Lots of stuff going on this weekend, between Marquette’s non-opening game debacle on Friday and a trio of games for Wisconsin (vs. Southeastern Louisiana), Marquette (vs. Colgate) and UWM (at South Carolina) on Sunday. Here are a few random points on all of the above:
1) Well, it turns out that the concerns that I expressed about playing a basketball game on an aircraft carrier in the super-humid city of Charleston, South Carolina were well-founded. I won't say that I predicted the cancellation of the Ohio State-Marquette game, because I didn't. I foolishly assumed that the organizers of the game had anticipated the moisture and come up with a plan to make the court playable. Shame on me for thinking any actual engineering was involved. It's kind of pathetic when a dude who's been to the ocean a couple of times has put more thought into the issues involved in a game like this than the actual organizers. I still think that the aircraft carrier games were a cool idea, but after two cancellations this weekend, and stories now leaking out about moisture issues at last year's seemingly well run game between Michigan State and North Carolina, I'd say it's time to leave this idea in the past. A beautiful background is nice, but it’s not worth a guy potentially slipping and shredding his ACL.
2) While gathered at a bar with friends watching Buzz Williams and the rest of the Marquette team and staff furiously wiping down their game floor on Friday night, I overheard several people near me say things like "Look at the Ohio State team just standing around while everyone from Marquette is actually working to try and make this game happen. I'm so proud to be a Marquette grad right now." While I understand that sentiment, I'm not sure I agree with it. The problem with condensation on the game floor was not going to be fixed by just wiping it up, and that was obvious to anyone who took more than five seconds to think about it. It's not as if someone simply spilled a bucket of water on the court and a one-time mopping could clean it up--the water was hovering in the air. The fact that Thad Matta and his team weren't on their knees rubbing towels on the floor didn't make me think that they were prima donnas or that they didn't want to play the game. It merely told me that they were smart enough to recognize a lost cause when they saw one.
3) South Carolina coach Frank Martin’s bow tie continues to be a ridiculous look for him. I like bow ties, but only certain guys can pull them off. Frank Martin has neither the build (his torso is too large, dwarfing the bow tie) nor the personality (bow ties are not for guys who look constantly perturbed) to be a bow tie wearer. I’m not quite sure what Martin looked more like in a bow tie: a second-rate Bond villain, or an the least enthusiastic vaudeville performer ever.
4) UWM should start looking more to the juco ranks if they can keep bringing in players like their all-juco backcourt of Jordan Aaron and Bobo Niang. While heading into the year the Panthers clearly had depth in the frontcourt, their newfound starting backcourt is looking like a strength. Jordan Aaron was borderline unstoppable during the final five minutes of yesterday’s first half. Rob Jeter must be getting excited about being able to throw Paris Gulley into the mix with Aaron and Niang once Gulley returns from injury.
5) One of the great highlights of watching the UWM-South Carolina game yesterday was hearing a consistently irate South Carolina fan in the background of the action. There’s nothing better than when an irrationally angry fan gets seated next to a microphone. I wasn’t able to pick out all of the inane angry rants that this fan was hurling at the refs, but I did hear a number of them. My favorite ridiculous taunt was “Why don’t you go back to reffing the NFL!” I’d bet good money that at some point this guy pulled out the old “Hey ref! Get off your knees–you’re blowing the game!” That’s usually the sad height of comedy for guys that spend most of their time at a game berating the refs.
6) I heard my favorite announcing quote in some time during yesterday’s UWM-South Carolina game. I had to rewind the moment on my DVR to transcribe the exact quote, but it was worth it to hear the color commentator say the following: "You know, in today's college basketball world, we see a lot of coaches playing three and four guards. Very few post guys floating around out there, and if they are, they're usually 6'7" and 6'8". I would have to say that, certainly, Demetrius Harris would qualify as one of those low post guys.” I can’t think of the last time someone used more words to tell me less information.
7) I don’t want to take away anything from UWM’s accomplishments yesterday, as they did go on the road and manage to take a major conference team to overtime after dominating them in the first half (UWM led by 15 at halftime). And that’s awesome. But I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that South Carolina finished close to the bottom of the SEC last year.
8) So it appears that in my great telecommunications shift of 2012, I’ve managed to cobble together a situation in which I don’t have access to ESPN3. This was a tad disheartening yesterday when I furiously tried to pull up the Wisconsin-Southeastern Louisiana game to no avail. I’m already considering a few work-arounds, since I can’t live in a world where I don’t have video access to the only games that Evan Anderson will play in.
9) While I didn’t have ESPN3, it was nice of ESPNU to cut into the Wisconsin game during breaks in action in the other games that it was showing on Sunday. Perhaps the happiest sight of the day for me was Mike Bruesewitz in uniform. It’s always nice to see a return from injury, but Bruesewitz’s injury sounded so gruesome and he sounds like such a good guy that this return felt extra good to hear about.
10) The news that Duje Dukan is redshirting this year for the Badgers was surprising, but I suppose it makes some sense. While Dukan put some of the blame on an early fall bout with mono hindering his conditioning, I would have to think an even bigger factor is that there are three senior frontcourt players clearly ahead of Dukan in the rotation right now. There’s going to be a lot more opportunity available upon the graduation of Ryan Evans, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren. And given that Dukan looked on the verge of gaining some minimal playing time near the very end of last season, playing his last two seasons without three firmly entrenched veterans ahead of him could be a very good thing for him (and the Badgers). Here’s hoping for the best.
11) While I didn’t catch much of the Marquette-Colgate game on Sunday afternoon, a friend did text me from the game to note that the halftime entertainment for the game was the Jesse White Tumbling Team. Nice to see Marquette coming out of the gates strong with the halftime acts this year.
12) Also nice to see solid games from the Marquette players that I typically have tempered expectations for. Juan Anderson seemed to be scoring every time that I saw him, which was nice for a guy that I’d pegged for transferring out due to lack of playing time at one point last year. And Jamil Wilson had a rare good game that I was paying attention to. Wilson’s talent is undeniable, but for some reason he’s one of those guys that always seems to only come up big when I manage to miss a game.
That's it for now. I'm off to order the sports package from my satellite provider so as not to miss any weird games now that hoops season is finally upon us!