Thursday, October 27, 2005

Getting To Know the Badgers

I was going to try to remain silent until my season preview was ready, but in attempting to craft creative player breakdowns, I had an idea that didn’t quite fit, but that I didn’t want to completely forget about. So here’s the deal–every year Wisconsin has a handful of survey questions regarding personal preferences that they give to the basketball team, and then they show selected answers in the players’ media guide profiles. Some are pretty standard (i.e., What is your favorite spot on campus?) and some are more creative (i.e., What is the greatest invention of the past 100 years?), but the answers to these questions give an interesting look into the psyche of each player. So below, I’d like to examine the most intriguing answer of each player, and break down that answer a bit more. Here we go:

Ray Nixon
Most Prized Possession: Life
Now, Ray has never struck me as the most heady player on the court, but with one word he gives perhaps the most conceptual answer that anyone on the team has provided to any question. Methinks Ray may have taken a few philosophy courses during his time in Madison. Of course, if I was talking to Ray, I might argue that life, while something to be prized, probably does not qualify as a possession. (A close second in terms of interesting answers from Nixon was his assertion that his dream job would be "Oil Guy for Swimsuit Models." One wonders after his answers to these two questions if Ray was just goofing around like a normal college guy, or taking these questions way too literally.)

Kammron Taylor
Favorite Area Restaurant: North American Rotisserie
Apparently a North American Rotisserie location has opened up near campus since I left town just over two years ago, because back in my day the only location that existed was nowhere near the campus. And radio ads for the place constantly featured former UW athletes. I had meals there from time to time, and it wasn’t bad, but it’s basically a Boston Market. I find it hard to believe that this is Taylor’s favorite restaurant (even though another question does tell us that one of his favorite foods is chicken). A couple other guys cite this as a favorite, though, and considering this fact along with the numerous athlete endorsements, I’m led to wonder if we’ve got the next big athletic department scandal brewing at Wisconsin. My hope is that a lesson was learned after dealing with years of discounted shoes for athletes at the Shoe Box, and that Kam and his buddies aren’t paying for dark meat and getting white meat, but one never knows.

Alando Tucker
Title of Autobiography: Big Game "Bob"

Hmmm, this could go one of two ways. The first explanation is that Tucker is making up a title that is painfully derivative of Robert Horry’s nickname "Big Shot Bob." And he stupidly decided to tack on the name "Bob," despite the fact that his name is Alando, and he’s likely never been called Bob in his life. Of course, there’s another possible explanation. The name "Bob" is in quotes, and often when something is conspicuously in quotes, it has some sort of double meaning. Perhaps Tucker knows something that we the reader doesn’t, and actually didn’t just create a bad non-sensical nickname for himself. It could be a wickedly funny inside joke. If only there was some way to figure this mystery out...

Jason Chappell
Favorite Basketball Memory: Scoring 69 points in the 8th grade
First off, let’s note that Chappell had the most flippant responses to all of the survey questions since former Badger guard Tim Locum told us in 1988 that his hobbies included "filling out surveys." So all of his answers are ripe for discussion. However the above answer stands out for several reasons. First is the way in which his answer involves an individual moment, rather than one involving his team (a true feat for someone who’s been on college and high school teams that have done the things that Chappell’s have). Second is the fact that in looking for the peak in his career, Chappell decides to jump back to when he was 13 years old. Finally, there’s the way that Chappell childishly works the number 69 into his answer, wrongly thinking that his extremely thinly veiled sexual reference will be cool. Even if Chappell had a game like this in 8th grade, I’d bet my life that he actually scored 71, or something like that. Undoubtedly, though, in a sea of bizarre answers by the team, this on takes the cake as most ridiculous.

Tanner Bronson
Favorite Area Restaurant: The Nitty Gritty
Here’s where Tanner and I butt heads. I’ve never quite understood the allure of the Nitty Gritty, a popular campus area bar, as a restaurant. Yes, it’s a nice enough bar, and yes, I am in awe of the marketing genius running the place who realized that giving people free beer on their birthday would result in gigantic birthday party groups coming to the bar to drink and buy overpriced shots for the birthday celebrant. Putting aside the fact that the Nitty Gritty is a wonderful homage to capitalism, though, their food is average at best. In the interest of time, I won’t continue on about my hatred of their signature "Gritty Burger," but it is undoubtedly overrated. I think it’s safe to say that Tanner Bronson has bought into the hype, and that saddens me.

Brian Butch
Greatest Invention of the Last 100 Years: Moped
Wow, where do I even begin with this one? Give me 10 minutes and I could probably come up with a list of 50 better inventions than the moped. My only hope is that Butch was just playing it safe because he wasn’t sure (as I am not either) of whether several popular items fall within the 100 year limit, since the turn of the century was such an active time for inventions. I can pretty much guarantee you that if I had a time machine and I could take something from 2006 back to 1906 with me, the moped would be pretty low on my list. And let’s not forget that Butch’s answer also bears the risk of further annoying a small subset of students who are likely already bitter that they have to watch athletes (most of whom had mopeds, at least when I was in school) zip around on mopeds while they walk a half-mile to class. (Let it be known that I always sort of liked walking and never begrudged those with mopeds, but I know that these people are out there.) There were many better answers to this one, Brian.

