Meet the 2006-07 Badgers
In preparation for my first Badger game of the year on Wednesday night, I'd like to revisit a favorite topic of mine from last year: Meet the Badgers. As I did before last season, I've reviewed the answers that the players on the roster gave to a variety of questions that they were asked for their media guide/internet profiles. (As an aside, I wish that Maruqette and UWM offered questions like these. I know that Marquette used to, as I have vivid memories of learning from the 1990-91 media guide that Jim McIlvaine loves sloppy joes). For each player, I've selected one answer to discuss, in an attempt to get inside each of their respective minds (or just to make fun of their weaker answers). If it's possible, I think that this year's bunch is even more interesting than last year's group of players. So without further adieu, meet your 2006-07 Wisconsin Badgers:
Favorite NBA Players Growing Up: Michael Jordan and Kirk Hinrich
I’m not sure if Bohannon didn’t think about the question enough, has a different world view than me, or is just really philosophical in his approach to this question. I’m going to give him Michael Jordan–that’s not a tough answer, particularly given that Bohannon reveals in a later question that his favorite NBA team is the Bulls. But Kirk Hinrich? Hinrich came into the league in the 2003-2004 season. His first NBA game would have been played when Bohannon was nearly 16 years old. This would have been like me claiming when I was 18 years old that my favorite NBA player while growing up was Chris Webber (who entered the league just before I turned 16). At age 18, two years earlier would not be a time that I would have considered myself to be "growing up," and Webber would have seemed a ludicrous answer to this question for me. I’d have looked back to the years when I was riding my bicycle around the block with friends and stopping at the local Open Pantry to buy Big League Chew. Perhaps, as I alluded to earlier, Bohannon was taking the view that in the ultimate scheme of his life, the age of 16 would eventually be considered a time when he was growing up, or perhaps he’s taken the even more enlightened view that he is constantly growing as a person, no matter how old he is. My sense, though, is that he just really likes Kirk Hinrich and he was going to squeeze that name in there, intent of the question be damned.
Favorite Musical Artist: Talib Kweli
I’m going to play conspiracy theorist on this answer. While reading through Bronson’s answers to various questions, I found myself agreeing with lots of his answers (particularly his desire to have a Kopp’s Frozen Custard stand in Madison). So I was left thinking that young Tanner was one of the players who would probably be most like me. But he has this one divergent answer, where he lists noted hip-hop artist Talib Kweli as his favorite musician. Since I’m not much of a hip-hop connoisseur I know next to nothing about Talib Kweli. In fact, I know exactly two things about Kweli: 1) He’s supposedly very well respected in his field, and 2) he cut a new commercial for the Big Ten last year. Why would a guy like Bronson, who in almost all other respects reminds me of myself (other than the fact that I’m a giant compared to him) be such a fan of a musician who’s not even on my radar? My belief? This is part of Talib Kweli’s deal with the Big Ten. The Big Ten gets a hip commercial out of the deal, and in return, each school picks one of their more popular players (like Bronson) to talk about how much they like Kweli’s phat beats, thus promoting his music to the highly lucrative college market. And I think it’s working, since I’m thinking that I might check out some Kweli on iTunes tonight. Hey, if Tanner Bronson’s like me in so many other ways, maybe I’m the one missing the boat.
Restaurant That You’d Like to See Added To Madison: Waffle House
This answer is one of many that convinces me that I would really like Joe Krabbenhoft if I ever met him. When faced with the opportunity to choose an eatery that would enhance his life if it were to come to town, Krabbenhoft chooses the iconic, low-rent Waffle House franchise. While on my recent basketball fact-finding mission down south, I was personally very excited to make my first trip to the popular chain with my friend T.J. Ultimately T.J.’s wife thwarted this plan by making us a meal that was likely vastly superior (and healthier) to the offerings of the Waffle House, but the allure of the place is still strong. But I digress. Krabbenhoft’s Waffle House answer, combined with his assertion that if he could spend one week anywhere in the world, he’d go back home to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, tells me that Krabbenhoft is an unpretentious fellow who can appreciate the simple things in life. Were he of legal drinking age, he’d probably be the kind of guy that would forego $6 import beers at a club to go consume cans of Schlitz with his buddies at a corner tavern. I’ll always cheer for a guy that I can say that about.
