The 2013-14 season of Nebraska basketball officially kicked off in a big way on Friday night, as more than 7,500 fans made their way to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena for its debut as a hoops venue to see the Huskers hold a live scrimmage event. Here are some notes and nuggets to pass along from the night…
***Before the scrimmage started, the team was introduced to a highlight video set to a song by Bon Jovi, who is performing at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Oct. 20. There was also a special ticket special going on during the game, as fans could buy tickets for the Bon Jovi concert for just $10 at the PBA box office.
***The format of the event included two 10-minute halves with a running clock, and at halftime the team held a dunk contest and 3-point shooting contest as entertainment. Head coach Tim Miles provided live commentary through the first half, and team play-by-play announcer Kent Pavelka took over in the second half.
***The Huskers were split up into a Red and White team. The Red team was made up of Tai Webster, Trevor Menke, Jordan Tyrance, Ray Gallegos, Leslee Smith, Nick Fuller, Shavon Shields and Kye Kurkowski, while the White squad featured Deverell Biggs, Benny Parker, Nathan Hawkins, Terran Petteway, Sergej Vucetic, Tim Wagner, Walter Pitchford and David Rivers.
***The Red team won the scrimmage 39-37, with Webster making the game-winning basket on a pull-up jumper with just 16 seconds left on the clock. Petteway had a chance to win it for the White with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it was off the mark.
***As fun as the event was, things definitely got a bit scary during the first half when Shields was fouled hard by Pitchford while going up for a dunk. Shields ended up falling directly on his back and laid on the court for several minutes before getting up under his own power and limping to the locker room. The good news was Shields eventually came back out to the Red bench, but still limped the rest of the night and sat leaning on his left side. After the game, Miles said Shields came down on his tail bone and had the wind knocked out of him, but was expected to be OK after some time in the cold tub. Miles said he hoped Shields would be back at practice as soon as Saturday.
***The teams combined to shoot just 32-of-86 (37 percent), with the Red going 16-of-41 (33.3%) and the White going 16-of-45 (22.2%). The rough showing was understandable, though, as the team had already gone through a full two-hour practice earlier in the day. Also, the referees were definitely letting the players play, hardly calling a single foul in the game.
***Pitchford led the White with a game-high 10 points, while Smith led the Red with nine points.
***Rivers did not play in the scrimmage, as Miles said he has been dealing with a foot injury that has bothered him on and off the past week or so. His status is day-to-day at this point.
***The scrimmage started of with a bang, with Pitchford throwing down a pretty alley-oop dunk from Biggs for the game's first points. The Red quickly answered, though, as Fuller followed up with a one-handed put-back jam off of a miss on the very next possession.
***At halftime, Pitchford stole the show in the dunk contest against Petteway and Webster, while Gallegos topped Fuller in a 3-point shoot-out.
***As you might expect, Miles had some pretty funny commentary when he had the mic. Some of the best lines were his new nickname for Biggs (D-Nasty) and when he made Vucetic quote Ivan Drago from the movie Rocky IV and say "I must break you" before attempting a free throw.
***There was some support from the football team at the scrimmage, as Greg McMullen was one Husker football player seen in the stands.
***Other stats of note from the scrimmage included Webster, Gallegos and Fuller all finishing with eight points for the Red; Biggs ending with five points and four assists; and Pitchford also hauling in five rebounds with three blocks to go along with his 10 points.
***With the first day of practice now in the books, the Huskers will hold 29 more practices in the next 41 days before finally opening the season with their exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney on Nov. 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.