Michael Flowers
Favorite Vacation Spot (when did you go and with whom?): California (this summer with a very special person)
Why so cryptic, Michael? A "very special person?" Is this a mentor that you’re referring to? Someone in your family? A good friend? Unfortunately, my guess is that Mr. Flowers must be referring to a woman (or perhaps a man, but for our purposes today, let’s just assume that it’s a woman so that I don’t need to complicate this paragraph too much) that he’s dating. Now, I’m not upset that he has found a special woman, but it’s sort of sickening, if that’s the case, to see it in print. Because the answer is so steeped in mystery, it’s a less egregious foul than, say, Devin Harris’ media guide revelation a couple years ago that his most prized possession was a photo album with pictures of him and his girlfriend. Nonetheless, if this is a girlfriend that Flowers is referring to, I hope for his sake that she is, indeed, a very special lady and that he ends up with her for a long time. Because if he doesn’t, over time this answer will end up obnoxiously similar to that long message written in your high school yearbook by that girl that you broke up with your freshman year in college when you both came home for Thanksgiving break. With the exception, of course, that your high school yearbook wasn’t distributed to the national media.

Greg Stiemsma
TV Show I Never Miss: Good Eats
I was expecting something somewhat more witty from the man who in a similar survey last year told us that his best pick-up line is "Hi, I’m Brian Butch," but I guess he went for the honest answer approach this year. Can I quarrel with his choice of a favorite show? Certainly not, as Alton Brown, host of Good Eats makes cooking fun to learn about and accessible to the masses. But it also doesn’t seem like a "can’t miss" show for a 19-year-old college guy. Let’s forget for the moment that the Food Network, where Good Eats appears, seems to have trouble finding a consistent scheduling plan, and that if one were to "never miss" watching Good Eats, it would require lots of research to pull off. Even if we make that leap, where does Stiemsma live? If it’s in a dorm, or somewhere similar, then he’s probably got limited access to a kitchen, not to mention limited funds for purchasing quality food and cookware. And even if Greg’s living in an apartment, I doubt that he has either the tools or the time to smoke his own bacon in the back yard, as Alton Brown would do. So the cooking show is doing him minimal good. Perhaps he wishes to re-think this answer...

DeAaron Williams
Favorite Food (and how often do you eat it?): McDonald’s (every day)
Really? Every day? This answer shocks me for two reasons. First, while McDonald’s is a successful franchise fast food restaurant, I’ve had McDonald’s before, and it’s not that good. In fact, unless I’m on a road trip in a remote town and nothing else is open, I personally tend to avoid the place. But maybe that’s just a difference in preference. The more suspect part of the answer is the fact that an elite division one college athlete actually chooses to eat McDonald’s every day. I always just sort of figured that these guys, as great of shape as they’re in, and with the phenomenal feats that their bodies can accomplish, must owe some of that performance to good nutrition. After all, we all saw what happened to Morgan Spurlock of Super-Size Me fame, after a solid month of McDonald’s. He was in pretty bad shape, and he didn’t even have to try to dunk over some guy from Ohio State at the end of his day. I guess DeAaron Williams can pull this off, though ultimately, I’d love to see his game if his favorite food was actually broccoli.

Morris Cain
Favorite Spot on Campus: Ed’s (UW Cafeteria)
Clearly Mr. Cain is a freshman, because anyone who lists the dorm cafeteria as their favorite spot on campus is not too familiar with his surroundings. Of course, based on my frequent trips there during the year which I lived across the street, I will grant you that Ed’s Express is a tasty place to eat, in terms of dorm food. Heck, I can even trace my current love of black olives to a sub sandwich that I ordered at Ed’s back in 1998, and which was incorrectly prepared to include said olives. That said, however, with such wonderful spots on the UW campus as the Memorial Union Terrace, Bascom Hill, the Lakeshore Path and any number of spots on Observatory Hill where one can peer out over Lake Mendota, one would have to be a fool to choose a cafeteria as his or her favorite spot. Here’s hoping that Morris has some free time to explore when the season’s over.

Kevin Gullikson
First Job: Selling Corn
I’m not even going to comment much on this one, because I don’t need to. All I’ll say is this: Here’s a link to Gullikson’s official photo for the team. When you see it, his first job will come as absolutely no surprise.

Joe Krabbenhoft:
Hobbies/Interests: Video games, fishing, Jessica Simpson
I’m not even sure I can mock this one, since it’s actually a pretty funny answer. Mr. Krabbenhoft would have been pushing his luck had he just answered "Jessica Simpson." However, he set the joke up nicely by first listing two common hobbies and interests of a typical college-aged male. Then he slots in the hot blonde at the end. Not a bad way to go. Let’s hope that he sets up teammates as well as he sets up jokes. And let’s also hope that those rumors about the split of Ms. Simpson and her husband are true. A man as witty as Joe Krabbenhoft deserves a shot.

Marcus Landry
First Job: Working at Walgreens
Apologies in advance for the irrational love of Landry that I’m probably going to develop over the next few years, but this answer only adds to how great he is, in my opinion. This is a question that some of the players on this team answered with something like "working basketball camps," but not Landry. No, he had a bad teenage job like the rest of us. And that’s what makes this answer so cool. He’s just a regular dude who had to suck it up and do some hard work. And one can only hope that this work ethic carries over into his game as he continues to improve. Either way, when I see Marcus Landry putting a sweet drop step on some unsuspecting defender this year, I’m going to remember that he got his start wearing a blue vest and stocking suppositories, and that hard work got him to where he is now.

Mickey Perry
One Thing About Me That Would Surprise People: I play around a lot
Is anyone else as shocked as I am to hear that about Mickey Perry? I mean, I would have guessed a lot of things about him, but the fact that he plays around a lot–that never would have occurred to me in a million years. Next thing you know, we’re going to find out that Alando Tucker likes doing stuff, or that Greg Stiemsma likes to hang out from time to time. With revelations like Perry’s affinity for playing around, you truly can’t know what other surprising things you’re going to find out next about this team.

So there’s your 2005-2006 Wisconsin Badger team. They’re an interesting lot, aren’t they?

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