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Drake’s Takes: Big News in Nebraska Basketball and the NBA Dunk Contest

February 25, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes gives an overview of both Husker basketball teams, plus a look back on last weekend’s NBA dunk contest.

Hoiberg staying another year

Yesterday, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts announced that Fred Hoiberg will be returning for one more year

The move to keep Hoiberg isn’t all that surprising, especially given the details of what his buyout would have been. But it’s a situation that doesn’t look great in the big picture. 

This marks the second time in under five months that Alberts has put out a statement announcing that he wouldn’t be firing an underperforming head coach. Looking at the two statements, you wouldn’t be able to tell which sport is which if you took out the names. 

The results of the team aren’t acceptable. The head coach agreed to a restructured contract, had “several productive” meetings with Alberts and laid out a plan for the future. 

When Hoiberg was hired and Frost had already completed his first season, very few thought that either coach, much less both of them, would be in this position. Both teams have talent, and will have a player drafted to the next level (if Bryce McGowens goes to the draft). Success seems so close, yet so far. 

I don’t know if I trust Hoiberg to turn things around in what will undoubtedly be a make or break year next season. I don’t think it’s out of the question. I’m curious to see what staff changes happen — a few big name hires brought a bit of hope back for the football team, so public interest could increase slightly if the same happens in basketball. 

On top of all of that, here’s another fun thing to watch for — If the Huskers win just one of their final four regular season games and lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, they’ll finish with the same winning percentage as the football team had in 2021. Can we count that as consistency?

Conference tournament next week for women’s basketball

I was a bit surprised to see women’s basketball not even crack the receiving votes list in the AP Top 25 after beating Indiana, but that’s the cost of losing to Penn State in the same week. 

Regardless, the Huskers have bounced back from that stumble well, blowing out Minnesota at home and taking down Wisconsin on the road. Both of those wins were expected, but still should be applauded, as they came after news broke of assistant coach Chuck Love’s suspension and guard Ashley Scoggin’s departure from the team. 

The most recent victory also came on the road, where the Huskers have had some struggles this season. That’s a good sign, considering there won’t be any home games for them in the postseason. 

Another positive is that Michigan State has lost two straight. That locks the Huskers into the top half of the conference, with the season finale against Northwestern deciding who gets the sixth seed. 

The only true advantages that come from beating the Wildcats for that sixth spot are pride and momentum, however. None of the top teams in the conference would be remotely easy quarterfinal matchups, and things are still shifting. 

For the Huskers first game, they could play pretty much any of the bottom five teams in the conference depending on how things shake out. 

The focus for now should be finishing strong against Northwestern. The Wildcats have some extra motivation in this game, given their current NCAA Tournament bubble status. I think it’ll be a good game.

The dunk contest will be fine

A lot of people were complaining last weekend about the NBA’s dunk contest, and for good reason. 

Overall, it was really bad. There were a lot of missed dunks. The hype for Cole Anthony’s opening dunk in Timbs was diminished when he took a very long time to tie the boots and needed a few attempts to pull off the slam. Jalen Green wore an NFT chain and took what had to be double-digit attempts to make the dunk.

Winner Obi Toppin’s dunks were legitimately great if you ask me, but it’s different when none went down on the first try. 

Many people have been calling for props to be banned, including other people. Some called this the worst dunk contest ever (clearly not remembering the year where there was a team dunk round). However, I’m fine with the current system.

I’ve accepted the fact that we won’t get anything close to the 2016 showdown between Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine for a long time. There’s going to be some bad contests like this one. But I think the good still outweighs the bad.

Personally, I’m in favor of a good prop. Cole Anthony’s first dunk was great. Stuff the Magic Dragon, Orlando’s mascot, was an integral part of Gordon’s 2016 success. Gordon’s 2017 drone dunk has been rightfully forgotten, but I also thought that was creative. 

Props like Green’s can certainly be unbearable, but there’s enough good stuff to balance it out. I’m not against making the 3-point contest the final event of the night, but I’m not worried at all about the dunk contest’s future.

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