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January 27, 2010This wasn't the way Sek Henry and Ryan Anderson's senior season was supposed to start off.
With four straight losses to open the Big 12 Conference schedule, the Huskers are on the brink of their worst start in league play in two decades. If they can't find a way to go on the road tonight at Colorado (9 p.m. CT), it will mark their first 0-5 conference record since the 1989-90 season.
The only two seniors on a roster full of new faces experiencing Division I basketball for the first time, Henry and Anderson have had the misfortune of being the leaders on a team faced with an uphill battle before the season ever began.
Though the Big 12 schedule isn't even a third of the way through, Nebraska's chances of rebounding and making a push for a conference title have all but vanished. Now, barring some sort of miracle turnaround over the next few weeks, it's all about pride for the Huskers.
It may not have turned out the way they had hoped when they first arrived in Lincoln, but that doesn't mean Henry and Anderson have lost any desire to end their careers as winners.
"I just know that good things are going to start happening for us," Henry said. "I'm not really too worried about it. We've just got to start with Colorado and get our first victory and go from there. Things are always easier to say, but you have to just go out there and do it. I believe we have a team that's going to come out with the effort to win get our first victory."
Like Henry, Anderson said the only way Nebraska can regain its confidence and begin rebuilding is by winning, something the team hasn't tasted in more than three weeks.
"I've accepted the role more," he said. "I've got to be more aggressive too in the second half. I can't be having one shot in the second half (like he did in Saturday's loss to Missouri) if I'm supposed to be the leader of this team. If we're going to lead our team, we've got to lead them."
"I want to go out the best way I know how, and that's winning. I know Sek feels the same. If we want stuff to happen, we've got to make it happen. We can't wait. We've got to win. That's it. We've got to win. It's sounds easy, but that's what it comes down to for us right now."
Despite ending their careers during a transition year of sorts for Nebraska's basketball program, Henry and Anderson have maintained positive attitudes about the situation throughout the season.
If nothing else, NU head coach Doc Sadler and the numerous underclassmen who will replace them in the next two and three years to come are grateful for their contributions, even if they come without the glory the two had hoped for.
"They've handled it well," Sadler said. "They've practiced hard. As I've said all along, there's senior leadership, and really what senior leadership is - it's not the 'Rah-rah, da-da' and all that stuff. It's just guys who prepare them and talk to them about what's going to happen. I think they've handled it well.
"No question. I couldn't be any happier with those guys."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Nebraska has desperately been waiting for a game where it can finally break out offensively. If there were any game or situation to do it, tonight would be it. Not only will the Huskers be playing to keep their post-season goals alive, they also will be going against a Colorado team that ranks last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 83.6 points per game. Not only that, the Buffalos have let opponents shoot better than 49 percent from the field since the start of conference play. If NU can find a way to get its offense going, this could be the game where things finally start going the Huskers' way for once.
WHO'S HOT FOR THE HUSKERS:
One of the players who will get the "green light" to fire away offensively is Richardson, and for good reason. The sophomore guard has averaged 11.1 points per game in Nebraska's past 10 games while hitting an impressive 58.8 percent (30-of-51) from the floor. He's made 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from 3-point range during that stretch, while also being one of the Huskers' most consistent shooter from the free throw line (86.7 percent).
WHO'S HOT FOR THE BUFFALOS:
Colorado appears to have landed one of the top freshmen in the Big 12 this season in guard Alec Burks. The Grandview, Mo., native has averaged 16.9 points per game while shooting 53.2 percent from the field. Along with junior guard Cory Higgins (18.6 points per game), CU has emerged as one of the more improved teams in the conference.