How to Convert National Relevance into Stature
Randy York’s N-Sider
In my lifetime, summertime has been prime time for Nebraska football in terms of media coverage. For Husker basketball, summertime historically means ignored moments in time on a national level, even when talent might have warranted such exposure. This summer, nearly 47 years after taking my first class at the University of Nebraska, I have never seen or even sensed the significance of Nebraska basketball being bigger than it is now.
The latest case in point: Gary Parrish's "Conference Catchup" on CBSSports.com. The college basketball "insider" is writing a summer series on basketball conferences, and somehow, even though Wisconsin deservedly gets the lead and the main headline for the Big Ten, Nebraska was a major benefactor of Parrish's unique perspective.
For the record, here are Parrish's top five teams for the 2014-15 Big Ten season: 1) Wisconsin; 2) Nebraska; 3) Ohio State; 4) Michigan State; and 5) Michigan. According to Parrish," Tim Miles has lifted everything" and "the Huskers are as good as almost anybody" whenever teams play against Nebraska in Lincoln, he said.
PBA: The Best Arena in College Basketball
No wonder Pinnacle Bank Arena (PBA) is called "The Best Arena in College Basketball" in another national publication. PBA is, after all, the basketball home for Terran Petteway, the Big Ten's leading scorer as a sophomore. Petteway is a first-team preseason All-Big Ten selection, according to Parrish. He joins guards Yogi Farrell (Indiana) and Caris LaVert (Michigan), plus double-trouble front-liners Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker – proven performers representing Wisconsin, an NCAA Final Four team that is locked and loaded for another national championship run in 2014-15.
But here's the most interesting Nebraska-related twist in CBSSports.com's summertime summary: As the Big Ten prepares to welcome Maryland and Rutgers into the conference on July 1, Parrish – the writer/analyst/expert – publicly wrestles with his final thoughts, and his honesty is compelling evidence that showcases Nebraska's rare summertime national exposure.
"The idea that I could reasonably pick the Nebraska Huskers to finish second in the Big Ten – in men's basketball!!!! – is surprising even to me, and I'm somebody who always thought Tim Miles would do positive things in Lincoln," Parrish wrote, adding the following to explain where he's coming from:
"But Nebraska second?"
"In men's basketball in the Big Ten?
"It just sounds crazy, doesn't it?"
"In fairness," Parrish said, "the top four or five or six in this league could finish in any order with Wisconsin, probably, being the only school to qualify as a truly safe bet to consistently be ranked in the top 15 of the national polls. But there's no denying that Nebraska belongs, and the success already achieved and the good things ahead are a testament not only to Miles but to the athletic department in general.
"The school invested in men's basketball in every way imaginable.
"This is the result.
"And it really should be a lesson to all so-called football schools.
"Make excuses, if you want. But Nebraska … is proof that you can be relevant in this sport if you invest in this sport and hire the right coach. Nebraska did the first, then the second. The byproduct of that is the Huskers being ranked 18th in the CBSSports.com preseason top 25 (and one) and in position to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season."
Yes, Nebraska has woven its way into the very fabric of national relevance and in more ways than just great expectations on the floor. A recent national publication includes a full-color page promoting DLR Group with a headline already mentioned: "The Best Arena in College Basketball is Pinnacle Bank Arena!" The supporting ad copy completes the definition: "The new home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers is the winner of Athletic Business' 2004 Facility Madness Tournament."
PBA Design Group Lives Up to Specialties
Athletic Business is the leading resource for athletic, fitness and recreation professionals. DLR Group has helped bring game day to the University of Nebraska men's and women's basketball programs. Its influence has helped PBA key Nebraska's first sold-out season in men's program history, and the new arena was a major factor enabling the Huskers to qualify for their first NCAA Tournament in 16 years.
Such milestones helped Pinnacle Bank Arena win the 2014 Facility Madness Tournament, amassing half of the more than 100,000 electronic votes throughout a 32-school fictional tournament that included the likes of UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas. Nebraska's $179 million arena was the cornerstone of Lincoln's $344 million West Haymarket Redevelopment Project. Opening last fall, its combination of concrete and metal panel facade, spectacular open-air roof deck, contemporary glass-encased entrance and concourse offer picturesque views of the State Capitol.
Architectural Aesthetics and a Modern Feel
PBA bills itself as "an architectural embodiment of aesthetics and modernity." With 470,400 square feet, the state-of-the-art multi-purpose arena offers year-round entertainment, including concerts, family shows, touring acts and sporting events.
PBA's modern feel and amenities were enough to win over Facility Madness voters as Pinnacle Bank Arena knocked off Butler University's Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in the championship round. The ad is convincing. One photo is a sweeping view of PBA with fans flocking to the arena outside to join those already inside. The next photo shows the prototypical men's full-house with a fully lit scoreboard reflecting the action on the floor. The third photo shows Husker fans going up and down on the escalators inside. The overall impact is a cool, cozy venue that produced Big Red magic.
Who would have thought a new building could play such a prominent role in the Huskers' amazing transformation so quickly? Nebraska's joint venture with the City of Lincoln produced a rocket-like launch in Pinnacle Bank Arena's inaugural season. Make no mistake. A full year of strategic planning was every bit as important as Nebraska making a major investment in basketball. Combine our commitment to the overall fan experience, and unparalleled national relevance becomes the ultimate result.
Boehm: Next Step: From Very Good to Great
"We're proud and excited to see national columns and ads like the ones published already this summer," Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm said. "Our fans gave us an incredible home-court edge last year, but we're not resting on our laurels. We want to make the fan experience even better this year because the challenge is elevated.
"Our goals are high, but no higher than the overall optimism of our fans," Boehm said. "Our fans love Pinnacle Bank Arena, and they want to soar just as high as the players and coaches do. They want to prove that they can be as loud and intimidating as any fan base in the country. They're a big part of the entertainment, and their goal is to help us convert our national relevance into true national stature.
"It's going to take a lot of work from everyone to make that happen," said Boehm, who relishes the challenge of turning significance into stature. "We all know the kind of power we can build when we're all in it together."
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