Published Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 9:41 am / Updated at 11:19 pm
BASKETBALL
Get ready for the first peek at Pinnacle

LINCOLN — Nebraska basketball forward Shavon Shields’ path from home to campus each day takes him right by Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Even after seeing the construction of the new building up close for over a year and now having practiced inside it, the sophomore from Olathe, Kan., can’t help but shake his head in wonder at NU’s first new home for hoops in 38 years.

He marvels at two things.

First, all 15,200 seats are sold despite the program not reaching the NCAA tournament since 1998.

“I can’t fully wrap my mind around it,’’ Shields said Thursday. “It’s crazy. It’s a good time to be with Husker basketball.’’

The other mind-blower is the accoutrements of the arena itself.

“The place is amazing,’’ Shields said. “If it doesn’t exceed your expectations, you have way too high of expectations. They did a great job on it from top to bottom.’’

Nebraska fans on Friday night can view the arena and the 2013-14 Huskers at a public scrimmage on the first day schools are allowed to practice.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. as NU finishes a normal practice. Starting at 7, Nebraska will hold scrimmage periods of 15 and 10 minutes with second-year coach Tim Miles doing commentary over the public-address system. In between the scrimmages, skills contests are scheduled, with an autograph period afterward.

Shields is one of five returning scholarship players. Freshman forward Nick Fuller from Sun Prairie, Wis., is one of seven newcomers.

Fuller, like Shields, is dazzled by the new facility.

“I was blown away,’’ he said. “I didn’t even have words to describe it. I was just taking it all in. I’ve never seen anything like it before.’’

Fuller knows what premier basketball buildings look like. Having grown up in surburban Madison, he knows Wisconsin’s highly praised Kohl Center well.

“The thing I notice a lot from being at the Kohl Center to this arena is the arena (seating) is more up,’’ he said. “The Kohl Center flattens out. You can tell the people are going to be on top of you and create a better atmosphere.’’

College basketball practice traditionally has begun on Oct. 15. This season, NCAA rules altered that to allow 30 practices in 42 days before the opening date of Nov. 8. Generally speaking, Miles likes the change.

“The opportunity to be with your players more is always good,’’ he said. “The more access the better.’’
But there might be a trade-off.

“I’ll be curious to see how this translates over the length of a season,’’ Miles said.

Basketball is a six-month season to begin with. Adding another two to three weeks could lead to some burnout.

“That’s my worry,’’ Miles said.

Many coaches use the first few days of practice as a physical challenge with two-a-days or three-a-days. Others schedule four-hour sessions. Not Miles.

“I’ve never been a boot-camp kind of guy,’’ he said. “I understand that. But our first four or five days are teaching in a more low-key setting. We try to teach expectations now so they can perform later.’’

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >