March 17, 2009

Huskers ready for one last run through NIT

There is often times little rest for the weary, and Nebraska certainly is no exception.


Less than a week removed from its Big 12 Tournament loss to Baylor - a game in which both coaches and players said the team might have finally run out of gas - the Huskers are trudging along into the postseason on the road against New Mexico in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament tonight at 9 p.m.




PREGAME NOTES


Tip: 9:05 p.m. CST

Where: The Pit (18,018)

Head Coach: Doc Sadler 3rd yr (55-39 overall)

Radio: Husker Sports Radio Network stations (Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka. Color: Matt Davison.)


TV: ESPNU (Play-by-play: Doug Bell. Color: Reid Gettys.)

Series: First meeting






They're admittedly tired and physically beat up after a surprising regular season that saw them go 8-8 in conference play despite having one of the smallest lineups of any BCS school. But that doesn't mean the Husker don't plan on going all out in their postseason run, even if their gas tank is running on fumes.


"I think we're holding up good," senior guard Ade Dagunduro said. "That's what our pre-season conditioning workouts were all about, to get us through this season We had a tough Big 12 Conference (schedule), but we made it through. We're going to continue on. We want to play ball."


While Nebraska's lack of height and depth in the post was severely exposed by bigger and more physical Big 12 teams down the stretch in the regular season, things should be a little more even against No. 3-seed New Mexico (21-11).


With just one player standing taller than 6 feet, 9 inches, the Huskers should get a bit of a break from the casts of big bodies they saw game-in and game-out in league play. However, head coach Doc Sadler said he wasn't sure just how big of an advantage that would actually be for his team.






New Mexico (21-11)

9:05 p.m.


Nebraska (18-12)

ESPNU






























PROJECTED STARTERS



Nebraska 18-12




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

5

Sek Henry (6-3, 200)

Jr

8.1/3.3

G

4

Steve Harley (5-11, 180)

Sr

10.3/3.4

G

11

Ade Dagunduro (6-5, 200)

Sr

12.4/4.3

G

24

Cookie Miller (5-7, 165)

Jr

7.3/2.2

F

32

Chris Balham (6-8, 235)

Jr

2.1/2.5





New Mexico 21-11




Pos

#

Name

Yr

Pts/reb

G

32

Tony Dandridge (6-5, 215)

Sr

15.2/4.1

G

5

Dairese Gary (6-1, 205)

So

8.1/4.0

G

23

Phillip McDonald (6-5, 190)

Fr

7.2/3.3

F

30

Roman Martinez (6-6, 185)

Jr

10.8/6.3

F

53

Daniel Faris (6-9, 235)

Sr

11.5/6.2






"As crazy as this sounds, I think maybe some of our success in the league has been because of the mismatches," Sadler said. "Late in the year, the offensive boards started really, really becoming a strong advantage for the other team, and I think physically that was the reason.


"Now you're going to be playing against New Mexico who is more like us. I don't know if that is going to be an advantage or a disadvantage. Size-wise, that's the biggest difference between playing in a BCS league than playing in another league. We're fixing to find out if it was a strong advantage or a disadvantage for us."


Sadler compared the Lobos' style of play to that of Texas Tech, in that they play solid defense and can expose teams with good shooting from the perimeter and a fast-paced offensive attack.


The biggest issue for Sadler, however, has more to do with New Mexico's player than its actual team. For the past 10-15 years, the Lobos have established one of the nation's best home-court advantages in the country. They went 16-2 this season in "The Pit", including winning their final eight home contests in a row.


Sadler knows all about how difficult it is to pick up a win in "The Pit", as he said his teams have posted an 0-3 record going back to his days as an assistant coach.


"It hasn't been good at all for me," he said. "I think in my experiences there we're about 0-3. I mean, it's 16,000 people that's just right there on you that love basketball, and I can imagine it's a lot like people coming in here and playing at Memorial Stadium. They've had so much success there and they're so confident at home.


"It's going to be a tough ball game, You go down to The Pit, and they've won 16 home games, 8-0 in the league (at home), so it's going to take a very, very good effort on our part… It is truly one of the best places in college basketball to play in if you're the home team."


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