My Weekend In Review
It was a busy weekend for me, which resulted in less hoops time than I had hoped. Nonetheless, from Marquette officially losing control over its own tournament, to the debut of Ohio State’s missing piece, here are the thoughts that ran through my head this weekend:
1) The one game that I made it to and saw in its entirety was Friday night’s opening game of the Blue and Gold Classic, Marquette vs. Northwestern State. You know, the one where the Golden Eagles played well. Though it’s sort of too late to give praise to the Golden Eagles, Ousmane Barro played so well on Friday night that I can’t help but give him props for his 21 points and 13 rebounds. Someone told me that in his post game show, Tom Crean said that if Barro had been looking for his shot, he’d have scored 30 points. I don’t know for sure whether Crean said that, but I would also add that if Barro’s hands had been a little better, he’d have had 18 rebounds. Nice work for a guy that came in as (and still is, to some extent) a project.
2) In order to jazz up halftime a bit, my friends and I started playing a simple game during the student musical chairs competition that typically takes place during the half. We each pick a contestant. The person who picked the contestant who lasts the longest wins a beer, to be purchased for him in the second half by the person who picks the earliest eliminated contestant. Aside from making halftime more fun (my friend Greg was cheering louder during musical chairs than he was during the game), this game proves that if you get four 20-something guys together, they can turn just about anything into a gambling event.
3) While Marquette should get some credit for success on the offensive glass on Friday night, those second or third chance points aren’t going to come as easy against teams not named North Dakota State. The lasting memory of the game will be watching Marquette miss a shot, the ball ping-ponging around for a bit, and a Golden Eagle player recovering for another chance. It’s not always that simple.
4) Last week I gave a thumbs-down to my ACC friend who skipped the Ohio State-North Carolina game, despite being offered tickets. Well, to his credit, he phoned me with a pretty good excuse this weekend that involved him being able to see even more basketball as a result of missing the game. And I’m afraid that I don’t have much of a comeback anymore anyway, since I missed the Terry Porter Classic (featuring several of the state’s top high school teams) this weekend because I was going to a good friend’s baby shower. To be fair, it was a baby shower held at a bar and where massive quantities of fried food were served, but you still don’t come away looking good when you have to toss out the words "baby shower" in explaining your absence from a set of good games.
5) If I was part of the Wisconsin state legislature, I would be in the process of drafting a bill that bans the North Dakota State basketball team from playing any contests against teams from Wisconsin. That’s two years in a row that the Bison have pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year against one of my teams.
6) Thankfully, I had to attend an event in Madison on Saturday night and didn’t make it down to the Marquette-Northwestern State game. While these days I typically run with a bunch of Marquette fans, being in Madison, I was back in the company of my old Wisconsin fan friends. It was a good place to be. Had I been in Milwaukee with the guys that I have seats with, I would have spent the post-game at a bar listening to my friend Greg complain about Marquette failing to have high hands on defense, and watching him futilely trying to numb the pain of the loss with cigarettes and booze (which is almost never the answer, kids). Instead, I got to hang with people who’s reactions ranged from barely-contained glee, to disappointment that Wisconsin would no longer be able to play the role of underdog next Saturday (assuming, of course, that Winthrop, who notched a Marquette upset in last year’s Blue & Gold Classic championship doesn’t pull a reverse-NDSU on Wisconsin tonight).
7) The NDSU loss has no affect on how I think Marquette will perform in the Wisconsin game this upcoming weekend. My sense has always been that Tom Crean is a genius at getting his teams worked up for big games. However, the type of emotion that he stirs up for the key games can’t be maintained over an entire season. That’s why neither blowing Duke off the court nor getting upset by NDSU is out of character for Marquette. But make no mistake, with Crean’s mastery of psychology, the Marquette team that sees the court on Saturday will have us asking "How did those guys lose to NDSU?"
8) The drive to Madison was phenomenal on Saturday night because of the radio programming. First, I stumbled upon a replay of this week’s Coach K’s "Basketball and Beyond" show as I set off. For some reason, the guests on the show seem to be specifically programmed to me, and this week was no exception, with Doris Burke holding the guest’s chair. Aside from getting to hear Coach K and the confusingly attractive Ms. Burke talk hoops for a bit, I got to learn a bit about adaptability in the "Beyond" segment. Not a bad way to travel. Add to that my discovery that Madison’s FM 100.5 now broadcasts Marquette games (where was this when I was in Madison?), and I was a happy man the entire drive over.
9) I made some attempts to watch each of the four other games that I had recorded (UWM-Oakland, Gonzaga-Texas, Illinois-Arizona, Georgetown-Duke), but didn’t get through enough of any of them to make any substantive comments. I’ll probably still try to get through the Illinois-Arizona game because a) I want to see how Arizona comes back from the ass-kicking that Illinois was putting on them to start the game, and b) I’ve been itching to see super-freshman Chase Budinger play ever since he got robbed in the McDonald’s All-American dunk competition.
10) Greg Oden’s back early? Wow, I actually didn’t see that coming. I’m highly impressed with his stats (14 and 10 in just over 20 minutes) when it would seem that he’s not at all near game shape. That said, I’ve talked to people that were really blown away by the highlight tape on him. This confuses me, because aside from one excellent block, all I saw was a guy making a clunky post move for his first collegiate points, and later taking some awkward left-handed foul shots (while I suppose the shooting lefty thing is almost super-human, it still looks awkward). I’m willing to believe, based on the stats, that Oden will be a frightening player to watch, but the 30 seconds of highlights from this past weekend certainly don’t speak to the wonders that we will see out of him.
Back tomorrow with thoughts on whatever I happen to take in. Since Kansas-USC is the only game that seems to be on TV, I’ll probably go with that. Let’s hope that fun Kansas shows up and crappy Kansas stays at home.