Fans did their part: After the game, surrounded by exuberant red-clad basketball fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena, Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles said, “It’s awesome.”
Asked by Coach Miles to stand throughout the game, the fans honored his request. Their arms flailed and their voices reached a high-decibel pitch. Big Red supporters tested the stability of the new arena’s bleacher’s by jumping up and down the entire game. As one, they ingested the emotion of their Cornhuskers 77-68 defeat of the nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers.
With a silly, satisfied grin, Miles tolerated the post-game interviews, countless fan requests for photos, and being mauled by those who wanted to shake his hand or just touch him.
The team did its part: While Miles endured the almost lethal rewards of fan gratitude, his team basked in glory and unity. They hugged each other and fans hugged them. Admirers put Benny Parker, also known as Energizer Benny, on their shoulders. Nebraska’s game program lists him at 5’9″, and, for once, he towered above those surrounding him.
Until the post-season begins, the roller coaster of emotions that marked the Cornhusker’s 2014 season can coast to a stop. This win secured them sole possession of fourth place in the final conference standings. This feat earned them a first round bye in the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
A team bonded with their coach: At long last, the internal global positioning systems of the Husker team, and Coach Miles, guided them into the sanctity of their locker room and team solidarity. Now, they were on common ground, face-to-face, a coach and his team.
In my opinion, this alliance of Nebraskaballers carried their own myriad of emotions throughout the season. Emotions meshed their diversities into oneness, sustained them, and bonded them into the singular purpose of performing as they willed themselves to perform. Walter Pitchford, who transferred from the University of Florida, and Terran Petteway, who transferred from Texas Tech, said they committed themselves to learn a different system. Senior Ray Gallegos, previously recruited into the losing environment of Nebraska basketball, learned, on the job, to fit into the new chemistry of this team.
Ultimately, though, the success of Nebraska basketball relied on the emotion of absolute trust and respect between the team and Coach Miles.
The Big Ten sportswriters picked the Cornhuskers to finish last in the conference. But through team-oriented emotions, these Nebraska Cornhusker’s performed above the level of preseason forecasts. Nevertheless, no matter the future results, I believe this team will forever grace the annals of Cornhusker Basketball. Like Terran Petteway said, “I don’t know if you guys see it, but it’s a lot of fun out there.”
Nebraska basketball and the word “fun” in the same sentence? Hard to believe isn’t it?