Do people know what I'm talking about there? The song from Being There, where Chance is riding in the limo, and watching tv and the kid with the falsetto is singing "I'll go one-on-one against the world!" Apparently composed by Cheech and Chong? Anyway, I am Jonesing for college basketball, perhaps the most entertaining sport in our fair country, tis of thee. And wonderfully, les Badgers look strong this year.
We miraculously have Alando Calrisian Tucker back for a fifth year (he took a medical redshirt during Devin's last season), the only returning all Big-Ten first teamer. (Yes, yes, Dee Brown and the accompanying media fellatio have finally passed into history! Celebrate good times, come on!). It appears he's taken to heart the obvious fact that the NBA doesn't like 6'6" power forwards unless it's 1992 and your name is Charles Barkley, so he's actually developed a seemingly consistent outside game. (he had his fits of brilliance from the outside in the past). I'm hoping this leads to more defenders coming out on him, which leads to more drives to the hole, which leads to more dunking. Rock.
The main factors that should lead to success this season are that nearly everyone is back and should be improved, we have what appear to be some quite talented recruits/crimson-shirts coming in, and our inside defensive presence (Greg Stiemsma and Marcus Landry) has returned from academia-related exile. Though it looks like we only have one dominant player on the team, that is, A-Tuck, we should have a very deep team, one capable of fielding two solid starting line-ups, and perhaps even running the mythical full court press that Bo has insisted we've never had the personnel to pull off. In fact, we look so deep, that guys who played a fair amount last season, like Gullickson or Tanner, may not see the court much.
The headliner is Alando obviously. In the paint, he's always played bigger than he is, rarely getting a shot blocked due to his strength and leaping ability, and showing an uncanny inside touch, especially off the glass. It appears that he's been working on his dribbling and that his oustide shooting has improved, which should make him an even more difficult match-up for twos or threes (whom he can post up) or for fours or fives (whom he can drive by or shoot over). Here's hoping his overall game develops enough to make him a first round draft pick. He's certainly got the athleticism and the intangibles. Plus, although this sounds ridiculous, it appears that he should have more endurance this year. Uh, yeah, that's because he had surgery to fix his deviated septum, a condition which prevented him from breathing through his nose all last seson. Did you ever wonder why they rested him so much? Apparently that was the answer-- the kinks in his pipes prevented him from getting enough air, so he'd lose his wind quicker. Weirdness...
Butch is back, and allegedly has been working on his post moves. That was necessary, and will hopefully bear fruit. Last season, I spent a lot of time wondering how a 6'11" kid's three point shooting is better than his inside moves. (My guess: all of his friends back in Appleton are 5'11"). He should be a primary front-court scorer, behind Alando, and perhaps be the team's leading rebounder. He's got a good wing-span, but he's a questionable defensive player-- the kind of big guy (Chappell also falls into this category) that draws a lot of fouls against people of similar size, tries to take charges against smaller players, and fails to block many shots. Maybe he's just not athletic enough to be a good post defender. I hope I'm wrong.
That is not the problem with Stiemsma. He's our most athletic big man, and we sorely missed his shot blocking ability during the second half of last season, and his rebounding is solid. I'd like to see him get more minutes this year, even if his offensive game isn't great. We should have plenty of other scoring options. I wish him lots of success and good health. (This is a neat article about his efforts to deal with depression).
Chappell, ah well, hmm. I'm sure most people were with me in wondering what the hell he was doing playing so much last year, particularly before Stiemsma and Landry went out. He's not a great defender due to his limited foot speed and vertical, nor is he that strong a rebounder. His post moves are adequate. What he does do well, however, is pass the ball, especially for a tall guy. This alone makes him valuable in the swing, and apparently Bo trusts him to run the offense. He's a senior, and should help Alando provide some leadership and stability to what remains a young team.
I'm greatly looking forward to the return of Marcus Landry. He should be a defensive presence, shutting down the four or three he guards, and giving excellent help. On offense, I'm unclear about his level of post moves, but his outside shooting appears pretty solid. He's a fine athlete with an excellent wingspan that plays taller than his height. As the season progresses, he should grow into one of the team's core players.
Gullickson may struggle to get off the bench, which is a shame since he busted his ass last year, a performance rewarded by a full scholarship. He's apparently bulked up, and if given the chance should provide good minutes in replacement of Alando or Landry.
And now Joe Krabbenhoft, the man of a thousand stitches. Joe was billed as a point forward coming in, a 6'7" guy who could dribble, pass and defend. He was actually the highest rated recruit entering the league last year, according to Rivals (23rd nationally), so I had high expectations. Maybe because of our personnel problems last season, he ended up spending a lot of time in the paint, battling for rebounds, trying to defend taller, bigger guys, making good passes but not scoring much, and getting whacked in the head. Oddly, for a guy who was supposed to basically be a tall guard, he lacked a good shooting touch. I hope he (re?)discovers his shot, stays on the wing a little more, works on his strength and quickness, and operates as a second point guard at the three, spreading the ball and drawing defenders out with his shot. He'll probably swing back and forth though, playing the two when we're going big, and the three or four when we're going small.
With so many players, I'm going way out on a limb here, risking my amateur career and guessing that J.P. Gavinski, the 6'11" pre-frosh from the Dells, will redshirt. Lets hope he provides a good practice body for the other bigs, and spends the year improving.
The rotation should be deep, and since everyone, except the pre-frosh, has played significant minutes in the past, I hope Bo embraces our depth, and plays everyone most games. For starters, I'd go with Alando, Stiemsma, and Landry, but I'm guessing it'll be Alando, Butch and Chappell, with Stiemsma as the first five sub, and Landry as the first four sub. Krabbenhoft should also work in there for some serious minutes, though he'll probably sub the guards a bit as well. Gullickson provides more of an inside presence than the Hoft, but his time will likely be limited by the return of Landry and Stiemsma (he didn't see much time until they were ineligible last year). A seven man frontcourt rotation! Ow! (said in a good way). At least we have a lot of fouls for Greg Oden. Backcourt discussion begins tomorrow.