Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wisconsin vs. Duke: Smiling Through the Pain

Last night I was battling a cold and a sore back, my team lost badly, my ride home lost the keys to her car during the game, and I found myself up until 2am, knowing that I had a flight to catch the next morning. So why was I smiling all night long? Because I was watching the Badgers play at Cameron Indoor Stadium. And it’s simply not possible to keep from smiling when your team’s playing at that place. There may have been lots of misery during the evening, but that’s not what I’ll remember. I’ll remember an excellent night with great people in one of my favorite places to watch a game. Thoughts below on the happiest night I’ve ever had that involved a favorite team of mine losing.

1) You never know who you’re going to run into on trips like this, and it was a nice bonus before the game to run into my friend Matt, who I played tuba with in high school (I know, I know, stop trying to make myself look cool), and who is now attending Duke for his PhD. Matt was really more of an acquaintance, and I’ve run into him maybe once since high school, but it was still nice to run into a friendly face on the road trip. If nothing else, I had to do something to keep up with the friends that I was attending the game with, who seemed to run into someone they knew every 5 minutes. So thanks for making me look socially adept, Matt!

2) The first 4 minutes of the game lived up to every expectation that I had (for those of you who watched the game on TV, you really missed out on this due to the early game running long). I was sitting in the stands with my friend Mike, and we just sort of shook our heads in disbelief as both teams went back and forth, and came to the conclusion that this was going to be a great game if things kept up that way. So for at least 4 minutes last night, I had hope.

3) Wisconsin and Duke are both teams that tend to enjoy an advantage in foul differential in their games, so it was going to be an interesting thing to see who fouled less in this game. After a series of quick Duke fouls near the end of the first half, my cohort Mike, who’s a devoted fan of N.C. State (despite some closet appreciation of Duke), broke out his camera phone to try and get a picture of the scoreboard. His reason for doing so? He wanted proof that at one time in history, Duke had 10 fouls while their opponent had only 4.

4) For most things worth anything in life, there’s a price. And the price of my admission on Tuesday evening came not in the form of money, but instead involved me compromising my principles. As part of the deal for my ticket, my source told me that I was forbidden from wearing red. Obviously, that’s not the sort of thing that an opposing fan in hostile territory wants to hear, but I sucked it up and went with a plain gray pullover. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for a greater goal. But not to worry--I had some Wisconsin red on underneath, because even when you make moral sacrifices, you can’t lose sight of who you are at your core.

5) Props to my friend who tipped me off about last night’s matchups making circumstances perfect for Taylor King to torch Wisconsin. Yeah, I’d say he got that one right.

6) I didn’t even see the blood coming out of Kyle Singler’s head until I got home and reviewed the television broadcast of the game, but even just seeing him hit the floor a couple times during the game, I was quickly convinced of how tough he is.

7) I remain somewhat uneasy every time Kevin Gullikson heads onto the floor.

8) Nice game for Jon Leuer last night, as he was forced to step into minutes due to a game flow that didn’t exactly play to Greg Stiemsma’s strengths. Late in the game, Leuer came in to give Brian Butch a rest. By the time Butch subbed back in for him, it felt less like Butch was done getting his breather, and more like he was being subbed in to give Leuer a rest. Welcome aboard, Mr. Leuer.

9) It’s a topic that’s been referenced quite a bit over the years, but I’m here to assure you that Cameron Indoor Stadium on game day is every bit as hot inside as you’ve heard. It’s even hotter when you’re wearing a long-sleeve outer layer to conceal your true fandom.

10) Loved the guys that I sat next to, who toted bags from the Duke bookstore with them, and joined in with several of the student cheers and hand gestures despite sitting three rows from the top of the arena. They may have been sitting next to a Wisconsin fan and an N.C. State fan, but it was pretty clear who looked like the tourists.

11) A friend that I was sitting with made the insightful point that Duke is not only deep, but they’re deep in a very versatile way. The skills of their players can be used in a variety of combinations to beat others. Coach K used his personnel fairly differently in the Marquette and Wisconsin games to account for vast stylistic differences and not surprisingly, both approaches worked.

12) Speaking of Marquette, were you guys watching this? You know, you can do a lot of the same things Duke was doing, right? I mean, you’re probably not going to knock down your three-pointers as well, but I’m just saying–the aggressive, extended defense, the upping of the tempo–these are all things that you can do. I’m hoping that you don’t do them, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was well within your abilities.

13) My friend that I was staying with during my visit to Duke mentioned that he had discussed this game with a co-worker earlier in the week and talked about the possibility of Wisconsin winning. The co-worker’s response? Not a chance Wisconsin could win this one, since it was their first time playing at Duke. And he was right. Quite simply, there’s no way to prepare for the intimidation of playing at Cameron. Heck, I’d been there twice before, and I was intimidated. And I didn’t even have to play basketball. Here’s hoping that Bo Ryan and the boys get a second crack someday. I suspect they’ll understand their circumstances a bit better next time.

So, with the game over, my Wisconsin friends and I came to accept our team’s shellacking. We had learned not to underestimate the difficulty of playing against a great team in a great environment. Our eventual drive back to my friend’s home was quite subdued in comparison to the jubilant post-game barroom celebration that I had dreamed about for when Wisconsin’s landmark victory occurred. But despite the 24 point loss and subdued evening, I still couldn’t shake the smile off of my face. I’d just seem my favorite team play at perhaps the coolest venue in all of college sports, done and seen mind-blowing things before and after the game, and hung out with some of the best basketball-watching friends around. And frankly, though there are undoubtedly things to work on, my team didn’t go out and lay an egg–they just ran into a buzz saw.

And best of all, the coming weeks see lots of intrastate action, starting with Friday’s Marquette-UWM game. Even with UWM’s recent loss to Sam Houston State, I’m still giddy with excitement. Notes on that game on Monday...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well, I guess that 77-73 Badger win prediction was a bit off. That's what I get for being a homer.

Full thoughts to follow tomorrow night, assuming I'm home ready to mentally deal with this one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pre-Game Thoughts, Etc.

Greetings from lovely Durham! (Okay, technically I’m at a friend’s place near Durham, but I’ll be moving on soon enough…) In order to kill time during my day of pre-game, I’ve been pondering a few lingering questions about the Wisconsin-Duke game tonight. We’ll see how things shake out (I’m expecting a close, hard fought game), but here’s what’s running through my mind right now.

