March 9, 2009

Huskers want to make most of second season

After going through about every range of emotion during the course of the regular season, Nebraska is as ready as ever to start it all over again.

Beginning with Wednesday's rematch with Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, the Huskers are looking at this week's start of the postseason as a chance for a completely fresh start to the season.

While its NCAA Tournament hopes are hanging by a thread at best, Nebraska is well aware that a strong run through the conference tournament would only help its chances of getting to the Big Dance.

"We definitely look at it as a clean slate," senior guard Ade Dagunduro said. "It's 0-0 from here on out. We've got to try to take it Baylor one more time. They are a great team, and that was a tough win for us. They're going to be a lot tougher down in the Big 12 Tournament, but then again, so are we. It'll be interesting."

As Dagunduro mentioned, the Huskers will start off their second season, so to speak, against the same team they ended their regular season against in Baylor just two days ago.

With such a short turnaround between meetings, Sadler said the biggest thing he wants to accomplish in the practices he has before Wednesday's game revolve more around fundamentals and making sure his team stays mentally focused to beat the same team twice in a row.

"I don't think there's any adjustments that are going to be made at this point," Sadler said. "We're going to do the things that we've done. I think more than anything you've got to make sure that your team stays sharp and keeps their conditioning. Even though you hope you have a full week of playing, the only you do that is if you win your next game.

"We've got to make sure that Wednesday at 11:30 we're ready to play, and we'll take our swings at it."

Should Nebraska knock off Baylor once again, the road to gets even more difficult in the second round, as it will be matched against No. 1-seed Kansas, the regular season conference champion.

Then, should the Huskers somehow find a way to upset the Jayhawks, they'll likely play the winner of No. 5-seed Texas and No. 4 Kansas State in the semifinals (assuming Texas beats last-place Colorado in the first round, of course). Nebraska beat both of those teams at home this season, an nearly defeated the Wildcats on the road later in the year.

By no means will it be an easy road for NU to make a run to the league championship, but it's not as if a late magical run is impossible. That slim glimmer of hope is all the Huskers need to give them all the motivation they need to give an NCAA Tournament berth one final shot.

"As I've said before, on Wednesday there's going to be four very, very good basketball team, and out of those eight teams, there's probably five or six of them that believe they can win the tournament," Sadler said. "That brings excitement. That's what you get when you get to BCS conference schools' conference tournaments. It's a fan's dream.

"(But) we can't win it unless we win Wednesday, so you've got to worry about Wednesday first."

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