Photo by Eric Francis
Nebraska Basketball

An Appreciation of Isaiah Roby's Soul-Robbing Dunk

February 12, 2018
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I’m going to be completely honest, it was hard to focus on the actual game during the second half of Nebraska’s 67-55 win over Rutgers on Saturday. 

Things were close, sure. Rutgers got within six at one point early on, okay. Duby Okeke officially submitted his application to join the Nebraska football team, cool. But let's be real here, the game reached a crescendo a mere seven minutes in. 

With 13 minutes left in the first half, Husker forward Isaiah Roby snatched a dude’s soul. The broadcast didn’t do it justice, sorry Kevin Kugler. Yes, Roby elevated and Roby destroyed, but trying to put that dunk into words is like trying to describe the awesomeness of a perfectly executed Black 41 Flash Reverse pass to a blind person. Just can’t be done.

Seeing this play unfold live was like witnessing the Patriots dynasty come crashing down at the hands of a once-Mike Stoops-coached quarterback: too good to believe and yet too incredibly amazing to turn away.

There hasn't been a single time I've watched that replay and not let out some sort of audible exclamation. It’s involuntary at this point.  The man took off from the Big Ten logo under the free throw line, had the ball above the box on the backboard and had everyone wearing a Rutgers jersey questioning whether they now had to offer up their first born.

Now, I’m young, so I wasn’t around to witness some of the more memorable moments in Nebrasketball lore — a quick Google search doesn’t help much — but I have witnessed a fair share of posters in my day. I grew up in Oklahoma where we watched Russell freaking Westbrook obliterate folks and Blake Griffin dunk Kendrick Perkins into basketball oblivion (OH ME OH MY). Still, never in my life have I seen someone throw down a dunk so hard, so vicious, that it messed with the camera atop the backboard.

I REPEAT, HE DUNKED THE CAMERA OUT OF FOCUS.

I just can’t even.

I have to think Roby dented the rim, or at least caused some of the air to run screaming from out of the basketball when it made contact with the hoop. Has anyone checked? Is the rim okay? Has Tom Brady tried to swipe the ball yet? I mean goodness gracious.

Eric Francis

Now let’s take a second and look at the reactions of those that were witness to this tremendous moment in Husker hoops history. Sure, it’s a bit cliché to point out other faces in memorable pictures but it’s also endlessly entertaining. 

Rutgers guard Corey Sanders (3) is making that face you made when you were a kid and you looked down at your phone and saw four missed calls from mom. Seriously, look at him, that’s the face of pure fear. Roby’s fellow frontcourt partner Jordy Tshimanga looks like he’s either thanking the heavens he’s wearing a black jersey and not a white one, or trying to decide if Roby arrived out of the Cloverfield Paradox to destroy everything. Not really sure which.

I can guarantee you pretty much everyone in the arena was questioning the laws of physics for at least a split second as Roby seemed to just levitate next to the rim.

If I have one complaint, it’s this. Next time this happens (because yes, there will be a next time; remember when Roby tried to Statue-of-Liberty dunk an Illinois defender and nearly melted the walls of the arena?) whoever is standing under the basket needs to just accept their fate and jump. Don’t be like Candido Sa (1) and rob the entire planet of the poster to end all posters. Don’t turn away, don’t make a business decision, just accept your lot in life and let Roby immortalize you forever on Husker fans’ walls. 

Can you imagine if Sa had put his hand up and Roby had still yammed on him? My laptop would have been at center court so fast. Pinnacle Bank Arena had already exploded after the play and then again after play stopped, but if Sa contested? East campus would have heard the crowd.

Roby is turning into one heck of a force in the Big Ten. Defensive metrics (I know, I know, lots of noise) love him, his offensive efficiency is off the charts and his last two games have been revelations. At least once every time BTN’s Stephen Bardo watches Roby, he goes off on a tangent about how the sophomore is set to become the next hottest basketball player in the conference (that is if Okeke hasn't already taken that honor for a ... different reason). 

If he keeps annihilating opponents with dunks like this, there might not be anyone left to challenge him for that title. 

Now, one last time set to the tune of “I Believe I Can Fly” for your viewing pleasure. Happy Monday. May we all be blessed with another Roby Rim Rocker in the near future.

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