Things I know, and things I think I know:

Watching Steve Kerr's postgame news conference last week following Game 6 of the NBA Finals, I couldn't help thinking of Mike Riley.

I couldn't help but appreciate Riley's sense of restraint and decorum — not that decorum seems to matter much in our country.

It clearly doesn't matter in politics. With every inflammatory and uninformed sentence Donald Trump utters, his legion of followers seems to grow.

Decorum apparently is on the decline in the sporting realm as well. Which perhaps explains my increasing appreciation for Riley. I've tried since Thursday night to imagine Riley praising one of his players for angrily firing a mouthpiece into a group of fans, a la Kerr. 

The Golden State Warriors head coach, after Game 6, praised star guard Stephen Curry's act of petulance, and America generally seemed to shrug it off.

Shrugging off Curry's mouthpiece heave is one thing. Praising it is another. Praising Curry was irresponsible on Kerr's part. What kind of example was Kerr/Curry setting for the nation's youth, millions of whom worship Curry?

Granted, Kerr's postgame commentary regarding Game 6's officiating no doubt was tactical. After all, Kerr played for Phil Jackson in Chicago, and Jackson was the master of manipulating referees. You can bet Kerr was in full manipulation mode. But he could've stopped short of saying what he did about Curry, which was: "I'm happy he threw his mouthpiece. He should be upset."

Nobody seems to think Curry was aiming at anyone. I saw it differently. We'll never know the truth.

At any rate, I would be somewhat surprised if even noted hothead Bo Pelini were to praise a player for hurling a mouthpiece into a fan's chest in a fit of frustration over an official's call.

And I would fall off my chair in shock if Riley ever offered up such praise, even privately. Now, you wonder: How much does a restrained approach by a coach even matter, especially in a world where, nowadays, inflammatory expressions of anger, however shallow, often seem to trump calm and reasoned reaction?

I do think decorum in the football program matters to the vast majority of Nebraska fans. I think plenty of folks much prefer the leader of the tradition-rich program represents it with calm, class and dignity. I heard from plenty of people who despised Pelini's sideline tantrums.

With Pelini, generally speaking, you had to take the good with the bad. Yes, I often defended him, as I've typically done with Husker coaches. But the "bad Bo" sometimes became intolerable. No reason to dredge up that history.

Bottom line, it's easy to appreciate Riley's even-keeled and mature approach to his job. Yes, I think it can matter. It mattered last Oct. 31 at Purdue. After Nebraska's 55-45 loss, it seemed NU's season was set to unravel. The tension in Riley's postgame news conference was thick. And get this: Riley's demeanor wasn't much different than it was after wins.

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He took responsibility for the defeat and vowed to keep striving for improvement, and Nebraska won three of its last four games.

So, yes, a measured approach can matter when it comes to the bottom line (W's and L's).

It also can matter in the way you feel about a program.

Is Riley the answer at Nebraska? Will he prod the program back to elite status? Time will tell, and my mind is open.

In the meantime, you can expect he'll represent the program with class and dignity, even when the zebras draw his ire.

* I was critical on Twitter of Curry's loss of control. But I never thought he would be suspended for Game 7.

That said, try this experiment at Pinnacle Bank Arena this coming basketball season. Get a court-side seat. In a tense moment, heave a small object at a player or players and see if the security guard, or policeman, tells you, "Nice job, dude," as he escorts you out of the arena, and perhaps to jail.

* Yeah, I'm a LeBron James fan. No, I don't wear a Cleveland jersey or paint my face in Cavalier colors. But I'll say this: Becoming an ardent fan of that team has helped me better understand the passion of Husker fans. So, there is a silver lining to all the tension I've felt during the Finals. What a ride.

* Let's stay with hoops. Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst clearly is impressed with Husker center recruit Jordy Tshimanga's personality.

Intangibles could be important in Tshimanga's case, with all the fan attention he'll receive.

"I'm pleased we got size in the post," Eichorst said of the 6-foot-11 player. "But more importantly, we got somebody who fits the program well."

* Received a text from Lane Grindle on Sunday, with a photo of him and the great Vin Scully standing in the Dodger Stadium press box.

Grindle, in his first year with the Milwaukee Brewers' radio team, wore a smile that said it all.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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