On Wednesday, the Nebraska basketball team was nine seconds away from laying an egg at home against a poor Florida Gulf Coast team.
Thanks to a made jump shot with less than ten seconds remaining in the game, the Huskers prevailed over a program that has only been in existence for ten years now. In the post-game interview, head coach Doc Sadler implied that his team may need to loosen up a bit; that they need to start having fun.
“I think this team is trying way too hard,” said Sadler. “They have to relax and they have to enjoy the game. You go in the locker room and it’s like they’re just taking a big sigh. They’ve got to enjoy it.”
Honestly Doc, can you blame them?
The Huskers were ten seconds away from losing their third straight home loss of the season. Without Dylan Talley’s game winning basket, the Huskers would have been 1-5 in their last five games.
Let’s not forget about that beat down at the Century Link Center last Sunday.
Or the Big Ten/ACC Challenge disaster against Wake Forest.
Or the black eye left by Dana Altman and his Oregon Ducks.
When you put this season into context, a home-loss to Florida Gulf Coast could have been enough to scare away even the most devoted Husker Hoops fans.
So, yes, the Huskers are starting to look like a team with a lot on the line.
“We were happy to win, but I didn’t get the sense that we were as happy as we normally would be,” said senior Toney McCray. “We weren’t really proud of the way we played, so we weren’t celebrating like we normally would after a win.”
And rightfully so.
Florida Gulf Coast is 3-6 on the season and ranks 222nd in PPG. Did I mention they have only had a basketball team for ten years?
“We’re going to be harder on ourselves than coach is going to be,” McCray explained. “We’re hard on each other. We take it personally. I think they were a good team. We just felt like we should have won it by a lot more than that.”
Before Thursday’s practice, senior Brandon Richardson responded to a question about whether or not the team is putting too much pressure on itself: “Probably. I don’t know why, but we shouldn’t take it like that. We just have to move on and try not to put too much pressure on ourselves.
“It is what it is. What just have to move on.”
The Huskers will have a chance to move on in tonight’s matchup against TCU.
The unranked Horned Frogs are 7-2 on the season and are ranked 25th in the RPI. Six of their wins have been by six points or less, while four of those wins have been by two points or less.
As the Huskers look to eliminate some of the pressure and improve their record to 6-3, there is one player that always seems to be dependable when Texas teams appear on the schedule.
The senior from Missouri City, Texas has been Mr. Reliable against Texas teams during his Husker career.
McCray averaged 20.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in two Big 12 matchups against Baylor. In one of those games, he shot an astounding 70% from the field. Last year, McCray shut down Texas’ Jordan Hamilton in a huge win over the No. 2 Longhorns.
In last year’s matchup with TCU, he recorded his first career double-double. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The list goes on and on.
"For some reason, I tend to be a little more amped up playing Texas schools," he said. "I don't know, it's just more fun because you know some of the guys on their team and it's always fun to play against them."
Whatever his reasoning may be, the Huskers will be looking for him to step up tonight as he has done so many times against his Texas brethren.
If not, Saturday could just be another frustrating chapter to add to the 2011-2012 season.
“I’m pretty sure we’ll be a lot happier after a road win,” said McCray. “That’s something we never, ever take for granted.”
-Edited by Josh Harvey -