1) Greg Paulus vs. Trevon Hughes is the matchup that most of my friends have been talking about all week, and I think most of my fellow Badger fans are overrating just a bit the advantage that Hughes has. Hughes is undoubtedly much quicker, but his advantage is overrated because a) I believe that Paulus’ ability is widely underestimated after his injury plagued sophomore year (he’s looked improved to me this year), and b) the last time I checked, Duke was pretty good at help defense. Nonetheless, I’ll look forward to seeing Hughes play with the big boys. He’s definitely capable.

2) Forget Trevon Hughes and Greg Paulus—I’d pay attention to Michael Flowers and DeMarcus Nelson, the most underrated matchup of the night. Duke’s senior captain that no one seems to be talking about despite being arguably the most important guy on his team against Wisconsin’s senior defensive leader. How do more people not recognize how entertaining this is going to be?

3) What will Wisconsin’s bench look like tonight? It’s so tough to tell what the real distribution of minutes will be when the Badger keep blowing inferior teams out. You know that 7 key Badgers will get minutes, but if Duke ups the tempo, it’s going to take more than that to keep people fresh. How deep do they go, and who gets the extra time? I don’t know how this plays out, but my bet is that it’s going to be Jon Leuer’s unofficial welcome to the team tonight. He and Kevin Gullikson are the fringe guys who’ve been getting the spare non-garbage time 8th man minutes, and Leuer’s skills seem more suited to tonight’s contest. Is there a more interesting place for a freshman to get some of his first meaningful minutes than Cameron?

4) I’ll be interested to see how much time Brian Zoubek, Duke’s 7’1” sophomore gets tonight. I’ve generally been impressed during Dukes’ brief periods of using the Zoubek-infused lineup, and if the Blue Devils can’t use a 7’1” guy against Wisconsin, I’m not really sure where they’re going to use him.

5) Will Brian Butch’s streak of putting up obscene rebounding numbers continue tonight? I’m thinking that Butch will be solid (say, 8-9 boards), but no longer off the charts. Wisconsin has yet to face a team with reasonably talented players over 6’8”, and tonight Butch is going to be battling with Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, and the aforementioned Zoubek. Picking those boards up is a little tougher when the guy next to you isn’t either 6’5” or completely mediocre.

6) Keep an eye on Taylor King. I’m told by a trusted friend down here that the freshman sharpshooter could wreak havoc on Wisconsin’s defense. Now, given that this is a guy who pumped in 27 points against Eastern Kentucky last week, this shouldn’t be news. But if you’re like me, all you’ve seen of King firsthand was the 3 total minutes that he played against Illinois and Marquette in Maui. Based on what I’ve heard and read, though, Wisconsin is exactly the type of matchup that should allow Coach K to get King lots of minutes. So be aware of the weird-looking bench warmer that barely even got off the bench against Marquette’s parade of guards. He’s apparently dangerous.

7) Since I’ll be at the game, I won’t get to watch it on ESPN, but I’m putting the over-under on announcer references to the superior won-loss records of Bo Ryan and Mike Krzyzewski at 6 tonight.

8) I’m hoping to see a decent smattering of red in Cameron, but I’m not holding my breath. Lots of excitement over this game, and Badger fans travel well, but it’s still an insanely tough ticket. Sadly, I won’t be helping the cause much (more on that in my post-game write-up), but here’s hoping I’ve got someone to high five at the game if the Badgers bring home a win. It will be a hollow win if I can’t high five a random Badger fan and buy a beer for someone wearing red somewhere in the greater Durham area tonight.

I could go on and on, but frankly, I’m ready to relax for a few hours before I head out to watch tonight’s battle. For the record, I’m going to predict a score of 77-73 in Wisconsin’s favor (yep, I’m still a homer). But however things work out, it should be pure fun. Enjoy the game!

Wisconsin vs. Georgia: All In the Family

Saturday night was another one of those nights where there was tons of basketball to watch. I had tickets with some friends to the UWM-Drake game. Wauwatosa East and Milwaukee Pius, probably the two high schools that I’ve watched most over the past few years, were playing in one of the more intriguing early-season high school matchups around. I made it to neither of these events, instead opting to head to Madison for the Wisconsin-Georgia game. While UWM or a stellar high school game would be enough to make me happy most nights, this was a special occasion, as my grandfather was in town from New York. While most of the people in my immediate family apprciate sports, my grandfather is really one other person in my family who’s as insane about sports as I am. And because I had been able to secure excellent tickets to the Georgia game (thanks again to my friend Boo-Yah for the hook up), it seemed the perfect time to show off the Kohl Center to a Syracuse fan. With that in mind, I set off for Madison, and began listening to my grandfather talk about games at small colleges and high schools in upstate New York that I had never heard of. That’s right—the love of watching and talking about low-level sporting events apparently runs in my family. Game thoughts below:

1) The first half of the game was a definite struggle for the Badgers, who went into halftime with a 9-point deficit. While they started the game off solid defensively, they seemed to have trouble scoring with Georgia extending its defense out beyond the three-point line. The extended Bulldog defense disrupted the things that are normally second nature to the Badgers, like passes to swing the ball on the perimeter. Sometimes it’s the little things that take you out of your comfort zone.

2) Georgia appeared to be one of the few teams that Wisconsin will see all year that could match them in size. It’s a bit odd to see a game where 4 of the 10 guys on the floor are at least 6’10”. And it’s not as if there was a huge drop-off after the gigantic guys—there were plenty of 6’7” guys roaming the floor as well. That many big guys in one place almost numbs you to their height.

3) Wausau West grad Dave Bliss was one of those big-man starters for Georgia, which would seem to indicate that Georgia and Bliss taking a chance on one another (Bliiss was a project, as was the post-Jim Harrick Georgia program) a few years back. However the best part of seeing Bliss play the Badgers was that it was readily apparent that a good number of seats behind the Georgia bench ended up going to buddies of his. One has to appreciate that upon his homecoming, Bliss hooked up a bunch of his goofy friends with great seats, just as one has to appreciate a row of guys who were probably from Wausau taunting the home team during foul shots in support of their old pal. Very entertaining.

4) As well as the extended defense of the Bulldogs was working, it sort of perplexed me to see Georgia switch up to a zone, which allowed the Badgers to stick around a bit during the first half. Oddly, the Badgers’ success against the zone came more from their ability to get the ball inside than their ability to knock down open looks from outside, as they came in just 1-11 from three-point range during the first half.

5) Georgia’s coach, Dennis Felton, sure wasn’t shy about using his bench. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to be able to say for sure, but I suspect that nearly every guy on the Bulldog bench checked into the game at some point before the half. I only began noticing this after what seemed like Georgia’s 30th foul of the half occurred, and I noticed that no one on the team had more than 2 fouls. Oddly, the bench shortened a bit during the second half, and Geogia may have run out of steam a bit.

