Friday, November 30, 2007

How Bizarre

What a weird friggin' game. I went from resignation when I heard that Woodson and KGB were out, to fury at the bizarre play-calls and deep passes in the first half, to delight at Grant's big run, to despair and more fury, to resignation, to pleasure that Rodgers was making Cowboy fans squirm, to a somewhat satisfied conclusion.

Which is-- this game proved that the Cowboys are eminently beatable. Look at all the things that went wrong for the Packers:

- We were missing three defensive stalwarts: Woodson (a huge, huge loss), KGB (another huge loss), and Jolly (a big cog in the D-line rotation). Plus, key backups like safety Aaron Rouse and tight end Bubba Franks weren't available. Dallas had little to no key injuries coming in.

- Favre played his worst half of football so far this season. The ridiculous and incessant bombing in the first twenty minutes (mostly thrown when there were people open underneath)-- those were his decisions. McCarthy calls the plays, but there are multiple options on each play. I don't think one of those guys was open. Thus, at least one interception (couldn't tell if he was going long when he gave up the other) and multiple stalled drives.

- Generally bizarre and ineffectual playcalling for the first half. I kind of liked the unexpected onsides kick, but the flea-flicker? If Favre's making crappy, overaggressive decisions, McCarthy should call plays where the passing options are conservative.

- Favre had to leave the game with an injury after getting whacked on the throwing arm by a blitzing Dallas defensive back. Rodgers then had to play the rest of the game.

- The secondary was mostly terrible. On several plays, Al Harris was too preoccupied with Terrell Owens to even notice the ball coming in his direction. He generally played with his head up his ass all game-- not getting the call on that early strip seemed to throw him off for the rest of the night. Two bombs to a marginal Cowboys' wideout led to two huge PI calls (though the second call was iffy). Bigby and Collins got exposed. Jarrett Bush got benched. The guys who replaced him didn't do much. The end result-- guys were running around open for the majority of the game.

- The secondary got exposed because there was basically no pass rush until the second half. Even then, the team got zero sacks. Linebacker blitzes, led by Hawk, never got home, and just left the secondary more exposed. (Why the hell did we rush five on 3rd and 19 from the Cowboys five? We hadn't gotten home all day.) The defense suffers when it isn't getting at least some pressure from four. KGB and Jolly were missed dearly.

- Generally terrible special teams coverage. Especially on kickoffs. What the hell happened there? Dallas seemed to start every drive on their 40 or better. And Montgomery should have been called for roughing the punter.

- The offensive line played pretty poorly. Tauscher was gimping around ineffectively, they had to bench Colledge for terribleness (that first Favre interception was partly Colledge's fault), and guys weren't picking up blitzers well (see the play Favre got hurt). Several runs and screen plays gained little or nothing because of crappy blocks. Rodgers is far worse than Favre in terms of avoiding sacks, but still, he was sacked repeatedly in less than three quarters.

- All this amounted to a seventeen point lead in the second quarter for Dallas.

But even with all this, STILL the Packers were only down three with less than ten minutes left. Despite all of those screw ups, and being on the road, and having their back-up quarterback playing. That was remarkable.

The Packers are a young team. The younger guys should be improving as the season goes along, so if they manage to meet the Cowboys in the playoffs, I think certain guys (like the guards and the dime and nickel backs) should perform better. And if they win two of their next four, they should definitely have a first round buy in the playoffs. This will allow the older guys to heal up. I like our chances on a rematch.

But that's only IF, Favre stops making stupid decisions, and sticks with what got him here-- getting the ball out quickly to Driver, Jennings (didn't he look great when we got him the ball?), Jones, Robinson and Lee, and mixing it up with runs to Grant (that fourth and one run was brillant). What the hell happened, Brett? It's really simple-- throw to guys that are open.

Speaking of Brett, despite my irritation with him, obviously I hope he's ok. It looked like he whacked the inside bone of his elbow on that blitzing defensive back's helmet. That has to hurt a lot. But the paper today said that he separated his shoulder, apparently his non-throwing one. That sounds far more serious than a severely whacked funny bone, but no one immediately ruled him out for the net game. Thankfully, since this terrible string of Thursday games has come to an end, the Packers have some extra rest before playing at home against the Raiders on Sunday, December 9th. And given Rodgers' play in the second half, I'd feel pretty good about the Packers' chances against the Raiders at home in December even if Brett couldn't suit up.

Anyhow, that's my take. An absolutely atrocious performance in many respects where things went wrong again and again, but still a close game that the Packer's had a chance to win. Like the Bear game earlier in the season, it's a loss that actually bodes pretty well.
Packer fans should be confident in their team's chances.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I need this.

A Great Quote From Bud Lea's Recent Column

Regarding the Cowboys being called "America's Team"--
"Opposing teams were offended. As former Oakland safety Mike Davis so aptly put it years ago, 'If they are America's Team, what did that make the rest of us? Guatemalans?'"

The Former Big Ten Wonk's Analysis of the Duke Blowout

Can be found here. It's eerily similar to mine. At least, I think it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well, this is what it looks like when you play against a really talented team that consistently plays excellent defense. It'd take to long to outline the avalanche of errors that occurred in UW's 20 plus point loss at Duke-- the missed shots, poor passes, missed front ends of one and ones, their totally eliminating UW's height advantage with superior quickness, the missed bunny-fest, Butch getting blocked by someone 7 inches shorter, etc. So I'm just going to talk about two main things.

First, the way Wisconsin failed to respond to Duke's pressure defense. Duke knew that UW likes to skip the ball around the outside in effort to get a clean feed to the post, and that the team feels most comfortable when it's moving the ball back and forth, making crisp clean passes. So they got their defenders up in UW's face, and prevented them from making those easy perimeter passes. Every pass became contested. When that happens, your players have to be aggressive with their dribbling, and get past their man. Then, when the help comes, make an extra pass to the teammate who opens up. UW usually failed to do this in the first half, and when they did little came of it. Instead, they forced passes and looked flustered. This lead to turnovers, and Duke is an athletic, skilled team, which took the TOs and turned them into points. It certainly didn't help matters that Wisco's best penetrator, Trevon Hughes, got into early foul trouble, or that Hughes was starting his first road game and his first nationally televised game.

