Monday, February 21, 2005

Marquette-DePaul: The Game Itself Isn't Important...

Big win for Marquette Sunday afternoon while hosting DePaul. I was a bit tired from a late Saturday evening concert in Madison (preceded by a great day of watching hoops with a group of men in an apartment and generally feeling like I was 19 years old again), but I made it back from Madison in plenty of time for the game. For Sunday’s game, as I often do, I'd like to refrain from making legitimate game comments about this game. Sure, there's plenty to be said, but the most interesting part of the game was overhearing the conversation between the two guys behind me, who knew next to nothing about basketball. Now, I'm not trying to be a snob, since hey, I don't know half as much about the game as I let on, but people who know as little as these guys attempting to sound like students of the game are entertaining. I'm on your side if you admit you don't know anything (as I do anytime I watch hockey), but you're fair game if you fake it. So, sit back, and imagine two guys on the older edge of middle-aged, neither of whom know much about basketball, attempting to impress each other with their astute basketball observations:

1) Guy #1 (the less knowledgeable of the two) commented to Guy #2 early on that he thought Travis Diener was a great passer, but did too much of that. He needs to look to score more. Hmmm, I'm guessing that he's unaware that Diener still stands an outside shot of becoming Marquette's all-time leading scorer. This was the comment that tipped me off to the fact that these guys would be entertaining. And for the record, I think Diener does an unbelievably good job of balancing his scoring and passing.

2) Guy #2 asked Guy #1 "How's the high school team this year?" I heard some talk about Pius, and then I heard Guy #1 mention that the girls were pretty good, but it was a rough year for the boys. He then went on to talk about Pius's 18 straight girls' state championships. Very astute comments on his part--if it was 1991. Things have changed a bit, and as I've noted, the Pius boys are set to win the Classic 8 conference, and has the #1 seed over Milwaukee King and Wauwatosa East in the state's toughest regional. And the legendary girls' coach is now the boys' coach. Hey Guy #1--can you just admit that you don't know something, rather than giving a perfect, 15 year old stock answer?

3) Eventually, we got to my favorite conversation of the night, where guy #1 started to get philosophical (and actually used that word several times), noting to his pal "You know, basketball really is a pretty simple game. You've got five guys on a team, there's a limited number of plays, and each guy has a limited number of moves. It's amazing how simple it is." I nearly laughed out loud hearing this assessment while watching a game coached by a guy with one of the deepest playbooks in the country. It would eventually get better, though. To his credit, Guy #2 disagreed with him noting that the combinations of players, and the infinite number of plays and playing styles created a very complex game. Guy #2 wasn't ready to back off, though, citing how much more complex other games, like football and tennis could be. Wait—tennis? Now, football, I understand. I can’t think of too many games more complex than football, but when you boil it down, isn’t tennis just a couple of people trying to get a ball over a net? Sure there are techniques that are difficult to master, and I could probably never understand the intricacies of doubles tennis, but more complex than basketball? I think not.

4) Soon thereafter, the two geniuses began discussing the foul situation, since both teams were nearing the bonus. Guy #1 noted that one team had hit five fouls, and asked what happened at that point, because he couldn’t remember. Guy #2 explained that after five fouls, whenever a personal foul was committed, the opposing team got an extra foul shot. This, however, only applied to personal fouls, and did not come into play with the other type of foul. You can distinguish between personal fouls and other types of fouls because personal fouls only happen when someone is shooting. Thanks for clearing that up for me, guys.

5) Guy #2 started talking about how many games he had seen this year, and determined that he had seen 3 Marquette games, and 1 Milwaukee Bucks game, but that he really didn’t care what was going on with the Bucks. Finally, I agree with these guys on something.

6) At halftime of the game, Marquette was retiring Earl Tatum’s number. Given that I wasn’t exactly around when Tatum played (1973-1976), I can’t really intelligently comment on how deserving of this honor he is, however, I will say he’s usually not the first name I think of when the great teams of the 1970s are brought up. Anyway, Guy #1 (who is clearly my favorite) noted to his friend after the ceremony that he was surprised that Marquette would retire the number of someone who only played three years. Now, I don’t expect everyone to know about the old NCAA rule that barred freshmen from playing in their first year, but I do expect you to know the rule if you’re as old as my father and you’re sitting at a basketball game! Again, to his credit, Guy #2 was at least able to explain this rule.

So, thanks to these two guys for keeping me entertained throughout the game. And thanks for the reminder that if I’m ever at a hockey game again and someone asks me what the blue line is, to simply say “I have absolutely no clue—I just like it when the guys hit each other, and I find the fact that the goalie gets to keep a beverage with him really cool.”


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Marquette Hoops said...

Retiring Tatum's number was long overdue. When you consider how dominant MU was in the 70s -- one of the greatest decades in the history of college hoops -- many of the numbers posted by individuals won't stand out.....the teams were just too, too strong. Fact is, Earl was an All-American who bridged the gap between Dean and Butch, leading MU to the title game in 1974.

Hopefully Meminger is next on the list for this honor. He's had a rough time with chemical dependency as an adult, but he was probably the greatest PG to ever play at MU

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Indeed, Meminger is the name that I sort of expected to see in the rafters next. Like I said, I'm not too up on Marquette history, but he's the guy that I always think of when I think of great players from the era of great teams at Marquette.


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