Fans wearing the Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ colors now sit in Pinnacle Bank Arena and see No. 5 on the floor, but something’s not quite right. A little too much hustle that causes a layup to ricochet or too little touch on a jump shot. Where have you gone, Terran Petteway? More importantly, what must Tim Miles do to get you – the real you – back before facing the Indiana Hoosiers and Wisconsin Badgers?
During the Big Red’s bull in a china shop-style run between Jan 26 and Feb 23, Petteway oozed Big Ten Player of the Year potential. Averaging 23 points per game, Husker fans felt that was while he was on the court, everything would be fine sooner or later.
Over the past two contests, Nebraska fell to the Illinois Fighting Illini and hosted a throwback evening honoring the 1911-1912 Nebraska squad against the Northwestern Wildcats. The playing style was incredibly indicative of that era. Thankfully, the home team could shuffle to the locker room with a win. Yes, Petteway scored his 23 points, but as a combined total for the past two tilts.
With Nebrasketball’s March Madness hopes starting to fade, another road loss may pop the Big Red bubble. Yes, Nebraska can win with Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford as their main men. If Ray Gallegos were to find his sweet three-point shot again, that’d be swell. The most unlikely of Husker hardwood heroes in “Energizer” Benny Parker can scrap with the best of them, but without Petteway, something’s missing.
He adds a spark that no one else on this team can. During Saturday’s game against Northwestern, “The Vault” became a hive mind. “Petteway’s coming,” it thought. “He’s ready to break out.” Twitter’s Nebrasketball audience cried out for a late game surge 140 characters at a time, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
The season’s truly come down to the “one game at a time” mantra for Miles’ men. Beating Indiana on the road is a step in the right direction. Tackling a beastly No. 14 Wisconsin bunch back home would be huge for Nebraska’s case to play with the big boys for the first time since 1998. Doing damage in the Big Ten tournament, heck, think big, winning the darn thing would be the stuff of dreams (and probably worth a bonus)!
There was something wrong with the Huskers that took the floor against Illinois and Northwestern. For Nebraska to be a part of March Madness, their future looks uncomfortably black and white.
It’s Petteway or the highway.