Person You’d Most Like To Switch Places With For a Day: Joe
I hate calling guys out for answers that just seem foolish to me, but that’s what’s going to have to happen here. I’m assuming that by simply answering "Joe," Gavinski is referring to teammate Joe Krabbenhoft. If that’s the case, then it’s a pretty crappy choice. Now, I mean no offense to Joe Krabbenhoft, who may very well be a really fun guy to be, but if I’m choosing a person who I could switch places with for a day, I’m probably not picking a guy who lives in the same city as me, attends the same school as me, plays on the same team as me, and has a life the parallels mine in countless ways. If you’ve got the power to change places with someone for a day, you’ve simply got to shake things up a bit more (for a good response, see Morris Cain’s answer of "P. Diddy" to the same question). There’s only two ways that Gavinski’s answer is okay in my book: 1) If the "Joe" in question is not Krabbenhoft, and is someone with a decidedly different life, like Fat Joe, or Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan (admittedly, neither of these Joes is the best example, but off the top of my head, that’s all I’ve got), or 2) Krabbenhoft has an attractive girlfriend and Gavinski is covertly asserting that he’d like to spend a day making out with her.
If I Could Be On Any Reality TV Show, It Would Be: Paradise Island
You know, I don’t ever recall any reality show by the name of "Paradise Island," and after a cursory internet search, I couldn’t find any record of such a show. So I’m going to take extrapolate and assume that Chappell meant to reference "Paradise Hotel," which just happens to be my favorite bad reality show of all time. The premise? Eleven sexy singles share a luxury hotel in a gorgeous tropical location, and that hotel has only five beds. Each week, the person not sharing his or her bed with another of the sexy singles gets sent home, a member of the opposite sex replaces him or her, and the process starts over again. It’s a comically sleazy premise to begin with, but the true genius of Paradise Hotel lied in the fact that a) there were special twists each week that were obviously and painfully contrived so that the producers would get the exact changes to the cast that they were looking for (though this fact was never explicitly acknowledged) in order to create the most drama, and b) for almost the entire run of the show, there was no indication of how one would go about winning the show, or what prize that winner would receive. So as to Chappell’s answer, yeah, that would be a great show to be on. I’m just thankful that he gave me a paragraph’s worth of time to recall this legendary show. Credit Jason Chappell with the assist to me. I’m liking this guy more and more every day.
First Job: Working in the cabbage fields
It is answers like this that make me love living in Wisconsin. There are two things that make Stiemsma’s answer absolutely stellar. First, the obvious point is that he actually spent time working in a cabbage field. What’s the over-under on number of times that a television color commentator will mention that fact this year? It’s probably obscure enough to slip under the radar, but it’s just odd enough that I would think 2-3 guys will make note of it at some point. The second thing that makes this answer great is the wording of it. Stiemsma didn’t just work in cabbage fields, he worked in THE cabbage fields. It’s as if he’s expecting everyone to know that he worked in the famous cabbage fields of Randolph, Wisconsin (I actually have no idea if Randloph has vast cabbage fields, so don’t take that as fact). What cabbage fields did you work in, Greg? Oh, I see-- you worked in THE cabbage fields. Well that clears things right up.
Best Thing About Road Trips: Free Subs on the Airplanes
Maybe I just don’t understand this, since I was never a big-time college athlete who had to go on road trips, but a free sandwich would seem to be a pretty minimal benefit to rave about. I suspect that if I went on a road trip as a student athlete, I would be pretty jacked up to get glimpses (however limited) of places far away from my home, have new experiences, or even just to spend time on a bus or plane bonding with my teammates. I doubt that getting a $5 sandwich would really do that much to change my demeanor (particularly if I was a scholarship athlete who routinely had access to training table food). Given that airplane food is the pinnacle of Flowers’ experiences, though, I’d like to challenge him to take at least one evening during a post-game overnight stay and break a team rule or two. I’m not talking about heading down to the mean streets of Evanston, Illinois to score drugs, getting involved in an illegal gambling ring, or anything even close to that level. But he should at least sneak out of his hotel room at midnight against coaches orders for some reason (perhaps to buy a sub sandwich, as he seems to like those) to create some excitement. Heed my warning, Mr. Flowers–ten years from now you don’t want to be looking back at your college days and realizing that your best moment was cracking open a killer ham and cheese while flying to Penn State.
Pregame Superstitions: Taking a nap and listening to my iPod
Let’s ignore the obvious fact that taking a nap prior to a game would seem to be a bad idea, as it would leave you sort of groggy. The bigger question in my mind is whether Valentyn understands what a superstition is. Just because you always do something before a game, it doesn’t mean it’s a superstition. I eat a bowl of cereal every morning before I go to work, but I wouldn’t call that a superstition. It’s just a routine, as is Valentyn’s act of taking a nap and listening to some tunes (or maybe some motivational speeches–I don’t purport to know what’s on Brett Valentyn’s iPod) on his iPod. Had he said that he engages in this nap and iPod session in order to ward off the evil spirits of a deceased former Wisconsin basketball player who haunts the team because he’s bitter about the fact that games are no longer played at the old Fieldhouse, then yeah, that would be a superstition. But as it stands, Valentyn could have just used J.P. Gavinski’s answer "I don’t believe in superstitions," since he seems to prepare himself in a decidedly normal manner.