Second, the way Sconnie's defense played in the first half. Wisconsin also plays man-to-man D, but doesn't pressure as tightly as Duke because, except for Flowers and Hughes, they don't have the individual quickness to stop good dribble penetrators, and they don't want to draw unnecessary fouls. In this game, it seemed like they were too worried about guys getting to the basket, because they gave up open-three pointers again and again in the first half. They'd collapse to help on dribble penetration (except for Hughes and Flowers Duke was noticeably quicker across the board), and seemed to totally forget about the perimeter. And Dukie loves the three-point shot. How many did they make in the first half? 8 or 9? Ugh. I guess it was short of a pick-your-poison deal with Duke. Either sacrifice the help on drives, or give up open outside looks. That's what a really good team will do to you.

And I think Duke is a very good team. That was probably the best team UW will face all year, a top 5 team nationally. I would definitely put them ahead of Indiana and Michigan State, the two preseason conference favorites. And Cameron looked very loud-- it's probably a tougher place to play than any venue in the Big Ten.

Thankfully, UW is a team that has some serious growth potential. This was only the team's sixth game without Alando, Chappel and Taylor. (Unlike last season, the team didn't go on any international preseason tour.) Maybe Duke eased up its defensive pressure, but in the second half Flowers, Landry and Krabbenhoft all looked far more aggressive. And it was great to see Jon Leuer play some meaningful minutes and contribute, even if it was only because Butch was in foul trouble. I know Flowers, Landry and the Hoft are far from rookies, but they're still learning how to be assertive on offense, and I'd expect them all to improve as the year goes along. And Leuer, Bohannon, and Hughes all should get better as they get more experience this season. This was a heavy blow to UW, but one they can learn from and use as motivation. I'm sure they'll lose more games as the season progresses, but none will be as lopsided as this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gracias, pero no gracias

Looks like we're not gonna be eating any TexMex near any Riverwalk near any Alamo.

I am pleased about this, because we belong in bowls played on New Year's Day or after. Also, I did enough trash-talking that going to the Alamo Bowl would have forced this blogger's tail between his legs and its hard to drop your dick on people with your tail between your legs.

I want Orange Volunteer Meat Sausages on my New Years Day Outback breakfast plate.   

A Tough Week Ahead

But one that's full of opportunities. Two separate journeys into two separate hearts of darkness, two bastions of privilege and inequity. First, a voyage to the bizarre realm of Duke University-- an incongruous outpost of Northeastern snobbery floating in the midst of Southern tobacco country/Research Triangle suburbia. There, the Wisconsin Badgers must face what is perhaps the most obnoxious, overhyped team in all of the lands-- the Duke University men's basketball squad, led by this brilliant but smug Republican operative:
Who do you think he's imaginary strangling?
Anyhow, Duke is smaller than UW, but generally more talented with future NBA wings in Gerald Henderson and pale as hose true frosh Kyle Singler (who tore up Marquette this weekend). If the Hoft and Landry can D those guys up, and frustrate them a bit, I think UW has a solid chance. But it's going to be a tall order. (By the way, UW basketball is now ranked 20th.) This Cap Times article lays out the game pretty well.

Then into the America's Heart of Football Darkness, literally, as the Packers venture to dreary Texas Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys, headlined by team-killing prankster Terrell Owens, who is also, sadly, perhaps the finest wide receiver in the league. Further disreputable members of the Cowboys include former Bear Tank Johnson, he of the many automatic weapons and pit bulls, former Gopher Marion Barber XXIII, former Notre Domer Julius Jones, temporary and oft-injured Packer Terry Glenn, and former Boilermaker (and thus a member of the Brotherhood of the Inflatable Penis) Anthony Spencer. This parade of stooges is headlined by the curvaceous and incompetent-looking Wade Phillips, who's coaching career is experiencing a bizarre (and hopefully temporary) renaissance. And presiding over all of the shenanigans is the biggest self-promoting owner/jackass in football-- Jerry Jones. Jerry, for once and forever-- Get off the field and back into the shadowy owner's box, already! I have to admit, his chicanery has paid off-- why else would the Cowboys get three home games in a row, including two straight Thursday games, when their biggest opponent (the Packers) has traveled two straight weeks? When I used to think of Jerry, I wondered how pissed off Emmitt and Michael Irving used to be when he'd wander around the sidelines at the end of big wins, drawing camera time like he did something. This season, thinking of Jones makes me want to avoid Pepsi products. Who can explain it?

The only nugget of goodness in the whole Dallas sausage fest is Wisconsin native Tony Romo who went to I-AA Eastern Illinois, went undrafted and by all accounts, worked his butt off to get the starting job in Dallas. (Or maybe he just had to beat out a big bunch of stiffs in now-retired Drew Bledsoe, Qunicy Carter and Drew Henson.) Plus, Romo likely had sex with American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. Burlington should be proud. Although, Tony, I must say, the ribs at your place are not that good.

Tony is a solid QB, but he gets a little too much credit-- he's got a lot of talent around him. As far as I can tell, the team's important players are Owens, TE Jason Witten, and DE/LB Demarcus Ware. The Packers are going to have to hope that Al can hold up against Owens, and the rest of the secondary, whoever is back there, can deal with the other guys. And somebody, perhaps AJ Hawk, maybe a returning Nick Collins, is going to have to deal with Witten. The last time the Pack played a team with a good tight end, Tony Gonzalez owned them. The 'Boys also like to pound Barber the MCLVII and Orange Julius behind their sizeable offensive line. I hope Justin Harrell is ready to do something, because if Jolly, Cole, and KGB are all out, the D-Line may be easily gassed.

