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If Thursday was Halloween, basketball is right around the corner. Nebraska’s men play an exhibition game against Nebraska-Kearney Monday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena before tipping off their regular-season opener on Friday night, Nov. 8 against Florida Gulf Coast. Picked to finish first by Big Ten Conference coaches and the league’s media, Nebraska’s women play their second exhibition game Sunday afternoon against UNK before hosting UCLA for Game One presented by Ameritas at noon on Friday, Nov. 8 – the first official basketball game in what promises to be one of the country’s finest arenas. With the countdown to tip-off getting louder by the day, let’s frame up five Tim Miles quips and five Connie Yori quotes gleaned from Thursday’s Big Ten Media Day in Chicago.
Miles did a wonderful job mixing humor with reality and expressing genuine excitement to trump low expectations, and Yori was her usual solid, communicative self. She respectively acknowledged her team’s role in the Big Ten’s catbird seat, but wasted no time explaining how four returning starters from a Sweet 16 qualfier does not automatically equate to a conference championship team, especially when those four players will no longer take the court with their four-year starting point guard that became a first-round draft choice on the WNBA’s 2013 championship team.
Here are my five favorite quips from the fast-thinking Miles: 1) “We are more than just a ‘whatever’ school because you don’t have to peel the onion back far to find out Connie and I are both picked 12th. She’s 12th in the country; I’m 12th in the league.”’ 2) “I wanted to feel better, and I came home to talk to my wife and she says: ‘Why aren’t you out recruiting?’” 3) “We’re young. We’re impulsive … somebody said we’re going to be like a roller coaster … I said ‘no, we’re going to be like an EKG.’” 4) “I’m putting in a new directive that if you’re picked first, you have to take the most questions and as you get down to be picked at the end, you get to take the least questions. So I’m taking one, and there’s one guy that didn’t vote us last, so he can ask it.” 5) “We were lifting at 6:15 a.m. all fall and we had guys in the gym at 5:30 on a regular basis, doing their shooting and doing their ball-handling, working themselves to a lather at 5:30 a.m. I was up at 5:30, but I was running to the can.”
Here are my five favorite quotes from Yori, a college Journalism major, so she understands the fine art of getting her points across: 1) “We’re different this year than last with the loss of Lindsey (Moore) and we don’t have anybody masquerading right now as Lindsey in our practices. I wish we did.” 2) I felt like the last several years, she (Moore) has been one of the best point guards in the country … she made everybody around her (better) … nobody in our program is going to replace Lindsey. We have to do it collectively.” 3) Jordan Hooper’s experience with USA basketball “has made her more confident. It’s made her more vocal. Jordan is a quiet kid and for her to be playing four years ago at a rural high school in Nebraska, a ranch kid, (and then) go all the way to playing with USA basketball in Russia is a huge expansion of who she is and where she has come from.” 4) “When we earned a (NCAA) regional I had to check and make sure it was us. But I think earning a regional is (based on) a couple reasons. We have a brand new arena and we have a great fan base.” 5) “In terms of the big picture and what’s happening with women’s basketball, I’m a proponent for what is going to happen in the future (and) going back to the top 16 seeds hosting and having neutral regionals.”
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If the fans of Nebraska will trust Tim long enough for him to do his recruiting, he will make the Huskers an annual tournament team. To get the players you need to do the job is a challenge in itself. Tim will do it but he has to get established enough to be competitive. Then the recruits will come a little easier. Just remember, the basketball bluebloods didn’t get there over night. You have a football program that has been one of the teams to compare to. With time, Tim will get you there. When he does, your biggest problem will be to keep him. Maybe you’ll be lucky and he’ll come to call Nebraska home. Wayne Walen, Glenfield, North Dakota
Tim Miles was an interesting hire. His energy is endless and he has a history of taking programs from the bottom to the top. Tom Osborne knew he needed a program builder with great work ethic and a sincere interest in living in Lincoln. Tim Miles is funny. He's real. He's a good coach who wants to become a great coach. As his teams climb and claw for respectability, Nebraska opponents will be the last ones laughing. It will be fun following Nebraska basketball, even from way out here. Steve Morgan, Las Vegas, Nevada