6) Much like myself, my grandfather seems to carry great angst over the possibility of cheerleaders falling out of the air and seriously injuring themselves. It’s mostly an issue for me at those first few Marquette games of the year, since slip ups happen early and often for a squad that hasn’t been honing its skills all throughout football season. But wherever you are, the lingering thought of a spine-chilling cheerleader injury is always lurking in your head.

7) Some of the more humorous moments of the game came when 6’1” Wisconsin point guard Trevon Hughes got caught in mismatches and ended up guarding 7’0” Georgia center Rashaad Singleton in the low post. Hughes was pretty physical with Singleton, and actually ended up getting called for an off-the ball foul battling with him in the post. But other than that, Hughes generally held his own, even eventually blocking a Singleton shot while playing help defense at one point. It’s nothing to get too excited about, because Singleton wasn’t exactly what you’d call an offensively gifted post player, but it was pretty amusing to see a tiny guy harrassing a huge guy on the blocks.

8) In contrast to Georgia, Bo Ryan continued to use a short bench for Wisconsin, going basically 7 players deep, save for the occassional cameo by Kevin Gullikson. After hearing about the ability of the Badgers to go 9-10 deep this year, I’m left wondering a bit why the bench is so short right now. But either way, I suspect that this won’t be a season-long thing. In time, they’ll have to work some more bodies into the mix, particularly since most of the guys sitting on the bench seem to be game-ready.

9) Brian Butch is having a great start to his year, and has been a rebounding machine so far. But it’s still entertaining to see the times when he still seems like the skinny, weak kid that came in five years ago. Twice during the game referees bent down to check on him after hard falls. During one of those incidents, the referee checking up on him nearly helped him up before catching himself and realizing that such assistance while the clock was running would be inappropriate. It’s a pretty good deal when you’re one of the best rebounders in the Big Ten, but you can still appear frail enough to make a referee forget the job he’s doing and make him just want to help out another human being in danger.

10) One of the amusing things about watching a game with my grandfather is that while he’s got a pretty good basketball mind (he made tons of great game points to me during the contest), he still has that irrational and unconscious bias in favor of the scrappy little white guy. He came away from this game talking a lot about how impressed he was with Jason Bohannon. Bohannon’s stat line? Sixteen minutes played, 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover. I like Bohannon, too, but nothing stuck out about him on Saturday. Meanwhile, Trevon Hughes was draining three-pointers and dishing out behind-the-back assists, while Michael Flowers was making things happen everywhere he went.

11) The final score is not at all reflective of this game. Wisconsin won by 19 points, but this was no easy 20-point win. Save for a great 3-minute run at the start of the second half, and a strong close (led by Michael Flowers in perhaps 5 of the best minutes he’s ever played), it was a tight game. That was a little discouraging, since Georgia didn’t impress me much (in particular, no one in their frontcourt did much for me), but I guess I’ll always take a 19-point win that doesn’t seem that resounding.

And with the surprising 19-point win in the books, I hopped in the car with Grandpa Bob and hit the road back to Milwaukee. After all, the game was over at 7:30, and I had to get him home to watch some football. You can’t expect a man like that to subsist on basketball alone…

Monday, November 26, 2007

Catching Up, And Other Exciting Things

Plenty to talk about from the long holiday weekend, where I attended my first high school game of the season (not the one most people would expect), shot over to Madison to take in the Wisconsin-Georgia game, and caught snippets of a variety of games on TV. Unfortunately, family and friends kept me busy enough that I don’t have my comments ready just yet. But I should have some down time in the next day or so to get that taken care of. In the meantime, I’ve got a flight to catch. In case you hadn’t heard, Wisconsin’s playing at Duke tomorrow. And that’s something that I simply refuse to miss.

Back either tomorrow or Thursday, depending on whether or not I’m able to find an illicit wireless connection in Durham.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Basketball Buffet

ESPN dubs this week of hoops as “Feast Week,” and last night was perhaps the high point of my own feast week. There was, quite simply, too much basketball going on. Due to an appointment that I had, I had to turn down and invite from some friends to take in the Carroll College vs. UW-Whitewater game. This hurt, since it’s rare that I can find someone to see D-3 hoops with me, and even more rare that someone actively seeks me out to join them for a game that normal people don't care about (not to mention it's not every day that Whitewater comes to town). I also had to turn down a chance to go to the UWM-South Dakota game (nice win, Panthers, by the way) due to my unfortunately timed appointment. Even ESPN had an embarrassment of riches, showing Marquette’s game in Maui, as well as Duke-Illinois, and Michigan State-UCLA. That’s five teams that I wanted to see right there, without even having to head down the dial to see Oregon on ESPNU, or Indiana (I’m likely the last basketball junkie alive who hasn’t seen Eric Gordon) on the Big Ten Network. Until March rolls around, this might be the deepest night of basketball ever.

So with my appointment breaking things up (and giving me a little radio time with Marquette), I took in a variety of basketball last night. Thanks to ESPN for making my night outstanding. My smorgasbord of thoughts below:

1) The Maui Invitational is a tough event for me to take interesting notes on because of the broadcast team of Bill Raftery, Jay Bilas and Sean McDonough. How am I supposed to make fun of dumb things that announcers say when these guys never say anything dumb? Thank goodness everyone isn’t as consistently excellent as this trio.

2) Marquette played with an energy last night that I’m not sure I’ve seen from them yet. Even after my endorsement of their abilities following the undewhelming Chaminade game, I still wouldn’t have picked them to destroy Oklahoma State like they did. But if anyone wants to wrongly believe that I called this one, I won’t fight you. However, just as I knew Marquette wasn’t as bad as the Chaminade game, I know they’re not quite as good as they looked against OSU.

3) On the radio broadcast, color commentator Jim McIlvaine made the comment that teams are going to have to re-work their game plans geared toward making Marquette shoot the ball from long range after the way that they shot it last night. While it will be something for teams to consider, I’ve seen MU have one good shooting night before, and it’s going to take a lot more than a hot shooting night in Maui before I start believing that shooting isn’t a big weakness still for the Golden Eagles.

4) Did anyone else hear the radio postgame interview with Jerel McNeal? Was he on amphetamines or something? Because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard someone quite so amped up after a non-championship game.

