Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler decided he wanted to reward Brandon Richardson for the endless amount of hard work and dedication he's put forth in his three seasons in Lincoln.
Just before the Huskers tipped off against Texas Christian on Saturday, Sadler informed the sophomore guard that he would be making the first start of his career.
It should have been a monumental moment for Richardson, who has became a fixture off the bench last season as a redshirt freshman. Problem was, he really didn't care much either way.
Richardson has never been about the glory. Just watch him play a few minutes when the Huskers (2-1) take on Missouri-Kansas City (3-0) tonight at 7:07 p.m., and you'll see that for yourself.
No player on Nebraska's roster is more willing to completely sacrifice his body diving for a loose ball or taking a charge than the Los Angeles native. That's one of the reasons Sadler says he felt almost obligated to give one of the most selfless players on his team a chance in the spotlight.
"This program is going to be built and players are going to get to play depending on how they practice," Sadler said after the game on Saturday. "Of all the guys probably have been cheated more than anybody is Brandon Richardson. From Day 1 he's been a hard, hard worker, and he deserves to be out there."
This season, Richardson is averaging eight points and a little more than two assists per game while averaging 20 minutes of playing time per contest. His biggest contributions, though, come on what Sadler likes to describe as effort plays, especially on defense.
"From Day 1, he's probably been one of the hardest working guys we've had," Sadler said. "(He brings) toughness, effort - all the things that make you a good defensive player… He's probably the best on-ball defender we've got."
The one downside to Richardson's fearless style of play is the toll it takes on his body. It's a common sight for the 6-foot, 190-pounder to have ice packs on his back, shoulder and pretty much any joint on his body at any given time during a season.
During Saturday's win over TCU, Richardson aggravated a back injury he tried to play through, and he's missed the past two practices as a result. Sadler said Richardson would not start tonight against UMKC, but there's a chance he could see some minutes off the bench depending how he feels.
Richardson said whether he starts or comes off the bench is all the same for him, as he enjoys helping set the tone of the game right away but also likes bringing in new energy later on.
In his mind, simply doing whatever he can to help his team win is all that matters, no matter when he does it.
"I've always a guy that just goes out there and gives it my all," Richardson said. "I'm not looking for Coach to say something (about me) or my teammates to say something. It's just something I've developed over the years. A lot of credit goes to my family and my coaches who instilled that in me when I was young."
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Saturday's victory over TCU was a coming out party for redshirt freshman Jorge Brian Diaz, who finished the night with a game- and career-high 22 points. The Huskers made it a point to get the ball to their 6-11 center down low to take advantage of their height advantage over the Horned Frogs. With UMKC not having a player taller than 6-9 on their roster, look for more of the same tonight against the Kangaroos.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS
Senior guard Sek Henry put together one of the most complete all-around games by a Husker in recent memory on Saturday. Along with 11 points, Henry finished the day with a career-best 11 assists to go along with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE KANGAROOS
Sophomore forward LaTreze Mushatt has been a solid force inside for UMKC this year, averaging 15.3 points on 67.9 shooting from the field and hauling in 6.7 rebounds per game.