On the flip side, Dallas's defense is quite good, although somewhat better at defending the run than the pass. And Phillips runs one of those annoying 3-4 defenses with all sorts of different pressure packages. I'm glad the offensive line (knock on wood) has pass protected well of late. Still, Favre and the wideouts will have to play another great game for the Pack to win.

One of the various papers noted today that the Packers haven't won in Dallas since 1989. Well, the Packers haven't been 10-1 since the 60s. Favre had never won at Arrowhead or in Denver. GB hadn't beaten the Eagles in years. All those things have come to an end this season. Hopefully, the Dallas curse does as well. And hey, we've got ninjas and pirates on our side.


If we win on thrsday, it's because this guy has a coming out party. 3 sacks and a forced fumble. He's going to be a star in the league, I just hope it's for us instead of the Panthers or Broncos or some other expansion team. Corey Williams, texas Stadium, tune in sports fans.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dream Season week 12.

The best part of the game today besides the GOO GOO Dolls was easily Roy Williams' first down celebration when they were down 24 (?) - 9. He walked ten feet out into the field so that he could let us all know what he had done. I mention the walk because I would think that in that ten feet he would have had plenty of time to just calm down, and think clearly:

'hey, i'm glad I just did that, and I want my team to win, but we are losing badly and it's the only thing I've done today- ok I'm just walking here... Just walking.

Aaron Rouse (featured here on camp lambeau last sept.) should be a starter. Yet another exciting young athlete on our DST (start them on both my fantasy teams, highly recommended). We have the bears D from 3 years ago.

It's hard being snoop d o DOUBLE-D. Donald Driver What! Jesus would i love to see him make Rodney Harrison look old.

Korey Hall has played terrific all year. Pro-bowl good. He has made a play on every single rushing touchdown we've had this year. 3? Seriously, he gets into holes and makes them bigger. He clears lanes. The snow plow. You know a season is going well when you find yourself giving nicknames to the fullback.

I would say that Tremon Williams catching their return at the 20 was the play of the game but it isn't like we might have lost. Actually our D probably could've used the break. Still, great play. Great closing speed.

And there were 20 plays of the game... in a row.

Tony Romo looks like Ralphie May after a stomach staple and Terrel Owens talks like he's reading his first book without pictures. Begrudgingly. Let's exercise some demons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lions and Turkeys

So the Packers play tomorrow morning at 11:30 am Central in the newly reconstructed Ford Field, soon to be known as Hyundai Stadium in their annual Thanksgiving contest. Watching the Packers play on Turkey Day is a bit funny. It's always a great excuse to watch television and not get yelled at by female family members for not socializing with your extended relatives. And it's always great if they win. But if they lose, man, the day totally heads South. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the Packers loss to the Cowboys about 12 years ago totally ruined that Thanksgiving. (This is what happens when your family patriarch has owned Packer stock since the 50s.) That was the game when Troy Aikman was injured and Jason Garrett, the Cowboys current offensive coordinator subbed in, and threw multiple touchdowns to Alvin Harper. Ugh. Everyone was distraught, because we all thought the Packers had a chance with Aikman out. Hopefully, this year will be different. Certainly the Lions are not the Cowboys of the mid-90s.

Detroit is a funny team. They have a former journeyman at QB, two enormous, top-ten pick receivers alongside two diminutive speedy guys, a pretty good defensive line, a relatively talented running back in Kevin Jones, about half of a decent offensive line, one excellent linebacker in Ernie Sims, a good kicker, and a bunch of mishmash everywhere else, including at tight end, the right side of the offensive line, and in the defensive secondary. The Lions also have an offensive coordinator who once took a team to the Super Bowl, and one of the league's best defensive line coaches as their head coach. Marinelli, the Detroit head coach, was part of a Super Bowl winning staff at Tampa Bay, where his team played historically great defense and had a conservative offense. Now they have a boom or bust offense under Mike Martz (who guided the Rams to their Super Bowl loss against the Pats) that leads the league in sacks given up, and runs less than a third of the time. So a weird mishmash in the coaching ranks as well.

The end result is Detroit has a winning record, but has been outscored and outgained by opponents on the season. Also, that 6-4 record was compiled against teams that are currently a combined 47-53. Detroit's remaining opponents, including the Packers twice, the Cowboys and the Chargers, are 40-20. Football Outsiders' stats have Detroit rated as the 22nd best performing team this year. They rate the Lions' defense as 15th, and their allegedly potent offense at only 22nd. The special teams are poor, rated 31st.

The former journeyman QB, Jack Kitna, thought this team would win ten games this year. If they do make that goal, and win four out of their remaining six, that'll be pretty impressive. What may make that more difficult is the Lions seem to be in a bit of a swoon after their encouraging start. They've lost two in row, at Arizona and at home to the Giants. Oddly, this mini-losing streak came immediately after their most convincing win of the year-- a 37 point shellacking of Denver.

They way Detroit's been winning is by creating turnovers. They lead the league in forced fumbles and fumbles recovered. They've snatched 15 interceptions, the second highest total in the league behind San Diego (who was helped out by Manning's 6 pick performance a few weeks ago). They've scored three defensive touchdowns, which is tied for third in the league. The Lions have blocked three kicks, largely because of Shaun Rogers, their mammoth defensive tackle, who is easily the most important player on their defense. They're tied with the Packers for the fifth best sack total in the NFL.

This may bode poorly for Favre. Throughout his career, he's seemed to struggle against turnover-happy defenses, and had problems with dome teams. (Who can forget Favre's own 6 interception debacle against the Rams in the playoffs in the then-named TWA dome?) However, according to Football Outsiders, Detroit's defense is worse against the pass than the run. This does seem to correlate with the bunch of nobodies in their defensive secondary. And in recent years, Favre doesn't seem too bothered by domes, and this season he's exhibited a bit more careful decision making. Plus, the Packers are pass blocking quite well this season, especially since the opening day struggles against the Eagles. That may be the key for the offense, decent protection and patience in the passing game, with some runs to the outside mixed in to keep the Lions honest. I request that they run around Shaun Rogers and away from Ernie Sims, a la the game plan for the Williams brothers and EJ Henderson in the Minnesota game. If the backs and receivers take care of the ball, and if Grant is able to play, I think the Packers can be successful on offense tomorrow.