5) Hearing McNeal amped up like he was scares me a bit, largely because Marquette uses emotion to win games more than any team I’ve ever seen. And emotion can be a great thing. I think it’s one of the reasons that the Golden Eagles tend to fare so well in pre-season tournaments, since it’s easy to get up for a bundle of nationally televised early season games. Emotion keeps the Golden Eagles from ever really laying an egg against Wisconsin (and with one very notable exception, against Louisville). But emotion can have the reverse effect, too. I believe that one of the reasons that Marquette always struggles during their soft non-conference schedule is that there’s nothing to get excited about. It’s no coincidence that MU, despite having trouble with no-name opponents, blew their first major conference opponent out of the water. And using emotion all the time can wear you down. It’s one of the reasons that I think Marquette has struggled so mightily in recent years in the postseason–they’re just mentally tired by the end of the year. Remember this when MU goes 6-0 to start Big East play, and then starts looking vulnerable.

6) The radio team named Patrick Hazel 6th man of the game last night for Marquette, based on his contribution of 3 rebounds in 4 minutes of play. The rationale behind the choice was pretty good, though, as there were about 3 bench players deemed legitimately worthy of the award, and they just didn’t want to choose between them. So they just gave it to the random bench-warmer that got in at the end.

7) Props to Bruce Weber and his staff for really committing to Maui and going with orange Hawaiian shirts last night (as opposed to Duke and Marquette, who wore other types of casual wear, and Oklahoma State’s staff, who went with more subdued designs). However, were there any other viewers that briefly thought every time the dark spots on the front of Bruce Weber’s shirt appeared on screen that Weber was the victim of multiple gunshot wounds?

8) I think Duke is back to normal this year. It doesn’t have that much to do with their play (though there’s some definite improvement from a lot of guys), but more to do with the fact that I tuned in and saw Jon Scheyer coming off the bench. When the guy on your team most likely to just go off for 30 points on any given night is coming off the bench, you’re officially back.

9) I love the contrast in Illinois’ frontcourt. At one spot you’ve got Brian Randle, a smooth, versatile guy who looks like a team leader. At the other spot, you’ve got Shaun Pruitt, who somehow became a senior far quicker than anyone I can ever remember, and still looks somewhat like a big, strong, athletic meathead.

10) Well, we got the one obligatory comparison of Mike Tisdale to Dirk Nowitzki out of the announcers (I guess I lied about having nothing to complain about from the all-star trio of commentators). Do we really need to compare every tall white guy who can shoot and/or dribble a bit to Nowitzki? Tisdale got 12 minutes last night. Maybe we wait until he’s a started before likening his game to one of the better guys on the planet.

11) Initially, when the refs got between Duke’s Kyle Singler and Illinois’ Chester Frazier after Singler was called for a hard foul on Frazier, I thought they were overreacting. Then I saw the close up of Frazier’s face on the replay. Totally frightening. If I had to put into words what the look on his face communicated, it would be “I’m going to murder you.” Way to cool that one off, stripes.

12) Great quick piece during the game on how in addition to his team being hamstrung by injuries last year, Bruce Weber had to deal with his dog tearing its left ACL, rehabbing, and then tearing its right ACL and MCL, leading to further repairs. The things that I took away from this story are that a) Bruce Weber had a rough life last year, b) Bruce Weber likes dogs, and c) rich people can have ACL surgery performed on their dogs, and have them rehab on underwater treadmills.

13) Duke freshmen Kyle Singler and Tyler King appear to have basically the same closely cropped haircut. Is this due to choice, or some new freshman hazing ritual at Duke?

14) Switching to the UCLA-Michigan State game, is Russell Westbrook serious with his haircut? Because the menagerie of things that he had shaved into his dome made me think that he’s either one of the lamest guys around (if he’s serious), or one of the funniest men alive (if he’s not serious). Either way, he was on fire during the stretch of the second half that I watched.

15) I’ve been dying to see UCLA’s big freshman Kevin Love, and finally got to watch him for a bit last night before dozing off. I’m not sure how I feel about Love, yet. On one hand, it’s tough for me to not love a bulky rebounder with good footwork and a solid knowledge of the game. On the other hand, it’s sort of difficult for me to like a guy who has a thinly contoured beard that makes me think of the Dick in a Box guys.

I’d love to say more about the stellar UCLA-Michigan State finish, but the last I saw of it came as I was watching a postgame interview and realizing that I had fallen asleep during the last two minutes of the game. I guess I’m officially old. But I’m still loving Feast Week, and looking forward to a night of Marquette vs. Duke tonight. Does it get any better than knowing that two of your favorite teams are squaring off, and knowing that the next day you’ve got a holiday to celebrate? I would argue that it does not. Back soon with some holiday basketball thoughts...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Underreacting to Marquette vs. Chaminade

Because I am gainfully employed, I was not fortunate enough to see the Marquette-Chaminade game as it happened. And my evening schedule didn’t allow me to watch my recording of it (or either of the other great ESPN games last night), so all I have to go off of is what I’ve heard and read. And while by and large what I’ve heard is not good (bad 3-point shooting, Ousmane Barro is apparently terrible now), I’m still not that worried about Marquette. I think a lot of people are overreacting about what this game signifies, so I'm going to go against the grain and underreact. And here's the two big reasons why a game in which Chaminade was withing a couple points of Marquette with less than 5 minutes left doesn't scare me:

1) Playing conditions yesterday were tough. The team may be in Hawaii, but it’s not as if they’re out on the beach drinking mai tais all day (if I may borrow that thought from Mike Krzyzewski’s radio show this week). It’s almost comical watching big-time schools playing in Chaminade’s glorified high school gym. It can’t be an easy task to play the host team in a place like that. The task is made even tougher by the travel involved, and the fact that Marquette had the early game. I’m no expert on time changes, but if a game starts at 1:30pm in the midwest, I’m pretty sure that converts to a Hawaiian start time of 4:53am. You try getting up at the crack of dawn to play basketball after spending all of the prior day on a plane studying for sociology class.

2) This is what Marquette does to start the year. Things never start out well for the Golden Eagles. Two years ago I remember cringing after watching Marquette get out-rebounded by most of their non-conference opponents, including one of their exhibition foes. I was legitimately scared about what was going to happen in the Big East. Then they went out and beat UConn in their first ever Big East game, and actually had a respectable season. If you’re a Marquette fan, you have to accept that there will be some early season scares (and maybe even an occasional loss) here and there. But it’s nothing worth getting worked up about–by late December they’ll still be playing to their level of competition, but by that point the competition will be quite a bit better.

So yeah, Marquette had a rough first day in Maui. Call me an optimist, but I expect them to have a nice night of sleep, regroup, and look much better against Oklahoma State tonight. And if things fall just right and they make it to the finals, maybe I’ll have the bizarre opportunity to watch both Marquette and Wisconsin beat Duke in a one-week span.

There’s still a lot of basketball to be played tonight. Finally, I should be able to glue myself to the TV (even though it’s killing me that I can’t make it to the UW-Whitewater vs. Carroll College game tonight). Back tomorrow (to make up for missing yesterday), after I’ve actually watched some basketball.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wisconsin vs. Savannah State: Why Do I Even Bother?

