Two teams, different goals.
The Nebraska women’s basketball team, 16-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena last season, wants to sell one of its home games during the Big Ten game.
Sales aren’t necessarily an issue for Husker men. Winning is. And NU coach Fred Hoiberg, speaking briefly at the “Opening Night with Husker Hoops” event on Friday, made a slight prediction.
The Nebraska men will improve on their 7-12 record from last year at home.
“It’s amazing to see the crowd we’re getting tonight for this big event,” Hoiberg said before Nebraska conducted a quick 30-minute open practice drill. “Like I said, we have to be better in this building, there’s no doubt about that. We will be.
“I couldn’t have more confidence in the 16 guys that stand out here today. I really think this is a band that this fanbase can rally behind.
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Fans cheered the loudest for homegrown stars – Lincoln Pius X grad Alexis Markowski for the women and North Dakota State transfer Sam Griesel for the men.
“I’m pretty speechless, to be honest,” said Griesel, the Lincoln East grad who cited Hoiberg and “the community” as his top reasons for transferring to NU.
Markowski, meanwhile, had a good night for the Husker Women, who beat their scouting team 43-22 in 24 minutes from scrimmage. Point guard Jaz Shelley, who unofficially finished with 10 points, opened the second half with two quick field goals as Markowski anchored the post and South Dakota transfer Maddie Krull hit the buzzer.
In brief comments before the scrimmage, Husker coach Amy Williams said the team had set a goal of selling PBA for its Feb. 18 home game against rival Iowa.
Last year’s Husker/Hawkeye game, played on a Sunday, drew 8,415 fans.
“As we start to build momentum this season, I think everyone is really going to come on board and come see this team play the game,” Williams said. “We think this place can be packed for a women’s basketball game.”
Nebraska has sold all 12,000 tickets available for the “Opening Night” event. Fans headed to Pinnacle Bank Arena during the 90-minute event that served as an appetizer to Waka Flocka Flame’s rap concert. The performer – a late addition after original performer EST Gee was canceled due to “unforeseen” circumstances – threw a few T-shirts into the crowd as the Husker men practiced.
* In a 3-point contest between men and women, Keisei Tominaga hit 17 3-pointers, beating Jaz Shelley’s 14. Wilhelm Breidenbach and Annika Stewart each have 13.
* At least for opening night, the Nebraska Women replaced injured guard Sam Haiby in the starting lineup with Trinity Brady. Brady, who hasn’t played a game in nearly two years and has battled various injuries since joining, rebounded coast-to-coast for a layup. Nailah Dillard, who hasn’t played a game in a Husker uniform in more than two years, did not participate in the scrimmage.
* Quaran McPherson, out for the season after knee surgery, was still in the intro, making his way up the stairs. Maggie Mendelson, who currently plays for the Husker volleyball team, recorded an introduction, although the pre-filmed videos did not play well and did not appear on the big screens on center court.
* Both teams began training this week and open regular season play at home on Monday, November 7. The Husker women will host UNO at noon, while the NU men will host Maine at 7 p.m. The women have an exhibition game at home Oct. 30, while the men host Chadron State for an exhibition Oct. 23.