Monday, November 30, 2009

Thommes earns 2nd team All-America honors

Ellen Thommes got her 1,000th kill on Sept. 11 in the victory against Drury.

Okay, so nothing's been officially released yet, but the big news right now is that UNO volleyball's senior Ellen Thommes has been honored as a member of the Division II Volleyball All-American second team.

That's what her coach, Rose Shires, told me yesterday.

I'm still checking and other DII volleyball sites for any official updates, but Shires' words are about as solid as carbon nanotubes.

The All-America team would be another honor for Thommes. The Omaha Marion product earned a spot on the American Volleyball Coaches Association first team and was named to the Daktronics second team. This after Thommes was already selected for the MIAA first team.

I will be looking to get an interview with Thommes and, if we're lucky, I may have it on video. It'd be nice to hear what one of the better UNO volleyball players in school history has to say about her season and her individual accolades.

Huskers have their work cut out this Saturday

If that's not an understatement, then I don't know what is. Nebraska has a HUGE challenge ahead as they prepare to take on the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas. It's tough enough that the game is taking place in Tejas' backyard (in Jerry's Palace, as some are calling it), but when you begin to break down each team's strength and weaknesses, you find it's going to be very hard for the Huskers to pull this one out.

Nebraska's problem is the offense. Nebraska sucks on offense, frankly put. I haven't seen a Nebraska offense struggle like this since the days of Dailey Doubles. I think there's a newspaper article that says they found a mysterious white substance in Memorial Stadium, and the offense was unable to go near it - it was later determined that the white substance was actually the end zone (I know it's unoriginal, but still funny if you haven't heard it).

With Nebraska struggling on offense, you have to wonder how they are going to score on Texas' defense. It's true that Texas' defense has been gashed at times this season, including last week against Texas A&M, but Nebraska doesn't have those kind of weapons. Nebraska doesn't have a Jeff Fuller.

So how can the Huskers score some points?

- Short field. Most of NU's points this season (other than the Sun Belt teams) have come on short fields, either after turnovers or from the leg of Alex Henery. Nebraska will have to take advantage of every short-field opportunity that will be available.

- Turnovers. A pick-6 or a fumble return for a touchdown would not only add some points to the board, but it would also give Nebraska unbelievable momentum during the game.

- Special Teams. The ST has been playing very well the last few weeks, most notably Henery and Paul. Paul has made some nice returns, including returning a punt for a touchdown last week against Colorado. And we all know how important Henery has been - he's probably the team's MVP right now. The point is that Nebraska needs to score at least one non-offensive touchdown if they hope to keep up with the Longhorns.

- Actually taking some deep shots. Texas' secondary has proven this year that it can be burnt deep in the vertical passing game. Texas A&M showed that quite wonderfully last week. The thing here is that Watson has been very conservative with his playcalling and hasn't really let the ball fly. If he does, it's almost always to Paul. Nebraska needs big plays, like Mo Purify's touchdown in 2006, if they are going to score. The offense is just not capable of 10-play, 80-yard drives against Texas, let alone Baylor or Colorado.

My prediction? A 31-13 loss for Nebraska. Texas is on a mission for the BCS National Championship Game, so I'm not expecting any sort of letdown. Will Muschamp will be in his defense's ear all week in practice after their performance against A&M, and I expect we will see a more rejuvinated and passionate Longhorn defense. Of course, it could look that way regardless because of Nebraska's inept offense.

UNO men's basketball off to a hot start

When Mitch Albers decided to transfer to Nebraska over the offseason, the Mavs were faced with having to replace three of their top scorers from the previous year.

Before the season, I wondered who would step up and take on the scoring responsibilities for this team. After 5 games, it appears the Mavs will have many offensive options throughout the season.

Leading the way right now is junior Tyler Bullock. He's led the Mavs in scoring in 4 of the 5 games so far. He averages 19 ppg and leads the team in free throw attemps and makes. His ability to drive to the basket and draw fouls or kick it out is proving to be a strong offensive weapon.

When Bullock drives the lane and draws in defenders, he usually passes out to junior Jeff Martin. Martin is a 3-point artist, and has been since high school (Oh, how I remember those Central-Bellevue West rivalries). He leads the team in 3-point attemps (33) and makes (17). With a 3-point shooting percentage over 50%, Martin provides a deadly complement to Bullock's ability to drive the lane.

The real competition begins now as they begin MIAA competition on Wednesday. We'll see if the offense can stay in a high gear.

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