Defense will be interesting. The Lions have some serious talent at wide receiver, in Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson and slot guys Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald, and another first round draft pick, in Kevin Jones, at running back, although he's coming off a serious foot injury. And Kitna's a decent quarterback. Plus, the Packers are having some depth issues on defense right now, with Nick Collins still out, and Johnny Jolly suffering a shoulder injury against the Panthers. Also, Al Harris looked a bit off last Sunday. With Jolly out, I think I'd look to play four wide receivers, and run the ball to Jones a bit, if I were the Lions. Then look for whatever receiver is matched up against the Packers' fourth corner. But that still requires some holes to run through and some pass protection. Plus, the Lions pass blocking has been bad over the course of the season, and the Packers have a good pass rush, which Jolly is generally not part of. That is, he's usually not on the field on obvious passing downs. Still, I think there'll be some breakdowns. Martz must be excited to go against a rookie nickel back in Jarrett Bush, a rookie safety in Aaron Rouse, and guy in his first year of starting in Atari Bigby. Bush has been doing better, and Rouse has played well so far, but they're both still developing, and Bigby's gotten exposed a bit of late, especially against deep passes. If the d-line can't get home that often, there should be some big plays. Hell, some guy named Drew Carter toasted the Packers' secondary last week.

So here's what I think. The Packers should be able to move the ball decently, particularly through the air. Detroit's secondary is turnover happy, but fundamentally suspect. Plus, the Packers top four wideouts of Driver, Jones, Jennings and Robinson are quite good, perhaps even better than Detroit's group. If Favre can avoid turnovers, the Packers could put up a fair amount of points. But unlike against some teams, time of possession doesn't really matter that much against Detroit. Their offense can move too quickly. So the Packers' offense can't save the defense by hogging the ball. Instead, the defense will have to make some stops and/or force a key turnover. Detroit's offense will do some things, particularly through the air. But a key sack and forced fumble could turn the game. If there's consistent pressure on Kitna, and good bump and run coverage in the secondary that throws off timing routes and gives the line more time to get home, and this could be a solid win for the Packers.

Then there's all the intangibles. Green Bay certainly seems to be the more complete team, both on paper and in the stats. But can they get it done on national television, when Detroit, floundering a bit, is desperate for a win? And when Detroit has a distinct advantage schedule-wise, since Detroit played at home on Sunday and again today, while the Packers are traveling there? I doubt the Packers are overlooking the game, despite the looming Dallas match-up. Also, Detroit's home loss to the Giants was a tough one, while the Packers mostly cruised over the Panthers. Then there's the short week-- I simply don't know how the short turnaround will affect both team's. More turnovers and sloppy play? More injuries? Older players not performing well? Offenses running wild due to defenses lack of prep? You never know what might happen, but I'm sure hoping that the Packers hold onto the ball and help make it a good Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Developments

Some random tidbits:

-The Packers are under investigation by the league! A few defensive backs offered $500 bucks to the defensive line, if they kept Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing and the Panthers under 60 yards rushing. This violates NFL rules, apparently. Woodson and Harris are the likely culprits. Since this seems ridiculous, I doubt any punishment will be more than a wrist slap.

- In more troubling news, it looks like the wonderfully named Packers DT Johnny Jolly will be out for a few weeks with a shoulder injury. The woman and I were at Lambeau yesterday, and after Trammon Williams' hilarious squib punt return for a touchdown, I saw him walk off the field and be immediately attended to by trainers. That seriously dampened my celebration of the TD return. He's a very important player to the D-line both on running and passing plays (I believe he leads the team in passes batted down), and losing him for this next stretch is a serious loss. On the positive side, it's a chance for an apparently healthy Justin Harrell to show something. He and Colin Cole will likely get more time in Mr. Jolly's absence.

- Zach Brown was named Big Ten c0-offensive player of the week (sharing the award with the Ohio A&M's RB). A deserved honor and a fine way to cap off his first regular season. Well done, Zach.

- UW men's basketball is on the verge of being ranked. They're 26th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, that is, the first team among the "others receiving votes" and 29th in the AP. If they manage to beat Georgia next weekend, and a few teams ahead of them lose, they'll likely be in the Top 25 when they visit Duke.

What We Learned on Saturday

- Despite their awful record, the Minnesota football team isn't that bad. Consider the evidence:
(A) They're clearly improving, despite their horrific record. They only lost at Iowa by 5, and they gave UW a serious run for the money, taking an early lead, and coming back to make the game close at the end.
(B) They have a fair amount of young talent-- the Gophers' quarterback is a player, and he's only a redshirt freshman; sophomore wideout Aaron Decker burned Jackie I. repeatedly, and "decked" him in the crotch; and their entire starting D-line, which performed decently at times, is made up of sophomores.
(C) They appear to have a fair amount of talent coming in, and in fact have outrecruited UW for some talented guys, including Chicago receiver Brandon Green. In fact, according to, it looks like Minnesota has a better recruiting class coming in next year than UW, though that may be due to the team missing wide receivers coach Henry Mason this year. (Heal up, Henry!) The point is, UW fans should enjoy this victory now because it looks like the rivalry between the schools will become more closely balanced quite soon.

- The Metrodome remains a terrible place to play football. The morbid lighting, the unnatural color of the crappy artificial turf, the lingering smoke from the fireworks, the poor air quality, the overall dimness. That place just stinks. Hubert Humphrey must be rolling over in his grave, and Minnesota players and coaches must be counting the days until their new, open-air on-campus stadium opens.

