Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday Night Hodgepodge

Today’s going to be another non-traditional update, due to a variety of reasons, which will become clear in my bullet points. The venues for last night’s game watching were the semi-new Brothers tavern on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee (for the Wisconsin-Wake Forest game), and later in the evening, my living room chair (for everything else). Here’s my night of basketball:

1) On Monday night my friend Brian called me looking to see if I wanted to go to a game somewhere last night. Since I saw no high school games of note going on, I had already told some friends that I would meet up with them to watch the Wisconsin game at a bar. Much to my dismay, in the voice message that Brian left for me, he noted that Lawrence, probably my favorite division 3 college team to watch, was playing at Wisconsin Lutheran College, a mere 5 minute drive from my apartment. I could kick myself for missing this point, and definitely would have gone to the game and DVR’d the Wisconsin game had I not told my friends I’d be meeting up with them. I’ve got to start paying more attention to these things.

2) There are positives and negatives to watching a game at the aforementioned Brothers, and last night I think the negatives outweighed the positives. The location was chosen based on its nightly happy hour special of 2-1 on pretty much any beverage until 7pm. Surely a great deal, and the service was generally pretty good, too. However, there were other problems with Brothers that mitigated the savings and service. First, my friend Adam ordered nachos, only to be informed after a brief wait that the bar was out of nachos. A bar that’s out of nachos? Isn’t that sort of like Walgreens being out of cold medicine? Simply unacceptable.

Of course the thing that made me more bitter was having to change seats in order to see the game. Early in the game, I met up with my friends Adam and Ferd, who had snagged a prime spot at the bar in front of a TV with the Wisconsin-Wake Forest game on. We watched the first half of the game, and by halftime had about six of us there. Near the end of halftime, though, the TV was switched to the Milwaukee Bucks game. It would seem that the three people to my left who had entered the bar shortly after me had requested the change, since they were the only ones who protested when we asked to put the Wisconsin game back on. Since there were only two TVs at the bar, we were displaced, despite having a great spot in the first half. Fortunately, there’s not much reason to be in Brothers after the happy hour special cuts out at 7pm, so there was plenty of space to move to in range of the other TV. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal, but it’s still pretty annoying to be pushed out of a prime viewing location by people who show up later than you. It’s especially annoying when those people pay virtually no attention to the Bucks game and leave before the end of the first quarter.

Can you tell that’s been bugging me?

3) I should have a pretty good breakdown of the Wisconsin-Wake Forest game, right? Sadly, I don’t. Watching a game at a bar is a double-edged sword. On one hand, a tavern is conducive to socializing, and socializing is one of the reasons that I watch basketball to begin with. On the other hand, I do like to actually see the games, and at the bar, sometimes conversations about Yinka Dare’s NBA assist totals tend to obscure the fact that there’s an actual game going on. So yeah, I caught about 60% of the game. It was enough to tell you that Alando Tucker did something to his face to warrant wearing a protective mask, Ray Nixon looked absolutely foolish guarding Justin Gray, and Jason Chappell does a great job of selling to the refs the idea that he’s getting abused whenever he has contact with another player.

4) Last night while watching Brian Butch repeatedly can mid-range jumpers, it occurred to me that he and Marquette’s Steve Novak should be compared, since both are big men with a nice shooting touch. I feel the best way to compare the two is in video game form. For instance, if you’re creating the video game Novak, you’re powering him up to 98 (out of 100) on the category entitled “Shooting.” You’re leaving him at about 24 apiece for categories like “Quickness” and “Post Play.” With Butch, you’re maybe only powering him up to 81 on the “Shooting” category, and dumping those extra 17 points onto the other categories. I guess this is a roundabout way of saying that Butch’s shot, while nice, doesn’t begin to touch Novak’s, but his defensive and interior game is slightly better than Novak’s.

Not sure where I was going with that, other than the video game analogy just popped into my head last night and seemed wickedly accurate. Of course, I could be way off, since I haven’t actually purchased a new video game system since about 1993.

5) Okay, I saw Jason Chappell's father Len in the stands during a crowd shot. Let's just say, I've been way too hard on Jason over the years for his seemingly ambivalent-to-life facial expressions. When they first showed Len Chappell on screen, I honestly thought that he was asleep. Then he moved a bit, and went back to looking like he was asleep again. So it's official--Jason Chappell cares, but due to genetics, he just looks really, really laid back.

6) My exact words about Wake Forest-Wisconsin from yesterday: “I’m picking most legit teams to beat Wisconsin at this point in the season, but Wake’s thin at guard, the place where most legit teams would beat Wisconsin. If it comes down to the frontcourt, I’m giving this one to the Badgers.”

Yeah, Wake’s thin at guard. Like that guy who dropped 37 on the Badgers. If you needed any proof that sometimes I don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is.

7) Post-tavern I returned home to watch as much of the North Carolina-Illinois game as I could. There’s a lot that was significant about this game on a national level. After all, even though there has been tremendous turnover on each roster, this is a rematch of the 2005 national championship game. However, more significant to me is the fact that this is the first college basketball game that I was able to see on my home television in high definition. Let’s just say, I nearly wept with joy. Football season’s been okay, but back in July when I put myself into perpetual debt for the sake of home entertainment, this was why I did it. The Smith Center looked brilliant last night.

8) Oh yeah, that roster turnover—that’s not going to be much of a problem for North Carolina or Illinois. UNC certainly doesn’t have the talent that they’ve had over the past few years, but with the talent that the Heels are bringing in next year, and the fact that the talent level of this year’s freshmen is such that early exits to the NBA may be kept to a minimum, this will be a very dangerous team in coming years. Very dangerous.

9) I only caught some of it, but I must admit a certain amount of surprise that Michigan beat up on Miami like they did. Even more surprising was that it was a true team effort, with even Graham Brown playing well. I’m not holding my breath for a huge year out of Michigan, but one never knows after a game like this…

10) Nike, why do you hurt me like this? Last night I was subjected to North Carolina, Illinois, and Michigan wearing ugly jerseys with off-colored patches on the shoulders. The last time that jerseys like this were broken out it was in the mid-1990s when Duke added some flair to the shoulders of its uniforms. Note that these uniforms came during Duke’s strange pair of down years in the mid-1990s. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I still can’t believe that anyone would ruin a great classic-looking uniform like North Carolina’s.

11) The evening closed with me watching UCLA in a surprisingly close game against Albany, before realizing what I was watching, and deciding to finally go to sleep.

More enjoyment of the Big Ten-ACC challenge tonight, but likely with more analysis, since I’m actually staying in to watch the game tonight.


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Chris, excellent blog.
As a displaced Milwaukeean, it will be a treat to read on your take on local hoops.
One question, where is the UWM coverage? As someone who went to UWM and loved the Bruce Pearl era, they still can be good.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Tony D. said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the jerseys. The apocalypse is upon us, and Nike be thy name. It started with football, and having ugly, unmatched shoulders. That was bad enough, but no this is completely uncalled for. I understand the power of the almighty dollar, but somethings must remain sacred. Carolina Blue is one of them.
(And this is not including the fact that Carolina now looks like they should be playing in the WNBA with those wide shoulder straps)


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