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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 12, 1998)
Kubik adapts to new role
Husker senior has learned to improvise on court
By Shannon Heffelfinger
On and off the basketball
court, Nebraska’s Jami Kubik
decides things quickly. She recog
nizes problems clearly. She
answers questions thoroughly.
And she overcomes many chal
It’s easy, really, because Kubik
sees solutions in black or white,
right or wrong, left or right.
But as the senior has discov
ered over the last few years, life on
the basketball court isn’t always
“My first couple years here,”
Kubik said, “it was, ‘Run this play
exactly like this. Go to this exact
point on the floor, and make a pass
to this person.’ But I never really
knew what to do when a play did
1 don't know of
many kids ... that I
respect more than I
do Jami Rubik.’’
“I think there’s a right or^
wrong answer to everything, and
Coach Sanderford has been work
ing w'lth me just to play basket
ball. He wants me to just see the
gray instead of the black and
In her final year as a
Cornhusker, Kubik has growm to
understand Sanderford’s philoso
Kubik has played an important
role this season for the Huskers,
who will battle New Mexico in the
first round of the NCAA
Tournament Friday at 6 p.m. in
After playing a primarily
defensive role her first three years
at NU, Kubik has broken away
from her rigid routine. The 5-foot
10 guard/forward has erupted into
an offensive weapon for the
Kubik, who averaged 4.3
points per game as a junior, has
scored in double figures 13 times
this season - including a 20-point
performance against Kansas and a
23-point performance at Missouri.
She also grabs 5.2 rebounds
per game while remaining the
Huskers’ most reliable defensive
Please see KUBIK on 11
Huskers mean business
against No. 17 Arkansas
By Sam McKewon
You could see in Tyronn Lues
demeanor Tuesday night the attitude
the Nebraska men’s basketball team
is taking into the NCAA
He forced smiles. He made few
jokes. There was no joy or jubilation.
No real excitement.
But as the junior point guard will
tell you, the 1 lth-seeded Comhuskers
aren’t gomg for a joy ride. At least, not
m front of a CBS-televised audience
Thursday night when they face No.
17 and sixth-seeded Arkansas in the
first round of the NCAA Tournament
at 9:20 m Boise, Idaho.
On a mission is more like it.
“When we win, that’s when I’ll
get excited,’’ Lue said. “We’re 0-5 in
the NCAA Tournament and to go 0
6 - that’s not what I want to do.
“I want to win and go down in
history as the only team at Nebraska
ever to win a tournament game.”
NU Coach Danny Nee said he
and his team know the magnitude of
beating the 23-8 Razorbacks, who
won a national championship in
1994 and were runners-up in 1995.
“This game is so big you can't
imagine,” Nee said. “We’re going to
be judged on whether or not we had a
successful season on this game.
“The only way to get respect is to
earn it. And to earn it you have to win
a couple tournament games.”
To win that elusive first tourna
ment contest, the Huskers (20-11)
Please see NCAA on 11
Smith has hit above i
.300 in the last two |
seasons, but she
also takes great
pride in her defense.
. ——mi rmrnm hiiiiiiihib
Nebraska catcher enjoying life behind the mask
By Shannon Heffelfinger
The 12-year-old girl grabbed a catcher’s
mask and reluctantly pulled it on for the first
time. She squatted low behind the plate and
held her oversized glove. She had never pic
tured herself anywhere but halfway between
second and third base.
The young shortstop could never know
that 10 years later she would become the
player that Nebraska Softball Coach Rhonda
Revelle calls “maybe the best catcher to ever
wear a Nebraska uniform.”
“I was a shortstop and the catcher got the
chicken pox,” NU softball player Jenny Smith
said. “Of course no one volunteered, so the
coach made me. I hated it. But now, there’s no
where else I'd rather be. No one gets to see
the game like I do.”
Smith said she can’t imagine life on the
softball field anywhere but behind the plate,
squatting low, with a mask and a glove that
isn’t so awkward. Smith is now an All
American and two-time All-Big 12 catcher.
She played every inning of all 53 games
for the Cornhuskers last year, filling the role
of a “stabilizer” in a season that was anything
but stable for Nebraska.
The Huskers overcame several injuries
and position changes to advance to the finals
of the NCAA Tournament in 1997. And with
everyone healthy this season, Smith won’t
accept anything less.
Nebraska (10-4) continues its charge
through its nonconference schedule at the 10
team H.I.T. College Classic in Houston this
weekend. The Huskers begin tournament play
against Bowling Green State (3-8) today.
Nebraska has defeated four ranked teams
this season, and Smith wants to continue to
add to that total before NU enters Big 12 play.
“I want to win the Big 12 so bad it hurts,”
Smith said. “I can close my eyes and see
myself wearing the ring. I can see what it
looks like and picture it already.
“We’re not the rookies anymore. We know
what it feels like to be sitting at home watch
ing on TV and we know what it feels like to be
there and not come out on top. We don’t have
anything to lose.”
Smith said her play this season should
reflect that mentality.
An offensive player from the time she was
12 years old, Smith is hitting .400 in her last
five games and expects to maintain or
improve upon that mark. In the last three sea
sons, Smith’s best swings have come at the
end of the season.
But it is her defense that she takes the
most pride in. Smith ranked third in the
league with a .517 on base percentage and led
the Huskers with a .980 fielding percentage.
“I survived in high school on my offense
and I took defense for granted,” Smith said. “I
came in here very egotistical, and I was
thinking I could just have the starting catcher
spot. It was a reality check but it was the best
thing that could have happened to me. I had to
work hard and now I cherish defense.”
Smith’s all-around ability has grabbed the
attention of several professional teams. The
Durham (N.C.) Dragons of the Women’s
Professional Fastpitch league selected Smith,
the first catcher taken in the draft.
Smith isn’t worried about making the
jump from collegiate play to the pros.
“Sometimes a player plays with fear,”
Smith said. “It gets the best of them. I’m at
the point where I shouldn’t be afraid of any
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