Marquette vs. UMBC: Watching The Good Half
Last night’s Marquette vs. UMBC game was a pretty good example of what happens when I don’t have tickets to a game that’s airing on Time Warner Sports. Because my TV service provider is Directv, I don’t have home access to Marquette games that air on Time Warner Sports and must find an alternate way to watch the game. For games like UMBC, this typically means heading to my gym to feign working out so that I can watch the game. This happens because a) my gym has Time Warner, and b) it would be near impossible to find someone to go to a bar with me to watch a terrible non-conference game. So in a weird way, terrible Marquette non-conference games kind of keep me healthy.
The original plan for last night’s game was to watch the first half, since a game against UMBC was bound to be a blowout. But because even a trip to the gym usually involves some laziness on my part, I procrastinated and didn’t make it over until the second half. This was a lucky error on my part, since Marquette was clinging to just a four point lead at the half. The second half (or as I like to call it, the “good half”) saw the Golden Eagles rout their opponents en route to a 79-46 win. Here are the thoughts on what I saw:
1) There was some minor interest by many last night in seeing how UMBC center Brett Roseboro would look. Watching Roseboro rack up his 2 points, 4 rebounds and 5 fouls in 20 minutes, it seems unlikely that he ever would have seen the floor had he come to Marquette. I’m certain that there are plenty of Marquette fans this morning reiterating their praise for Buzz Williams for letting Roseboro out of his commitment during the summer before his freshman year so that he could go to a school where he could actually challenge for playing time. I still can’t join in that praise (and I’ve written more about that here). While I’ll concede that it would have been cruel to hold Roseboro in a situation where he couldn’t compete, the right thing would have been to properly evaluate Roseboro’s talent months earlier and not force him to pass up other opportunities because he was relying on his opportunity at Marquette.
2) Big kudos to the super-fan in the student section last night that kept getting TV time during timeouts due to his blue and gold Mexican wrestling mask. Your attire was impressive even without headgear, but the mask put it over the top. That’s solid crazy fan work if I’ve ever seen it, so keep up the good work.
3) Dear Davante Gardner: While I love watching you casually drop nearly every basketball that you touch through the hoop, and I think your twitter handle is both awesome and accurate (@iGetBuckets_54), if you continue loudly yelling in hopes of drawing a foul every time you shoot a layup, I may start losing my positive opinion of you. Just play the damn game and stop trying to sucker the refs into giving you a foul shot after your baskets.
4) One of my favorite fan message board discussions of every year is speculation about whether whatever walk-on is on the team will earn playing time and contribute. Ninety percent of the time, the answer is a simple “no.” So far this year, Jake Thomas has resoundingly secured his place in the 10% of walk-ons that are relevant. He looked outstanding last night, calmly knocking down threes, and using ball fakes to get past his defenders when the caught on to his shooting ability. Some of Thomas’s playing time is undoubtedly due to the minutes that Marquette has to fill because of the absence of Todd Mayo (and at the moment, Vander Blue, as well), but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s giving the team good minutes. Between his performance against UMBC and his big shot near the end of the Butler game, Thomas is off to as good a start as one could hope for from a walk-on.
5) Jim McIlvaine seems like a guy that I’d enjoy hanging out with, though I don’t love him as an announcer on either radio or TV. He’s too much of a homer (kind of ironic, given that the nickname of his radio partner is “Homer”), and his attempts at humor, while often funny, usually seem forced. That said, I typically enjoy him more on TV (where he was last night), where he tends to be more subdued and less likely to try and work in cheesy exclamations that he’s been saving up for particular moments. Last night’s McIlvaine high point was probably when he and his broadcast partner were discussing the great players from McIlvaine’s high school alma mater, Racine St. Catherine’s, that had played at Marquette. McIlvaine’s self-deprecating acknowledgment that the he was not even the best center named “Jim” from his own high school due to the success of fellow St. Catherine’s alum Jim Chones was particularly amusing (and based on what I know about Chones, correct).
6) As I have discussed with friends, last year I had Juan Anderson slated as the Golden Eagle most likely to transfer next. Based on the combination of how solid he’s looked this year, and the fact that he’s got two more years to continue improving, I’m now thinking of him as the Golden Eagle most likely to get drafted next. Anderson has been my happiest surprise so far.
7) I get that Chris Otule has overcome the absence of one eye and three season-ending injuries, but we’re six games into the season and I’m already getting tired of announcers talking about how inspiring he is. I think Otule is a good guy, and I commend him for working hard to return from all of his injuries, but you’ll excuse me if I’m not overly inspired by his ability to recover.
Back to the TV tonight for some ACC-Big Ten Challenge action before I actually attend some ACC-Big Ten Challenge action on Wednesday. I suspect that Indiana-North Carolina will not disappoint. Enjoy the games!