Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wisconsin vs. Arizona: A Late Night Affair

So I’m staying up late and watching the Badger on TV at the Maui Invitational tonight. Those crazy Hawaiians are making things tough with their time zone, which I'm told is four hours behind my life in central standard time. Technically, I suppose I’m not live-blogging, since I’m not posting these thoughts in real time–I’m just planning on throwing them up after the game. Two reasons for this approach: 1) no one’s hanging on my every thought at midnight on a Monday and 2) Making 25 or so separate postings in an evening causes lots of clutter. But given that this thing’s going to be over at 1am or later, I’m not going to realistically have time to process my thoughts and type them up post game. So I’m going to try something that I never do and type things up as I’m watching the game. I’ve always figured that writing out thoughts while trying to watch a game would make both tasks less fun. We’ll see how that works out tonight. At the very least, I suspect I’ll have a lot more stream-of-consciousness action, and fewer solid big-picture points. And I’ll probably get a bit punchy near the end, given that I’m usually heading to sleep right about the time of tip-off. This could be a festival of typos...

Texas and Iowa are wrapping up their evening on ESPN (wow, that wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected for Iowa), so I guess we’ll begin this evening’s experiment:

–First three things of note when the game is joined after the end of the Texas-Iowa game: a) Wisconsin is up by two points, Arizona just missed two fouls shots, and Nic Wise has two quick fouls. I’m officially glad that I’m staying up for this one.

–Jay Bilas–I love you, and you’re my favorite commentator. But really, you’re at the Maui Invite and you’re too good to wear a Hawaiian shirt with a floral pattern? Weak. Though not as weak as the Arizona coaching staff for completely foregoing the Hawaiian shirt and going with polos. Aren’t Hawaiian shirts like 35% of what Feast Week on ESPN is all about?

–Difference between the chubby guy behind the Arizona bench who’s wearing an Arizona jersey with nothing underneath it and me wearing my old Mike Kelley Wisconsin jersey with nothing underneath it? I’m in my living room alone and no one can see me.

–Five minutes in and still no points for Arizona. Meanwhile Wisconsin has made two shots that had no right to go in. So far this is the opposite of how I felt the last time that Arizona and Wisconsin met, in the 2006 NCAA tournament. I’m waiting for the Chaminade gym to start piping in Jon Bovi songs.

–Ryan Evans for three Make that three shots that had no right to go in. (Not that it was a terrible look, it’s just, Ryan Evans jump shot is going to make me cringe all year long.)

–In his first 30 seconds of meaningful action, I think Mike Bruesewitz just made a lot of people happy that he didn’t redshirt. Can you get an assist for causing a teammate to get a rebound?

–The good: Arizona didn’t manage to score a field goal in the first nine minutes. The bad? Even with that dry spell, somehow Wisconsin is only up by 10 points.

–Nice move by Solomon Hill to get to the line (perhaps the first good thing I’ve seen out of a Wildcat). I knew he was going to take advantage of Ryan Evans the moment that he got the ball on the block. Time to put Hill on my list of players to pay attention to this year.

–Three fouls apiece on Ryan Evans and Keaton Nankivil just 13 minutes into the game. I’d be a bit more worried about depth if not for the fact that Mike Bruesewitz has been playing like a man possessed tonight.

–I noticed this at the last game that I was at, but think I failed to mention it to anyone other than my friend at the game–Jon Leuer looks like he had some sort of revolutionary neck length reduction surgery during the offseason. Either that, or his past three years in the weight room are finally allowing his 6'10" frame to fill out.

–Nice of Trevon Hughes to dish off to Mike Bruesewitz on the fastbreak. With most of his night so far being about Krabbenhoft-like toughness, I’m sure he’s pretty pleased to get the opportunity to toss down a dunk and do something kind of flashy.

–Leuer has three fouls now, with five minutes to go in the half? I hope Bruesewitz is in good shape. Bo Ryan wasn’t lying in a pre-trip interview when he noted that he needed to be able to use every player that he brought with him on the trip. Speaking of Bruesewitz, he just took a charge. This might be one of the best Badger debuts that I’ve ever seen. (Assuming that we’re willing to just forget about his two minute, two turnover performance against Oakland.

