Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wisconsin vs. UW-Green Bay: ...And Now The Season May Begin

It was the first night of a full game of televised basketball for me at my home last night, as well as an always-exciting in-state rivalry game. No flowery introduction today–just game notes below:

1) Like any basketball junkie, I appreciate the play of fundamentally sound players who do things that don’t necessarily show up on a stat sheet. Of course, if you’ve seen the number game points that I’ve made over the past two seasons that dealt solely with things like attractiveness of uniforms and quality of mascots, you know that I sometimes overlook substance for style. That’s why I was leaping out of my chair in excitement and rewinding my DVR multiple times when Michael Flowers sank his second three-pointer of the game just minutes into the first half. Fouled on the shot (which he made), Flowers fell to the ground, and almost immediately did a kip up. While watching any player get that excited would be fun, it was even more awesome to see one of the most steady players around, whose game is almost all substance, show off a little style. I can’t believe that the announcers didn’t call attention to this.

2) When Brian Butch caught a sweet pass in the center of the lane right in front of the hoop with no one around here, here’s the exact thought process that went through my head "Brian Butch is gonna dunk the ball! Brian Butch is gonna dunk the ball! Brian Butch is gonna dunk the ball!...Oh wait, Brian Butch just missed a two-handed dunk, tipped the ball back in, and goaltended his own shot. Actually, I guess I should have seen that coming. Damn." Like I always say, I feel a lot better when Butch is shooting it from 15 feet than when he’s got a two-footer.

3) In an attempt to balance out the fact that basketball season is a time when I subsist mainly on beer and soft pretzels, I ended up watching the second half of the game while getting in a quick workout at my local gym. Wednesday night happens to be basketball league night. Ironically, I dislike basketball league night, since it tends to bring more meatheads into the locker room (although last night was surprisingly meathead-free) and constant whistling of fouls distracts from my being able to listen to the TV commentators during a televised game. So I guess we’ve finally found a league other than the NBA that I don’t like.

4) I’m not sure how many times last night I heard about how many facets Brian Butch has to his game. According to announcers Craig Coshun and Doug Altenberger, Butch isn’t much of a scorer, but is mainly known for his defense and rebounding. If I had a nickel for every announcing team that made note of the fact that Brian Butch is primarily valued for his defense I’d have...wait, let me add this up...yeah, I’d have five cents.

5) I hate to keep harping on the commentators, but one of the more subtle laughable moments came at about the 11 minute mark when Doug Altenberger noted, following a Mike Schachtner basket to give UWGB nine points, that Green Bay was going to the guy with the hot hand. Problem is, Schactner had only scored one prior basket, so really, how hot was his hand going into the play? In legendary video game NBA Jam, you had to make three consecutive baskets before being classified as "on fire." I think this should be the official standard for determining whether a guy has a hot hand. (Announcers would, however, be able to excitedly say "he’s heating up!" after the second consecutive basket.)

6) I guess I must be getting old, because I was astounded when the television cameras gave a tight shot of UWGB assistant Brian Wardle, and no one on the broadcast commented about his stellar playing career at Marquette. Assistant coaches who were local players of note are always good for inane banter on broadcasts, but apparently a Wardle reference is just going back too far these days.

7) During a commercial break on WMLW, which broadcasts all of the local basketball games, despite being one of the most low-rent Milwaukee stations around, there was a commercial for this weekend’s UWM game. Allan Hanson was featured talking about how he chose to come to UWM because as a Milwaukee kid, he felt it would be great to go to a program on the rise and contribute to his hometown. Now, by all accounts, Allan Hanson is a great guy, and all of these things may ultimately be true, but he also left out the part about how he came to UWM after the coach at Akron, the school which he originally signed with, was replaced before he got to campus. Maybe we could have found a more credible guy to talk about why he came to UWM?

8) I think everyone on UWGB’s roster is a sophomore. In two years, when these guys are seniors, it’s going to seem like they’ve been around since the mid-1990s. Already I’m feeling like Mike Schachtner has been playing since Dick Bennett was roaming the sidelines at UWGB, though in my head I still sort of remember him as the surprise breakout freshman on the team last year.

9) My favorite thing about Wisconsin in this game? They look totally calm and consistent. This is definitely a team that has been together for awhile, because they just look like they know what they’re doing. There’s not any hint of panic at any time, and there’s little to no drop-off when substitutions are made. As Marquette and UWM are teaching us on a daily basis, it’s way too early to know what a team is made of yet, but I’m very optimistic about Wisconsin after the two games that I’ve seen.

10) I always feel sort of bad that I don’t give more love to UWGB. Since I purport to be a fan of all Wisconsin basketball, they should get more of my attention. Unfortunately, since they’re never on TV in Milwaukee, and a 2-hour trip to the Resch Center isn’t one of the more convenient things for me to do, they’re sort of the forgotten Wisconsin basketball team for me. But really, I wish that I could see more of them.

11) Last night was fun for me, since it was the first night when I’ve really felt like the season was back in session. Sure, I’ve sat through a couple of lackluster opponents for Wisconsin, Marquette and UWM, and I’ve watched some snippets of games on TV, but last night things finally felt right. I recognized this feeling as I was watching Wisconsin play a mildly legitimate non-conference game while listening to the radio broadcast of UWM giving Michigan all that it could handle. Later that night, I saw my first HD feed of a game on ESPN2. Indeed, everything came together last night, and basketball season is officially back.

12) Late in the evening, I briefly flipped on Air Force absolutely blowing out Stanford. I was sort of surprised to see this because a) Stanford is a big-name Pac-10 school that shouldn’t be down by 30 to Air Force, and b) Air Force runs the Princeton offense, which isn’t exactly conducive to blowing teams out. Because of the first factor, I picked up my Blue Ribbon Yearbook and briefly reviewed both teams. I guess someone saw this coming, because Air Force’s prognosis for the year was much more optimistic.

And with part of me wanting to stay up and watch some more Gonzaga action, I finally went to bed. The season’s back, and I’m officially ready to enjoy it. I’m not even sure what I’ll be watching tonight, but odds are that it will be entertaining.


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