Live Game #2: UWM vs. Lawrence
UWM-Lawrence got off to a nice start, as I headed out of work a little over an hour early to go to a pre-game reception at the Mecca (FYI--I will never use the words "U.S. Cellular Arena") with fellow basketball fans Brian and Kosta. Turned out it was a Lawrence reception, and I had the chance to run into the intelligent and talented Ryan Gebler, a former Lawrence player of note. Always a pleasant experience. I also caught a glimpse of Pat Juckem, known better as current Associate Head Coach of Lawrence, and former high school coach of Beau Sanders. A nice spread was provided, and I managed to get down some cheese and crackers, two lemon bars and a beer while I listened to pre-game talks from the Lawrence head coach, coach Bruce Pearl, and a Lawrence alum who had helped set the game up. All in all, a great pre-game experience for anyone interested in basketball, or good lemon bars.
Then it was on to the game. The contrast in teams was evident in warm ups. UWM sported flashy warm-ups, while Lawrence arrived in more subdued shirts and warm-up pants. It was a good metaphor for the game, as UWM was all flash and athletic ability, while a less athletic Lawrence ran a sound offense and tried to keep pace. The gap in athletic ability was noticably larger than that of the previous evening between Marquette and Stevens Point. Lawrence actually had one mop-haired guard who had a very nice shooting night, and ran a nice looking offense, but the big horses for UWM were just too much, and led to a 34 point Panther win. Even D-3 All-American Chris Braier, though he played a tough game, was unable to compete with the hulking men with huge vertical leaps that the Panthers provided. The last 3-4 minutes were actually kind of painful. It was almost like watching the rec league team that I was on last year when we would get dunked on and constantly blocked by better athletes, even though we understood the game just as well as the other guys. Thankfully, the collapse came late and was pretty brief. On to my bullet points:
1) At the reception, there were shrimp wrapped in some sort of pastry, with the tails hanging out. I've never seen this, and frankly, the concept scared me a bit.
2) James Wright, who entered college at roughly the same time I did, is finally back from his broken leg and ready to play. I've always loved this guy, because he could kick my ass if I ever ran into him, and puts forth a good effort. What I had forgotten about him is that he's not actually that skilled a basketball player. He kind of reminds me of Julius Peppers when he played for North Carolina. You want the muscular high energy guy on the court because he's going to give you positive results, but you can't help thinking that he might be better if he was playing tight end.
3) I thought Boo Davis starting at point for UWM over incumbent Chris Hill was odd, but after watching him play, I think Davis will hold on to this role for awhile. One thing bothers me, though. When did we get this influx of guys named "Boo?" Between Boo Davis, Boo Wade, and Boo Williams, it seems to be taking over the nation. Can this possibly be a good idea? Can't Americans come up with better names?
4) Adrian Tigert is poised for a breakout year. He may have a breakout year with the ladies, as well, after dropping those 20 extra pounds.
5) UWSP last night was clearly better than tonight's Lawrence squad. I'd like to see Lawrence again, though. I think they'll still be very good--they just can't play against 6'10" guys who have 30 inch vertical leaps. But their back door cuts will look plenty pretty against another similarly composed team.
6) The concession stand at the Mecca is one of the oddest things that I've ever seen. At halftime, I was thristy, so I went to order a soda. My choices? 7-Up, RC Cola, and Diet Rite. Apparently Faygo didn't get the contract. Oh, and I ordered the soda from the Chinese food booth. That's just what I'm looking for--a night of watching UWM and sucking down crab rangoons. Who thought of this?
7) I've said it before, and I'll say it again--the Bucks used to play in this place? Arena design has come a long way in the past 30 years.
Because I'm temporarily insane, I think I'm going to stay up to catch the first half of the tape delayed Wisconsin vs. UW-Parkside game on my digital cable. Bless you, Time Warner channel 559.