Wisconsin vs. UWM: A Confusing Battle
With the Wisconsin-UWM game last evening, any normal fan in my position would have gone home, whipped up a magnificent pasta dish, and parked him or herself in front of the television to catch the 7pm game. Obviously, I’m no normal fan, though, so when a friend of mine asked me "Do you want to go see Cedarburg play at Germantown," I excitedly accepted the invitation to watch an unhyped high school game, and let my DVR box do the work on the battle of the Wisconsin state school powers. Of course, having not been to Germantown High School since I was 14 years old, I had forgotten just how far away it is, so it was already a late night for me before I sat down to watch the big game on TV.
Thus, rather than update on the whole night, I’d like to concentrate on the Wisconsin-UWM game. Of course, I won’t let the high school game die, because I have some important things to say about my first trip to the Germantown gym in 13 years, but tonight was a big night for the state of Wisconsin. Or at least the two cities that I’ve lived in. Game thoughts below:
1) Of course, the most intriguing match-up of the night was Alando Tucker vs. Joah Tucker. It was all there–undersized forward vs. undersized forward, guy named "Tucker" vs. guy named "Tucker," go-to guy vs. go-to guy. And to top it off, Alando Tucker and Joah Tucker are both probably among the top few small forwards in the country, and play for rival schools. The match-up got off to a quick start, with the first few points of the game scored by someone with "Tucker" on his jersey, but then let down quite a bit with Joah Tucker’s foul trouble.
2) Early in the game, there was a stoppage of play for a bit as the shot clocks went off. During discussion of what was going on, announcer Craig Coshun mentioned that glitches like this come up from time to time, noting that the floor in the Kohl Center gets changed around a lot, between men’s and women’s basketball sharing the Kohl Center with hockey. Maybe I’m missing something here, but how would repeatedly changing the floor out have any effect on the electrical system running the clock? I guess Coshun needed to fill time, but that just seemed like a non sequitur to me.
3) A lot has been made over Alando Tucker’s wearing of his protective mask to protect a nasal injury. After two slump games, people have been constantly wondering if the mask is hindering his play. I doubt that it is, but it’s a convenient thing to talk about. Nonetheless, I was a bit taken aback when announcer Coshun made a comment after Tucker got off to a hot start in the first 8 minutes or so that it seemed clear that Tucker was past problems related to the mask. Two slump games followed by 8 good minutes and you’re clear on that, Craig? I never even thought the mask was a problem, and I wasn’t totally clear on that yet.
4) If you’re Rob Jeter going to sleep the night before your first game against your mentor, Bo Ryan, what do you think the worst nightmare that you could have is? Aside from injury, or something totally implausible like a tiger getting loose in the arena and mauling Avery Smith, I’m guessing that it would be getting down 20 points and Joah Tucker heading to the bench with four fouls with six minutes to go in the first half. I couldn’t come up with many plausible situations that would be worse. As it was, Tucker with four fouls seemed pretty implausible.
5) Did everyone else see Joah Tucker slam the floor with his hand after his third foul, leading to the technical foul that would send him to the bench with four fouls? The reckless disregard for his right hand was unbelievable, as he really pounded his fist hard into the floor. Note to self-don’t get into a bar fight with Joah Tucker, because you will end up needing reconstructive surgery.
6) Fantastic run by UWM to fight its way back into the game, erasing the 20-point lead of the Badgers and even getting a brief lead of their own. What was most fun to watch about this comeback was the fact that the Panthers showed some glimpses of the 2004-5 UWM team. No, they didn’t turn the Badgers over with a choking press, and they didn’t run wild all over the floor, but no one can deny that Boo Davis’ conscious-less three-point shooting was a big part of willing UWM back into the game. Davis still looks at times to me like a guy who might not even know how the new offense is run, but he’s just a play maker. And his shooting last night was reminiscent of former teammate and last year’s Horizon League player of the year, Ed McCants.
7) Great halftime commercial last night for the Communication Arts department at Wisconsin, one of my two programs of study in college. I was just going to fast-forward through the commercials at halftime to get to bed earlier, when I alertly recognized one of the most bland professors that I’ve ever had (he was a good teacher, just not a real dynamic guy) being showcased in a commercial. The gist of the commercial was that Wisconsin is a great place to study film and mass media. Having completed the requirements for a major in the Radio, Television & Film track (named such, in spite of the fact that there was only one radio course offered during my time there) of the Communication Arts department, I don’t know that I agree with the message of the commercial. However, I was still sold on the department, because anyone making a commercial that could make my old professor look interesting is accomplishing a major feat.
8) Joah Tucker re-entered the game at about the 13:30 mark in the second half, after UWM had clawed back into the game. And he was nearly lost before the clock hit 13:00 when one of the refs nearly charged him with a foul that he clearly did not commit. Thank goodness for the miracle of instant replay (which was used more than usual last night), because the refs were able to examine the tape and ensure that they didn’t make a terrible game-changing call.
9) I’ve been noticing lately that when Brian Butch makes different faces he looks like different people. Most people talk about him looking like the kid who plays Dewey on "Malcolm In the Middle," which is a fair assessment. A couple games back, I saw Butch’s profile, and he looked like the spitting image of my friend The Franchise (who as a Marquette fan would hate this assessment). And last night when he made an angry face, he strangely reminded me of young actor D.J. Qualls. Funny thing is, Butch never consistently resembles any person, but seems to look like a whole bunch of them at various times. One can only guess who he’ll look like next week. My money’s on a good Danny DeVito face.
10) I probably say this enough already, but I like Adrian Tigert more every time that I see him.
11) I’d like to give myself some props on yesterday’s score prediction. Though in a pathetic roundabout manner (which I didn’t even notice at the time) I managed to indirectly predict a UWM upset, a Wisconsin blowout, and a somewhat close Wisconsin win. At some point during the game, all of the above were on the verge of occurring, so maybe I knew what I was doing when I was unwittingly hedging my bets by littering my prediction with modifiers yesterday. And of course, my ultimate score prediction was 73-64. The game ended up 74-68. Not to shabby if you ask me, and definitely better than last year when I predicted that the UWM-Illinois NCAA tournament game would result in anything but a basic 14-point win for Illinois, and the Illini won by, you guessed it, 14 points.
So the Badgers won, defeating their third in-state foe of the past two weeks, and UWM again showed that it’s toughening up and will be a force to be reckoned with in the Horizon League. You couldn’t ask for too much more if you’re a fan of basketball in the state. Actually, I could ask for a bit more sleep, but that’s not the fault of Wisconsin and UWM–that’s on me for deciding to drive 35 minutes to a totally random high school game on a snowy Thursday night.