The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 05, 1998, Page 7, Image 7

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    Shannon Heffelflnger
promise not
broken yet
From the moment Paul
Sanderford arrived at
Nebraska, he promised fans
that he was a “tournament
coach ”
And his coaching history
gave him the right to say it. He
had been to the NCAA
Tournament 12 times while
coaching at Western Kentucky
and reached the national cham
pionship game twice.
“I've been telling you guys
the whole year that we will play
our best basketball in February
and March,” Sanderford said a
few weeks ago.
He was right
With the exception of an 87
62 loss at No. 5 Texas Tech, the
Cornhuskers competed as well
as they had all year in their last
six games of the season.
But did they reach their
peak too soon?
Nebraska played well
enough during February to earn
a first-round bye in the Big 12
Conference Tournament.
And the Huskers played
poor enough in the first week
of March to get embarrassed by
Oklahoma State, a team they
beat by 30 points during the
regular season. Their run
through the first postseason
tournament of the year fell
Welcome to the Big 12.
Sanderford probably will
have another shot to prove his
prowess in the postseason. The
NCAA Tournament pairings
will be announced Sunday, and
it’s hard to argue that Nebraska
isn’t one of the top 64 teams in
the nation.
1 ney ve compiled n wins,
defeated top-ranked teams
such as Alabama, Iowa State
and Sanderford’s former
school, Western Kentucky.
They tied for third place in
the league and won all 16 of
their home games.
But the Huskers only loss in
March hurts them, and
Sanderford knows it.
“It was a long game for an
old guy,” Sanderford said of
the tournament loss.
It was a long game for a
man who lives for the pressure
and excitement of March.
It will be a long day for a
man whose weekend plans have
suddenly and unexpectedly
And it will be a long week
for a man who has one more
chance to make good on his
early season promise.
Shannon Heffelfinger is a
sophomore news-editorial
major and a Daily Nebraskan
senior reporter.
Photos by Matt Miller/DN
(TOP) NU SENIOR Kate Benson walks off the court after the Huskers were defeated by Oklahoma State 83-69 Wednesday afternoon. The Huskers were
eliminated from the Big 12 Conference Tournament. (ABOVE) NEBRASKA ALL-AMERICAN Anna DeForge loses the ball in traffic Wednesday against
Oklahoma State. DeForge led the Huskers with 29 points.
Sanderford ‘irritated’ with unexpected loss
By Shannon Heffelfinger
Senior Reporter
KANSAS CITY. Mo. - Paul Sanderford lingered
on the basketball court after Nebraska’s Big 12
Tournament loss Wednesday. He glanced at the score
board a few times, then shrugged his shoulders and
walked dejectedly away.
“I think you know I'm a pretty upbeat person,” NU
Coach Sanderford said. "But right now Fm very irri
tated with the way we played. Fm disappointed with
our leadership and execution. OSU was good, but we
were just so bad.
“I was shocked. I though we’d play much better.
Fm not used to leaving the scene this way.”
The end of the Comhuskers’ stay in Kansas City
came about three days sooner than Sanderford had
planned. A second-round, 83-69 “embarrassment” to
I think they came in with a
false sense of security of what
we were capable of doing"
Dick Halterman
OSU coach
fifth-seeded Oklahoma State cut the No. 4 seed
Huskers’ tournament championship hopes - and pos
sibly their season - short.
Nebraska will learn Sunday, when the NCAA
Tournament selection committee announces the pair
ings for this season, if its campaign ended Wednesday
at Municipal Coliseum or if it will continue in the
weeks to come.
But against OSU, the Huskers hardly resembled an
NCAA Tournament team, Sanderford said.
NU opened the contest with two steals on the first
two possessions, then missed both layup opportuni
Things went downhill from there.
Leading 13-7 with 13:44 to play in the first half,
the Cowgirls blitzed Nebraska with a 14-0 run, con
verting 8 of 14 shots over the next four minutes to take
a 27-7 lead. The Huskers converted only 3 of 12 field
goal attempts during the stretch and made only nine
shots in the first half.
All-American Anna DeForge scored NU’s first
nine points, and the rest of the Huskers were 0 of 7
from the field during the first 10 minutes of the game.
Please see UPSET on 8
Johnson improves skill with dad’s help
By Sam McKewon
Senior Reporter
A couple summers ago, outside a hotel in
Jacksonville, Fla., Chad Johnson accomplished
what he considers his greatest basketball achieve
He beat his dad in a game of one-on-one.
And not just any dad. Chad's father, Clemon,
played 10 seasons in the NBA.
“He’s still the best player I’ve ever faced,” said
Chad, a freshman forward for NU. “I don’t know if
he let me beat him or not. He got kind of tired so I
tried to win that game.”
Clemon saw' the game in a little different fash
“Wait, wait. Let’s set things straight,” he said
laughing. “I could only post Chad up twice every
game because if I posted up the whole game, I
could beat him every time.
“I didn’t think, and I used up my post moves
right away, so Chad beat me
with his jumpers from the
outside. That’s how it hap
The father-son relation
ship between Clemon and
Chad has been important in
Chad’s development as a bas
ketball player and helped
spark his desire to play the
game at a collegiate level.
It began at an early age.
As a child, Chad followed
Clemon to the gym as he played for four NBA
teams, including the 1983 NBA Champion
Philadelphia 76ers.
It became a habit, Clemon said, for Chad to
pick up bits and pieces of how to play basketball
around the arena.
“He’d be hanging out at the arena when I was in
the league,” Clemon said. “When he was 6 or 7, he
was way ahead of everybody else.”
However, by the time Chad played high school
basketball at Florida A&M University
Developmental Research School in Tallahassee,
Fla., the same high school as his father, Clemon
said Chad’s game had changed.
Chad became the quintessential “coach’s play
er,” Clemon said, playing the game “a little timid”
and without aggressiveness.
Chad said it was difficult to live up to his
father’s legend in high school.
“The expectations for me were to take my team
Please see JOHNSON on 8