- Jack does not look ready to go pro. No offense to Ikegwuonu, who's a very good player and seems like a smart guy. But if you get burned repeatedly by some sophomore from Minnesota that no one has ever heard of (the aforementioned crotch puncher, Aaron Decker) you probably won't be a first day draft pick, and if that's the case, you're probably better off taking out an insurance policy and staying in school another year. And Jack may need to focus on his legal problems. The fact that his case goes to trial on a felony burglary charge in January is not at all good. As a UW fan, I call for the DeKalb County State's Attorney to dial it down a notch already, and offer a plea deal for a reduced misdemeanor charge and probation. (Note to the DeKalb ASA handling the case-- Jack is a nice kid from a good family and has no record whatsoever, and he's accused of stealing an X-Box, a property crime, not a violent crime.) And if I'm Jack, I take that deal rather than risk my liberty on a trial, regardless of my innocence. The risk is just too high.
Getting back to football, Saturday was a downer of a day for both of the Badgers' potential early entrants-- Beckum hurt his shoulder stretching out for a touchdown on a nice play, and dropped some catchable passes before that. I may be a greedy UW fan, but I don't see how a 220-pound tight end makes it in the NFL. Beckum needs to start power lifting and eating a lot of grass-fed beef. If he could muscle up a bit more all over, and not lose his speed, I could totally see him being a very high draft pick. But at 220, strongside NFL linebackers are going to blow right past him, and I don't know if he's fast enough to be a pure wideout. Maybe he should have a talk with Owen Daniels about taking on NFL blockers.

- Zach Brown has improved. He was noticeably tougher to bring down in this game than in previous outings, and he's decision making, particularly deciding when to cut back, has gotten better. At the start, it seemed like he would always go where the play was supposed to, regardless of how the defense responded or how the blocking worked. This made him a stark contrast to Lance Smith, who looked to freelance at every opportunity. But Zach seems more comfortable, and thus more judicious-- he's seeing backside cuts and taking them. It looked like he was doing that against Michigan as well. That really enables him to take advantage of his best attribute, which I think is his ability to accelerate. He sees a hole, cuts, and shoots right through at top speed. Now if he could only learn how to finish long runs . . . Nonetheless, a good game against a fired-up Minnesota defense.

- Trevon Hughes is a talent. I continue to feel sad for all you Big Ten Network-less folks, as you missed another dominant performance by the UW basketball team in their twenty-six point depantsing of Colorado. And again, Hughes put on a show, nailing several threes, playing harassing perimeter defense, snatching rebounds and taking off on the break, drawing fouls, and throwing out precision passes for assists and drawn fouls. It's highly unlikely that Trevon will continue to shoot 57% from the floor or 53% from beyond the arc, as he did in the past three days. Indeed, the four teams they've played so far were so unimpressive that UW's RPI is only 155th, despite their 4-0 record. And Trevon will definitely face better backcourts in UW's consecutive games against Georgia, at Duke (why couldn't this game have come last season?), and against the hypocritical papists of Marquette. (Didn't you love the dual announcements by the U.S. Bishops Conference that (1) the increase in pederast priests was really not an epidemic because it was in line with increased molestation rates nationwide and (2) that if you don't vote pro-life you're going to hell?) And I'm sure Trevon will go through tough times, whether in those games or later. But regardless, Hughes has star potential, and has been playing up to that potential so far this season. As Ricky Bobby says when he catches another guy looking at his package at the urinal, "Yeah, it's the real deal down there."

- UW men's basketball could surprise some people this year. UW totally shredded the two-three zone of a pretty athletic Colorado team, racking up 21 assists and making only 8 turnovers. Unless a guy is deep in the post, every player looks to pass, a remarkable and "Hoosiers"-like quality. They're very patient, but opportunistic when a good option opens up. And if the shot clock gets low, Hughes or Flowers will drive, or Bohannon will look for a runner. Those are solid options. And they resulted in UW averaging a astoundingly healthy 1.27 points per possession against CU. In fact, UW improved offensively as the tournament went along, going from 1.17 PPP to 1.23 PPP to the aforementioned 1.27, even though CU was easily the most talented team that UW faced in that series. That bodes very well. Plus, most of the time, the team played excellent help defense-- Stiemsma had five blocks, including four in quick succession, Flowers and Hughes were harassing perimeter opponents and cutting off passing lanes, even the Hoft cracked open his head by drawing a charge.
I'm not saying the team doesn't have things to work on. CU did run a give and go play that worked repeatedly, but things look very good so far. They've got talent, they're motivated, they're unselfish, and they seem to work well together on both defense and offense. I think the team should handle a Georgia squad that is missing its two top returning scorers due to off-the-court issues, and just suspended a replacement starter. (See this, this, and this.) As for Duke three days later, well, we'll see. At the least, it should a learning experience and an interesting gauge for where they're at.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now

I'm guessing that's what Tim Jarmusz is going to be telling himself in three and a half years. Ah, Rod Stewart and the Faces, so wise. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here it is. The Badgers' third freshman, the reigning Wisconsin State Gatorade Player of the Year, Tim Jarmusz, opted not to redshirt this season, "burning" his option by playing a paltry 3 minutes of mop-up time in the men basketball Badgers' victory over Savannah State last night. Bo claims that he leaves these decisions up to the players themselves, so it looks like it was a choice made by Jarmusz himself.

If you all haven't gotten a sense yet, I don't think that was the smartest idea. No offense to Tim, but it doesn't look like he's going to play a ton this season, especially now that Bo seems to regard Joe Krabbenhoft, aka the Hoft, as a big two guard. That'd make Tim the fifth guard, and the third two-guard, behind the Hoft and Jay-Bo. That's not a role that's going to see a ton of playing time. In fact, that looks like a recipe for a Stiemsma-like freshman season. The Stiemer hardly played as a freshman, and made his most significant contribution guarding North Carolina's big man in UW's Elite Eight loss when Chappell and Wilkinson got into foul trouble. He played about 8 minutes that game.

