Considering that this article is directly following a one point Nebraska victory, I'm sure some of you will think this is an odd time to call for a head coach's head. Of course, if you actually did think that, you clearly haven't been paying attention to Nebraska basketball lately. Considering that this is the first article on Bleacher Report regarding the Nebraska Cornhuskers' basketball team since last March, it's safe to say no one is paying much attention to Nebraska basketball.
The Huskers came into tonight having lost three of their last four games. Oregon, Wake Forest and Creighton were all too much for Nebraska. It appears that Florida Gulf Coast was almost too hot to handle as well. Because this is Nebraska, losses to a Creighton team that is currently undefeated and ranked in the Top 25 are forgivable. Losses to Oregon can be overlooked as well, considering that Dana Altman certainly knows how to coach. A loss to Wake Forest (who won eight games a year ago) and a one point win over Florida Gulf Coast (10-20 and just 7-13 in the Atlantic Sun) are less palatable.
What makes the start to this season so difficult to stomach is that arguably this is Doc's most talented team. He has LSU transfer Bo Spencer as his starting point guard, as well as a newcomer from the JUCO ranks in Dylan Talley who seems to be instant offense. Doc also has returning starters Brandon Richardson and Jorge Brian Diaz. Caleb Walker rounds out what should be a pretty good offensive bunch. While that group seems like they should be good enough to hang with what will be an incredibly tough Big Ten, Doc's team has struggled to score. That has been the story of Doc's entire career at Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers rank 159th in the nation in scoring. They rank 145th in rebounds per game, and 119th in field goal percentage. That's a team that needs to rely on its defense to win games. That is why it's unfortunate that Nebraska allowed Oregon to shoot 49% from the field and allowed Wake Forest to shoot 44%. While Florida Gulf Coast shot just 40% from the field, they shot 45% (9 for 20) from three point land. In fact, had the Eagles shot better than 50% from the free throw line, they would have defeated Nebraska.
Perhaps the worst news for Doc Sadler is that the two wins he thought he could hang his hat on this season are far less impressive than once thought. While Nebraska managed to beat USC in overtime, it turns out that most teams that play the Trojans are able to beat them. USC currently boasts a resume that includes an embarrassing 42-36 loss to Cal Poly and an 11 point loss to UNLV. The other win that had Big Red fans and Big Ten pundits claiming Nebraska would make some noise was a dominating victory over Rhode Island. The Rams put together a nice team (20-14, 9-7) in the strong Atlantic 10 a year ago. Nebraska's 83-63 win seemed to be a signal that they were ready to take the next step. Rhode Island currently has one win in their nine games. The Rams have losses to teams like Cleveland State, Brown and Boston University.
Showing signs of real promise and progress followed by the lows of bad losses to mediocre teams has been the Doc Sadler legacy. Last year, Doc's team looked like it might actually be a contender for the NCAA tournament after getting off to a good start that included a 70-67 victory over 2nd ranked Texas. Nebraska followed up that accomplishment by dropping five of their final six games. That streak was topped by a 27-point loss to Wichita State in the opening round of the post season NIT. Want more frustration? The one win in that terrible stretch was an 11-point win over 24th ranked Missouri.
Enough is enough. While Doc Sadler was given a two year extension prior to that embarrassing season-ending loss, athletic director Tom Osborne has to right that wrong. Doc Sadler should not return to Nebraska next season, and the sooner his special brand of basketball leaves the state, the better.