PHOENIX — It’s a good night to be a prospect in Omaha.
» It’s Future Hockey Night at Ralston Arena, which will host the USHL/NHL Top Prospects game. Besides the top youth talent in the country skating around, honored guests include about 100 scouts from all NHL teams. Save the game program. You’ll see some of these kids in Baxter Arena — and on NHL Network — very soon.
» There will be a few NBA scouts packed into press row at the CenturyLink Center tonight. On stage is Kris Dunn, the great Providence guard who is one of the early leaders for national player of the year in college hoops. Awaiting Dunn is a Jays team with some momentum after wins over Georgetown and Seton Hall last week. This is a game that could propel a young CU team into an early arrival season. Providence’s Ed Cooley is one of the underrated guys in coaching.
» Some of those scouts should have their attention diverted to No. 10 in white. Creighton junior point guard Maurice Watson is finding his legs at the Big East level. “Mo” was Big East player of the week after dishing out 14 assists at Seton Hall, a CU record — but three short of Watson’s best at Boston U.
» Creighton sports info director Rob Anderson used this headline for his notes section on Watson: “Some people call him Maurice.” A Steve Miller reference? Very nice. Proud of Rob A. for his ’70s music knowledge.
» Reader Mike Torson asks an interesting question. In light of Marlin Briscoe’s selection into the College Football Hall of Fame, should UNO build a statue of its most famous football player? And would that be too hard to do in light of the school dropping the sport?
I like it. Briscoe is one of the great athletes in Omaha and UNO history. It might be awkward, still too soon, to put the spotlight on UNO football. But I’m of the belief that there should be some sort of marker by Al Caniglia Field to show people where Mav football once lived. Maybe a statue of “The Magician” could go there.
In any case, good idea, Mike. Let’s keep that one filed for the future.
» I will write more on Derrin Hansen and UNO basketball later this week. But what a great story, and great timing, for Mavs hoops. Historic buzz for a program with plenty of history and pride.
» You should be very, very afraid of the Kansas City Chiefs.
» There will be some serious star power at the annual Outland Trophy Dinner on Thursday night at the downtown Doubletree Hotel. Attending will be Outland winner Joshua Garnett, along with Stanford head coach David Shaw; former Outland winner Randy White; Tom Osborne; Milt Tenopir; and Husker senior award winners Jack Gangwish, Andy Janovich and Ryne Reeves. Accepting the Osborne Award is Jim Ridlon Sr., who designed the Outland Trophy. Tickets are $75. For information, call the Omaha Sports Committee at 402-346-8003.
» You go, Bill Snyder. Long as you want.
» Shavon Shields makes his 100th straight start tonight against Minnesota at Pinnacle Bank Arena. He joins Dave Hoppen as the only players in Husker Hoops with 100 consecutive starts. For all that program goes through, there’s something to be said for showing up every night. Pretty good company to keep, too, Shavon.
» Omaha hockey historian Gary Anderson reports that the Omaha Hockey Hall of Fame has found a home — Ralston Arena. The new Hall will be dedicated before the Lancers game on Jan. 30. That’s great news for hockey fans — and legends.
» Vincent Valentine knows the risks of leaving early — or coming back to NU. I wish him well. I think he could use another year of development and crucial playing time, which he may not get, depending on when and where he gets drafted. But what do I know? I’m a Chargers fan.
» One more and I’m outta here: I’m still in shock over M’s Pub. The photos of what’s left were just heartbreaking, the icicles hanging like frozen tears. Ron Samuelson’s place was my hangout when I moved to Omaha in 1991. I soon found out it was Omaha’s bar and grill, where good folks met and became friends for life. I can’t tell you how many great people I met there — too many to count — along with bartenders Smitty and Trey. My wife, Jen, and I went there on our first date, in 1993, and I have to give M’s a huge assist. Here’s how good it was — it didn’t have a TV, no game for me to watch and I still loved it.
I hope they rebuild M’s, hope it comes back better than ever. There will always only be one M’s. But my college bar, the Heidelberg, at Missouri, burned down and was rebuilt. Even though it’s not the exact same Berg, it holds a lot of the same ambiance, and it’s still the place where new generations meet. That can be M’s again. I’m rooting for it. So is our city.
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