The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 15, 2000, Page 11, Image 11

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    Cook a pupil of Pettit, but coaching styles differ
COACHES from page 12
“We play better when we’re
relaxed. Pettit was a lot more
“As a freshman coming in,
obviously you don’t know what to
do, and I spent most of my fresh
man year just scared of (Pettit).
You could tell when he got fed up.
With Coach Cook, it’s not like ‘I’m
fed up with you,’ it’s ‘Come on
guys, you know you can do it bet
ter.’ ”
Meendering, Behrends and
most players agree Cook is a
master at positive reinforcement
and feedback as opposed to
Pettit’s “yelling.” They also enjoy
Cook’s off-the-court personality.
“He just cares about you
more as a person,” Behrends
said. "A couple weeks ago over
Labor Day, some freshmen didn’t
have a place to eat, and he just
said, ‘Come on over to my place.
Anyone else want to come?’ He
made us steaks, baked potatoes -
anything to show he cares.
“He knows what girls have
boyfriends and asks about them.
When (Jenny Kropp’s) sister was
sick, he asked her if she needed
help. The other day was my birth
day, and he said happy birthday
to me. Coach Pettit would’ve not
even known it was my birthday.”
Not So Black and White
Don’t get the wrong impres
sion. Players say they played for
Pettit because Pettit was a bril
liant volleyball mind and winner,
who Behrends said “was a great
speaker and always knew the
right thing to say at the right
And practices and matches
aren’t much different either.
Cook works the players to the
bone, too. Players and coaches
agree that their motivational
demeanor is the same - intense,
even-keeled and much more
focused on adjusting plays than
riling players up.
As for differences in person
ality, Pettit said part of the reason
why Cook is more connected to
the players is because he is a first
year coach.
Pettit had Cook and veteran
assistants Cathy Noth and Nikki
Best for his last 12 years to dele
gate authority to. Behind the
scenes, he’d evaluate each player
and assign assistants to work
with those players. Cook has no
such luxury with first-year assis
tants Staci Wolfe and Craig
Cook chalks up the increased
coach-player intimacy to the
four-week trip the team took to
China last spring.
“I’m probably a little more
outgoing than Coach Pettit, and
that probably has a lot to do with
the China trip... which was non
business and they got to see
another side of me and become
more comfortable, and they
never had that opportunity with
Coach Pettit”
Friendship in Leadership
The players don’t know Pettit
the way Cook does, which is as a
loyal friend and leader. Cook
pointed out that it takes a few
years for most of Pettit’s players
to realize the impact such a
leader has on their lives, as it has
on his.
After all, Pettit saw a lion in
Cook from the second he met
him in the spring of 1988. Pettit
took his NU squad to San Diego
to play a team coached by then
31-year-old Cook.
In a virtual heartbeat, Pettit
lured Cook to Nebraska to
become his top assistant. Cook’s
first go-round at NU lasted three
years and coincided with the
Huskers’ seriously making a
mark on the national volleyball
map for the first time.
They became best friends,
and between the thousands of
late-night conversations, both
hinted - albeit subtly - at Cook’s
someday leading the program.
But Cook left the program in
'92 to help coach the USA
Olympic men’s team to a bronze
medal and then take over
Wisconsin’s women’s program,
which he built into his own pow
Seven years later, the protege
came back to Nebraska to
become the heir-apparent and
was given the title Associate
Head Coach.
It was a special time for both
coaches, and Cook, by virtue of
his deep friendship with Pettit,
watched every move the head
man took.
“It was important for him to
be in that kind of environment,
where he wasn’t the head coach
for a year,” Pettit said.
Now, the program is right
where Pettit always wanted it to
be and where Cook plans to keep
it: No. 1, with the vision of a
national championship always
on the mind of everyone. That's
how a dynasty works.
The two talk every day, and
both say Pettit doesn’t lord over
the program. He has enough
faith in Cook.
