Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Carroll College vs. Ripon College: A Quiet Evening In Waukesha

As promised, last night I took in a division three game, as Ripon College came to town (or close to town, in nearby Waukesha) to take on Carroll College. Though I’ve only been to one other division three game this year (Whitewater vs. Eau Claire), I always like going because you never know what the personality of the crowd is going to be, and you can pretty much be assured that something interesting will happen. And the fact that Carroll College doesn’t charge for admission to games doesn’t hurt either (Of course, this also seems to be a brilliant move for Carroll, as the few times that I’ve been there they have tended to draw far more fans than expected for a division three game in an area of the state that actually offers legitimate entertainment options). With that in mind, my Ripon-alum buddy Dez and I set off for the Carroll College gymnasium.

1) Last year I had made my first ever trip to Carroll College for last season’s version of the match-up I was seeing last night. As I’ve pointed out before, I was thoroughly unimpressed by the warm-up music last year, which included such cutting edge tunes as Michael Jackson’s "Beat It," and Billy Joel’s "We Didn’t Start the Fire." To my excitement, as I walked into the gym this year, I heard "We Ready," a tune that I had deemed as one of last season’s two official warm-up songs of the year. Not only had they corrected their most basic error of using stale music, they were actually using a song which I had given my official stamp of approval to. It was then followed up by an Eminem song that I didn’t know (since I’m horrifically out of touch, ever since finishing school a few years ago). Things were going well, and I began the game pleased that Carroll had corrected this error.

Then halftime came. The teams returned to the floor to warm up to...."We Ready," followed by an Eminem song that I didn’t know. Repeat music, just like last year. I’m going to try to stay positive here, though, since even though Carroll didn’t put together enough of a music bank to avoid repeated songs, they’re at least making some significant progress in terms of audio presentation. Maybe next year they’ll have everything down.

3) Speaking of audio presentation, the PA announcer last night was fun to listen to. He did the typical homer announcer thing of calling out plays by the Carroll players in a bombastic voice, and noting Ripon scores with a calm, barely audible comment. The best thing about the contrast, though, was that you could completely tell that the guy was using a contrived, extra-deep announcer voice for the home calls, since his voice sounded so different on the Ripon calls. Not that I begrudge him for that. Heck, he was pretty good at it, and let’s be honest–people who know me know that my real voice basically is a contrived announcer voice, so I can’t really complain.

4) As I walk into the gym at Carroll, one of the first things that I’ve tended notice is the offices on the upper portion of the far side of the building that have windows looking into the gym. I think it’s my new goal in life to have an office with a view like that. In fact, I’m sort of kicking myself for not scouting that location when my place of employment recently moved to new offices. Sure, it might confuse an estate planning client or two of ours to have to go to the Carroll College gym to see their lawyer, but at least I could work late and still see games.

5) As always when I watch a division three game, there’s a name or two of guys that I had seen in high school competition the year prior and forgotten about. The biggest name last night was Carroll’s Trevor Stratton, who I recalled from his strong state tournament last year. I could sort of see why his name stuck out in my head, as he was the game-high scorer last night with 24. Keep an eye on Stratton for the next few years. Only a freshman right now, he could be a great one by the time all is said and done. If nothing else, Carroll is probably assured of having the strongest backcourt in its league next year, as Stratton returns along with Nathan Drury. Admittedly, I know virtually nothing about the rest of the league, but a better division three tandem than this would be tough to find.

6) Ripon’s star player Bo Johnson had a somewhat off evening. More interesting than that to me, though, is that Johnson is a Wausau East High School alum, and looks quite a bit like my good friend Josh who also went to Wausau East. If not for the fact that I’ve met and become friends with some of Josh’s friends from high school, I’d have started wondering if everyone on the east side of that city just sort of looks the same.

7) An addition to my all-name team for the year was made when Carroll’s Buck Colomy entered the game. You’re off to a good start when any name starts with "Buck," but when you toss a "Colomy" on the end, you’re assured a spot on my all-name team.

8) I liked Ripon big man Brian Schmitting. I was actually watching him in warm-ups, and he looked like one of those guys that you see in warm-ups and you don’t really think is going to get into the game. Then he started. And he was one of the most effective guys on the floor for Ripon (though I also really liked Carroll’s big men). Just goes to show you that looks can be decieving.

9) Early in the game Dez pointed out a huge sign on the far wall of the Carroll gym that read "Building Champions." We both made the mistake upon first reading it that the banner was proclaiming Carroll to be champions of its own gymnasium, which hardly seems like a banner-worthy accomplishment. Of course, upon three seconds of reflection, we realized that the sign meant that the school was in the process of creating champions, which made the banner more appropriate. Nonetheless, given the setting of the banner, couldn’t this problem have been anticipated, and perhaps eliminated with a sign that instead read "We Build Champions."

10) Life has to be tough if you’re on a division three dance team. When I’ve been to high school and division one college games, there’s typically a set time for the dance team to come out and do their routines, be it halftime, television timeouts, or quarter breaks. But in a division three game, you’ve just got halftime, and whenever one of the coaches decides to call a timeout. Thus, you’ve always got to be on your toes, and ready to bust out your routine at a moment’s notice. It’s got to be tough to enjoy a game that way.

11) As Carroll pulled away from a game that was tied at halftime and used a barrage of late three-pointers to open a nearly 30 point lead, garbage time ensued. As part of this garbage time ensued, a cousin of one of my good friends got into the game. He played the last 2:30, and did nothing of note. This wouldn’t be so interesting, except as my friend told me, his cousin had chosen his college since he saw it as a place where he could get playing time to help him reach his goal of playing pro ball. Um, yeah. Let’s just hope he’s not late for Latin class this morning, since I’m thinking he has a better chance of eventually using a dead language in his post-college life than earning money with his basketball skills.

And with a pleasantly early end to the game, I returned home to catch the final seven minutes of the Iowa-Indiana game. That’s the beautiful thing about division three games–fewer stoppages of play means it’s a quick, efficient shot of basketball for the system. Well that, and I still like that Carroll College admission is free.

Tonight it’s off to catch the Wisconsin-Penn State game in Madison. For once in my life, here’s hoping that I have nothing interesting to say about this game, after a week at Wisconsin that can only be described as incredibly interesting.


At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You’re off to a good start when any name starts with "Buck..."

Even better when your last name starts with it. Have fun at the Badger game, Chris.



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