Another weekend down. This one was a bit more special, though, as it was the last weekend of the year prior to playoff activity. This week begins the excitement of high school playoffs, and that also means that low-level conference tournaments can't be too far behind. So what did I watch this weekend? Here's a day-by-day breakdown:
During work, my buddy Kosta called me to see if I wanted to see a high school game with him. I won't name the teams involved, as I try my best to keep from saying anything bad about high school players in this forum. Let's just say that I appreciated this game largely because it served as a reminder of how great the high school basketball that I usually watch is. Highlights of the game included:
1) During warm-ups, the home team had one kind of chunky kid that looked like he couldn't run real well, meaning that he moved so poorly that I though he had some sort of problem with his legs. He also got meaningful minutes for his team. In addition, he scared me a bit, since his build kind of reminded me of myself in high school. I just hope that I moved better. After all--with my goggles, and odd habit of shaking the ball above my head when I got it at the top of the key, I needed all the help I could get to keep from getting made fun of.
2) Well, Friday night might have marked the worst high school warm-up mix that I've ever heard. There were plenty of good songs. Perhaps too many, though. All of the songs were good, but none went on for more than 45 seconds. Come on, you can't cut out right in the middle of "Gettin' Jiggy With It." That's just wrong.
3) Perhaps my favorite moment of the night was during a halftime ceremony held to honor a retiring member of the home school's staff. It was done as a surprise. After about 4 minutes of comments honoring the retiree, he was handed the microphone to say a few words. The first words out of his mouth, to a gymnasium full of people, were "Wow, I don't know what the hell to say." Now that's an honest reaction, and one that I'll always remember.
4) Going to a bad high school game was an interesting experience in that the feel of the crowd was much different than most games that I go to. The people around me weren't really complaining about the refs, and were pretty much just happy to enjoy honoring the seniors on the team in their last home game. There was no anger and no passion. I guess that's what happens when virtually nothing is on the line. So, I sure hope that someday if I have kids and they decide to play sports that they always end up playing in front of refs that I think are terrible.
After clearing my palette on a bad high school game the prior evening, it was time to take a full day off from watching basketball. Sure, I watched the Minnesota-Purdue game in the morning (which was somewhat like a summarized, one-game summary of Gene Keady's season), but the rest of the day was leisurely for me. Since it was the first day in some time that I haven't had a game to go to, or some other out-of-town endeavor, I cleaned most of my apartment, and avoided the television, save for a one-hour break where I watched an old ABC After-School Special on DVD. I enjoyed the tale of a young track athlete who learns the value of teamwork after breaking his legs in a horrific car accident. It astounds and amuses me that they released these things on DVD. I didn't go the day totally free of hoops, though, as the day's roundup on ESPN was on the TV while I was out at a bar with some friends that night, and I couldn't stop looking up. Apologies to friends that I may have ignored.
It was time to get back on track with basketball watching, and luckily, the day had a lot in store. Wisconsin-Ohio State was on at 1pm, and during the same time period, Fox Sports was showing high school games featuring two of the state’s better teams, Randolph and Madison Memorial (each in separate games). All of this was, of course, followed by the Oklahoma State-Kansas slugfest. It was a perfect day to have some of the boys over to give my beer dispenser a workout, so that’s what I did. It was a nice, restful afternoon. My key points:
1) Wisconsin-Ohio State lacked drama. I just was never really into the game for some reason. Sure, Terrance Dials was lighting up the Badgers when Mike Wilkinson was saddled with foul trouble, but other than a few key stretches, I never felt like the game was in doubt. Ohio State just wasn’t shooting well enough to run.
2) I am actually starting to get a tad worried about the Badgers losing Mike Wilkinson next year. I’ve always liked him, but I’m not sure that I’ve truly appreciated what he’s done for his team until now, when he’s only got a few games left. With Wilkinson and Travis Diener leaving the college ranks, it will be interesting to see what happens to the big programs in Wisconsin next year. At least we know that UWM will be good.
3) It was a pleasure to see Wisconsin’s rebounding on Sunday. Unlike against Michigan State, opponents were not getting through cracks and grabbing easy offensive boards. That was nice to see, after a less-than-stellar rebounding performance last time out.
4) Let me get this straight—Ohio State hadn’t retired John Havlicek’s number until Sunday? What the hell were they waiting for? I realize one has to be selective in retiring numbers, but isn’t Havlicek generally considered to be one of the best to ever play the game? And how in God’s name was Jim Jackson’s number retired before Havlicek’s?
5) The high school games on Fox Sports were actually somewhat of a disappointment. They looked like they were being broadcast on a webcam. Note to Fox Sports: if you’re showing high school basketball and the video is so bizarre that even I don’t want to watch it, maybe you should just find something else to show.
6) Much could be said about the Oklahoma State-Kansas game, but most of it would be me raving about the play of almost everyone on the floor. And I also wondered where Alex Galindo was. Anyway, I still have Oklahoma State penciled in as one of my Final Four teams, pending actual brackets, so the fact that Kansas was able to take them down makes things even more interesting for March.
Other notable weekend factoids:
1) The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had a phenomenal feature on the best Wisconsin high school basketball players of the last 100 years. Check it out here, and if I get a chance, I'll talk more about it later. More definitely needs to be said about this piece. In the meantime, congrats to a gentleman that goes by the nickname of "Boo-Yah," who is a friend of the site here, and was also quoted in the feature.
2) I must be an idiot, because until Friday, I was unaware that the special edition Hoosiers DVD was coming out this week. Not to worry, as my copy was ordered on Friday. I can't believe that I miss these things. This will quickly become the crown-jewel of my DVD collection, just barely edging out seasons one and two of "Saved By the Bell." Now that Hoosiers has finally been given appropriate DVD treatment, I'll be anxiously awaiting Hoop Dreams (to be released on DVD in the next year, as I understand it) and the White Shadow (which will likely never end up on DVD unless I get a high-level job in the entertainment industry).
3) Lawrence beat Ripon in the Division 3 Midwest Conference championship. Not an unexpected development, but one that ends Ripon’s season (thanks for the heads up on that point, Dez). We'll see how seeding shakes out shortly.
4) The premier basketball blog out there has changed its address and upgraded some things. If you're so inclined, check out Yocohoops today.
5) Chris Rock was hilarious in the opening to the Oscars. That has nothing to do with basketball, and I didn't watch any other part of the Oscars, but I still feel like this objective truth must be mentioned.
And that’s the weekend. I’m not sure what I’m doing tonight, but it will probably somehow involve basketball. I’ll tell you about it later.