UWM-Wright State last night, with UWM pulling out a win in a hard fought contest. I’m enjoying attending these games more and more, due to the style of play, and the general atmosphere of the MECCA. On to my key points:
1) In perhaps the most bizarre moment of the night, I was approached by a scalper outside of the MECCA asking if I needed a ticket. Now, it could have just been a guy trying to get rid of a spare, but he was also asking people if they had any extras. This guy was a real scalper. This boggled my mind. It was 6 degrees outside on a Monday night in Milwaukee, with a high school basketball tournament going on next door at the Bradley Center. And this was a UWM game. I’d have to look at the box score, but I doubt there were more than 2750 people in the stands. Who’s going to the scalper in this situation? And what kind of money is such a scalper pulling in? In 6 degree weather, I’d venture that he’s not pulling in enough to make it worthwhile.
2) Ed McCants sure isn’t shy. I need to get a look at a box score, but he put up a plethora of shots. If anyone gives him a second to think about it when he’s beyond the three point arc, the ball’s going up. He wasn’t in a groove like he was when I went to the Detroit game, but he wasn’t bad, either.
3) UWM isn’t as deep as I once thought. They’re deep enough for most average teams, getting quality minutes from 6-7 guys on the roster, any of whom could start, but after that, there’s a noticeable drop-off. That’s fine if you’re, say, Wisconsin, and you’re trying to get into your halfcourt offense, but UWM runs a ton, and needs 9 guys, minimum. And I suppose Mark Pancratz fills that 9 slot with some energy, but he’s not Boo Davis.
4) Speaking of team size, UWM dressed 16 guys last night. And that, of course, doesn’t account for guys in street clothes. I’ve said it before, but I’ll ask again—does Bruce Pearl have some deal with the NCAA where he gets to use 25 scholarships?
5) I’m noticing a pattern in the last couple UWM games that I’ve gone to. UWM games are like a network television drama. Things start out okay, and UWM gets a bit of a lead. Then, the other team charges back, and there’s conflict, in the form of a sizable deficit for UWM. Then the Panthers turn it on again and resolve the problem, winning the game by a small margin, but keeping it interesting all the way to the end. That’s one of the reasons why these games are so fun.
6) Last night the cheerleaders handed out those long, skinny balloons to the UWM student section behind the basket to wave during foul shots, as many schools do. UWM’s students, however, quickly began twisting their balloons into misshapen hats and deformed balloon animals. By the end of the first half, all of the balloons had morphed into one uber-hat. Yes, these are Milwaukee’s great young minds.
7) Wright State’s coach needs a definite style makeover. He had a 1980s Gordon Gecko look about him that was tough to ignore. Well, except for the fact that Gecko would have made fun of anyone wearing a navy sportcoat with three brass buttons running up each side on the front.
8) This isn’t really basketball related, but during one timeout, I glanced at the banners behind the student section in the MECCA. They were for the Milwaukee Wave soccer team, and there were two banners proclaiming the Wave “World Champions” in consecutive seasons. Isn’t this a pretty tenuous claim? The U.S. isn’t exactly a world leader in soccer, and I’m pretty sure that the Wave isn’t playing any German teams. I know we do it in other pro sports leagues, but the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball do seem to at least be the world’s top pro leagues. Is the Wave’s league even the top indoor soccer league in the U.S.? I don’t really know the answer to that, but I would venture to guess that someone in the world could knock them off, so I wouldn’t go around calling myself a world champion. Maybe a league champion—that’s still pretty good.
9) Much like against Detroit, UWM started to gain momentum when they started pressing and turning up the pressure on defense. It makes me wonder why Bruce Pearl doesn’t mix some occasional high-pressure defense into the game before he gets down by 12, rather than just ratcheting things up when the picture starts to look bleak. But he’s the coaching genius, so I suppose I’ll continue to defer.
10) If I ever become instantly wealthy, I think one of the first things I’m going to do is donate a whole bunch of money to the UWM basketball program and get courtside season tickets. They can’t cost as much as some of the major programs, and even though the arena’s not as nice, the team isn’t as good, and the cheerleaders aren’t as attractive, there’s still basketball going on. And given that no one seems to care about the Panthers, you also know that they’re going to need you more than say, Marquette or Wisconsin needs their boosters. Why be one of hundreds of Wisconsin donors when I can be the man at UWM?
That’s it for today. Still not sure what I’m watching tonight, but it should be good.