Thursday, December 13, 2007

Husker spikers honored

The All-America teams are out and Nebraska was well represented with five players on the first three teams. Sarah Pavan was a lock as a first-teamer, but it may have been a bit of a surprise that Tracy Stalls was named to the second team instead of the first. All the players on the first team were certainly deserving, but Stalls' .474 hitting percentage speaks for itself.

Christina Houghtelling, Rachel Holloway and Stalls were all second-team picks. That wasn't a surprise. Houghtelling wasn't quite at the same level this year as she was in 2005 when she was named player of the year. Houghtelling played some great defense, but she just couldn't hit the ball as hard as she did before the shoulder injury.

I can't really find any fault to Larson being named to the third team. She was a first-teamer a year ago, but had her ups and downs this year. Larson will have to step up and play at an extremely high level next season.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Thursday, December 13, 2007 || 0 comments

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Huskers pull through

Michigan State gave Nebraska all the Huskers could handle in a regional semifinal Friday in Madison. Few outside of the Michigan State program gave the Spartans much of a chance against the No. 2-ranked and seeded Huskers. But there is something to be said for the underdog role.

There was no pressure on Michigan State and that's how the Spartans played. They left it all on the court and that's all coach Cathy George could ask of her team.

Maybe the Huskers were tight early. Who knows for sure? They definitely weren't playing at their best early on. A couple of calls went against them - one on Christina Houghtelling for reaching over the net. I had a good view of that one and it was a bad call.

Another was for a double-hit on setter Rachel Holloway. I'm not quite sophisticated to see those double hits most of the time. I can say this: Holloway and coach John Cook both reacted swiftly on that call. Neither could believe it. In a close game, a couple of points can make all the difference.

But Michigan State played extremely well. The Huskers couldn't do much to slow the Spartans' big outside hitters. Then when NU let a 27-24 lead slip away in game two, the Huskers were in trouble.

We don't know where this journey will end for the Huskers. It's not easy to repeat in any sport. To do it, the Huskers have to be at the top of their game for the next three matches. If they do that, they have a shot. If not, we'll be talking about what might have been.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Saturday, December 08, 2007 || 0 comments

Friday, December 07, 2007

Staff has familiar names

New Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini is building his staff in a hurry. Some of those names are quite familiar to Husker fans. Ron Brown, Barney Cotton and Marvin Sanders were assistants for Frank Solich until Steve Pederson hired Callahan.

And of course Pelini was defenisve coordinator under Solich in 2003 as well. That means four of the members on the new staff were also on that 2003 staff. Anybody else wonder what that staff could have done if it had been given the chance?

Of course in the end it doesn't matter. The past is the past and cannot be changed. We don't know what Solich and his staff would have done so there is not much use to speculate about it. I do know this: It just felt wrong when Solich was fired. I felt like somebody had hit me in the gut when I heard the news.

But now, with Tom Osborne back in the picture and the hiring of Pelini, things feel right again. Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple said this week on the radio that the past four years have just felt uncomfortable around the Husker program. Now, things are comfortable again.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Friday, December 07, 2007 || 1 comments

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pelini feels right

No doubt about it. This just feels right.

Bo Pelini said all the right things Sunday when he was introduced as Nebraska's next football coach. One friend suggested he just said the right things - like a politician always tries to tell you what you want to hear. There may be some truth to that. We can't really know just yet.

All I can say is it felt right. I got the same feeling when Doc Sadler was introduced as the new basketball coach not much more than a year ago. I think Doc can take the Nebraska program to a place it hasn't been before.

Of course Bo is different. The Husker football program has been at the top of the college football program. Now Bo will try to lead it back to that spot.

This isn't to say that Steve Pederson made a mistake four years ago in not hiring Pelini. There was a feeling at the time - and obviously Pederson felt it - that Pelini wasn't ready to be a head coach. Since then, he's spent time with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and les Miles at LSU. He is more ready now than he was then. There's no doubt about that.

Nebraska may never get back to the dominance it displayed in the 1990s. Realistic Nebraska fans don't expect national championships every year. But you want to be competitive at the national level, and the Huskers haven't been there for a while.

Something tells me that Pelini is the right guy and that he's going to be at Nebraska for a long time. Just hang with him. Don't bail like some LSU fans who are glad to see him gone because the Tigers didn't shut out every opponent this season. That's just not the way this whole thing works.

Pelini is a good defensive football coach. We will see how he works out as a head coach.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Sunday, December 02, 2007 || 1 comments

Road to Fina Four easier?

Nebraska's road to the Final Four got easier Saturday night when Iowa State swept Wisconsin in Madison. That means the Huskers won't have to face a team on its home court next weekend in regional play, and that makes the road easier. Right?

Maybe not. Last year, Minnesota knocked off host Florida in the regional semifinals, then had the Huskers on the ropes before NU came back from a 2-0 deficit to win. The fact is, at least on Saturday night, Iowa State was just plain better than Wisconsin. The Huskers have beaten the Cyclones twice, but ISU has now won three straight matches over rated teams. That comes after they took Texas to five games and led 14-9 in game five before losing.

The Cyclones are playing well, maybe even well enough to beat Cal Friday night. If Nebraska beats Michigan State, and the Huskers certainly should, it would set up an all-Big 12 regional final with NU coach John Cook going against his former assistant Christy Johnson. Now that would make a good story.

Posted by Bob Hamar @ Sunday, December 02, 2007 || 0 comments

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