Wisconsin vs. Carroll College: My Return to the Kohl Center
Last night took me to Madison for my first Badger game of the year, an exhibition against Carroll College, a team who I fully expected to put up a more decent fight than most expected from an exhibition opponent. The game was exciting to me for two reasons–my opportunity to enjoy the ambience of the Kohl Center, and my opportunity to stop off at Woodman’s supermarket on my way back to Milwaukee after the game to purchase massive quantities of sparkling water and menthol shaving cream, the latter of which I was frighteningly low on and unable to find at any stores in Milwaukee. Following a traffic-delayed drive, I met up with my friend Greg at the always-entertaining Echo Tap for a quick beverage and headed over to the game.
1) Carroll forward Buck Colomy brought a lot to the table last evening. First, as I alluded to once last year while watching Carroll play, Buck Colomy is just about the coolest name that anyone could have. If there wasn’t already a guy with that name, I’d probably consider changing my own name to Buck Colomy. Second, Colomy seemed to be sporting a white-guy version of the high-top fade haircut. I’d make fun of Colomy’s haircut quite a bit more had I not recently requested a similar version of this cut from my stylist (note to my stylist, Lindsay–thanks for thwarting that idea and giving me a legitimately nice haircut). Third, Colomy’s aggressiveness on offense paid off, as he dropped (I believe) 24 points on the Badgers. For a guy who had a bit more support in the frontcourt last year, Colomy seems to be picking up the slack of his lost teammates.
2) Two years ago, I told anyone that would listen that all Badger fans would love Michael Flowers by his junior season. I don’t know if that’s true, but after last night, I love Michael Flowers. During last evening’s game he managed to knock down a couple of three-pointers, drive aggressively to the hoop, and lock up Nathan Drury, Carroll’s best player (and one of the better division three guards you’re going to see, I might add). The best thing about Flowers, though, is he’s going to give you a similar performance almost every night. His consistency will be a huge attribute this season for the Badgers, particularly given how his backcourt mate, Kammron Taylor tends to run hot and cold.
3) For totally random reasons, on Tuesday afternoon I ended up with a copy of the Waukesha County Freeman newspaper (which prior to Tuesday I had purchased maybe twice in my life), and had a chance to read their season preview for Carroll. I was disappointed that two players who had mad a good impression on me last season were not going to be with the team. Forward Paul Toshner, as the paper put it, "was ruled ineligible to play because of the number of semesters he’s been in college." Weird rule. I’ve also been unable to find, in the Freeman preview or otherwise, any record of the whereabouts of guard Trevor Stratton, who had a nice freshman campaign for the Pioneers last season. This leaves me somewhat disappointed, since I had been hyping a potential Drury-Stratton backcourt during the entire offseason. Well, I’d been hyping it to the two people that were actually polite enough not to walk out of the room when I decided to hype up division three hoops. All that said, Carroll’s going to be a very solid division three team this year even without those other two guys that could have helped out. If you’re a basketball junkie, I highly suggest attending a Carroll game this year for their more than fair admission price of zero dollars. You can’t beat that deal.
4) Not an exciting night to be a big man for Wisconsin, as there weren’t many minutes to be had. The logical assumption for this situation is that Bo Ryan didn’t see much point in trotting out his 6'10"+ guys against a team with no one over 6'7", since the experience wouldn’t help them much. Not that most of the big guys did much to help their cause, anyway (I’ve resigned myself to the fact that as much as he may want to, Brian Butch will never be able to finish two-footers in a crowd).
5) It was disappointing to me that J.P. Gavinski didn’t get off the bench last night, since I wanted to get a look at him one more time before the 2007-8 season, when he’ll be a redshirt freshman. I would think (and hope) that his failure to play last night seals the deal on his redshirting. I’m excited about the prospects of Gavinski with a year under his belt, though. His skills are apparent, but physically he needs some work. If the coaching staff can turn more of his body into muscle, and get him well conditioned, this could turn out to be one of the more important redshirt decisions in recent memory.
6) Marcus Landry confirmed for me tonight everything that I would have written about him had I done a player-by-player preview of the Badgers this year. He’s going to be the next Badger superstar. But here’s the best thing about Landry’s status–he’s not going to be forced into a superstar role too early. He can fly under the radar this year while Alando Tucker plays the superstar role and models how to behave as the team’s top dog. Then next year, after two years of getting great learning experience (and tossing down the occasional alley-oop dunk, as he did last evening), he can make this team his own.
7) I noticed that the Carroll College roster listed 19 players. How annoying must it be to be the 19th man on the depth chart?
8) Some quick comments on style from last night: Thumbs up on Marcus Landry’s goggles (even if they have an actual utilitarian purpose, they’re still retro-cool). Thumbs down on Tanner Bronson’s closely cropped haircut that removes some of his little-guy charm. Thumbs up to the guy two rows in front of me with the awesome Milwaukee Bucks warm-up jacket in the Bucks’ new colors. Thumbs down on Greg Stiemsma’s bizarre semi-mowhawk haircut. Thumbs down to Carroll College’s John Hoch for trimming the mini afro that he sported in high school last season.
9) Usually when I find myself complaining about crappy prizes for halftime fan games, I’m directing my anger towards Marquette, whose prizes are typically either remarkably cheap, or tougher to win than a rigged carnival game. But last night’s prize of a year’s supply of Peter Piper Pickles to the winner of a shooting contest didn’t seem to me to be the type of thing that would have a contestant pumping his or her fist as he or she left the court (maybe this sentiment is somewhat related to the fact that I don’t eat pickles). The prize did bring up a point that’s always intrigued me, though–what constitutes a year’s supply of something that you’ve won? If I won the shooting contest and decided to go on an all pickle diet for the next year, would Peter Piper be obligated to provide me with every meal for the next year? I assume "year’s supply" is a concept which the sponsor defines, so I’d probably get something like two jars a month, no matter how many pickles I could eat. At the end of the day, that’s fine with me, since at the rate I eat pickles, one jar would be about a century’s supply of pickles to me.
10) Well, the things that I’ve read about Alando Tucker having arc on his jump shot this year are true. He’s no longer firing flat missiles at the hoop. That said, he wasn’t what you’d call accurate from three point range. As usual, the more he gets in the lane and starts confusing guys with his athleticism, the happier I’ll be. Particularly impressive last night was the moment that he got fouled while attacking the rim and nearly got his head taken off by the backboard. Yep, I get excited when I can touch the backboard with my hand, and Tucker’s in danger of having the backboard cause a gash on his forehead whenever he steps on the court. Damn you, genetics!
11) Oh yeah, the freshmen for Wisconsin. I covered Gavinski already, and assume that he’ll wisely be wearing a red polo shirt for the rest of the year. Jason Bohannon’s the freshmen that got the most minutes last night, and seems the most ready to play significant minutes this year. His shooting skill brings something to the table that the team doesn’t necessarily have otherwise. Mickey Perry looks hungry after his redshirt year, and Trevon Hughes looks physically ready, but still had one possession where he dominated the ball a bit too much. If I’m ranking the guards right now, I’m going Bohannon, Perry, Hughes, but there’s certainly room for jockeying throughout the year (and the next week, for that matter–these guys can all help out).
And with the final buzzer, I headed out to score shaving cream and water at the supermarket. It was a good night, as I had seen a good division one team, a good division three team, and had ensured that my face would enjoy an artificial cooling feeling following my shaves for months to come. Who can ask for more than that?