At Least UWM Had a Better Night Than Daron Sutton
First things first–I have some additional required reading for you today, as perhaps my two favorite bloggers have written about the teams of my wonderful home state. First off, the Big Ten Wonk has his look at Wisconsin, the last of his alphabetically-organized glimpses at Big Ten teams. For a guy who doesn’t follow Wisconsin as his primary team, he gets it remarkably right. Dare I say it, his objectivity may make him a better source for pre-season Wisconsin info than me, an admitted Wisconsin homer.
Second, if you were not aware, Kyle from the Mid-Majority is doing columns for ESPN this year. He’s writing about, not surprisingly, mid-major teams. His most recent piece is about finding "the next UWM" this year. Obviously, UWM gets significant mention. And seeing as today’s game recap is about UWM, it’s probably a good primer. Thanks for the publicity for the Panthers, Kyle.
Now onto the game recapping. Last night found me at home in my recliner checking out UWM the first televised game, and first regular season game of any team this season. And Memphis worked them over good, winning 79-51 and showing the Panthers that while their Sweet 16 last year was nice, this is 2005-06, and they’re going to need to start all over again if they want to make a similar run. Here are my recap points:
1) The first five minutes of the game were a bit disheartening for me. The Tigers were causing problems with their press, throwing down athletic dunks, and generally running at another speed than the Panthers in an attempt to cause havoc. In short, they were playing like last year’s UWM team, only with more athletic talent. And we all saw what happened last year when UWM had a productive night, so things looked bad by the Panthers.
2) Memphis is ranked 12th in the nation, but despite their crushing win over UWM, a solid team, I don’t think they’re a top-12 team. They make a lot of mistakes, and their success is built not on solid basketball skills, but on flashy athletes (admittedly, which they have a lot of) making plays. Again, they’re much like UWM last year. They could win or lose to anyone on any given night. Looking at their schedule, I see that they play Purdue and Texas back to back in their non-conference season (which, I might add, was splendidly put together, most likely in an attempt to make up for the fact that Memphis was the only legit team to get left in Conference USA during re-alignment). I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see a loss to Purdue, followed by a win against Texas.
3) I don’t get into baseball much, so I don’t have a good read on how Daron Sutton, the Panthers’ play-by-play man for local TV is with his primary job as Milwaukee Brewers’ play-by-play man, but he was awful last night for the Panther game. I don’t remember him being this bad last year, so perhaps he’s just rusty, but he was absolutely terrible last night. His first gaffe of the evening wasn’t really his fault though, as he proclaimed that Sam Houston State was a surprise upset winner over Missouri earlier in the evening. I know a lot of people haven’t caught on to the whole Missouri thing, but is anyone out there that follows college basketball honestly surprised when Missouri loses to someone. I know I’m not.
4) Side note–that was weird typing the words "Panthers’ play-by-play man." It’s going to be a fun year having a UWM team that is actually shown on local TV on a regular basis this year. Last year we were almost there, but this year should be consistent.
5) The announcers noted that in the previous evening’s Duke-Boston University game, Jay Bilas called Joah Tucker one of his top-5 players in the country. I haven’t been able to confirm this, as I still haven’t sat through the entire game, which I recorded on Monday. But if true, that’s a huge compliment from a guy that I think is one of the most astute observers of college basketball. I also disagree with Bilas if he said this, despite the fact that I’m a tremendous homer. Tucker’s good, but I think I could find 5 better players without much problem.
6) UWM had no steals at the half. I believe Memphis had 8. Do you need further proof that UWM was getting UWM’d?
7) On to the cavalcade of stupid Daron Sutton comments. Here’s #1: "(Joah) Tucker has two fouls–we’ll have to keep an eye on that." Yeah Daron, you’d definitely want to keep an eye on Tucker’s foul problems, as he’s the star player for UWM. But this comment was made with 13 minutes to go in the game. I hardly find a player with two fouls to be in severe foul trouble if he has 3 fouls with 13 minutes to go.
8) I meant to go back and confirm this, since upon reflection it seems impossible that anyone would make this mistake, but with 9 minutes left in the game, Sutton told us that Adrian Tigert had fouled out of the game. Maybe I heard him wrong, but I could swear that’s what he said. Imagine my surprise when Tigert re-entered the game a few minutes later. Nice catch, Daron. Apologies if I misheard you.
9) On a side note, Sutton did make one good call on the night, harping on the refs and the tight manner in which they called the game. Tigert, for example, committed two fouls where he literally had not touched the guy who he apparently fouled. No wonder this game ran long.
10) Final complaint about Daron Sutton–why does the guy like Panther guard Avery Smith so much? Sure it’s a nice story that he was supposed to redshirt, but impressed the coaching staff so much that they’ve got him playing this year, but get over it already. Sutton must have referred to how well the guy was playing about 20 times last night. And you know what–Smith had an okay game, but certainly didn’t deserve the raves that he drew from Sutton.
So in the end the Panthers lost in a blowout. I won’t lie–it was nearly every bit as bad as the score. The game also adds to my thoughts about what the Panthers’ will be this year. I still expect them to cruise through the Horizon League with ease, playing an effective, consistent brand of basketball. But this team isn’t built for miraculous upsets like last year. So while I don’t see any random, inexplicable losses to Butler on the horizon (no pun intended, honest), I also don’t see any random, inexplicable wins over Boston College. I’m still not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.