It's their biggest week of the season and what do the Creighton Bluejays need?
Two wins. Some hot shooting. A couple of boards. And some sleep aids, if you got 'em.
Huh? Jack Stark, the Omaha sports psychologist who follows the Jays, says the players are suffering from fatigue, but not the kind that would land them on his couch. Except to take a nap.
“This is the best bunch of guys I've ever been around in my career,” Stark said on Monday. “I've also never seen a group start so well and then tail off so fast.”
Mental fatigue? The pressure of the season weighing them down?
“I don't think so,” Stark said. “What I see is physical fatigue. Something's wrong. I'm not making excuses. But these guys look depleted. After the season, we need to sit down and find out what's going on.
“I think sometimes they press a little bit. They want it so bad, worse than anyone. You put the classwork on them, getting up for tests, and all of what they're going through. They're having trouble sleeping. They're trying to please everybody. They're not playing as loose. The 3-point shooters, they're tired and fatigued.
“They're college kids, I realize that. But they're not out running around at night. They're not doing crazy stuff. These are good kids.”
Interesting analysis. Every team is tired this time of year. This team has other deficiencies. However, one player who does qualify is senior Grant Gibbs. Stark says Gibbs' bad knees “make it hard for him to get going. When he can't perform, it just snowballs.”
“I really think the week off before the NCAA tournament will help this team,” Stark said.
They gotta get there first. Game of the year Wednesday night. Sleep well, Jays.
>> Stark added that Creighton could use a training table. That makes sense. The players may have every good intention, but I remember the eating habits of a college kid. In fact, I'm still eating like one.
>> Darin Erstad's early-season scheduling is ambitious. It's also risky. Look, NU baseball is in a tough spot. The RPI-killing Big Ten baseball forces you to get creative. But does Nebraska really need two trips to L.A.? Plus Texas. Plus Arkansas. It's an easy second-guess now at 0-7, but maybe you wait until you build a team that can handle the heavy lifting. Maybe teach the program to win first.
I get what Erstad is going for. It's admirable. The Huskers are also falling into a hole they may not be able to get out of come late March.
>> When Mike Gesell signed with Iowa, a local basketball coach told me that it was probably a good thing, because, he said, Gesell would probably be a good role player in the Big Ten. But if he had gone to NU, he would be perceived as a savior and, according to this coach, “Mike isn't that kind of guy.”
After seeing Gesell for the first time in person on Saturday, I'm a fan. He played with a lot of poise and smarts for a freshman running the point in the big leagues. He looks like a difference-maker down the road. That's a guy Nebraska has to get next time.
>> Golf is different. Golf cares about integrity. Golf cares about cheating. I'm just not sure the long putter breaks that spirit.
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Cheating on your scorecard, massaging your handicap with timely out-of-town scores, using the old foot wedge. Those are integrity things. If we're worried about competitive advantage, then don't let players have a swing coach during a tournament; not everyone can afford the best guys. Make it even. Dial back the technology on those drivers. Use a uniform ball.
I'm probably in the minority here. I'd let the Champions Tour guys use them, for sure. And the amateurs in your Saturday group. You want to keep the Keegan Bradleys “honest,” go ahead and do it for the big boy tour and majors. But there are a lot of other “advantages” out there, too.
>> Does Husker Hoops have another win in it? I think so. And if it does, it has a good chance to get the 10th seed in the Big Ten tournament. That would be a pretty big deal. For now.
>> I guarantee you beating Iowa is a big deal to Connie Yori of Ankeny, Iowa. Husker lady hoops hasn't missed a beat since joining the Big Ten. Yori has a program that translates well in any league. So does senior Lindsey Moore.
>> Move over, Scott Parse and Bill Thomas. Maybe. Ryan Walters has 45 points for UNO this season and is on pace to hit 50, which would join Thomas (50) and Parse (61) as UNO's only 50-point men. The Mavs close out the home regular season this weekend with Wisconsin in a pair of biggies (UNO hopes to have home ice for the WCHA playoffs). They have 18 wins. Coach Dean Blais thinks 20 wins might be good enough to get them in the top 16 of the Pairwise.
>> When are the Oscars? What I watched Sunday night looked like the Tony Awards. Best moment belonged to Shirley Bassey. Wow. How does Adele follow that?
>> Randy Mohr didn't have a cellphone. He didn't have an iPad to hold up and snap a photo. He used an old-fashioned camera when he took a classic photo of Digger Phelps and the Notre Dame bench during the Irish's loss to Missouri at the NCAA basketball regionals at the Devaney Center in 1980. Mohr sent the photo to me on Monday and gave permission to print it. Note the assistant coach to Phelps' left: a guy named Danny Nee, who would move to Lincoln six years later. Thanks to Randy, a 1977 UNL grad who lived in Omaha at the time. He said he was rooting for Mizzou because he hated Notre Dame. Behold the power of the Irish.
>> So Nebraska spring football starts on Saturday. Wasn't the Capital One Bowl just last week?
>> I hope somebody bothered to measure Rex Burkhead's heart at the NFL Combine.
>> Loved Lee Barfknecht's trip down Memory Lane at the Devaney Center in Sunday's World-Herald. I'll put one together next week. You can bet Norm Stewart's yellow carnation and that Missouri-Notre Dame game will be on a list somewhere.
>> One more and I'm outta here: A shout-out to Derrin Hansen's UNO men's basketball team, which survived a rough nonconference road and is still standing. The Mavs won their 11th game Saturday, 83-75 over North Dakota. And they're fifth in the Summit League at 6-8. Eventually the goal will be to get good enough to win the Summit League tourney and get an NCAA bid. Keep plugging away, Derrin. Denver, which enters the Summit League, just won at Northern Iowa.
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