I didn’t catch enough of any single game last night to focus on that, so as I often do on Friday mornings, here’s a couple of basketball-related thoughts floating around in my head:
1) Kevin Pittsnogle went 0-12 with 0 points and fouled out early against Pitt last night, leading to West Virginia’s first conference loss. Some might blame this loss on Pittsnogle, but I’m putting the blame squarely on his son, who was born less than a week ago. You can’t blame Kevin for using up all of his energy on caring for newborn Kwynsie Pittsnogle (perhaps the best name ever in the history of the world), since a child deserves that energy. Not being able to drop 25 on Pitt because you were up at 3am changing diapers? That's just responsible parenting, and good prioritization. (For more info on the Pittsnogle birth experience, check out Pat Forde’s column from last week, which includes this classic Kevin Pittsnogle quote on naming his son: "I thought of the name, she (Kevin’s wife) thought of the spelling.")
2) I think I may have come up with a frontrunner for basketball warm-up song of the year. Now I just need to find out the name of it and give it a few more listens. I miss the days when I was young and hip enough that I didn’t need to do research to find out what was playing in the gym during the prior evening.
3) All I want at the end of the year is for Mike Davis to be fired. Is that too much to ask? I think it’s been about three years since I first started hearing "Yeah, it’s been a rough year, but wait until the recruiting class that’s coming next year. The Hoosiers will be phenomenal!" I’ll grant you that the loss of Josh Smith to the NBA before he set foot on campus and this year’s injury to D.J. White were unexpected events, but Davis hasn’t exactly worked through them seemlessly, despite having a fair amount of other talented players. There’s always some excuse out there for him underperforming. Don’t get me wrong, the last thing that the Big Ten needs is another excellent coach to make things harder for the Badgers to win, but I’d at least like to find someone respectable for the Indiana job.
4) Last night I worked late and dropped in on my bowling team, even though I wasn’t on the schedule, since I’m a team player (and I like drinking beer at bowling alleys). As a result, I missed out on a UWM ass-kicking of Youngstown State, and more importantly, a high school rematch between the North Shore Conferences two top teams, Milwaukee Lutheran and Whitefish Bay. My friend who attended the latter game noted to me that Whitefish Bay was up by almost 20 at half, before Milwaukee Lutheran charged back in the second half to pull even, and eventually win on a last second shot. And he also mentioned that he spent a good portion of the game chatting with a division one (mid-major) assistant who was there doing some recruiting. See, these are the things that I miss out on when I decide not to go out and watch basketball.
5) I’ve gotten a handful of emails about J.J. Redick throwing up the shocker during the North Carolina-Duke game a few times. My take on the issue? I don’t think it was his intent to make that specific hand gesture. While I'm doubtful that there's any college-aged male out there who's not familiar with the shocker hand gesture, I thought Redick was just trying to come up with a new way to signal "3," and may have been oblivious to the possible mis-interpretation of his hand signal. The mis-reading of this gesture by fans might be similar to my confusion earlier this year over the Arizona State "pitchfork" hand signal’s resemblance to the shocker.
6) My friend Steve gave me, via email, perhaps the best articulated, and most coherent theory on Wisconsin’s recent on-court difficulties since losing Marcus Landry and Greg Stiemsma to academic problems, as well as DeAaron Williams to transfer. It’s not an earth shattering concept, but it makes sense, and it's explained by Steve really well, with specific attention paid to Bo Ryan’s coaching role. Here’s that thought:
I know the high regard you have for Bo, and for the great job he's done. I share your feelings. It has occurred to me that he had done a masterful job of taking this years' team and molding it into a good, competitive outfit. But at least in retrospect, it seems that the sensitive chemical balance of the parts was destroyed by the roster changes that happened recently. And re-defining and re-building a team in the middle of the year is tough...maybe even impossible. Especially when the talent that remains is so modest. Bo's decision to use Chappell as he did may have been masterful. Giving him minutes at the beginning of games and halves, and then bringing in the rest of the rotation to pick things up was, in my estimation, a very effective way of maximizing the talent available. Now, however, having to count on him for more minutes and much greater stat contributions has proven to be fruitless. Obviously, the impact upon every player is considerable. Chappell tale is just the most obvious. That early "chemical balance" was so key, yet so fragile, for this team.
7) If you live near Waukesha, Wisconsin and you aren’t planning on attending next Wednesday’s Lawrence University (20-0, 14-0 in conference, ranked #2 nationally by d3hoops.com) vs. Carroll College (18-2, 12-1 in conference, ranked #22 nationally by d3hoops.com) game, to be played at Carroll, well then, you’re just not a fan of basketball.
8) Continuing on the D-3 lovefest, credit to the always-spectacular Big Ten Wonk, who today diverges for a brief moment of today's update from his Big Ten focus, and directs readers to a note in the Minnealpolis Star-Tribune about Beloit player and Fort Atkiinson native Josh Hinz, who put up 50 points and hauled in 36 rebounds against (you guessed it) Grinnell College. Even if you're playing against the Grinnell style, those are still some silly numbers.
9) One of my Sheboygan-based buddies noted that I should put in a note about tomorrow evening’s Sheboygan North-Sheboygan South game at the historic Sheboygan Armory, which will be the last ever North-South contest played at the ancient facility. And he’s right. I’ve only been to one game there in my life, but had read about the experience for years beforehand. (There was a great Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Sunday feature on it a long time ago that I would link to if not for the fact that the article is so old that it predates the Journal Sentinel’s online archive.) In short, it was well worth the trip. The playing conditions aren’t posh, or even particularly safe for the players (yet somehow pro basketball was once played in the building). The seats are cramped, and made for smaller people from a different time. But there’s still nothing like a game that brings out the bulk of one of the best basketball communities in the state in an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back to a time just slightly more recent than the setting of Hoosiers. It sounds like both North and South will have gorgeous new fieldhouses next year, but even so, a small part of Wisconsin’s basketball soul will die when the final buzzer sounds on Saturday night.
That’s it for today’s random thoughts. It could be a light basketball weekend for me, due to a family commitment tonight keeping me from seeing high school games, and some non-basketball related Saturday plans. The DVR box will just have to work overtime, I guess.