As you’ve likely noticed recently, my futile attempts on Thursday nights to raise my bowling average past 122 typically prevent me from watching a full basketball game. Last night was no different, but unlike the last two weeks, I’ve actually planned ahead so that I could do an update. So here’s some lingering notes that I’ve either missed, or had no place to put over the last few weeks:
1) I’ve noticed a great new role that seems to be developing on basketball teams across the country. The guy who fills this role may or may not play major minutes for his team, and may or may not be a particularly skilled basketball player. But if your team doesn’t have the guy who stands at the end of the introduction line who jumps up to give a chest bump to the player who’s being introduced, then you’re just behind the times.
2) As the Big Ten stands right now, Wisconsin is sitting in first place with one loss, and five teams sit one game back with one loss. It doesn’t even seem statistically possible to me that this many teams have so many wins and are challenging for first place. I think the league needs to send a thank-you card to 0-6 Minnesota for facilitating this excitement.
3) A couple of times this year when I’ve been to high school games to watch Jerry Smith, I’ve seen him walk to center court for the captain’s debriefing, and upon encountering the refs, he will exchange kind words and engage in one of those man hugs where you shake hands and then lean in for the hug with one of the refs. Wouldn’t that scare the crap out of you if you’re an opposing team? Not only are you supposed to try and stop arguably the best player in the state, but now you find out that he’s friendly enough with the ref to share an embrace with him. I wouldn’t be expecting things to go the way that I want at that point.
4) Yesterday I was chatting with my father about basketball when he looked at the TV listings and noted that Western Kentucky vs. Louisiana-Lafayette was on TV that evening. He quickly noted that that sounded like a game no one would want to watch. I then found myself replying "Well, I don’t know–I’ve seen a little bit of Western Kentucky, and they’re pretty good. And Louisiana-Lafayette has that guy from Wisconsin (Michael Southall, 34pts) playing for them, so it might be a fun one to watch." That’s when I realized just how much of a disease basketball has become for me. My dad shocked me, though, and showed me that my disease is spreading when he replied to my comments by asking "Oh yeah, you’re talking about that guy from the LaCrosse area with all the problems, right?"
5) I’m coming out and saying it right now–I don’t want ESPNU in my home, and neither should you. I’m tired of ESPN doing things like tossing a legitimate Marquette-Notre Dame on their otherwise mediocre-sounding startup channel in attempts to get people to demand that their cable company carry ESPNU. It’s just another ploy to force through another channel that they can over-charge cable companies for carrying. The worst part of this all, though, is my immediate reaction is to want ESPNU badly (heck, ESPN typically puts out a good product–this is just an institutional complaint), even if I know in my head that by getting the channel, I’m just hurting myself and every other cable subscriber out there. It’s almost as if ESPN is peddling drugs, and I’m trying to fight the urge to buy more crack. Thanks to Time-Warner, though, for intervening for the moment and making sure that I don’t have access to ESPNU. Here’s hoping that the cable companies stand strong and don’t allow ESPN to bully them (and indirectly, the rest of us) anymore.
6) The recent academic ineligibility crisis at Wisconsin got me thinking back to my own studies there, which only made me madder. Clearly, someone should know (and probably does know) where to hide guys if they need a break from rigorous studies every now and again. I should know, because even as a normal student, I managed to take a lot of those classes which would be good for maintaining eligibility. My favorite, to this day, is Animal Science 200: The Biology and Appreciation of Companion Animals. More simply stated, the class was about pet care. The first class was about setting up a fish tank. On Fridays, the class size was typically much smaller, since the football team was often on a road trip. I give the professor credit, though, since in his overview remarks to the class when the semester started, he noted in a Power Point presentation that one of the reasons that people take the class is that they heard it was easy, and went on to say that it probably was easy if you did all of your work. And indeed, it was about the easiest "B" I ever got. (Stop laughing–there’s no such thing as an easy "A." Even if you’re just learning about how to best set up a whelping box for your dog as it gives birth, you’ve still got to put in some extra effort for an "A.")
7) Former UWM coach Bruce Pearl continues to do a bang-up job with Tennessee, and already has upsets of Texas and Florida under his belt. As I said to people around me when Pearl took that job, I generally think you’d be crazy to take the Tennessee job with the pervasiveness of women’s basketball down there, but if there’s anyone who could make things work there, it’s Bruce Pearl. Aside from his on-court success, I think what will make Pearl successful is his tireless work promoting his team, something that Tennessee men’s basketball desperately needs. Last season it was near impossible to go a week without hearing a radio interview or seeing a TV interview with Pearl in the local media. He was undoubtedly a great interview subject, and certainly played a big role in creating the most excitement that I’ve ever seen about anything (athletic or otherwise) going on at UWM. Here’s guessing he’s bringing a lot of that personality to Tennessee. I know I miss watching the guy coach (though Rob Jeter keeping his team on track for another win last night somewhat soothes the pain).
With that, I’m done with clean up for the day. I have some site housekeeping to do this weekend (mainly adding new links and overhauling my organization of them, both things that I’m notoriously slow about), and also plan on commenting a bit on the new attendance policies that Milwaukee Public Schools are implementing to ensure safety at their high school games, but neither was do-able for today. Enjoy the basketball weekend. As I’m kicking things off with Wauwatosa East vs. Marquette tonight, I know I certainly will.