This week’s Drake’s Takes covers conference tournament performances for both Nebraska basketball teams, along with the recent survey on Memorial Stadium.
Men’s basketball season ends
After winning three straight games to end the season, Nebraska couldn’t keep the magic going.
The Huskers held a 15-point lead in the second half, but lost to Northwestern 71-69 in the first round of the conference tournament.
The last two possessions were especially frustrating to watch. After the Wildcats hit a free throw to go up one point, the response from Nebraska was a forced drive from Alonzo Verge Jr. that ended in a desperate shot and a charge call.
Northwestern then made one of two free throws, giving the Huskers a chance to tie or win with the last shot. However, the final Nebraska possession didn’t look much different from the one before it. Trey McGowens drove and forced up a tough, unsuccessful shot in traffic. There was no foul call, and the buzzer sounded as both teams fought for the rebound.
Nebraska could have, and probably should have, won this game. You’d think the team would be able to come up with a better couple of plays to end the contest, win or lose.
Then again, it’s hard to be too frustrated about this. A final record of 10-22 would’ve seemed near impossible a couple of weeks ago.
Overall, the season will and should go down as a disappointment. But there’s some reason to be hopeful. I wouldn’t expect Nebraska to vault toward the top of the conference next year or anything, but building on this momentum could at least bring the Huskers a respectable record.
The next thing to watch for will be Bryce McGowens decision on the NBA. It feels likely that he’d jump to the pros after one successful year with the Huskers. However, there’s an argument to be made that he could improve his draft stock greatly by returning.
As we’ve learned to expect, change will be coming to the team this offseason regardless. Let’s see how it plays out.
Women’s basketball heads into NCAA Tournament
On the other side, the women’s basketball team will continue its season in the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers couldn’t reach the Big Ten championship, being stopped by the buzzsaw that is Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. Despite nine turnovers and an inefficient first half, Clark finished the semifinal matchup with Nebraska with 41 points. That’s hard to beat.
While Nebraska surely wanted to avoid its third loss to Iowa this season, there’s no shame to be had in losing to one of the best players and teams in the country. The Hawkeyes are going to be difficult to take out in the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers, currently projected as a six seed in the bracket, will hope to do the same. They’ve proved that they’re capable of being a Sweet 16 team, but along with a first round win, they’ll have to take down a top-12 opponent to get there.
Someone to keep an eye on is Alexis Markowski. The freshman struggled in Nebraska’s final two games of the conference tournament, and breaking out of that slump would make the Huskers an even more dangerous team.
Memorial Stadium survey
Nebraska recently published a survey asking donors, fans and others their thoughts on a multitude of things regarding the fan experience at Memorial Stadium.
The thing that’ll catch most eyes is the results on alcohol being sold at the stadium. 58% of respondents had positive feelings about it, while 28% had negative feelings. Just under a quarter said that they’d attend more games if alcohol was sold.
As you can imagine, most of the negative feelings on this topic come from those over 55 years of age. The same goes for gambling, which had a far more negative response. Only 31% had a somewhat positive or very positive attitude toward it, while 40% had a negative attitude.
Some of the selected comments are pretty funny, though. Here’s one of my favorites:
”If you allow sports gaming in the stadium, you will ruin the fundamentals of what we stand for.”
I’m not into sports betting at all, and sometimes find myself annoyed with those who talk about it a bit too much for my liking. But at the end of the day, I can’t imagine caring all that much about it. I’m not totally sure what the fundamentals are that would be ruined.
An interesting part of the survey to me, though, were the questions pertaining to the cost of attending. Of the people that were asked about why they didn’t attend more games, the price was the top answer (shoutout to the few people that responded “Do not like football”). Respondents overall were relatively unsatisfied with costs.
This is something that I’d watch to see if it changes. The Red Carpet Experience is currently continuing with spring Husker sports, and I’d expect it to carry over to the fall. At very least, the athletic department seems aware that financial hurdles are in the way for many fans of the program.
One more note that caught my eye — the balloon release was one of the less important traditions to Husker fans. It scored a 5.4 in satisfaction on a scale of 1-7, but that marked it second-to-last, only beating out The Cornhuskers Song.
Nebraska’s student government already is in favor of ending the balloon release, which is known to not have great environmental effects, so it seems we could be getting closer to it finally happening.