Now, I can't speak for Stiemsma, but as a UW fan, I would be ecstatic if Greg were only a junior eligibility-wise. He only seems to be improving and gaining confidence, and next year Butch will be gone, which would have left Greg as the team's only true big man with any experience. The center position would have been his. The same deal will probably happen with Jarmusz. The Badgers do have a two-guard, Robert Wilson, coming in next year, but there's no three on the horizon, and when the Hoft and Landry graduate, if Jamusz improves as he probably will, that position would likely be his for his third, fourth and (now hypothetical) fifth years. What Greg did, and what Tim has now done, is choose a tiny number of minutes in their freshmen seasons (probably not playing in most games) over a colossal amount of playing time as a fifth-year senior. I don't think that's a very smart trade.

Plus, hello teenagers, college rules. Tons of freedom, lots of cute folks with dating potential around, free or reduced cost birth control, constant social opportunities, the ability to truly follow your intellectual interests-- man, college is awesome. And if you're on a five-year track, you can spread out your coursework (thus reducing your stress), experiment with different subject matters, and enjoy yourself a bit more, especially if you don't have the specter of tuition payments or loans hanging over you. Sadly, it's usually not until you get out of college that you realize that you should have delayed your graduation for as long as possible. That's why you see so many twenty-somethings desperately trying to get into graduate school. And life as a UW undergrad? At the number one beer consuming school in the nation? Argh! Someone should have talked Tim off the ledge. I swear, he will "rue the day" (as Kent in Real Genius says) he threw away another free year in college for two minutes a game. Ah, I can't help myself: "Rue the day? Who talks like that?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

College Basketball Season Truly Begins

I feel quite sad for all you Big Ten Network-less folks. The Wisconsin men's basketball Badgers start a three-day "tournament" tonight, with games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, all of which are on BTN. Tonight at 8 central BTN airs the epic showdown with Savannah State, so intense and dramatic a contest that none of the major Wisconsin newspapers have any pregame coverage. Aww yeah. Then on Friday night at 7, the Badgers have another showdown with A&M, Florida A&M that is. Capping it off, the Badgers play a slightly bigger named opponent-- the Colorado University Buffaloes, the alma mater of Chauncey Billups.

Since the mainstream media is letting you down, here's my analysis of the various match-ups tonight and this weekend. Savannah State is 2-1, having delivered a beatdown on Carver Bible College, lost to Jacksonville (not the NFL team), and then won a close victory over SC Aiken. I truly have no idea what SC Aiken is. Anyhow, Savannah State is an oddly small public school, with an enrollment of less than 2,000, and is one of D-I basketball's few independent teams-- not a member of any conference, and thus, sadly, generally without hope of qualifying for the NCAA tournament. Savannah State is coached by the point guard on the Ewing Georgetown teams, Horace Broadnax, who has had some success coaching at Bethune-Cookman. Last season Savannah State was a decent defensive team, but was poor offensively, at least according to the raw stats. They turned the ball over a bunch, committing the second most TOs of any team in D-I. They return three starters, but they lost their top two scorers and their top rebounder from last season. Their best player may be their former point guard, who is now being moved to shooting guard. Ummm, he's only 5'9". They only won one road game all of last season. I don't mean to sound obnoxious, but this could get ugly.

Florida A&M is a member of the MEAC, a conference which includes several other traditionally black schools like Hampton, Howard and Bethune-Cookman. So unlike Savannah State, they at least have an annual shot at qualifying for the NCAA tournament, and did in fact make the Tourney last spring. Kudos to them. Unfortunately, their coach was fired after reports emerged about him stalking his ex-girlfriend, and their new coach was hired less than two months ago. (See this for details.) And they only have 11 scholarship players, and only one starter returning. That's tough stuff to deal with. Their best player, again, seems to be their point guard, Leslie Robinson, who made about three three-pointers a game last season. They also have a 6'10" transfer from Alabama, and several decent sized juco transfers. This team is a bit of an unknown, given the new coach and all the player turnover. It could get interesting.

Colorado, the final team UW plays in this three game ride, is also in a weird spot. Their coach of last season, Ricardo Patton, (who tutored Billups many years back) announced last October, before the '06-'07 season began, that he would be quitting at season's end. That basically flew the white flag for CU last year-- they went 7-20, and 3-13 in the Big 12. In his place, the Buffs hired Air Force's coach for the past two years, Jeff Bzdelik, who did quite well at the academy, going 50-16 overall while running an idiosyncratic Princeton-esque style. Last year, Bzdelik's Air Force team started out 17-1, beating Stanford, Wake Forest, and UNLV (ugh) in that run. They cooled off and missed the tournament, but made it to the NIT semifinals. Bzdelik also coached the Denver Nuggets to the NBA playoffs in the 2003-04 season. So he's an experienced and pretty successful coach. However, the horses, or buffaloes as it were, don't seem to be there yet. CU's best player is likely shooting guard Richard Roby, an explosive 6'6" athlete. But he's not a great shooter (26% on his threes last season), and plays iffy defense. He also appears to be having some difficulty adjusting to the new regime-- he scored just 1 point in CU's only game so far. Three other starters return, but the questions are: how are they going to adjust to playing in Bzdelik's style, and is having them back even a good thing? CU was dreadful last season, and among the worst defensive teams in the country. They also have five incoming freshman-- a pretty sizable class, and one that likely indicates some serious retooling, both in schemes and personnel. Plus, they lost their first game of the season, at home, to New Mexico, and only put up 47 points. It's good to remember that New Mexico is now where Steve Alford is coaching, but still.

Put it all together, and it looks like three transitional teams, who will be playing in a tough road environment. You have to hope, despite the three games in three straight days, that Bucky can sweep this weekend.

Finally, Basketball Prospectus, at long last, put up the second half of their Big Ten Preview, which has a pretty lengthy discussion of Wisconsin. It's interesting, but I found the discussion on Trevon Hughes to be deficient. You can find the preview here. Cheers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michigan, what are you good at these days?

