What a start to the season Tim Miles has orchestrated.
The first-year men’s basketball coach has his team playing with fire and energy against far-superior opponents. He has it taking teams such as Wisconsin and Michigan State to the end of the game.
Imagine if the coach could reel off a few wins against these teams. What that would do to the Nebraska basketball fan base. Largely dormant for the last decade or so, Nebraska basketball fans need something to cheer about. They need something exciting to bring them back out to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in droves.
A win or two against the top of the Big Ten would do that.
Miles has already pumped positive vibes into the Husker program with his personality and ability to recruit to the new downtown arena. He’s brought big-name recruits in on visits and has landed a handful of them thus far, including Tai Webster, a highly touted prospect out of New Zealand, a few weeks ago.
The next step in raising this program from the mat is getting a few big wins. Husker fans need some proof that their coach is on the right track. Right now, it’s all a bunch of talk and optimism for the future. Those skeptical Husker fans, hardened by years of futility, need a little taste of success right now if they are going to jump fully on board the Miles bandwagon.
It’s one thing to get a team playing hard and competing. Miles has done that. It’s another to get over the hump and beat a Michigan or a Wisconsin or an Ohio State.
No one is holding Miles’ feet to the fire. By all accounts he has done a great job in his first season working with what was left for him. Even after losing guard Mike Peltz for the season and forward Brandon Ubel indefinitely, the coach got his short-handed team ready to play in East Lansing. They fought to a 32-32 tie at the half, and, although they faded down the stretch in that game, eventually losing 66-56, I came out of it impressed with the performance.
Out of the half, I found myself contemplating Nebraska’s chances at pulling off the road upset. I gave them a realistic chance. After all, the Huskers have been good for at least one or two upsets per year, even in the down years of Doc Sadler and Barry Collier. Just last year, the Huskers knocked off then-No. 13 Indiana — a team that had beaten No. 1 Kentucky the week before.
Bottom line: upsets happen.
Nebraska should set its sights on knocking off a few of the Big Ten’s top dogs. There aren’t any illusions of an NCAA tournament birth floating around in Miles’ head, and the road is bumpy the rest of the way for the 9-8 Huskers. A good goal for the team would be to get a couple big-name pelts for its trophy case.
Nebraska will play seven more games against teams in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. If they don’t pull an upset or two, it won’t be for lack of attempts.
No. 12 Illinois comes to the Bob Devaney Sports Center in a week for Nebraska’s next game with a Top 25 team. Miles should pull out all the stops for that one.
The coach has diehard Husker fans excited already. Can you imagine what a few big wins would do?