Favorite Thing About Madison: There’s always something to do
I’m not going to disagree with Hughes on this point. Madison has an incredibly diverse and exhaustive list of entertainment options, as I learned during the seven years that I lived there. All that said, is Hughes really qualified to make this assertion? Two things sort of shoot his credibility here. First, even assuming that he made an early arrival on campus to begin training over the summer, he’s been in Madison for maybe four months, tops. That hardly seems like enough time to take in all of the culture that Madison has to offer, particularly for an 18-year-old freshman who’s unlikely to venture beyond the State Street Q-Doba in search of entertainment. Secondly, let’s not forget that Hughes spent his high school years at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in a rigidly regulated military school environment. I’ve obviously never been through military school, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that once you leave military school, just about any locale that doesn’t involve attending a military school is going to seem like it offers a lot more entertainment options (particularly if your military school is located in scenic Delafield, Wisconsin). If Hughes was in a small town in North Dakota, I’d still assume his newfound free time due to not having to polish his shoes and scrub the latrines would result in him thinking that that small town offered an unbelievably entertaining social scene. Of course, I could be wrong on this one, and Hughes may just be really good at sniffing out awesome places to live. After all, he also gave strong consideration to attending the University of Iowa, which undoubtedly is house in one of the most entertaining college towns that I’ve ever been to.
Person You’d Like To Switch Places With For a Day: G.W. Bush
Let’s put politics to the side for the moment. This is not a political forum, so I don’t care if you’re pro-Bush, anti-Bush or completely ambivalent about the current presidential administration. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, this is a horrible answer to the question. However, it’s a mistake that someone is almost always bound to make. When faced with a question of who you’d want to be for a day, most people’s minds turn to people with fame, money or power (unless, of course, you’re J.P. Gavinski and just want to switch places with a dude that you see every day). Since the president of the United States is arguably the most powerful man in the world, whoever happens to be president is going to pop into your mind. It’s an uncreative answer, but worse, it’s a foolish answer because if you’re the leader of the free world, you typically have a lot of stressful things burdening you. To illustrate, let’s contrast what a day for Butch as President Bush would be like with a day for Morris Cain as P.Diddy (again, Cain really nailed this question). Butch wakes up early, meets with advisors and foreign dignitaries, signs a bill or two into law, and spends the rest of the day worrying about the threat of terrorism, the status of the war in Iraq, and whether or not North Korea is looking into exploding the planet. Cain wakes up, goes to the studio to lay down some tracks with an up-and-coming performer that he’s working with, does a promotional appearance or two, and eventually spends his evening at a club sipping Cristal with beautiful women all around him. I don’t think I need to tell you what sounds like a better day to me.
Best Thing About Road Trips: The officials...syke
Wow, did Alando Tucker just use the term "syke?" Are people still saying that? I don’t think that word (which I would have spelled "psych," by the way) has left my mouth since 1993. I had thought that the term died a prompt and quiet death after I left middle school, but apparently not, since Tucker’s a bit younger than me and still seems to be using the term today. (This raises interesting questions of what other things from my middle school years are still lingering out there without my knowledge. Are there people out there still wearing Hypercolor shirts and pants like those worn by M.C. Hammer? But I digress...) It actually really disappoints me that the Big Ten’s best player is using what is effectively a bad joke that my vocabulary left behind when I finished eighth grade. However, I suppose none of us is perfect. Tucker’s an elite level athlete, a fierce competitor, and a superior leader. The fact that he talks like I did during my adolescence is something that I’m just going to have to forgive him for. After all, there are worse vices to have.
Favorite Sports: Baseball, Water Polo
This is a curious answer, and implies that Mickey Perry might be a more complex individual than we all know. This answer is interesting to me in that Perry’s hometown totally explains his choice of baseball as a favorite, but leaves water polo as a completely baffling choice. Perry is from the Chicago area. While baseball is a curious choice as a favorite sport for someone of his age (let’s face it–the pace of the game doesn’t exactly draw the young folks in), the rabidness of Cubs and White Sox fans could somewhat explain his attachment to the game, assuming that he’s been a fan of one of those teams. Water polo comes totally out of left field, though. Where does a kid who grew up in Chicago get exposed to water polo? As a midwesterner, my only experiences with water polo have come in the form of watching a match or two during the Olympics every four years, checking out 15 minutes of a game on CSTV when I can’t fall asleep at 3am, and playing a half-assed version of the game in high school gym class. Water polo, based on my understanding, is just something that people in California do. Thus, I tend to think that one of two things is true. Either Perry is a remarkable student of water polo, and is engaged in a long distance relationship with a sport that resides nowhere near where he lives, or he’s a guy that liked throwing a ball as hard as he could at some guy in his high school gym class, just like I did. If it’s the former, my respect for him just went up ten-fold. If it’s the latter, I just hope he never gets called out on his lack of knowledge of the game.
