It's finally over Husker fans.
The Nebraska Men's Basketball team has ended their season with a 3-15 skid to end their worst season since 2002 when they went 11-19. While this season may not have been that dreadful, it was below the expectations of many Husker fans this season.
With little to no size last season, Nebraska won 20 games for a second straight year and made it to the NIT tournament for the second time in as many years as well. Many Nebraska fans thought the addition of players like Jorge Brian Diaz, Christian Standhardinger, and Brandon Ubel would help with size down low.
It did help with height; Nebraska was no longer the smallest team in 1-A basketball, but it didn't help with strength.
Diaz and Ubel are at best, two years away from being players with enough strength down low to post up effectively against players like Cole Aldrich, Damion James, and many of the other bigs the Big 12 offers year in and year out.
Too often Husker fans underestimate the poise and maturity of players like Paul Velander, Steve Harley, Ade Dagundaro, and Cookie Miller. Nebraska lost four very good playmakers last year after the '08-'09 season and were expected to get better.
Which, in hindsight was a poor expectation.
In the 2009-2010 season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers did have five seniors, but only two started—Sek Henry and Ryan Anderson.
The other key contributors were mostly sophomores and freshman. Jorge Brian Diaz, Brandon Ubel, Brandon Richardson, Eshaunte "Bear" Jones, Myles Holley, Ray Gallegos, and Christian Standhardinger all got extended amounts of playing time this season and look to contain the talent that, if developed enough, could propel Nebraska into the Big Dance within the next few years.
But are Husker fans willing to wait again to see if young promising talent actually does work out?
How many times have Husker fans been told that this basketball team is one year away or even two years away? Doc hasn't been able to keep a consistent starting five on the floor for four years, so why would we start to think he is doing so now?
I think, because now, he realizes what he must do to win.
Before, Doc tried to make the quick fix, plucking players out of JUCO like they were going out of style. Names like Steve Harley, Ade Dagundaro, Shang Ping, and Jay-R Stowbridge come to mind.
Now though, Sadler is beginning to realize that if he wants to make in impact it must be through developing players. Nebraska isn't going to attract the John Wall's of the world but they can get players that could morph into something special if developed.
His other strategy apparently is to go overseas. Over the past four years, Sadler has grabbed a total of four players from a foreign country but only two have contributed though.
So is the change of philosophy working? It's too early to tell.
I'm sorry Husker fans but switching philosophies in his third year, Doc has moved his critical evaluation period back another two at least.
Can he keep players here or will they transfer? Can he build an attitude of winning at UNL?
Again, too early to tell.
What I do know is that this year, the 2009-10 season, Nebraska came within single digits of winning five of the fourteen league games they lost. Which means they could have had the opportunity to go 7-9 this year if they had had the poise to win the game in the end.
In the other nine games they lost in the conference, Nebraska had the lead with less than ten minutes to go in the game a total of six times (Texas A&M, Kansas, Iowa State twice, Baylor, and Kansas State).
This year was characterized by Nebraska's inability to close out games when it mattered most. Even if half of those scenarios had worked out differently, Nebraska may be at least NIT bound this season.
But alas, the what-ifs and could haves are only solace for those who fail. And fail Nebraska did this year.
Sometimes though, difficulty breeds resilience, and that is something Nebraska can use to propel them to a better season next year when the Big 12 isn't as dominant as they were this year, or it could cause them to stumble.
Some might say there is only one way to go after this season but I disagree.
It is up to the young players to step up, put some muscle on, and win through experience next season.
We will be watching and waiting, for at least one more year.