“When you walk into an arena that’s half full or two-thirds full, it gives you a sense of the confidence of the traveling team. When you walk into sold-out arenas, you worry about getting your team to communicate. When the arena’s sold out, there’s so much more pressure on an opposing team to play in a certain manner.”
Those were the words of Nebraska head coach Tim Miles in early April when discussing his hopes for the Huskers’ move into the new Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown Lincoln. The program has struggled for years, and while Miles’ first season at Nebraska displayed signs of progress the Huskers still finished below .500 (15-18; 5-13 Big Ten).
Two words can sum up Nebraska’s announcement in regards to ticket sales: mission accomplished.
Nebraska announced on Friday that the 2013-14 home slate at Pinnacle Bank Arena is sold out, with the exception of tickets that are set aside for the visiting team and nearly 100 student tickets the athletic department expects to be sold soon.
For established basketball programs selling out for the season six months before the first game isn’t a big deal. But this is Nebraska, a school that hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1998 and has just two 20-win campaigns since that season.
While Miles was hopeful that the fans would come through on their end, he certainly didn’t expect this level of success in regard to ticket sales.
“I’m glad to have a waiting list, and I hope that waiting list piles up,” said Miles in a story by the Associated Press. “I hope everyone shows up and stands up and yells at the top of their lungs. It should be a great thing.”
Nebraska loses two of their top three scorers in Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel, but with the return of Ray Gallegos and Shavon Shields and the addition of a three-member recruiting class that includes shooting guard Nathan Hawkins and small forward Nick Fuller reaching the .500 mark should be a realistic goal.
Having a new arena will certainly help in building excitement within the fan base. But ultimately it will be the product on the floor that ensures a full building in the years to come.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)