In our second edition of the weekly Nebraska basketball Q&A series Postin' Up, we sat down with senior guard Drake Beranek. In his first and only active season with the Huskers after transferring from Nebraska-Kearney last year, the Ravenna, Neb., native has emerged as one of the team leaders with his hustle and selfless play.
The son of a coach, Beranek talks about his transition to Division-I basketball, facing Big 12 competition for the first time and, most importantly, which teammates he would pick to be in his post-basketball boy band.
HI: You played for you dad, Paul, at Ravenna High School. Looking back, who was worse to get chewed out by during practice - your dad or Doc Sadler?
DB: "There's definitely some similarities there, but with my dad, he kind of had full reign. He could do whatever he wanted to. Throw a ball or grab me or do whatever he wanted to. But at the end of the day, I know when both of them yell at me it's for my best interest and they're really just looking out for me and making me a better player."
HI: Now that you have a few D-I games under your belt, what would say has been the biggest difference between playing in the Big 12 and playing Division-II ball?
DB: "It really didn't even cross my mind. I know I've said it before, but I know basketball is basketball. Of course there's a lot better athletes and a lot quicker athletes and all that stuff (in the Big 12), but fundamentals don't change from level to level, and I just never really thought about the differences consciously. There were definitely some differences, but I just tried to play within myself and play within the team and do what we could do."
HI: Going back to last year, what was it like having to watch your team go through a season like that from the bench and also pretty much be a senior and starting all over again as a first-year player?
DB: "It was weird. It was hard to sit out, a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. I've always liked to play basketball, but when you just practice and don't get to showcase your talents to the outside public or even just the experience of the game, it gets tough. Coming in and knowing the game like I do, at the time it felt like I was going back to first grade of basketball. You have to be re-taught some things, and anytime you're going from one system to another you've got to learn some stuff. It was difficult, but I don't mind getting told what to do by someone who's been here longer than me like Brandon Richardson or Toney McCray. They've been here a while and they know what's going on."
HI: How frustrating was it to not be able to get on the court and help your team during that 2-14 run through conference play?
DB: "I wasn't for sure that I could go in and play at such a high level. I'm a fairly confident player, but I'm never going to be overly confident. There were some things I thought I could help the team, and it was mostly little stuff I tried to do in practice, like bringing energy and that sort of thing. It's a taxing thing to go through the Big 12 season. You really don't get a lot of days off, and game days are high energy. The players were using a lot of energy on game days, so I tried to focus my energy in practice and tried to bring a high energy level and hope that it would carry over to the games. That was probably my main focus while sitting out, just focus on the little things and try to come in and help in any way I can."
HI: One of those little things you've done has been stepping up and taking some tough charges. Has there been one yet where you immediately regretted getting in the way and taking a hit?
DB: "I'm not the biggest guy ever, but I'm not going to back down from anybody. But I don't know if I took a charge from Andre (Almeida) or just got in his way, but Big Dre kind of landed on me one time, and even Big Dre ain't gonna stop me from getting in the way for a charge. I kind of joked around last year that I'd take a charge on (former Texas center Dexter) Pittman. I didn't care. But to be honest, the first Big 12 charge I took that I remember was on one of the Morris twins (of Kansas). Boy, I took that one in the chest and I thought my lungs had collapsed or something. That one kind of hurt a little bit. But that was the first one where I thought, 'Man, that kind of hurt.' But you take enough of them, you get used to it. I like it, actually. It's fun for me."
HI: Okay, last question. Hypothetical situation: After your basketball career is finally over, you decide you want to start up an O-Town style boy band with two of your old teammates. Which two guys do you pick?
DB: "Wow, that's a good question. I've got to go with B-Rich. He kind of had the moves. He might not be able to sing as well and me, but he was kind of doing the moves on the video. Then for some personality stuff, you've got to bring Toney McCray in there. He's kind of the personality of the team and he'll always have a good time. Plus he's got good looks. I'll do the dirty work and do the singing and stuff and they can do the dancing and sell the tickets. They'll be the frontmen and I'll just do what I do. I'll just sing some tunes, man."