UW-Green Bay Gets Crapped On
Frustrating night, overall. As I noted, three of the four D-1 teams in the state were playing, and none of them was on TV. Well, unless you count ESPN Fullcourt, a plan that I don't forsee ordering unless I move far, far away from my favorite teams. My frustration was compounded by the fact that the Wisconsin game was not on the radio, as the newspaper had told me. Instead, it was preempted by a UW-Milwaukee vs. Depaul women's game. I bet the station was happy to have that contract to honor. So instead, I checked out a bit of the Iowa-Texas game, watched some North Carolina-Tennessee, and waited for my first glimpse of Kansas, which would not come until after a second-rate football game had ended, and Kansas was already up by 30. Thanks ESPN. Anyway, on to the evening's reflections and thoughts on the present and future:
1) So UWM kicked the tar out of UW-Parkside, just as I had figured on. I'm dying to see these guys play someone real in order to find out exactly how good they are. It sounds like their big Juco transfer, Derrick Ford is going to be a nice pick-up. I suppose anytime you inject an athletic 6'10" guy into the mix, it helps things, but Ford's emergence will ensure that the Panthers can maintain their awesome depth. Not that that's really a problem--last time I looked, I think the Panthers had about 27 guys on scholarship. In fact, I think I read about three more commitments this week. How does Bruce Pearl sign so many guys?
2) So I checked the box score on the Wisconsin-UC Santa Barbara game tonight, and a few things jumped out at me. First, it was a pretty sparse scoring night for Mike Wilkinson. Fortunately, I have heard no indication at this point that he is injured, though that will always be the first thing that I think when he's not in double figures this year and I can't watch the game. Second, the three leading scorers for the Badgers were Clayton Hanson, Alando Tucker and Zach Morely. Now, Tucker I get--he's picked by some to be all-conference, and is one of the team's superstars. But Hanson and Morely? You've got a former walk-on and a juco transfer, the former of whom is apparently more interested in his marketing major than spending every waking hour on the court. As a Wisconsin fan, I'm not sure whether to be scared that guys like this are leading my team, or extemely excited and proud because of the massive depth that the Badgers seem to have.
3) Since I want to see Kansas for the first time, and the post-Jameer Nelson/Delonte West St. Joe's squad, I'm going to try to watch some Kansas-St. Joe's in the second half, but they're up by 31 already and I'm kind of tired. I always like watching Kansas, though, since I can contemplate how my life would have been different had I gone to my second-choice law school, and I can reflect on the night that I met a former Kansas women's basketball player and proceeded to act like a star-struck fan when I recalled her high school basketball accomplishments. Yeah, I'm retaining a lot of useless information in my head if I can still pull girls' high school basketball memories from 1995 when I meet people.
4) Okay, so the real story of the night in this state is that of the Michigan State-Green Bay game. UW-Green Bay got absolutely rocked, losing by 58. Since there was no broadcast of the game that I had access to, I checked in on the score on the internet during the second half. I checked in with about 7 mintes to go, and Michigan State was up 49. Not bad. What do you say to your team, I thought, when you're down by 49? Perhaps Bobby Finstock is the only man who might know what the answer to this question is, and even his fortunes turned once a wolf joined his team. On the flip side, though, what do you say to your team when you're up 49? Apparently Tom Izzo went with the John Kreese line, "Mercy is for the weak!" as I checked in with 3:30 to go and the lead was up to 58. So there was a 50-point margin for at least 7 minutes at the end of this game. Nonetheless, I saw the following notes as I glanced at the play-by-play notes on ESPN.com: "5:22: Foul on Paul Davis....4:39: Kelvin Torbert made 2-point layup....0:20: Drew Neitzek missed 3-point shot." I'm all for getting some work in at anytime, but when the Spartans got up by 50 points, wouldn't it make sense to pull their all-conference center out before the 5-minute mark? Maybe starter, Kelvin Torbert, could come out a bit earlier than 4:39? I'm not asking the Spartans not to try, but does it even make much sense for them to have Drew Neitzel, State's highly touted freshman recruit, jacking up a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left? There's not a lot of real learning that can be done when the game is this out of hand, so get the bench guys some time. The Izzone would love it, and your starters would not risk injury. Though I hope that Wisconsin soundly beats Michigan State when the two teams play, I'd like to at least have Paul Davis able to play. He might be the villain to me, but he's still a nice challenge.
5) Again, I don't know a lot about UW-Green Bay, but I tend to believe that they'll still be decent once two things happen. First, I understand their top returning scorer is out on an academic suspension, and he needs to get things in order and get back on the court. Second, they need to get Javier Mendeburu back from injury. Aside from the fact that Mendeburu is an excellent player, his name alone should force opposing teams to giggle when saying it, which should be good for about 4 points each game as opponents try to figure out how to keep a straight face upon seeing the back of Mendeburu's jersey.
6) Big news last night, as I talked to my buddy Nick in Green Bay. He should be back for a second year as the official UW-Green Bay team heckler, as requested by Coach Todd Kowalczyk. Kowalczyk tabbed Nick last year after a particularly good heckling of an opposing team, and set him up with tickets directly behind the opponent's bench. I'm told that tickets may not be as good this year, since people are actually buying up the seats around the floor this year, however Nick will still be in the stands giving hell to opponents this year. Good to know that some things haven't changed since our high school days.