When your school sucks, you love to go to Madison for road trips. That's why Michigan fans come in hoards, for a true college experience. None of the Michigan girls looked good. One of the strange things about Chicago is that the school with the ugliest girls (Michigan) somehow has the hottest girls at the all-Michigan bar in town (Duffy's). I have no explanation for this.

The pants Michigan wore for the game were atrocious. I have never seen such fairy looking pants. They were fluorescent. They were highlighter yellow. They were "I took two mutli-vitamins and now my piss looks like the wolverines pants" yellow. They were so yellow that that Tom Cruise would have felt gay. I mentioned this to every loser in Michigan colors at the game. Nice pants. Whatever happened to your program. It's like how the Vikings went from semi-respectable purple to "Gem Synergy Unicorn Pride Power" purple. Michigan did the same thing but with yellow. The pants were gayer and yellower than the prince in Braveheart.

During the 3rd Quarter, a police officer hiked up to T-66 and confiscated a cow bell from a Badger fan. Nobody could believe it. It took us about 10 seconds to digest what had just happened and shout that "WHAT THIS SECTION NEEDS IS MORE COWBELL!

But seriously, who confiscates a cowbell in the Dairy State?

Leaving the game everyone was relieved that we could make fun of all the wolverines. The best was a guy on his porch on Randall Court demanding to know what Michigan was now good at. What are you good at Michigan? What has become of your athletic department? Thanks for showing up. It's so good to beat them. So good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ten Reasons to be Excited

  1. Wisconsin could be playing football on New Year's Day, (barring embarassment at the H(orrible)H(ell)H(ole) Metrodome).
  2. Ryan Grant rushed for more than 100 yards against the 'Queens. Good, not just for him, but for the Pack's O-Line.
  3. Michael Flowers and Trevon Hughes.
  4. Aaron Henry (The other half of what could be the best CB tandem in Bucky history next year).
  5. The only yellow fabric that involved Woodson on Sunday was his uniform.
  6. "6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11, and 6-11."
  7. No more awkward sideline interviews between Erin Andrews and Ron Dayne.
  8. 8-1. WHAT?
  9. A possibility for a post-Alando year similar to the post-Devin Harris year.
  10. Hawaii-Kansas BCS Championship game. Go Bows!!!

Another Fabulous Weekend

UW beats Michigan for the second time in their last three meetings, allows no sacks, after giving up ten last weekend, and has three interceptions, a 100 yard rusher (Zach Brown), and two 100 yard receivers (Beckum and Hubbard). (I was in section P with the elder fool and two friends who were rooting for Michigan.) The Packers, as demonstrated by the classic post below, stomp the 'Queens 34-0, sweep the season series, hold manchild Adrian "F*$%ing A" Peterson to less than 50 yards rushing, and have Ryan Grant, a former undrafted free agent, rack up more than 100 yards rushing on the NFL's best rush defense. (Cue the Viking horn noise again.)

And then, to cap it off, the Wisconsin Men's Basketball team rallies from an 11 point deficit to pummel Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne by about thirty points in their season opener, with super soph Trevon Hughes turning in an awesome performance, resulting in an absurd stat line-- 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals, and 1 block, with only two turnovers. And that line doesn't count passes that led to other players drawing fouls (there were several) or fouls he drew (at least five). Majerus may have been right when he said on air last season that Hughes would be the best player on several other Big Ten teams. And Hughes is a perfectionist. Regarding his two turnovers-- "I think that's terrible as a point guard. Coach Bo Ryan explained to me that he needs me on the court and I can't turn the ball over. Two times? I'm surprised I didn't come out." Instead, he played 34 minutes, more than anyone else on the team. Flowers played 30 minutes, and Trevon and Mike dominated the last three quarters of the game. Those two guys look like a defensive force. Plus, they're both so quick and such good athletes (former high school quarterbacks who could have played D-I football) that they accelerate the pace of the game. Seriously, I'll be very surprised if UW isn't a noticeably faster-paced team this season, with Hughes and Flowers handling the ball more. Despite the Dick Bennett era stereotype of slow basketball, Bo will embrace whatever method is most efficient offensively, and with Trevon and Mike flying down the court, laying in baskets and drawing fouls, I'm guessing that's going to be pretty efficient for most of the season. Plus, Butch dominated against the smaller team, throwing in 24 points, all from short range, and Stiemsma had several hilarious blocks.

All in all, a wonderful weekend for Wisconsin sports (sorry Milwaukee Buck fans). Keep it coming!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


(viking horn sound)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hill is Out

For tomorrow's 11 am showdown with the stanky Wolverines, and their multiple first round draft picks (Long and Manningham). This means that Lance Smith (Rance Smith!) and Zach Brown will share carries. Zach had some decent runs against OSU and Lance is quite explosive. However, Zach is averaging less than 4 yards a carry, and neither he nor Lance have shown PJ's ability to pick up tough yards after contact. And since we are not a spread offense, there will likely be plenty of contact from the Michigan defense.

Seriously folks, I don't know how the UW offense will match-up on the Michigan D. I haven't seen Michigan play enough this season, but I do know they have some solid talent, like LB Shawn Crable. I'm worried about stumpy guns, aka Tyler Donovan, turning the ball over when the Badgers are forced to pass, as they probably will be. And I'm worried about the line protecting him (they gave up 10 sacks, not 9, last weekend). I like Beckum, Hubbard and Jefferson, and I like Donovan running more than passing. Seriously, I want more QB runs than passes this game. Historically, Michigan tends to look like a guy with his pants around his ankles who forgot to lock the bathroom door when confronted with a mobile quarterback. That said, they did defense "The Juice is Loose" Williams decently a few weeks ago. But Williams is such a terrible passer, maybe they could just write him off as a threat to throw.

