The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 06, 1998, Page 7, Image 7

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beams on
■ The Washington native
adds elegance and grace to
Nebraska gymnastics.
By Darren Ivy
Assignment Reporter
If it weren't for her sister. Misty
Oxford may have ended up a ballet
dancer rather than an All-American
When she was a young girl,
Oxford was enrolled in a ballet class.
But one day she went to her sister’s
gymnastics class and that was the
end of ballet.
“I saw how much fun it was, and
I told my dad 1 wanted to do that,”
said Oxford, a junior from Kelso,
Thirteen years later, Oxford's
hard work, competitive spirit and
attention to detail have put her in a
position to become the most decorat
ed gymnast in Nebraska history.
She already holds a school record
in the vault with a 9.95 score and is
tied for another with Kim Dehaan on
the floor exercise with a 9.95.
Assistant Coach Rob Drass said
Oxford had been in the shadow of
NU greats Shelly Bartlett, Joy
Taylor, Nicole Duval and Dehaan -
but this year is her time to blossom.
So far, Oxford has been NU's top
She won the all-around at the
Maui Invitational, the Missouri dual
and the Iowa State dual. Before the
Iowa State dual she fractured her fin
ger, but the next day she came out
and scored a career-best 39.30.
As a sophomore, Oxford earned
All-America honors on the vault,
floor exercise and balance beam at
the NCAA Championships.
Drass said what makes Oxford
such a good gymnast is that she is
demanding of herself and always
looking for ways to improve.
He also said her style separates
her from other gymnasts.
“She is an elegant gymnast who
is very pretty to watch,” Drass said.
Oxford credits her club coach for
getting her to dance. She also is
grateful to NU Assistant Coach
Teresa Ijams for accommodating her
style in her routines.
But Oxford's plans of performing
elegant routines as a Husker fresh
man hit a snag. She arrived at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and
was in town for one week when NU
coaches received word that she had
n’t recorded the necessary SAT score
before the deadline.
Upset and hurt, Oxford left UNL,
returned to Washington and trained
with her club coach. But her brief
experience in Lincoln got her feet
wet and motivated her to work even
“I saw how good they were,”
Oxford said. “1 knew I had to do
good so Coach wouldn't change his
Drass said she didn’t have to
worry about that.
“We committed to her and
believed in her,’’ Drass said. “We
saved a scholarship so she could join
us the next year.”
Drass said Oxford has matured a
lot from the time she was a freshman
and doesn't let the little things bother
her anymore.
But one habit she hasn’t broken is
picking up little pieces of lint and
fuzzies off the mat before she com
petes. She said a girl in her club did it
and got her started. She quit for a
while, but started up again at
Nebraska because she was ftervbus'
all the time.
“I do it because I am afraid I am
going to fall over them,” Oxford joked.
Until the Master’s Classic
Saturday, Oxford’s superstitions had
prevented her from having a bad
But Oxford said she will be back.
“You have to have a bad meet to
become motivated again,” Oxford
said. “It makes me focus more
because I don’t want it to happen
Nee: Huskers focused
Win streak lends confidence for tourney
By Sam McKewon
Senior Reporter
In the Danny Nee era, the confer
ence tournament for the Nebraska
men’s basketball team has been an all or
nothing deal.
Mostly noth
Comhuskers are 2
9 in the first game
of Big Eight/Big
12 conference
lUUllldlllCIllb 111
Nee’s first 11 sea
Hamilton sons.
But the two
years it did win the first game - in 1990
and 1994 - NU went to the finals, beat
ing Oklahoma State for the Big Eight
Tournament championship in 1994.
Nee said the conditions are right for
fourth-seeded Nebraska to win its first
game and start a run at the conference
title today in a 2:20 p.m. contest against
fifth-seeded Baylor in Kansas City, Mo.
The Bears defeated Texas A&M 66-63
“If we take the mentality of one
game at a time, we’ll be in good shape,”
Nee said. “The time slot is perfect, we’ll
have time get healthy; now it s just time
to get ready to play.
“The tournament is like a lottery:
the more times you’re in it, the more
chances you have to win.”
Gone are the memories of the last
Husker team that went to the conference
tournament, Nee said. Last season, Nee
had to suspend forwards Larry Florence
and Bernard Garner right before an
opening-round 78-72 loss to Missouri.
Nee said the lack of off-court prob
lems has given NU a chance to concen
“I’ve spent hours on just pure bas
ketball,” Nee said. “I’m not chasing
down rumors or disciplining someone.
It’s been nice.”
Another pressure that Nebraska is
not facing, Nee said, is worrying about
an NCAA Tournament berth. At 19-10
overall, Nee said he thinks his team has
already secured a bid.
Forward Venson Hamilton said that
a six-game winning streak has given the
Huskers confidence.
“The last two years we were on a lit
tle losing streak so we weren’t comfort
able at the Big 12 Tournament,”
Hamilton said. “But right now, with
everybody stepping up their play, we
feel great.”
Baylor was a victim in NU’s six
Men’s _
Basketball m
Today, 2:20 p.m.
Kemper Arena
Kansas City, Mo.
Baylor 14-13
Pos. Name Ht. Yr.
G Roddrick Miller 6-3 Sr.
G Patrick Hunter 5-9 So.
C Brian Skinner 6-10 Sr.
F Game Ramirez 6-7 Jr.
F Leon Morris' 6-6 So.
Nebraska 19-10
Pos. Name Ht. Yr.
G TyronnLue 6-0 Jr.
G Cookie Belcher 6-3 So.
C Vensidri Hamilton • 6-10 Jr.
F Chad Johnson 6-6 Fr.
F Larry Florence 6-5 Jr.
game winning streak losmg 66-55 to the
Huskers Feb. 14.
In that game, the Huskers turned a
39-29 deficit into a 50-39 lead in the
second half. NU held BU to 30.6 per
Please see BIG 12 on 8
NU hopes to prove
its worth in NCAAs
By Shannon Heffelfinger
Senior Reporter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A dis
appointing performance in the Big
12 Tournament left the Nebraska
women’s basketball team feeling
as if it has something to prove.
Sunday, the Cornhuskers will
learn if the NCAA Tournament
selection committee will offer
them a chance to do so.
Nebraska - widely considered
a lucR iui me uy league
coaches - entered the conference
tournament as the No. 4 seed. The
Huskers knew a good perfor
mance could enhance their NCAA
But an 83-69 upset by fifth
seeded Oklahoma State
Wednesday sent NU (23-9 overall
and 11-6 in the leag ue) home hop
ing the loss wouldn’t impact the
committee’s memory of the
Huskers’ performance during the
regular season.
The pairings for the NCAA
Tournament will be announced
Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
“I told the kids after the game
the thing that we have to hope for
is another chance,” NU Coach
Paul Sanderford said. “I don’t
want these seniors to end their
careers the way we played
“1 think we’ve had a great year.
I think we had some quality wins,
and we won 11 games in the Big
12. Hopefully, that will get us into
the NCAA Tournament.”
Nebraska put together one of
its best seasons in school history
this year. NU tied school records
for wins (22) and conference wins
i lie nuiKcii ucicaicu mice
ranked teams (Alabama, Western
Kentucky and Iowa State) and
earned a No. 11 ranking - its high
est ever. NU has been ranked all
year in the ESPN/USA Today
Coaches Poll.
But will it be enough?
“The message was sent around
the country that we didn’t take
care of business here,” Sanderford
Please see NCAA on 8
Matt Miller/DN
THIRTEEN YEARS after beginning her gymnastics career, NU’s Misty Oxford is in a position to become one of the top gymnasts in Cornhusker history.