Well, they all can’t be thrillers. It took roughly three minutes for me to realize that Wisconsin was going to pound Savannah State into the ground last night. But I did so nonetheless, since that’s just who I am. But before I get to that, a note on the prior evening’s UWM game, which I was lucky enough to catch the end of:

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think UWM is the greatest team on the planet. Of course, I’ve only seen roughly the last 7 minutes of their last game.

On Wednesday night, I got my first look at UWM on TV against Ball State. Because of the modern state of TV, it wasn’t an easy look. While there’s been much jealousy among friends of mine over the fact that my random choice to try out satellite television last year has resulted in me having the Big Ten Network (meaning unprecedented Wisconsin Badger access), I’m left without the Time Warner Sports Channel. Because Time Warner Sports is handling a bunch of Marquette and UWM games this year, my access for those teams is limited (UWM in particular, since virtually none of my friends cares enough to invite people over for a Panther game). But Wednesday night I unwittingly realized that my gym has Time Warner, and in a ridiculous stroke of luck, began my workout with about 2 minutes left in regulation (just after UNC had finished holding off Davidson).

While the Panthers’ play from that point on was perfect (including two somewhat ridiculous three-pointers by Paige Paulson and Ricky Franklin to send things to overtime, and Torre Johnson doing everything I expected), the setup wasn’t perfect. I didn’t have any sound, the woman on the treadmill next to me smelled distinctly of frosting (not the odor I was expecting, given the locale), and it occurred to me that I’m never going to be in a situation where I can watch an entire game, since I refuse to do anything physical for two straight hours. But it’s a way to watch the Panthers (or Golden Eagles), so I know where I’ll be watching second halves this year. Hopefully a deal gets worked out by next year so that I can just go back to my couch, and avoid the persistent smell of frosting.

More UWM thoughts when I actually have the chance to watch a full game. But from what I saw (and keep in mind I missed out on their 17-point second half deficit), things look like they’re finally coming together for Rob Jeter.

On to the Badgers:

1) The night began for me heading to my local tavern to catch the Wisconsin vs. Savannah State game with some friends who were taking in the Oregon-Arizona football game (which will be a great basketball matchup later this year, as well). I was denied in my attempt to catch the game there, though, since said tavern apparently only has access to the Big Ten Network for Wisconsin football games. I don’t know how that deal works, and frankly, I don’t want to know how that deal works, because it sounds sort of shady. I left shortly thereafter to watch the game at home.

2) The lack of availability of Wisconsin games at my favorite bar probably means I’m going to be spending a lot more time watching games at home. This will probably significantly decrease my bacon cheeseburger intake for the year. So to recap, I can’t eat greasy bar food during Wisconsin games since my favorite bar isn’t showing the games, and my best bet for watching UWM and Marquette games on TV is watching them at the gym. Though I’m not particularly fond of either entity, it’s quite possible that Time Warner and the Big Ten Network are conspiring to make me healthier.

3) On possession #1 of the evening the color commentator shot his credibility when he noted about a Brian Butch drive “That’s some of that versatility that I was talking about. Not very many big men that size can take the ball and go to the basket from that distance.” Seems like a decent point to read today. Seemed a lot more idiotic immediately following an awkward, horrific attempt at a drive by Butch, which promptly ended in a turnover.

4) At about 8-0, when nothing had gone the way of Savannah State, is when I realized that this game wasn’t going to be all that entertaining to watch. I then went to grab my Blue Ribbon Yearbook to check to see just how bad Savannah State is supposed to be this year. A review of said Blue Ribbon Yearbook revealed two notable things to me. One, the first opponent listed on their schedule was “Carver.” After the 17 points that the Tigers spotted the Badgers to start the game, I was left wondering just how many points Coolidge and Salami dropped on them. Two, coach Horace Broadnax is quoted as saying “The Marylands and Marquettes, that’s what we train for.” I’m left wondering if Wisconsin saw this quote and felt slighted, leading to them jumping all over Savannah State to start the game. I’m also left salivating over an easy win for Marquette in late December.

5) I’m hoping that the color guy was wrong about his assertion that Trevon Hughes’ wide-open three-pointer at about the 8 minute mark came about because Hughes had just re-entered the game and no one knew who was guarding him. Because if that was true and Savannah State failed in the type of communication that I regularly completed in 2nd grade YMCA league games, then I’m forced to lose all respect for the Tigers.

6) It’s official–Tim Jarmusz isn’t redshirting.

7) As the game came to a close, I reflected on whether or not Savannah State was officially the worst team that I’d ever seen Wisconsin play. They’re close, but I still say that honor goes to the Chicago State team that visited the Kohl Center back in my student days. In addition to a team that was untalented, Chicago State was undisciplined enough that the players (and a team manager who claimed he was on the non-existent Chicago State football team) spent a good amount of their time yelling back and forth with the Wisconsin student section, and laughing about their misfortune. Because Savannah State was merely inept, and still seemed to care, I’m only ranking them as the second-worst team to enter the Kohl Center.

And since the second half was basically leading me there already, I headed off to bed. Hopefully I’ll get some hoops watching in this weekend amid my trip to Minnesota to make sure that football season is over.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nothing For Today

Apologies for breaking with my newly conceived schedule during its second week, but I've got no thoughts today. Last night, rather than attending the Marquette-Utah Valley State game, or watching UWGB or Duke on TV, I attended one of those rock concerts that the kids these days seem to like so much. So I'll be back on Thursday, once I regain my hearing...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Opening Weekend: Two Purdues, But No Matt Painter

Big opening weekend of hoops for me, as I checked out Marquette’s season opener on Saturday night, and followed it up with a rare trip to the Kohl Center to see the Badgers in person in their season opener on Sunday night. My thoughts are a bit less well-formed as usual, as I never quite recovered from a 5:30am wake-up call to do some football tailgating in Madison (my offseason diversion) on Saturday. Thus, my sleep-deprived brain was jello-like for good portions of the weekend. Add to that a second round trip to Madison on Sunday, and I’m dragging a bit. But I still noticed a few things. We’ll alternate Marquette and Wisconsin points today:

1) I went to watch Marquette open their season against IUPUI this weekend, and followed it
up the next day by going to see Wisconsin play IPFW. I consider that a pretty good weekend--two season openers, two P's, and a grand total of three I's. Not to mention that I started the day at a 7:30am football tailgate drinking a Jaguar, and ended the day watching a team whose mascot is the Jaguars.

