Monday, January 30, 2006

Lots of Basketball, Very Few Comments

Well, with lofty goals this weekend, I failed completely. I didn’t get around to my planned blog housekeeping (like I said Friday, I’m notoriously slow with that) and I’m packing most of my extensive game watching into one update, rather than recapping every game. I feel okay with that, though, since I needed a relaxing weekend (and indeed, I had one), since I’m heading out of town the next two weekends. My thoughts on some of the weekend action that I took in:

1) Michigan’s Graham Brown has always intrigued me. I remember seeing him as a freshman, and thinking that I’d never seen a freshman who’s frame was as filled out as him. Four years later, he actually looks like he’s lost some of his bulk, but he’s still a huge physical presence. Heck, just ask Kammron Taylor, who ran into one phenomenal screen set by Brown. (Side note–Graham’s photo in a Michigan program that I picked up in a trip to Ann Arbor a couple years ago was kind of funny. You know how some guys just look like they were born to wear a suit? Brown’s one of them. Here’s to a life of high-brow office work, Graham. It’s what you’re destined for.)

2) Speaking of that screen by Graham Brown, I was a bit annoyed by the commentators afterwards when the mentioned that Taylor running into the wall that was Brown was a problem that could be pinned on his teammates for not calling out the screen. I couldn’t disagree with that assessment more. Taylor got clobbered in the open court, just over the halfcourt line, when the rest of his team had retreated to start playing halfcourt defense. In order to call out the screen to Taylor, they would have had to yell a long way. And Taylor probably wouldn’t have had time to stop running full-speed and look up, anyway. Sometimes stuff like that happens in the open court, and you can’t blame anyone. Well, except for Graham Brown, who as I can’t stop noting, set a great screen.

3) Wesley Matthews is out for an indefinite amount of time with a foot injury. Dominic James sprained his shoulder in the Marquette-Pittsburgh game, and at the end of the game looked like he couldn’t use his right arm. Jerel McNeal left the Pittsburgh game with some sort of a late injury that was never addressed by the TV commentators. Kammron Taylor was nearly knocked unconscious by a screen (which, I must add again, was a great screen!). Michael Flowers did something unsavory to his leg in a scramble for the ball. Yes, it seems that if you are a guard and you were playing for Marquette or Wisconsin this weekend (except for Matthews, who pre-emptively injured himself a couple weeks ago), you were pretty much guaranteed to be in pain. What is this curse on Wisconsin-based guards, and when will it stop?

4) I attended the Wauwatosa East-Marquette High game on Friday night, and was less excited than usual to go, since Marquette’s having a down year, and as a result, the always exciting rivalry game is a bit less fun. Sadly, a big Tosa East lead early in the second half led to both student sections spending most of their time from mid-third quarter on with below-the-belt cheers pointing out stereotypes about their opponent. Usually, those are the types of mean-spirited cheers that make the rivalry interesting, but Friday night it became a constant barrage, instead of just one or two cheers leaking out. So it was actually sort of painful to listen to a bunch of angry verbal assaults from both sides.

5) At the high school game on Friday night, my buddy Gus, a fellow Tosa East alum presented me with a flyer about trying to stop the potential nickname/mascot change at Tosa East. It appears that the state is primed to put more pressure on schools that haven’t totally gotten away from using Native American imagery. My older brother, the last ever student to physically act as the Red Raider mascot at Tosa East, noted that he was sort of surprised that I hadn’t commented on the issue here at the blog. Well, without dissecting the issue too much, I’m going to have to go with what’s likely an unpopular opinion and say that I frankly don’t care that much. I think a lot of Marquette University people, during their latest mascot fiasco, got it exactly right when they noted that they were loyal to a school, not a symbol. That’s basically the way I feel, though I’d like to think that the nickname "Red Raiders" could survive in some new form (unlike in the Marquette scenario). For instance, it always bothered me that I had no good excuse to make pirate noises at games when I was a teenager. Here’s an opportunity to give a new generation of teenage boys the chance to make purposeful pirate noises. Of course, at the end of the day, I’ve always been sort of bummed that back when I was in high school no one wanted to use my idea (okay, I probably stole this from a friend of mine–it was a long time ago) of creating a logo of a guy carrying a briefcase and wearing a red blazer. The Red Corporate Raiders would have been awesome.

6) I don’t want to dwell on this too long, since there’s not really anything that can be done about it now, but how obnoxious was the shove given by Pitt’s Antonio Graves to Dominic James on the fastbreak where James injured his shoulder? Yeah, it wasn’t that shove that caused the injury, but even if James hadn’t been injured just beforehand, and had popped right up after falling to the ground, it was still a weak move. Here’s hoping that Marquette gets its revenge on the court when Pitt comes to town on February 18.

7) At one point on Saturday night I found myself flipping back and forth between the Gonzaga-Portland game and the Duke-Virginia game. It was always sort of a dangerous move to flip channels, since J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison are the two most prolific scorers in the country, and are both really fun to watch. Changing channels could mean missing either one scoring lots of points. And for the record, yes, I did miss Morrison scoring 14 of his team’s first 16 points, as I wasn’t even aware the game was on yet.

8) Speaking of Adam Morrison, while I absolutely love watching him play, and kind of enjoy his free-spirited persona, there’s a big part of me that keeps thinking that if I ever met him I would really want to punch him in the mouth. I love the irrational, mixed emotions that basketball gives me, and Morrison’s probably the best example ever of this. He’s a guy that I’ve never met, and for some unknown reason, I have decided that I probably wouldn’t like him. Yet I root for him anyway. It makes no sense, and I love it.

9) I love watching Marquette games these days, noticing that Chris Grimm is in the game, and wondering to myself, "How’d he get in there?"

10) Going back to my earlier injury point, Marquette has truly been cursed over the past two years, as this year they’ve added to the horror of last year’s parade of injured guards, having injuries to the three players that are arguably the best ones that they have. Unlike last year, they’re not totally dependent on one guy (as they were with Travis Diener), but even though he’s just a freshman, I still don’t want to imagine what this team will be like if Dominic James is out for any length of time with his shoulder injury. Here’s hoping that Steve Novak is at full speed, soon.

That’s it for today. More to follow tomorrow. I’m probably just watching the UWM-Loyola game on TV tonight, so I doubt I’ll have anything too exciting tomorrow. But I’ll still be here.


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