Wisconsin vs. Iowa: A Good Start
Last night after a night of bowling, I returned home to catch the Wisconsin-Iowa game through the miracle of DVR. It was one of the better played games I’ve seen this season, and though Iowa dropped off in the second half, I still don’t feel like they played a terrible game. This game should make Wisconsin fans feel really good. My general thoughts below:
1) I’ve joked about the guy so much that I feel I should preface this point by noting that I do love Brian Butch’s game, but is there anything funnier than Butch when he gets into triple threat position? Last night, early on, he had the ball on the perimeter and gave a great ball fake to his defender, who bought it. At this point, a player with average to good quickness would have easily blown by the defender and taken it to the hoop. Butch, however, got this look about him that seemed to imply the thought about driving on his defender, but then thought to himself "Wait, I’m Brian Butch–that’s not what I do. Maybe I’ll just let this guy recover and swing the ball back to the other end of the court." And that’s what he did. Never let it be said that Butch doesn’t know his limitations.
2) Probably the most entertaining play of the game was near the end of the first half when Greg Stiemsma poked the ball away from Jeff Horner. First off, it’s not every day that you see a 6'11" center out-quick the hands of any guard, let alone an excellent guard like Horner. Secondly, it seemed completely improbable that Stiemsma would draw a foul on Horner as he did when Horner dove for the ball. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the call, but hey, I’ll take it.
3) Exactly when did Michael Flowers become such a scoring threat for Wisconsin? It’s almost reminiscent of the shift a few years back that former Badger Freddie Owens made from being known as a defensive stopper to becoming a scorer. Except that, with all due respect to Owens, Flowers always has been and always will be a better defender.
4) I went through the entire game feeling sort of bad that during my question exchange yesterday with Hawkeye Hoops that I’d referred to Greg Brunner as a model of consistency, but yesterday night he didn’t score a basket until the final five minutes. Of course, he closed fairly strong, and still hauled in 10 rebounds, so I guess you still can’t look at the box score and say he had a terrible game. I do want to watch Iowa again, though, since there was a good stretch of time that I completely forgot that Brunner was on the floor, and as I recall, he’s way more fun to watch when he’s on his game.
5) If there’s some way that the Badgers could trade for Jeff Horner, I’d love to see the move made.
6) On one hand, I was impressed that the Wisconsin student section was able to get a chant of "Rogaine" directed at Greg Brunner and get it loud enough to be audible on TV. On the other hand, the cliched nature of the cheer almost makes me a bit disappointed in the lack of creativity.
7) Excellent piece of foreshadowing by Ryan of Hawkeye Hoops in his question yesterday about how Alando Tucker was going to beat the Hawkeyes. He referenced a series of improbable shots, and though Tucker never tossed in a 30-footer, he wasn’t getting right to the hoop, either. For all of the scoring (27 points) that he did, I actually didn’t think Iowa did a terrible job defending him. It just so happened that he had one of those nights when high arcing shots from 8 feet out were repeatedly dropping for him.
8) The dumb commentator moment of the night was when one of the announcers pointed out that in addition to the Badgers having an unbelievable record at home, they’re undefeated at the Kohl Center under Bo Ryan in games directly following a loss on the road. Even color man Mike Kelley felt the need to politely point out to his partner that if you’ve only lost something like 3 games at home, there’s a pretty reasonable chance that none of those home losses came right after a road loss. It’s sort of like saying "Not only have the Badgers only lost three games at home in the last 3 years, they haven’t lost on a Tuesday night!" Maybe it’s factually correct, but in light of the bigger stat that you’ve already thrown out, it’s just not that interesting.
And since I was up for a bit afterwards, a couple of bonus thoughts from other games:
–When I flipped on the Illinois-Michigan State game, the first thing that I saw was a steal and layup for Dee Brown, after which the announcers noted "That’s 32 points for Dee Brown!" Given that Illinois only had 48 points at that moment, I guess it’s safe to say that Dee Brown was having a pretty good night.
–Is there any arena that’s lit more strangely than Assembly Hall at Illinois? Perhaps it’s just the fact that there’s an arena full of people wearing orange, but the look of Assembly Hall on TV is always just a little bit different. Now I’m sort of interested in getting down there to see a game–not so much to check out the Illini themselves (though that would be interesting), but more to see how the place looks in person.
–I caught the very end of UCLA-Arizona, and almost thought that Arizona was going to stage a miraculous comeback in the closing minutes. As it is, I still don’t understand how a team with talents like Hasaan Adams (the most athletic man in division one basketball) and Mustafa Shakur, just to name two, can find themselves outside of the top-25.
A big weekend is upon Wisconsin hoops, with Marquette playing host to bitter rival Cincinnati tomorrow morning (yes, I will make sure to be in attendance at this one). A win in this one would be sweet, considering the high that Marquette’s on right now, and the general dislike of Cincinnati that I have. Then Wisconsin plays host to Michigan State on Sunday. Apparently the schedule makers figured that my fair state should get all of its big games during the first week of conference play. Here’s hoping that I don’t end up a sad man after these two games. Whatever happens, it should be fun!