2) Brian Butch looked like he did in high school en route to posting 24 points and 13
rebounds. That is to say that I spent a lot of time wondering how a guy who looked sort of physically awkward could be scoring so consistently. Butch still isn't what you'd call strong around the hoop (if he was, he’d have easily had 30 last night), but as he showed last night, he does have some decent offensive moves, and you don't want to give him multiple chances at layups (I didn't know that was possible either), as IPFW stunningly did at times last night.

3) The big news of the Marquette opener was that Scott Christopherson had knee surgery in
the afternoon before the game. Such a surprise was this that I was the only one of my friends at the game who had heard about this news beforehand. I kind of like the idea of Christopherson redshirting as he recovers from the injury. While he would have, and perhaps still will play, this year, he's clearly the number 6 guard on the team this year, and could use some time to develop. And who wants to lose a huge chunk of any year to injury, anyway.

4) Trevon Hughes can do things with the ball that I haven't seen a Wisconsin guard do in some time. It was sort of fun seeing someone who could get into the lane for the Badgers. For a brief moment, I felt like I was watching a Marquette guard.

5) The story of Scott Christopherson’s injury is eerily similar to Trevor Mbakwe’s. It’s not like either one blew out their knee in practice. Rather, both had some pre-existing issue that no one knew about, and after it was discovered, people openly wondered how they were able to function on a basketball court without extreme pain. What are the chances of that happening to 2/3 of your freshman class? Part of me is wondering if the team doctor is a Louisville grad, and he or she just keeps telling guys that there’s something wrong with them in order to give the Cardinals an edge in the Big East. I’m not convinced of this conspiracy yet, but if you see Jerel McNeal in street clothes next game because of a skull fracture that he’s had for 5 years, but has just been discovered now, I’d say it’s time to look into this theory.

6) Despite talk of Bo Ryan using a deep rotation, he essentially stayed with his top seven guys for the bulk of the game, save for a brief Kevin Gullikson appearance in the first half, and an appearance by Jon Leuer that stretched just a bit longer than garbage time. I was mildly disappointed by the short bench, but still suspect that things will go a bit deeper as time goes on. I just don’t see how Leuer and Keaton Nankivil go the entire season without getting meaningful minutes. Though given the Badgers rough play in the first ten minutes, I can understand the impulse to try and stick with known entities.

7) Marquette’s halftime competition of fans playing lightning wasn’t bad, but it’s still no musical chairs.

8) Attendance at the Kohl Center seemed surprisingly low for the season opener. That’s all relative, since most teams would kill to have the number of butts in the seats at Wisconsin did for an early season game against a non-descript opponent (the fact that IPFW’s coach is Dane Fife, notwithstanding). But it’s still sort of weird to be sitting in seats as nice as the ones I had last night (it was a rare night in the good seats for me!) and be able to stretch my legs because my neighbor was nowhere to be found.

And with a drive back to Milwaukee with my trusty sidekick Beau after the Badger game, I promptly jotted down a few thoughts and went to bed. The season’s finally here, and I’m going to need to be well rested...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Skipping Sleep, Watching Hoops

Two quick points before I get to my abbreviated Badger points from the evening:

1) Rob Jeter’s dismissal of Avery Smith yesterday from the UWM roster was one of the least surprising, and yet most bizarre developments of recent note. Any time your team’s leading scorer from the prior season tells the press that his suspension is really just a leave of absence, and the head coach responds to those comments by noting “That is absolutely false,” you know you’ve got a comically volatile situation on your hands. I guess this was just the logical conclusion.

2) My friend Terry has wanted me to get his name on my blog for some time. I’ve tried to calmly explain to him that I think random shout-outs are lame, and usually only talk about friends after they make entertaining comments when I’m watching a game with them. Then I offered to go to a high school game with him in suburban Madison, near where he lives. But since Terry took the time to mock me on his own website, and was persistent in drunkenly berating me at a friend’s wedding reception recently, he’s getting the shout-out that he’s always wanted. But I’m still making you go to a high school game with me, Terry. I’ll see you at Middleton sometime in December...

On to the Badgers. I was tied up with some other things prior to the Badger game, and thus, had to take in the game in a late-night DVR session. Hence, my thoughts are abbreviated today, due both to a lack of time, and a general punch-drunkenness that sets in for me around midnight on a weeknight.

1) When I saw Brian Butch make a steal at the top of the key, the first thing that went through my mind after I got over the sheer amazement that something like that had happened was that it must feel really bad to be the guy that let that happen. Somewhere on Water Street in Eau Claire this weekend there’s going to be a guy whose friends are giving him endless crap for getting picked by Brian Butch.

2) Marcus Landry cracked double figures in scoring last night, but still seems largely anonymous to me when he’s out there, which runs quite contrary to the idea thrown aroung that he’s going to be the guy who steps up his game and becomes the go-to guy this year. I’m still not sure how much of a step forward I’m expecting from Landry this year. On one hand, I’m encouraged by this article from a few days ago which points out that he’s eating better and not commuting between Madison and Milwaukee (I’ve done it to a lesser extent, and it can wear on you) all the time anymore. However, I’ve also got in the back of my head all the articles last year which discussed Alando Tucker’s leadership ability, and talked about Tucker forcing Landry out of bed for workouts. Without his teammate/personal trainer around anymore, I’m interested to see how hard Landry goes after things.

3) Is the bizarre stripe of skin on J.P. Gavinski’s head the result of him requesting a bizarre haircut, or the result of someone at the College Barber going a little overboard with their clippers?

4) Not sure who was running the control room for the broadcast last night, but I wasn’t real crazy about the camera angles used for breakaway dunks. On the aforementioned Butch breakaway, and a later Marcus Landry breakaway, we were treated to the behind the basket camera angle, rather than the standard halfcourt camera. Count me as someone who likes to watch a guy in mid-air, rather than just seeing a guy flying at me on TV.

5) The announcers upped the legend of Tanner Bronson last night by mistakenly asserting that he began with the team his freshman year as a ball boy, before correcting themselves and noting that he was a team manager. I'm still trying to figure out if that slip up shows less respect to Bronson, or to team managers in general.

So with those quickie points, the exhibition season is over. Fortunately, my next set of Wisconsin thoughts will come after I make my first trip to see the team in person this weekend. Should be fun...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wisconsin vs. Edgewood: Did Edgewood Walk To the Kohl Center?

