Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Marquette vs. Delaware State: Precursor to the Big Game

Last night, after some travel difficulties, I made it down to the Marquette-Delaware State game. To be honest, it wasn’t one of the more entertaining games in memory. Sure, Delaware State was decent enough, and Marquette’s loss to North Dakota State created some tension heading into the game, but even when Delaware State was keeping things close in the first half, I had this overriding feeling that they’d eventually wear down and knuckle under. It was probably the workman-like win that Marquette needed following the NDSU game, but with plenty of failures to connect on their signature alley-oops, the Golden Eagles weren’t their normal high-flying, excitement-inducing selves. But the effort will lead them nicely into the Wisconsin game, nonetheless.

1) There are few things that I like less than making it to a game late. Last night, though, I was really pushing it, making it to my seat about 15 seconds prior to tip. My near tardiness was due to the latest round of changes to the Milwaukee freeway system that are currently going on. I’m not sure if I absent-mindedly missed my exit last night (hey, it’s happened before), or if my usual exit for games was wiped off the face of the earth. So I had to back-track a bit through downtown in order to get to the Bradley Center. Lucky for me it’s winter time, otherwise the people running the city likely would have closed off 2-3 side streets for construction in order to impede my progress more.

2) I know that many big time programs wear similar uniforms provided to them by official sponsor, but it wouldn’t seem that Delaware State would be in the mix for this. That’s why it was so confusing to see the Hornets wearing what appeared to be Arizona’s uniforms last night.

3) I’m not sure whether I find the announcer for Marquette games annoying, or so unintentionally funny that he’s entertaining. He’s the most fired up guy in the building, and his overzealous nature bubbled over several times last night. First there was a line that he snarls once almost every game: "The rock belongs to Marquette!" No public address announcer should refer to a basketball as "the rock" unless he’s working for And1. Maybe my favorite moment of the night, however was when the announcer gave the crowd his most excited "Marquette ball!" after one play where the ball went out of bounds in the first half. It’s great to be excited that your team has the ball, but when they’ve received possession because someone just blocked their shot out of bounds, it’s probably good form to dial it down.

4) Marquette broke out the home white uniforms last night, which I’m not sure that I’ve seen before, since they’ve gone gold for the rest of the season. I liked the whites, not only because they’re one of the more classic-looking uniforms out there, but because the shirts that some players wear under their uniforms actually matched up last night. I still hate seeing players allowed to wear white shirts under gold uniforms. It makes no sense to me.

5) Nice start to the game for Wesley Matthews, who scored 10 points seemingly before I had a chance to put my coat down. I’m thinking that he’s going to be ramping things up for the Wisconsin game. Matthews is my favorite Marquette player, in large part because in the stories that I’ve heard about him, he’s totally bought into Marquette, and seems to have as one of his goals doing everything that he can to take down Wisconsin. While I’m first and foremost a Wisconsin fan, I can’t help but respect his dedication to his cause.

6) Usually this is about the time of year that I start to rip Tom Crean for not settling on any sort of consistent rotation. However, this year, I’d like to praise Tom Crean for actually coming up with a consistent rotation. Sure, there are little differences here and there (giving Dan Fitzgerald the start of Jamil Lott last night, for example), but they’re few and far between. And those changes that Tom Crean does make don’t seem to be him just throwing things out and seeing what sticks, as they have in the past. There’s an actual purpose to his moves. Sure, the Golden Eagles might be going 10-deep right now, but you can actually see why. And that’s new territory for Marquette.

7) Two new wrinkles were added to the halftime musical chairs game, and I think both were big improvements. First, the two finalists in the game now have to ride neon green big-wheels to the hoop before making their respective layups, rather than simply running down as they have in the past. This not only has the purpose of ending the injury-waiting-to-happen that occurred almost every game when the two finalists would ram into each other at the chair sitting at halfcourt, but it also makes a couple of college students look goofy, which is always fun. The second innovation was the addition of a new rule to the "gambling for beer" game that my friends and I play, whereby if your chosen contestant not only is the last man standing of our chosen contestants, but also wins the entire competition, you get an upgrade from the regular size beer to the large. Who says you can’t improve on a good thing?

8) Maybe the most entertaining moment of the night for me came as I was walking to the car and checked the voice mail on my cell phone. Early in the game I had received a call from a Madison-area number that I didn’t recognize. Since I’m not one to use my phone while I’m watching a game, I put it away and decided I’d check my messages later. Turns out I had a message from Wisconsin’s Joe Krabbenhoft, reading a canned message thanking me for being a Wisconsin donor. On one hand, it was really cool that of the hundreds of Wisconsin athletes that potentially could have been forced to offer a thank-you for my meager donation, I managed to get a call from arguably my favorite player on my favorite team. On the other hand, I’m really glad I didn’t pick up at the game, since I feel like it would have been bad form to take a call from Joe Krabbenhoft during the week of the Wisconsin-Marquette game, and end up cutting him off because I’m at a Marquette game. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that the Wisconsin athletic department was trying to guilt me into ending my Marquette fandom...

And with the final precursor to the Wisconsin-Marquette matchup out of the way, I’m ready to focus on the weekend’s big game. Unfortunately for the guys that I sit with, this means that I’m also morally obligated to hate them and everything about Marquette until roughly 5:15pm on Saturday. But despite the hate, it should be a fun rest of the week. And in the meantime, I’ll fill it with things like last night’s Arizona-Louisville game, which was my post-gmae entertainment for the evening.


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