Nebraska Basketball: The Downward Spiral of Christian Standhardinger
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When Christian Standhardinger first arrived at the University of Nebraska he had two things of note: 1. A Berlin Wall-sized amount of potential, and 2. A curious resemblance to Michael Jackson. As the recent turn of events may prove, he now shares more in common with the deceased Jackson than with that player who continually gave us glimpses of brilliance followed up by disappointment.
Standhardinger, a 6'8" forward from Munich, Germany arrived on campus as a high scoring foreigner who seemed able to stretch the floor with his three-point accuracy as well as get to the hoop with a quick first step and a variety of finishing moves in the paint.
He left with a ticket for being a perv and no immediate future on the hardwood.
Here, in the words of the immortal Wacko-Jacko himself, is how Standhardinger's career broke down for the Huskers.
Pre-Nebraska Days: "Wanna Be Startin' Something"
Standhardinger arrived with a great deal of ballyhoo on campus. Perhaps Nebraska's most heralded foreign recruit since Aleks Maric's enormous Aussie ass graced our campus, Standhardinger clearly wanted to be starting something with the Nebraska basketball team.
Much like his doppelgänger, MJ (*author's note: no, not the MJ that was good at basketball. The pastier one), Standhardinger's potential seemed through the roof. He'd carried his German well, serving as the front-man to many an Ike and Tito role-player, becoming a voracious scorer and a good to above-average rebounder.
Freshman Year, 15-Game Suspension: "Bad"
Standhardinger first ran afoul of the NCAA after violating their rules of amateurism. Like a Joe Jackson backhand, they popped Standhardinger's chances of making a big impact with his new Husker team.
The NCAA rulebook is longer than "War and Peace" and is full of enough bureaucratic, legalese mumbo-jumbo that Johnnie Cochran himself couldn't have figured out a way to make heads or tails of it. Needless to say, Standhardinger had to put his potentially gigantic impact on a struggling Husker team on ice for a while.
End of Big XII Play: "The Way You Make Me Feel"
The way Standhardinger usually made Nebraska fans feel? Frustrated. We spent more time pulling our hair out then he spent combing through his hair-straightener-extraordinaire coif. He played great at times, tacking on 25 points and 8 boards against Iowa State and leading the Huskers in free throws despite coming off the bench for the majority of his minutes, and looked soft and uninspired on others.
Let's consider this the "Michael Jackson Getting Kind of Weird" phase for Standhardinger. This was the time period where MJ started turning white, getting more plastic surgery than the cast of "Jersey Shore" and shattering the record for most insanely creepy, despite its seemingly innocuous name, theme park called "Neverland Ranch."
As erratic as Jackson was during this bizarre period of time, his peaks and valleys parallel the way Standhardinger played for Nebraska. The German seemed intensely frustrated with himself, his team and his coach at times. If Lincoln had a Studio 54, I'm sure Standhardinger would've been there and if Jheri curls ever came back I bet he would've worn one.
The Start of Sophomore Year: "Black and White"
Standhardinger's rocky relationship with his own personal Joe Jackson, Doc Sadler, vacillated wildly during his sophomore year. He couldn't seem to stay out of the doghouse and while he was down, Janet (AKA: the Rest of the team) started to have a banner year under Sadler.
Black and white, good and bad; Standhardinger seemed to be all over the map. His talents were still there, but he averaged just a little under 18 minutes a game. His relationship with Doc seemed to spiral out of control and Standhardinger ended up being dismissed from the team.
End of His Career as a Husker: Holding His Baby Over the Edge of a Balcony
I know that's not really a song. But that seemed to be the breaking point with MJ and many people. Others would argue it was his seeming perversion or his awkwardly creepy friendship with MaCaulay Culkin. Any way you slice it, Standhardinger getting booted off the team was akin to MJ holding his son over a balcony ledge like some idiotic re-creation of the birth scene from "The Lion King."
Ironically enough, MJ held his son—named "Blanket;" I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried—over the ledge from a German hotel.
Impending Transfer to La Salle: "Beat It"
After Sadler essentially told Standhardinger to hit the bricks, he was offered a spot on the roster of the La Salle's squad. Which was dedicated, according to Google, in the tradition of the Christian Brothers. Which is ironic because, brace yourself...
Standhardinger Gets Ticketed for Public Indecency: "Dirty Diana"
I'm not sure if the girl's name was Diana. She was not a famous, 6'8" German dude who looked like Michael Jackson with a jump-hook, so her name wasn't mentioned in the police report that I could find. One thing's for sure: Christian was almost certainly attempting to live up to his 1970s-porn-star-name.
Nevermind the logistics of a gigantic dude trying to get down and dirty in a car, or the fact that limbs and Biore-straightened hair were probably flying everywhere. This was rock bottom for Standhardinger. The coach at La Salle rescinded his scholarship offer and Standhardinger's career ground to a halt like a dude dancing his ass off who suddenly doesn't remember the next move in the "Thriller dance" at a party.
Where Standhardinger goes from here is up to him; whether he translates his physical gifts into something on the court is up to him. I guess he'll just have to take a good long look at the man in the mirror.
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