After returning home from the Marquette exhibition, I plunked myself down on the couch to enjoy the first Wisconsin exhibition game of the year. Back to back first looks at the two teams that I see most was undoubtedly exciting, and the fact that I could end my weekend on my couch eating a huge sandwich and watching the Badgers made me feel great. My first exhibition game thoughts below:

1) I’m not sure I’ve liked a set of Badger uniforms this much since about 1995. Nice switch from some truly awful uniforms over the last two years. Of course, this also means that I’m going to have to head to the University Bookstore sometime in the near future to pick up a discounted jersey, as they try to push the old out to make way for the new. I learned a few years ago that a Mike Kelley jersey’s much cheaper when people start to forget who Mike Kelley was.

2) I lack some familiarity with Madison Edgewood’s team, and thus, forward Charlie Averkamp is really the only player of note that I was aware of for the Eagles coming into the game. I love Averkamp, particularly because he’s a senior, because now it’s so much easier for me to envision him playing in a rec league next year and putting up obscene stats when the other team just picks one of its worst guys and says to him “You can guard that chunky guy who probably can’t get up and down the floor.”

3) Speaking of Averkamp, props to broadcast team Craig Coshun and Shon Morris for pronouncing his name right using their third option last night. I wasn’t sure where they were getting the name “Overkamp” from, since there’s clearly an “A” at the start of the name.

4) I’m not sure that I recalled much about him before this game, but I generally enjoyed color man Shon Morris’ basketball points last night. His goofy one-liners, however, seemed out of place at times, and served as a reminder of why I’ll never be earning money as a color commentator. A few of his most conspicuous zingers:

“If you abuse an eagle [Edgewood’s mascot] like that in real life, PETA’s going to be all over you”

“I’m not saying Tanner Bronson looks young, but I think he got ID’d trying to see Transformers”

And I don’t recall exactly what he said, but he at one point implied that Wisconsin’s 1992 exhibition loss to the Russian national team happened in part because the Russians were frightened to go to Siberia in the event of a loss.

5) I think Michael Flowers just stole the ball again for a breakaway layup. Nice to have him back, huh?

6) Since he had a huge debut last night, let’s go with two Jon Leuer points. Based solely on what I’d read about him and getting a brief look at his build at Night of the Grateful Red, I figured Leuer would be the most likely redshirt candidate of the Badgers three freshmen. Um yeah, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Leuer won’t be redshirting. Most guys that lead the first game in scoring tend to play a bit. Never believe what you read.

7) Before Leuer even started throwing points on the board, it struck me that he looked oddly bigger on TV than in person, where he was one of the skinniest athletes that I had ever seen. Leuer’s skinny in-person build didn’t bother me, though, because his build reminds me of a young Mike Wilkinson, who put on and carried extra muscle well. As some will forget, before Wilkinson became a rock-solid post presence for the Badgers, he was a skinny perimeter-oriented forward. A comparison between the two is almost invited, however the thing that I find interesting is that unlike Wilkinson, Leuer’s going to have competent big men around him for years to come. Will Leuer bulk up like Wilkinson (who’s outside shot always seemed less consistent to me after his transformation), or stay lighter and more built to roam around outside? I’ll be staying tuned…

8) A few years ago, back when Brian Butch decided to redshirt for the Badgers, I got really excited at the though of Butch and Greg Stiemsma playing together as seniors. Now here we are, and I think I may be even more excited about the thought of Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil as seniors. Things are progressing nicely at Wisconsin.

9) Bo Ryan sure wasn’t showing what his lineup will be last night, playing all of his guys for a reasonable number of minutes. Aside from having Michael Flowers out of the starting lineup, you knew things were a bit off when you saw three freshmen and two walk-ons (actually, I think Morris Cain has a scholarship this year, right? But you know what I mean…) on the floor to close the first half. No Kevin Gullikson, though, who I presume was injured.

10) I’ve got hugely mixed feelings on the Big Ten Network (love the access to games, hate all other programming, and still questioning their role in the impasse with the big cable companies), and that will come out over time. But if the guy who won ESPN’s Dream Job game show to become a sports anchor is running the halftime desk and acting as one of your main hosts of studio shows (I’m particularly perplexed by the Friday Night football show he hosts where he talks with field reporters who “report” on things like how much school spirit exists in a dorm cafeteria at Michigan state), your channel probably has some room to grow. Although, I’m sort of hoping that they’ll track down the “Boom goes the dynamite!” guy from Ball State and give him a show. At least he’d give you something entertaining to watch during the 6 months of the year that the BTN is without football or basketball, and there will therefore be no reason to turn the channel on.

11) Saw some Indiana highlights at halftime and I have to say that it was jarring to see D.J. White without his trademark floppy white t-shirt. I may actually have to remember his number (3) this year.

12) Great commercial at the half for the Listen Up personal sound amplifier, which I had seen a commercial for while watching a sporting event weeks ago. I was sort of disappointed, though, when the various use scenarios (hearing a church sermon, checking up on your kids on the playground) that were shown in the commercial did not include the obvious one from the prior commercial that I had seen—the creepy dude at the gym listening in on what a couple of spandex-clad women were talking about. Like creepily spying isn’t the first thing that everyone thinks of when they see this device advertised...

13) I want to like J.P. Gavinski, but his hands last night made me wonder if he lacks opposable thumbs.

14) Favorite plays last night included Greg Stiemsma catching a blocked shot and tossing an outlet pass before his feet hit the ground, Michael Flowers behind-the-back assist, Jon Leuer’s dunk off a Jason Bohannon assist, and Marcus Landry’s screaming dunk where the Edgewood players looked legitimately frightened to get anywhere near him.

And as the Badgers finished drubbing their division three foes, I sat on my couch smiling, and more enthused about this year’s Wisconsin team than I had before. The season is finally here, and it’s going to be good.

Marquette vs. Northern State: Back to the Bradley Center

On Sunday night the entire world was watching the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. Not me, though. I was mowing my lawn, and getting ready to attend a sporting event that meant a lot more to me than some silly NFL game–Marquette vs. Northern State. That’s right, Marquette’s lone exhibition game was providing me my first opportunity to attend a live basketball game in months. My first impressions were somewhat tainted by my attendance at Marquette’s open scrimmage the prior weekend, but it was still nice to get my first look at a real game. My initial thoughts below:

1) I remember my first reaction when Marquette announced that Maurice Acker was transferring in from Ball State. I basically thought that it was ridiculous that Marquette was bringing in another point guard, given that they seemed pretty well set at that position. I figured Tom Crean was just freaked out about that year when everything went wrong and he had walk-on Tony Gries playing meaningful minutes. My position softened when it occurred to me that if any conference’s freshman of the year wants to play for your team, you pretty much need to entertain the idea. My position is further softened after seeing Acker play. He’s an excellent addition—it never hurts to have a guy that seems to love passing. Acker will make this team better.

