Friday night took me to lovely and scenic Sheboygan, Wisconsin to watch the Muskies of Lakeland College take on reigning Division 3 national champions, the UW-Stevens Point Pointers. If you want the most hardcore basketball night of my year, look no further than this evening. The teams, while solid, were full of non-scholarship players, continuing to play basketball simply because they could. The group of men that I sat with in the stands provided comments well beyond the standard "Wow, nice dunk!" and even ventured brieflty into a discussion of the Fox 40 pealess whistle, apparently a standard in the refereeing world. It was almost scary. If you want to be with men that know basketball, you want to be with my group from Friday night. I'll skip an in-depth analysis of the game itself, since anyone that would care probably knows the game a bit better than I, but I will say that Lakeland College put together a solid performance against what apparently is one of the better D3 teams out there. On to my bullet points:
1) A brief mention should be given to Lakeland coach Gary Grzesk, who comped my buddy T.J. a handful of tickets to the game after a number of coaching-related exchanges. Grzesk, best known in Wisconsin for his lock-down defense on Jason Kidd in the NCAA tournament when UWGB faced Cal, and best known in Wauwatosa for his role in helping to defeat nationally ranked Milwaukee Washington in 1991, probably deserves a mention for being willing to help out a young coaching hopeful, but getting me into the game for free seals the deal. Though I never knew Grzesk personally, I always admired him as a young man, and was thrilled beyond belief as a 7th grader when he once called me by name and asked if I would be coming to the basketball camp he was working. I'm 26 now, but apparently he can still make a much lesser basketball mind feel good through a small gesture--even when he doesn't know he's doing it.
2) There are plenty of good basketball players in Division 3, and one of the key differences for most of them (with the exception of Lakeland's Nick Zeck) from Division 1 players is the lack of gigantic muscles. That said, skinny D3 players simply should not have tattoos done. It looks kind of sad. Even worse than the tattoo that Wisconsin's Jason Chappel has. If you don't have big arms, please, refrain from getting the upper-arm tattoo.
3) Post game refreshments were taken in at Sheboygan's finest sports bar, the Skybox. I wish someone would make a bar like this in Milwaukee. And that is likely the last time I will ever wish that Milwaukee could get the same type of nightlife scene as Sheboygan.