SPORTSTAKE: Nebrasketbest time of my life

By Matt Knudsen

I slapped my friend Zatch in the face on the big screen at a Nebraska basketball game once. Two weeks later, that slap was included in the dunk montage as the team took the court.

Yes. I’m that guy from the basketball games.

Matt Knudsen/Sports Columnist

Roy Williams, Bobby Knight, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley.

Aleks Maric, Joe McCray, Barry Collier, Doc Sadler.

Best time of my life.

Nine years ago, I bought a half-season package of student tickets for 25 dollars. A month later, I rushed the court as Nebraska beat the Kansas Jayhawks 74-55.

Tonight, I sat in the Red Zone for a Nebraska men’s basketball game for the 168th time. Nobody has paid me once to be there.

You should really try it sometime, you just might like it.

There is nothing better than standing 5 feet from the visitor’s bench at a Nebraska basketball game surrounded by others, most of them my friends (they’d be your friends too), some of them people you’ve never seen before, some of them people you make fun of with your friends at every game, all trying to accomplish the same thing: Get in Nebraska’s opponent’s head.

Knowing that you got another team or a specific player really good is an amazing feeling.

One night, we made a guy cry.

“Colon…  Colon…  Colon…,” I started chanting. And yes, pronounce it just like it looks.

The guy’s name is Luis Colon, actually pronounced like “cologne.”

Colon started for Kansas State as a freshman, and was playing horribly that night in Lincoln.

By the second half the entire student section was chanting along with me. With about 5 minutes left in the game, Nebraska was up pretty good and Kansas State head coach Frank Martin called a timeout. The team huddled up, and Frank Martin gave Colon that stare that only Frank Martin can give.

While the team stood in the huddle discussing what to do next, Colon sat on his knees near the bench, hands over his head with his head on the floor. Crying. The Red Zone had won that night and so did the Huskers.

Of course, Nebraska’s basketball team seems to lose more games than it wins.

I don’t care about that, and neither should you.

Sometimes when Nebraska is losing by the most it’s more fun.

See, every game there’s that one guy at the end of the bench. That guy sits the closest to the Red Zone. He’s the easiest to pick on.

If his team gets really far ahead, guess who gets to play.

That guy goes in, and we let him have it. I love cheering sarcastically for that guy.

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Ask local radio host Nick Bahe what his most memorable game as a Kansas Jayhawk was, he’ll tell you it was that 74-55 game in 2004 against Nebraska. Why? Because of the Red Zone.

“I’m walking back to the bench after starting lineups,” Bahe said in a Kansas basketball history book. “I don’t know how they nailed this, but, the chair I was going to sit on had a piece of paper that was face down. I flipped it over and it says, ‘Seat reserved for Nick Bahe.’ And the student section’s right there laughing and pointing and screaming.”

I did that, Nick. You’re welcome. Then, I rushed the court and celebrated the only time Nebraska beat Kansas during the last nine years.

Of course, being in the Red Zone isn’t all about psyching out the other team.  We all love the Huskers through and through.

I hugged a large, incredibly sweaty Aleks Maric on the court after Nebraska beat Kansas State in 2008. Sure I felt kind of weird about it later, but it was awesome at the time.

I skipped a family vacation to watch Nebraska beat second-ranked Texas in 2010. Well worth it.

These are all things I’ll never forget.

I’m not guaranteeing a Husker win if you show up for a game this season, but I am guaranteeing a good time. Come sit by me if you don’t believe it.

Come find me this season; I’m the loud guy on the east side of the Red Zone.

And bring a friend.


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