The End is Near

The end is near -- for Nebraska's disastrous basketball season, and very possibly for Doc Sadler's career as the Huskers' head coach.

Nebraska finished the regular season with an 81-69 loss at Minnesota and is 12-17 overall, solidifying its second losing record in three seasons -- barring some miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament and beyond, of course.

The Huskers, 4-14 in Big Ten games, will play Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday in Indianapolis. Nebraska lost to Purdue 83-65 on Feb. 22 in West Lafayette, Ind.

"Let's buckle our belts up, hold our chin up and go fight and compete," Sadler said. "That's what it's supposed to be about."

Sadler, 101-88 in his sixth season at Nebraska, hasn't led the Huskers to the NCAA Tournament -- somewhere they've not been since 1998. They finished tied for last place in their first year in the Big Ten -- their second last-place conference finish in two seasons. Sadler is also 9-40 in conference road games.

Athletic Director Tom Osborne isn't commenting on Sadler's future, saying only he'll evaluate things at season's end.

Osborne has fired two coaches in his four-plus years as athletic director -- football coach Bill Callahan, and baseball coach Mike Anderson. In both cases, Osborne announced the changes the day after the season ended.

--Brandon Richardson and Toney McCray began their collegiate basketball careers with aspirations of helping Nebraska end its NCAA Tournament drought, which dates to 1998.

Five years later, they're leaving Lincoln talking about overcoming adversity, building character and staying strong.

All worthwhile lessons for life, no doubt. But they won't sugarcoat it: Finishing their careers while falling short of one ultimate goal really hurts.

"Coach Sadler has instilled in us that whatever happens, happens, but at the end of the day, you play for pride, you play for character and you play for this program," Richardson said.

"No one's ever been known to quit on this team, and I'm proud of our guys for sticking in there even though things have been tough. At the end of the day, you never want to have anyone question your character, your heart or your pride."

--Nebraska made a season-high 13 3-pointers in its 81-69 loss to Minnesota on March 3. Seven came from senior guard Bo Spencer.

But the Huskers also went through a 0-of-10 shooting stretch after they'd cut Minnesota's lead to 45-43. The Gophers responded by building the lead to 13, and led by double-digits the rest of the way.

"We came down and we shot too many quick shots. We quit going inside, which is what we needed to do," said Sadler, whose team attempted 31 3-pointers. "We don't have the strongest inside game, but we still have to go inside because good things do happen there."

BY THE NUMBERS: 43.9 -- The combined 3-point shooting percentage of Nebraska's last four opponents (40-of-91). Each of those teams has had at least 20 attempts, and made no fewer than eight.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think athletics is supposed to teach you lifelong lessons. This isn't going to be the worst thing that happens to them, or me. I think if we handle it the way we've handled it and learn from it, then it's going to help us somewhere down the road." -- Nebraska coach Doc Sadler.

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