–Three Wisconsin forwards with three fouls, and now Jared Berggren goes to the bench with a shoulder issue with two minutes left in the half. That’s Wisconsin’s top four big guys (though Bruesewitz is making a case to move up a few notches tonight) that are probably done for the half. This might be the perfect storm, but somehow I think J.P. Gavinski still knows that he’s not going to be checking into the game tonight.

–A few thoughts on the brief stoppage of play near the end of the half where the referees took time out to review the blocking call on Rob Wilson a few plays earlier, due to Bo Ryan apparently complaining about an Arizona player intentionally dribbling the ball off of Wilson’s head. One, what was Ryan looking at? Not only was there nothing intentional going on there, but after reviewing the replay, I don’t even think the ball hit Wilson’s head. Two, can the officials really stop the game to look at this? If so, that’s terrible. Stopping the game a minute after an alleged incident to look for a retroactive technical foul just seems like an awful way to use replays.

2nd Half

–Does Trevon Hughes actually practice drawing fouls on people, because he’s been completely brilliant at it tonight.

–Great shot of a Wisconsin fan wearing a 1994 Rose Bowl t-shirt and a cheesehead, doing his best to reinforce stereotypes (I did not see a Miller Lite in his hand, but I trust this is a function of unavailability in the Chaminade gym). Actually, I’ve never minded cheeseheads so much, but dude, it’s been almost 16 years–I loved the ‘94 Rose Bowl too, but buy a new t-shirt. Joe Panos retired from the NFL years ago.

–Four fouls on Leuer, and now a dumb fourth foul on Nankivil challenging a Derrick Williams dunk. I think I just saw J.P. Gavinski stretching. Thank God Jared Berggren seems to have been able to shake off his shoulder issue.

–On the bright side, Nic Wise is now on the bench for Arizona with four fouls, joining the Wildcats’ starting center (the tall blonde guy who’s not Chase Budinger), who also has four. I’d be bitter at the refs for trying to tack an extra hour onto my late night with all these fouls, but I honestly can’t blame them when the players keep hammering each other like they have been.

–I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel good or bad about the fact that Nic Wise beat Jason Bohannon in their matchup in the Maui Invitational’s X-Box tournament. I like my school and want us to win at everything, but I think if there’s one thing that it wouldn’t hurt much to be considered bad at, it’s video games.

–And I continue to have less confidence in Jason Bohannon from three-point range than any player considered his team’s top three-point threat that I can remember. (Get used to this comment, I’m going to be using it a lot this year.)

–Leuer’s done with 10 minutes to go. Rough night, and though I’ve always been sort of down on Leuer due to him disappearing from time to time, tonight’s not really what I’m talking about. He never did find his groove, but it’s tough to find a groove in 12 minutes, or whatever Leuer played tonight.

–The irony of Rob Wilson taking a charge is pretty sweet.

–Trevon Hughes strikes again, drawing two very questionable fouls on Arizona players to get to the line in the final three minutes.

–Sweet steal by Trevon Hughes to essentially seal the game. I suspect his sneaky play has been annoying Arizona players all night.

Final thoughts:

–Keaton Nankivil still doesn’t have much in terms of offensive moves, but he does have a knack for getting points off of put-backs and finding just the right time to roll to the basket and accept passes from the guards. He made himself look really good on national TV tonight, even though most people with jobs were in best

–Sean Miller is going to need a little bit of time to beat some of the recent Arizona habits out of his current Arizona team, but I suspect that by the end of the year he’ll be coaching more basketball players than athletes, rather than visa versa.

–Sure, this isn’t a banner year from Arizona, but they’re still Arizona, and I’ll always take a win over the Wildcats.

–Wisconsin continues to impress me, particularly with its frontcourt. First it was due to the play of their starting big men, but tonight they showed depth. This isn’t going to be the best Wisconsin team that we’ve seen in the past few years, but at least so far, its appearing that the roster isn’t quite as untalented as many people (including myself) were expecting. I remain encouraged.

–Wisconsin’s playing Gonzaga tomorrow in Maui, and also has Duke in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Thus, in one season, the Badgers will manage to play ESPN’s favorite team to televise, as well as ESPN’s go-to late night, west coast team. I think you’ve arrived when both of those teams are on your schedule.

And with that, I’m off to bed. I’m going to be paying for this game for the rest of Feast Week....


At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! There are a lot of WI fans that just could not stay up that late.


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