The Nebraska Cornhusker basketball team is in their second year under the auspices of head coach Tim Miles. The heretofore perennially dormant, going nowhere, Big Red basketball team is now enthusiastically going somewhere.
Perhaps, after Mile’s Cornhuskers upset his nationally ranked Spartans, Michigan State basketball Coach Tom Izzo said it best. …”And Nebraska they were junkyard dogs. They reminded me of some of our old teams. They took it to us. They talked it, they walked it, they played it.”
Miles has the Cornhuskers talking, walking, and playing like “junkyard dogs” because he’s refined the products he has at his disposal.
For example, I believe a microcosm of this year’s team exposed itself earlier this season. I can’t remember the opponent, but I remember the moment. In a close hard fought home game, Nebraska’s Tai Webster stood at the free throw line preparing to shoot two free throws. He shot the first one and it caromed off the rim of the basket.
A disappointed silence reverberated throughout Pinnacle Bank Arena. Webster, however, flashed a smile at Coach Miles and shrugged his shoulders. Coach Miles flashed a pearly grin and all tension disappeared. Webster stepped to the line and made the second free throw.
The weld from that emission of camaraderie, between a player and his coach, bonded the psyche of Big Red players. As a team of composites, the Cornhuskers won that game and took a court-sized stride toward learning how to win.
Coach Miles holds the reins to this makeshift Nebraska prairie schooner. It yearns to glide, not jostle, through the gilded freeway known as the Big Ten Basketball Conference. With the Cornhusker’s history of basketball futility, though, Big Ten teams attempt to curb Nebraska’s travel to the freeway’s passing lane. The leagues forerunners admonish these Big Ten rogues to stay off the freeway, and stay out of the way so others can freely travel to post-season games.
Nevertheless, after Nebraska’s loose-jointed first season with Miles as coach, season two dawned with new and used parts trucked in from across the country. With the creative mind of a master craftsman, Miles wired and welded the parts together. Grinding and sanding he framed them into one solid unit.
At first it chugged and coughed, not functioning much better than the schooner. Finally, though, from the parts, a leader emerged. Like a modem, he took a charge of advice and sent impulses to the entire network. The makeshift unit began functioning as a team.
The result, although not yet transcribed, is the future of Cornhusker basketball, and it’s flushed with optimism. The schooner’s now on blocks, but bouncing in the Big Ten’s passing lane remains a vivid memory. Thus, the Nebraska Cornhusker “junkyard dogs” fight to retain their new found spot on the Big Ten freeway.
Rumor is, however, that Coach Miles has detectors throughout the country searching for more “junkyard dogs.”