Next Generation Game Console You Will Buy/Own: XBox 360
I don’t point this answer by Marcus Landry out to say anything about him. Actually, all of Landry’s answers were pretty reasonable (aside from his assertion that he’s good at all sports). But I bring up this answer simply to point out the lack of creativity on the part of the person who drafted this question. Several players had their answers to this question listed. You want to guess what they all answered? That’s right–either XBox 360 or PS3. Big shock. High-tech game consoles aren’t exactly my thing (I still have an original Nintendo hooked up to my living room TV), but even I know that those are the only two answers you’re going to get to those questions, aside from the occasional aberrant guy who claims he wants a Nintendo Wii. Furthermore, the question reveals nothing about one’s character. When Landry tells us that he made up his own cell phone ring tone, I can extrapolate that he’s creative, enjoys music, and knows at least something about technology. When he tells me that he prefers an XBox 360 over the other choices out there, I don’t learn anything other than Landry’s brand loyalty in a market comprised of limited competitors. Ask him what his favorite video game is? Sure, that seems reasonable enough. But asking him a meaningless question that has just two (or three) reasonable answers? That’s just dumb.
Class You’d Recommend to a First-Year Student: Nutritional Science 132
I was ready to rip into Gullickson for this answer, because I thought I remembered this class from my undergrad days. I never took a nutritional science class, but during my sophomore year of college a bunch of my neighbors in my dorm took one where they could watch all of the lectures on a cable access channel. This led to mass laziness, and the occasional night-before-exams ritual of catching up on 6 hours of videotaped lectures. However, I can’t seem to confirm whether Gullickson’s beloved Nutritional Science 132 is the course in question. I’m inclined to think that it is not, based on the fact that the official department description of the course refers to a "Classroom Lecture" component. Frankly, though, it sounds like an interesting course to me. It’s undoubtedly a good idea for anyone to have some idea of how nutrition works. And it probably would have done me some good to have this information during my first year of school, given that my first thought upon entering the dorm cafeteria during my freshman year was "Wait, I can order fries every day? This place must be heaven." Had Kevin Gullickson been around to give me his sage advice, though, my arteries might be just in just a little bit better shape these days.
First Job: Dietary Worker
I don’t know what this is, but it sounds like an odd first job to me. The only thing that I can think of when I hear the phrase "dietary worker" is a registered dietician. And Cain undoubtedly would have been severely under-qualified to act as a registered dietician at the age of 15, or whenever he got his first job. If I had to take a shot in the dark at figuring out what "dietary worker" means, my guess is that Cain’s phrasing is meant to be a creative way of telling everyone that he had the time-honored bad teenage job of working at a fast food restaurant (after all, dispersing McNuggets is a job that literally has a dietary function). And if that’s the case, then you can’t help but admire Morris Cain’s creativity, even if he’s a bit too vague for this to makes sense to anyone who doesn’t take 15 minutes to break down his answers.
Favorite Food: Chicken, greens, yams, mac & cheese
Okay question–when Taylor says that "mac & cheese" is a favorite food of his, does he mean real, homemade mac & cheese, or that Kraft stuff out of a box? I’m going to guess real mac & cheese. I can see the arguments for Kraft: Taylor’s a college student and it’s cheap, Taylor doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare meals and it’s quick, despite its nuclear orange color Kraft mac & cheese is actually pretty tasty (given what you’re expecting), etc. However, I just don’t see a guy who lists greens and yams among his favorite foods accepting anything but the best mac & cheese on his plate. It’s pretty clear from this answer that someone in the Taylor household really knew how to cook, and taught Taylor the value of a well cooked meal. After all, if you were to give Mr. Taylor a glass of milk and a roll, he’d be able to make a reasonably balanced meal just by asking for his favorite foods. That’s more than you can say about most 21-year-old men, and it’s definitely better than former Badger DeAaron Williams’ assertion last year that he enjoyed eating McDonalds every day.
So there's your 2006-07 squad. I'm itching to see them for my first time on Wednesday night. Let's just hope that J.P. Gavinski doesn't think he's Joe Krabbenhoft, or that Jason Chappell misses the game because he's too busy watching reality TV.