Of course, that doesn’t mean
Cook would ever not listen.
“Coach Pettit was probably
the one that molded me into the
volleyball coach I am,” Cook said.
“He’s had the biggest impact.
“There’s a fine line between
being a national champion and a
top-20 team," Cook said.
“My job is to keep this team
above that line. That's the chal
lenge. We talk about the things
necessary each day for us to win
a national championship."
Huskers face upstart Missouri I
There was an exclamation
point at the end of the volleyball
headline on the University of
Missouri Web site: “Mizzou
Downs No. 19Texas A&M!”
Imagine how many exclama
tion points the Web workers at
Columbia would use if their Tigers
could knock off No. 1 Nebraska
this Saturday at the NU Coliseum.
Missouri could indeed be the
sleeper in the Big 12 race this year,
undefeated in 10 matches, losing
only one game, in its match
against Oral Roberts.
“I picked Missouri in the top
half of the conference before the
season,” Nebraska Coach John
Cook said. “They return most of
their team and have a whole new
coaching staff, which brings new
energy to a team.”
The Tigers are under the direc
tion of first-year coaches Wayne
and Susan Kreklow.
The husband-wife coaching
combo has proved that two heads
may be better than one at this
early point in the season.
Missouri kept the coaching
couple undefeated by using a vari
ety of players to attack the Aggies
block Wednesday night, with out
side hitters Lisa Morris and
Kristen Johnson leading the way
with 13 kills.
“They’re a pretty balanced
team, and they’re hitting higher
than .350 as a team. They’ve
gained confidence from last sea
son,” Cook said.
“But we prepare the same for
each match and focus on what we
need to do as a team.”
And it’s not
as if the
Comhuskers are
going into the
match with an
unloaded gun.
Nebraska is
brimming with
confidence after
a successful
sweep in the
Notre Dame
tournament and
a 3-0 pasting of
power Texas on
Senior Kim
Behrends said
the Huskers are
not concerned L.
about the Tigers’ j|l
lofty hitting per
centage num- H
“We’re an
awesome block
ing team; the
great wall,”
Behrends said.
“They’ll play
hard, but we’re
expecting every
one’s best shot” r
Cook has H
elected to rest
uic yiayxz la muie -
this week than Sophomore middle blocker Amber Holmquist and Co. look to
usual in prepara- spike the Missouri Tigers on Saturday at the Coliseum,
tion for Mizzou, Missouri isn't ranked,
taking Monday off
and going light in
practice on Thursday. that s a symptom of where we
“We were emotionally flat were at after having played four
against Texas,” Cook said. “And toPteams hi sht days.
l-backs banged up after ND win I
■ The Huskers worked out in
full pads on Thursday, concen
trating on drills featuring the No. 1
offense and defense pitted
against each other. NU Coach
Frank Solich said the practice fea
tured good balance.
“You want to make sure that
you’re not running them into the
ground, and yet, you want to
make sure that they get enough
contact and conditioning that
they stay sharp,” he said.
■ Where’s Eric? The junior
quarterback wore No. 13 instead
of his regular No. 7 for the session,
baffling reporters as to his where
“Why he did it, I don’t know,"
Solich said.
■Who's ailing: Running backs
Dan Alexander (knee and ankle)
and Correll Buckhalter (knee) sat
out practice for the fourth straight
Solich said Alexander may
return for Friday's workout in
sweats, but Buckhalter is ques
In the absence of the top two
backs, Soiich said he was
impressed with the play in prac
tice of DeAntae Grixby and
Dahrran Diedrick. Soiich said he
had hoped for Thunder Collins to
make some strides this week, but
the sophomore has been out with
the flu for several days.
■ Nebraska’s game next
Saturday at Memorial Stadium
against the Iowa Hawkeyes has
been moved to 2:30 p.m. to
accommodate an ABC national
television audience.
Compiled by Josh Camenzind
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