The severe lack of area high school games was odd last night. The only game that I considered attending was the battle between Milwaukee Lutheran and Wisconsin Lutheran, presumably to determine who’s got the best handle on religious doctrine. It’s rare that I pass up a game between two teams this good that’s only minutes from my apartment, but I really wanted to see the Indiana-Illinois game on ESPN. And I really wanted to take the rare opportunity to cook a full meal for myself, so I stayed in. I caught most of the Indiana-Illinois game (which was excellent, by the way), and listened to most of the Marquette-DePaul game on the radio, in addition to flipping the channels a bit. Here are some truly random thoughts from the evening:
1) Until last night, I just thought that Shaun Pruitt was one of those guys that looks really big and strong, but can’t possibly move well with the muscle-bound frame that he carries around. But I have to give him credit–last night he spent the evening taking on Marco Killingsworth, and didn’t back down once. Sure, Killingsworth eventually got into a groove and got his points, but Pruitt either grew up a lot last night or showed how mature he is (hey, I don’t completely know, since I haven’t seen the Illini much until tonight).
2) Okay, so I didn’t see all of the Illinois-Indiana game. I got home from work about halfway into the first half, and consequently, didn’t get to see much of one of my favorite Illini, James Augustine, who spent much of the night in foul trouble. I also noticed as the half ended that between Illinois star Dee Brown, and Indiana star Marco Killingsworth, only 5 points were scored in the first half. Augustine’s on the bench, and neither Brown nor Killingsworth were scoring much–was I watching some sort of bizzaro game?
3) Post game, I checked ESPN for stats on the Illinois-Indiana game, and the link to the game recap that they prepared read "Killingsworth, #11 Indiana stun #5 Illinois." That statement seems a bit inaccurate to me. Before I explain, I’ll grant you a few things–from what I can tell, Illinois has been playing better than Indiana of late. Illinois is also ranked higher than Indiana. That said, can anyone truly say that Illinois should be "stunned" by this win? When one team that’s sitting just outside of the top-10 beats a team sitting at #5, how stunning is this, really? Furthermore, I think the consensus this year in the Big Ten is that just about any team can lose to any team (that’s not named Purdue or Penn State) on any given night. This game was not won on a shocking last minute shot, either. So come on ESPN, it was a great game–you don’t need to over-sell it by calling it stunning. That just ruins your credibility.
4) While taking in a bit of the Villanova-Seton Hall game, I happened to catch a bit of Seton Hall’s promotional spot that runs during games. It featured several students commenting on the experience of going to school at Villanova. It was a nice enough commercial, but I was a tad thrown off by one young woman’s comment that "You don’t just go through Villanova, Villanova also goes through you." Huh? I suppose she was trying to convey the feeling that Villanova is such a part of her that it’s in her blood, but that’s not what I was thinking. And I can’t be the only one who was thinking that the words "Villanova goes through you" sounds like what would happen to Villanova if you were to chase it with a glass of Metamucil. How did the people making the commercial miss this?
5) Though he’s not on the radio broadcast team anymore, it’s still comforting to hear George Thompson doing a handful of ads during the Marquette games. Even if I’m bitter that no George means that it’s nearly impossible to do an easy game recap by pointing out the absurd things that he says.
6) I know that a reader who knows more about this sort of thing than I commented to me once about why things like this happen, but I refuse to be accept his logic and facts. It still seems ridiculous to me that there was no television broadcast last night for the Marquette-DePaul game. I guarantee that every Wisconsin Big Ten game is going to be broadcast in the Milwaukee area, and it just would seem to make sense that the Big East should be able to televise every conference game in a team’s home market. Last night’s inability to get a television broadcast is even more insulting in light of the fact that I can readily recall the days from my childhood when Marquette was still an independent, and DePaul and Notre Dame seemed to be the only games that mattered each year. I suppose the fact that the DePaul game is just another conference game these days for Marquette is progress, but if I can’t watch the game itself, it’s disappointing progress to me.
7) I’d get excited about Jamil Lott starting for Marquette and getting more minutes than other big men (as I had advocated), but in the continuing saga of Marquette’s big man woes, I’m fairly sure that at some point within the next two weeks he’ll find himself coming off the bench and getting single-digit minutes. I’d like to stop being bitter about the lack of consistency in frontcourt minutes, but I just don’t think I can. I guess I just need something to be angry about, even when Marquette’s playing much better than expected.
8) Perhaps the most frightening moment in the Marquette game for me was a play coming out of a time-out where, in the middle of a DePaul run, Marquette committed a shot clock violation. As color commentator Jim McIlvaine noted, there’s no excuse for committing a shot clock violation coming out of a time-out. And he’s right. Thankfully, that’s not something that’s happened much this past year, but the violation was eerily reminiscent of the type of things that happened most of last season. To my relief, the Golden Eagles hung on for the win, proving that they’re not exactly last year’s team.
9) I guess it’s always nice to get a win on the road, but Marquette and Wisconsin really gave me scares with their recent games at DePaul and Minnesota respectively, where both blew huge first half leads. Is it too much to ask for that my teams close out games?
And with the end of the Marquette game, I turned in early as to be fresh today for work. And for that big Ohio State-Wisconsin game tonight. If the Badgers can somehow pull this one out, their favorable schedule will set them up very nicely for the rest of conference season. Let’s just hope things go well.