does not rest on his laurels and continues to work. Yesterday in an interview with Jeff Goodman and Bruce Pearl on SiriusXM’s “Inside College Basketball” Pitino reiterated his desire to see Temple become the next member of the Big East. Pitino said he believes the Big East will add another school and that it should be Temple because, like Memphis, Temple is an inner-city school with football and strong basketball roots. The Owls have been on the Big East’s radar but reports have indicated Temple’s Philadelphia neighbor and current Big East member, Villanova, is opposed to the idea in what they might term a ‘too close for comfort’ scenario. Pitino provided an interesting retort in the interview saying, “I don’t understand because South Florida had to say, ‘Look, we don’t like it but we’ll take Central Florida. If that’s in the best interests of the conference, we’ll do it.’ And Villanova’s going to have to say, ‘If it’s in the best interests of the conference, we’ll do it.’ The Louisville coach also said he texted Big East Commissioner John Marinatto every other day asking when Memphis would be coming. Here’s hoping Mr. Marinatto has unlimited texting because something tells us the ante just got upped.
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