2) I heard a bit of the Marquette radio pre-game show, and Tom Crean noted at one point that he wasn’t definitely settled on slotting Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews into the starting lineup. Yeah, why would you start all three of your best guys, all of whom have started for most of their careers? I’m really hoping Crean was joking on this point.

3) I’m giving the retro style uniforms a thumbs-up, though part of that my just be due to the fact that I’m a huge advocate of the use of powder blue in just about any uniform.

4) No Ousmane Barro in the starting lineup? I’m hoping that was just to see more of how Dwight Burke would handle filling the hole that Trevor Mbakwe’s injury leaves. Usually it’s 6-7 games into the season before Marquette’s best big man gets a stint on the bench and Tom Crean starts saying things on the post game show like “we’re not getting the rebounding that we need, and we’re trying to go with some guys that have shown us a little more in practice.” Using that tactic before the season started would be a first.

5) I’m not as down on Dwight Burke as I was after watching the team scrimmage a week ago, but still think the Mbakwe hole is probably better filled by a mix of small forward-type players like Dan Fitzgerald, Lazar Hayward, and the seemingly improved Lawrence Blackledge. They’re just more talented ballplayers. I’ll even put in a plug for Patrick Hazel, who looked a lot better than I expected at last week’s scrimmage. Burke may be clearly the most muscular guy on the team, but a good physique doesn’t guarantee good basketball.

6) There are few things in college basketball that I look forward to more than Marquette’s halftime musical chairs layup competition. Sunday night’s competition yielded one of the greatest collisions in musical chairs history as two competitors did a number on one of the folding chairs in one of the later rounds. I almost expected one of them to pick up the chair and hit the other, pro-wrestling style. The prize for the winner? A $25 gift certificate to the Marquette spirit shop. I’m almost willing to offer up another $25 of my own money in order to make it a more legit prize. Those kids are working hard.

7) Confusing play of the night–there was one kicked ball on the evening. It happened with about 29 seconds left on the shot clock, and the referee reset the shot clock after it happened. Is this reset supposed to happen? Last year they implemented that rule where the shot clock never got reset on kicks that happened with more than 15 seconds left on the shot clock. If the shot clock was under 15 seconds at the time of the kick, it just got set back to 15 seconds. In discussing it with my friend Dez at the game, we pretty much agreed that last year’s rule change made things better (albeit slightly), and figured that this was universally accepted. So, have we changed back to the old rule, or is this just a ref in an exhibition game that was stuck with his head back in the 2005-2006 season? If anyone has an answer to this, please let me know.

8) If you had polled my section and asked every person there where Northern State is located, I’m guessing maybe two people would have known. And I wouldn’t have been one of them. (I’ve since been told that it’s in South Dakota.)

9) In an ironic move, the Marquette band managed to play the least funky version ever of “Play That Funky Music.” I’m thinking that they should retire that particular piece of music.

10) As I do at the start of every year, I’m predicting a horrific injury for Wesley Matthews, as his athleticism, combined with his disregard for his own safey when trying to make a play lead to frightening situations. Just ask the camera man he nearly killed on Sunday night. I love the way this guys plays.

11) After seeing him scrimmage and play in the exhibition game, I’m not big on freshman Scott Christopherson’s game yet, but I have to respect anyone who chooses 0 as his number.

And as the clock ran out, I headed out of the arena with my friends to get home as quickly as possible. As expected, Marquette was talented and ragged, leading me to believe that as in years past, we’ll be left scared out of our minds as they look vulnerable for 8-9 games playing against inferior competition during the early season, and then things will start to click during Big East play. But I didn’t have much time to think about that–I had to get home and watch more basketball. I love November.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Just To Make it Official...

So, after all that drama at the end of last year, I’m back for another year. There’s the grand announcement. Apologies to all for my awful farewell message last year-I’m not normally so obnoxiously melodramatic. But at the time, I had burned out a bit on trying to balance my basketball obsession with my other new obsessions in life. Admittedly, I flipped out a bit, but I’m back in balance. So let’s never speak of that embarrassing post again, okay?

That said, there are going to be some changes this year, as to allow me from losing my mind like I did at the end of last year. Not to worry, it’s nothing too groundbreaking, but my original manner of doing things obviously stopped working for me. So, without further adieu, here’s what I’ve got planned in terms of changes (all of which are dependent on me acquiring a working home computer before the season starts):

1) No more daily updates. Try as I may, I just can’t consistently do that anymore.

2) There will be better defined parameters for updates this year. I’m promising myself that I will be sharing thoughts on Sunday night/Monday morning and Tuesday and Thursday mornings of each week. My plan of doing three updates per week at the end of last season failed miserably because without a set schedule, I had too much freedom to skip a day whenever I wanted. So now I’ve got three set days when I’m forced to do something. When you’re as lazy as I am, you need to set more rigid rules for yourself.

3) That Monday-Tuesday-Thursday structure? That’s just a minimum. If I happen to sit in front of a particularly amusing fan at a Marquette game, or I’m at a WIAC game and the mascot’s pants fall down during an off day, I’ll still probably take time out of my day to make note of it. It’s tough to keep me away from the keyboard when there’s something really important like that to be discussed.

4) Just a guess, but there will probably be less high school talk this year. I’ve got a standing Tuesday night commitment that will keep me from most weeknight games, and finding friends to go to high school games with me isn’t easy these days. And while I’ve done it on rare occasions, I’ve never been a fan of being that weird loner guy at a game. After all, basketball (or any spectator sport, for that matter) is best enjoyed while eating a soft pretzel and making fun of the visiting team’s uniforms with a friend or two.

5) Due to a purely random decision when I moved last year, I’ve got a dish, and thus, have the Big Ten Network (yes, I did stay in and watch the upset of Michigan State by Grand Valley State on Friday), so there will be plenty of Badger talk this year. And for the many Time Warner games that UWM and Marquette have, I guess I’ll just be getting real well acquainted with their radio crews for away games. Good thing I like Jim McIlvaine.

6) Oh yeah–new email address this year–you can find it off to the side. After awhile I got tired of sorting through spam, and trying to find things that were wrongly sorted into my junk folder. And that Nigerian guy who I was assisting with his finances was getting to be a hassle. So I stopped dealing with my email. Sorry to those of you who sent me things that I never responded to–I legitimately feel bad when I miss responding to people who take the time to share their thoughts. You can try me at the new address off to the side whenever you feel like it. I’m going to attempt to respond to everyone this year. Well, except for that Nigerian guy.

Back tomorrow with thoughts on the exhibition games for Marquette and Wisconsin (they’re already written, but I can’t give you too much on day one of the new year), and some thoughts and predictions to start the season.

Listed on BlogShares