Wisconsin vs. UWM: Exactly What I Expected
Life’s busy these days, so I Tivo’d last night’s Wisconsin-UWM game, and got pretty much what I expected when I flipped it on an hour and a half late. Good night for Wisconsin and not a terrible night for UWM, though I’m still itching to see the Panthers improve. But I always want the Badger win in this one, so the Panthers can improve on someone else’s time. Game thoughts below:
1) Does anyone know exactly why this game was being broadcast on Sportsnet New York? I know that Wisconsin draws a lot of students from the east coast, but is there really a huge market in New York for two Wisconsin teams playing one another? As usual, I’m probably missing a really obvious point, but it still seemed like an odd channel to pick up the game.
2) When I saw that legendary former Badger point guard Mike Kelley was the color commentator for the game last night, I braced myself for a rough night. Though Kelley was pure fun (in a weird, Dick Bennett way) to watch on the court during my college years, he tends to be a bit wordy when you get him behind the microphone. While he still had some slight issues with making his points quickly, he’s slightly improved, and more importantly, made some solid points that I would have otherwise missed (though they were probably obvious enough that I shouldn’t have). The most interesting point that Kelley made was that one of the things that makes Alando Tucker difficult to guard is that he always seems to have his body facing a different direction when he sets himself to shoot in and around the lane, and then squares up when he’s in the air. Honestly, I had never really paid attention to that, and this does sort of explain why Tucker has such a unique look to him when he’s pouring in 6-footers from the lane.
3) Best exchange of the night between play-by-play man Craig Coshun and Kelley came after Jason Chappell tossed in a difficult layup during the "roll" portion of a well-executed screen and roll:
Coshun: I was ooing and ahhing over a potential Jordan move!
Kelley: (Dryly) Well, let’s not get carried away.
4) Since the first time I ever saw him, I’ve been trying to figure out who Marcus Skinner looks like. Last night it hit me–with his hair pulled back as it is, he looks vaguely like the freshman on Beverly Hills 90210 who Steve Sanders coerced into changing his grades with a computer back when the gang was all still in high school. There’s probably only 2-3 people who have any idea what I’m talking about, but you can’t tell me that I’m wrong on this one.
5) Rough night for Sam Mauldin, and correspondingly, rough night for UWM in the post. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t exactly think that Mauldin is a world-beater, but him managing to pick up his third foul with about seven minutes to go in the first half, and then his fourth foul not much more than 30 seconds into the second half was not a good thing for UWM. When you’re playing a team with three guys hovering around seven feet, you’d kind of like to have your only player bigger than 6'7" available.
6) Am I the only one who has a tough time getting Sam Mauldin’s name right because I keep thinking of Sammy Maudlin, Eugene Levy’s old SCTV character? And no, I’m not quite sure why someone my age knows anything about SCTV either.
7) As always often occurs during a game involving UWM, reference was made to Rob Jeter’s recruiting prowess. I can’t say that any of the reports of Jeter being a great recruiter surprise me, as it is pretty apparent that he works hard at it. Of all the recognizable division one coaches in the state, Jeter is by far the guy that I’ve seen most often at high school games that I’m at. Fortunately, it was a rarity that I ever got to see Jeter’s predecessor, Bruce Pearl, sitting at games, as he seems to be developing quite a reputation for causing disturbances at high school contests.
8) I sincerely hope that Brian Butch is not injured, but with his "slow to get up" moment late in the game, I again found myself yelling at my TV about how much it annoys me that Butch always seems to be the guy that can’t pick himself up off the ground and quietly shake off the small dings that occur during a game. Other than that, I was pleased that Butch had a very efficient game (confirmed by my friend Beau’s 4.20 efficiency rating for Butch last night).
9) Congrats to Michael Flowers who, though just a junior, last night became the NCAA all-time leader in lost contact lenses during play. Good work, Michael..
10) As I’ve officially declared to several of my friends, I still think that UWM will be a fairly decent team by the end of the year. Starting the year 2-10 isn’t exactly what I expected, but the Panthers are starting to look more and more like they know what they’re doing every day. And I actually don’t hate their talent. Paige Paulson, Kevin Massiah, and Marcus Skinner are going to be a nice frontcourt, come February. And while the guards by and large aren’t living up to their expectations, I still think that this team will gel and will be a tough out by the end of the season. At least a guy can hope, right?
Post game, I tried to flip on my recording of the Louisville-UMass game, but thought better of it and went to bed. After two nights completely devoid of televised basketball, I didn’t want to over-do it. The hoops season is too young for me to start buring myself out.
Just a warning–I may be taking an early weekend and skipping tomorrow’s update, as this evening I’ll be hanging out with a friend who’s moving out of town. And you know how those send-off events can eat up time without you even realizing it...