Monday, January 09, 2006

The Leftover Weekend Thoughts

In addition to my game-thoughts that appear below for three of the games I saw this weekend, a number of other thoughts crossed my mind while watching basketball this weekend (yes, I did have an overly relaxing weekend, thank you very much). Here are those thoughts:

–Saturday night I was too lazy to find someone to go to the UWM-Butler game with me, so I was going to stay home and chalk the game up to a missed opportunity on my part. But then, about halfway through the first quarter, I remembered that is streaming all untelevised Horizon League games (which would describe most of them) for free this year. I checked, and sure enough, UWM-Butler was on there. Sure, it wasn’t as great as being there, and it wasn’t TV quality, but it wasn’t bad for an internet stream. I can guarantee that I’ll watch at least a game or two in this manner going forward, since it was a great way to catch games that I would otherwise have no shot at seeing. This is a huge find for Panther fans looking for a fix when Channel 41 doesn’t come through for us.

–I caught the end of the Washington State vs. Washington game on Saturday night, and what an ending it was for Washington State. I always try to keep an eye on what WSU coach Dick Bennett, a Wisconsin legend, is doing these days. As it turns out, he’s still knocking off ranked opponents from time to time, and Washington is his latest upset. The end of the game was furious, as Washington State broke a tie by draining a three-pointer with roughly 30 seconds left in the game, and lots of time left on the shot clock. Then, as Washington charged up the court to try to tie the game back up, Washington State’s Kyle Weaver (a Wisconsin native, wouldn’t you know...) took a charge, effectively snuffing out any chance that Washington had of a comeback. Just five seconds earlier it looked like WSU was throwing up an ill-advised long-range shot instead of burning the clock and going for a quick score. Two incredible plays later, the game was on the verge of being iced. Basketball’s a hell of a game, isn’t it?

–After the Marquette game on Saturday, I convened for a late lunch at a local tavern with my friends who had also attended the game. The particular establishment we were at had one game on all of the televisions: Northwestern vs. Minnesota. Is this really a game that merits being seen on every TV of a bar in which there isn’t a big following for either team? I give it two TV status, at most. As a follower of the Big Ten, I certainly wasn’t complaining, but it nonetheless seemed odd to see Gophers and Wildcats everywhere I looked.

–My friend Ryan informed me this weekend that current Lawrence University player, and former Wauwatosa East star Chris Braier is featured in the Faces In The Crowd section in this week’s Sports Illustrated. The blurb about him features some impressive stats, and indeed, he’s developed into quite a force for division three Lawrence. All of this makes me laugh about the first time that I saw him, during a high school junior varsity game. I normally don’t notice JV players, since I’m typically just waiting for the varsity game to begin, but Braier really stood out to me. I’d love to say that he stuck out to me as a phenomenal talent and that I foresaw all of his success, but he actually stuck out to me as a guy that I specifically never thought would amount to much, despite some physical talent. And of course, as we look at him today (or heck, even 4 years ago–he’s been very good for a long time), he’s probably the best example of the many times that I am horrifically wrong. His success stands as a constant reminder that I typically have no idea what I'm talking about. This is one time, though, that I certainly don’t mind being wrong.

–I watched most of the first half of the Wake Forest-Duke game before trying something new and actually attempting to read a book to close out my Sunday evening (a plan that was disrailed once I realized that "Beyond The Glory: Coach K" was following the game). I know Wake got clobbered, but they sure did dunk the ball a lot. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a team throw down so much and actually lose.

–Could there have been a much more exciting week for college basketball in Wisconsin? Marquette and Wisconsin both upset top-10 teams, and played good games against other solid, big-name opponents. UWM closed out a west-coast road trip in strong fashion and entered conference season, all the while continuing to improve. I don’t know how many people I’ve had comment to me on how exciting it is to have the Big East, the Big Ten, and one of the top mid-majors around all accessible to those of us living in southeastern Wisconsin right now. All I can say is that the golden age is continuing, and as of now, things only look like they will get even better.


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