Friday, February 24, 2006

Worst Night Ever

It was a double-header for me tonight, taking in the Wauwatosa East home finale against West Allis Central, and heading home to watch the Wisconsin-Northwestern game on the DVR box. And it was a really rough night all around. Thoughts on the high school game first:

I didn’t think I was going to see Jerry Smith’s last high school game last night, but that’s what ended up happening.

It wasn’t all that exciting a game. Jerry Smith had poured in 31 points by the half, and Tosa East’s lead was near 30 as the teams went into the locker room, so the only drama left was to see if Smith could break the school single-game scoring record of 47 points in one game, set a few years back by a guy named Devin Harris.

Smith started a bit more slowly in the second half, but eventually built his point total up to within striking distance. Not long after the fourth quarter began, Smith quickly brought his point total to 46. The Tosa East student section began chanting “Two more points!” West Allis Central took the ball down court and missed a shot. The Red Raiders brought the ball up, ready for Smith to take one more shot, break the scoring record, and leave the game.

And that’s about the point in time that you could see that Smith had suddenly developed a noticeable limp.

He tried to play through it, staying on the floor for probably 30 seconds after the limp began. During his last possession, wanting to end the evening as quickly as possible so that he could get out of the game, Smith tossed up a three-pointer from right in front of the Tosa East bench. The shot off the mark, he immediately went to sit down, before play had even stopped. Scoring record be damned–Smith was looking to get off his feet as quickly as possible.

Eventually Smith headed down to the end of the bench with the trainer for the final 5+ minutes of the game. I never really saw what happened to cause the injury, but the less than encouraging signs post-injury included the trainer icing Smith’s foot rather than his ankle, and thereafter giving him crutches as he left the gym during the final minutes. I wasn’t positive of what happened, but by the time I finished writing this account, the Journal Sentinal had already reported what I feared. It was a broken foot. Had you tried, you couldn’t have scripted a more crushing moment for it to happen.

So now I’ve seen Jerry Smith’s first high school game, and his last high school game. I just wish that the last one would have come a bit later. Best of luck at Louisville, Mr. Smith–I certainly appreciate all the entertainment that you’ve provided me over the past few years.

So, on to the lighter part of the evening–Wisconsin basically blowing any shot that they had at a Big Ten championship:

1) Earlier in the day a friend of mine residing in North Carolina expressed some excitement to me over the fact that the game was slated to be shown on ESPN2, thus allowing him to watch the game. He did, however, pose the question as to why ESPN2 would pick up this particular game. Wisconsin-Northwestern isn’t exactly something that would have looked like a sexy match-up at the beginning of the season. My reply? At least they’re not covering the game in HD. Imagine my surprise when after the game I saw high-definition highlights on Sportscenter (I don’t have ESPN2HD, so I couldn’t tell during the game). So let me get this straight, the high definition equipment wasn’t available for the first Duke-North Carolina game, but it was around for this one? I guess the Super Bowl must have really tied up all of the Disney-owned networks’ cameras during the Duke-Carolina week.

2) I had always been impressed that Bernard Cote had not one, but two accents in his name, but tonight for the first time I noticed that Vedran Vukusic had two accents in his name, as well. Have I, despite my intense love of Vukusic’s game over the last couple of years, completely missed this fact, or did Vedran just recently add these accents in an attempt to show up his teammate? And furthermore, Vukusic has accents over the “s” and the “c” in the name on his jersey. I didn’t even know you could have an accent over a consonant. Maybe that’s why I used to get Cs in French class.

3) I loved the fact that ESPN2 showed Bernard Cote’s girlfriend, and not just because she was very attractive. The back-story was good, too. Apparently they met because she was assigned to tutor him. Of course, then, my first thought was that Cote is like a real-life version of Henry Steele, the protagonist from One On One, maybe the best bad basketball movie to come out of the 1970s. It would be even more stunning if Cote’s last game before transferring from Kentucky involved him replacing an injured player and going on to lead the Wildcats in scoring, thereby showing up coach Tubby Smith who had been riding him all season in an attempt to get him to give up his scholarship. Yeah, sorry if I just ruined the movie for you, but One On One’s best attribute isn’t its plot, so I still encourage you to watch it if you can find a copy.

4) Hey Vince Scott–thanks for making me look like an idiot. I told my friend The Franchise, who was over checking out the game with me, that you were a pretty decent outside shooter for a big man. Then you go and fire off some of the biggest bricks that I’ve seen this year. I’m sure you enjoyed ruining my credibility.

5) At the beginning of the year, I flat out stated that I didn’t think that Northwestern was all that great of a team. I guess my feelings don’t differ all that much, in terms of individual talent. I still think Vukusic and Mohamed Hachad are the only guys that I would want from the Wildcats. I still feel physical pain while watching Tim Doyle. But I can’t deny that a Bill Carmody-coached team is fun to watch, or that this particular team really took it to the Badgers. Hook shots, back door cuts, precision passes, and that one ridiculous reverse lay-up that Hachad threw up when well-guarded by Brian Butch were all things that did Wisconsin in. My dislike of Northwestern (again, not sure what it is that bugs me about Northwestern, but I have had an odd, irrational hatred of them for some time now–maybe it’s games like this) is nearly tempered by how much I like Carmody.

6) The announcers in the first half made a comment about how Wisconsin is tough to beat because they run a lot of clock when they have the ball on offense and really shorten the game. In the second half, they were giving Northwestern credit for slowing down Wisconsin’s offensive output and dictating the slow pace of the game. So which is it guys? Does Wisconsin slow down the game by using lots of time on each possession, or did Northwestern force them to slow things down? You can’t have it both ways.

7) No big game from Ray Nixon tonight, and the Badgers lost. I know there were many other factors, and that you can’t really prove my Ray Nixon theory with a negative, but it doesn’t hurt my cause now, does it?

And I’m going to end it there for tonight. I’m pretty down about having to watch the Badgers blow their shot, but I’m even more down about seeing a player that’s been a joy to watch for four years.


At 9:29 AM, Blogger RichArab said...

goodluck with the rest of the season! what a spectable! will be watching!


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