I think the game, unfortunately, will turn on how the Badgers' undermanned defense responds to Michigan's offense. After two fine defensive performances against Northern Illinois and Indiana, they played admirably for about 60% of the game in Columbus, and then totally wore out. And now Chapman and Langford are out. I like Aaron Henry as Langford's replacement, and I like seeing Newkirk back at tackle in place of Chapman. But both absences create further depth problems, or force iffy players into more playing time. I would not be surprised to see Michigan run at whatever defensive end replaces Newkirk, and throw at whichever receiver is covered by the new nickel back. Plus, the lack of depth will only exacerbate the D's lack of stamina. The defense will need to play a great game, and need the offense to control the time of possession, if UW is going to win. And unfortunately, I don't see that. I hope it's not so, but tomorrow could be ugly.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Big Ten Preview

Finally, Basketball Prospectus has issued a preview on the Big Ten. This site is, in part, the creation of the former Big Ten Basketball Wonk, Jon Gasaway, and Ken Pomeroy, a pioneer in the use of statistical analysis in basketball. Here's the link to the general preview. They'll likely follow with a more in depth look at the individual teams, which I'll also link to.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Things That Should Be Left Unmentioned

You know what I'm talking about. Something involving a second half lead of a touchdown, and then a total pants-crapping to the tune of three turnovers and 28 straight points. Ahem. Anyway, moving on, the UW football Badgers host their last home game of the season this Saturday against Michigan. And alas, due to the thing that will not be mentioned by name, the team is pretty banged up.

Starting right tackle Eric Vanden Heuvel is out with an ankle injury. Starting defensive tackle Jason Chapman and starting cornerback Allen Langford, both juniors, are out for the season with knee injuries that will require surgery. If my math is right, this means that UW is missing one-third of their projected starting line up from August. Langford, Chapman, Vanden Huevel, Swan, Crooks, Andy Kemp, and Jamal Cooper. Ouch. To top that off, PJ Hill may still be out. Plus, starting DE Kurt Ware has been hurt all season, and has been unable to play much, Elijah Hodge missed several games, key back-up linebacker Jaevery McFadden is still out, and Paul Hubbard missed half the season. And Cooper was kicked off the team, while Lance Smith can't play road games. Tabulating all of this makes the team seem like some sort of walking triage unit. And Wisconsin is not a deep team, at least not yet. It's a program that takes kids and develops them. It just doesn't have the depth of some of the bigger named programs. If there's any one factor to blame for the team's relative underperformance this season, loss of personnel to injuries and suspensions may be it.

The question remains, can the team rally at home against Michigan? The Wolverines have won eight straight games after losing their first two of the year in embarrassing fashion. They haven't beaten a great team in that stretch, but they did take out Illinois in Champaign without Mike Hart playing, and they held a Penn State team that bombed UW to less than 10 points. The biggest positive signs for the Badgers are where this game is, both time-wise and geographically. That is, the game is at home, where the Badgers have played far better this season and where Lance Smith can play. And, for Michigan, it's the second tough road game they'll play in a row, after their comeback win over Sparty last Saturday. And there's a very good chance they'll be peeking ahead to their showdown with OSU the following weekend. If they beat us, knocking off the Ohio A&M College would earn Michigan a Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl berth. What Wisco needs to win is some impassioned defense, a fired up Lance Smith, and a Michigan team that is looking ahead.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Second Incarnation of Dirk Nowitzki

Seriously, that is what UW freshman Jon Leuer (apparently pronounced "Loo-er") looks like. According to various things I've read, Leuer was around 6'2" as a high school freshman, and played as a guard. Then he grew 9 inches. And he still plays like a guard. That is, like Dirk, the greatest German basketball player in the world, and a former NBA MVP. It's like a grown man playing on a 9 foot rim. The boy is big, 6'10" or 6'11", a good ballhandler, light on his feet, and a shooter. Last night, in the men's basketball Badgers exhibition opener against D-III Edgewood College, Leuer had several dunks, one off a drive from the wing, stole a pass at the top of the tey and ran down court for a lay in, and drained a three. His free throw stroke is nice and easy, like a guard's. As Bo said, "We told you he's a player. We didn't try and keep it a secret, you guys saw him. He has a feel for the game, as good as anybody I've seen as freshman." Indeed.

Leuer may have surpassed Landry for the "Badger with the most potential" designation. Hell, two guys may have bumped Landry, because Trevon "Pop" Hughes looks great. He is easily the best dribbler on the team in Bo's tenure as coach. I cannot remember another Badger who was as fluid and comfortable handling the ball. Maybe Tracy Webster. Plus, Hughes quickly pushed the ball up the court, made several nice passes for easy scores, drained a three, and pulled some hilarious moves to get to the basket, including one where he ran up the court against two Edgewood players, pulled away a little, until one of the defenders started looking for his man, then spun around the remaining guy for a reverse lay in. The team seems to be aware of how fast he is. On one memorable play, Hughes partially blocked an three point attempt from the top of the key, and took off running. Stiemsma jumped up and grabbed the missed shot; then, still while in mid-air, Greg hurled a two-handed pass over the Edgewood players, whom Hughes had left in the dust. The result was an easy lay in for Hughes off a nice instinctive pass from the Stiemer. Hughes rocks.

In fact, the guards generally look pretty rocking. Flowers was back, and was intense, as you'd expect. Some reports say he had four steals in fifteen minutes. I still have doubts about his shooting touch, but he had some nice drives, and he should be a great defender and leader this season. Both Flowers and Bohannon came off the bench, and both looked very confident and fluid. Bohannon might be a better ballhandler than Flowers, actually. He routinely dribbled into trouble, and then dribbled right out, or made excellent passes to cutting players-- once to Leuer for a dunk. And he continues to have an excellent shooting touch from all over the floor. As odd as it sounds given the presence of Butch, Krabbenhoft, and Landry, the strength of the Badgers this season may be in their guards-- Hughes, Flowers and Bohannon all look to be really good players: fluid, smart, and aggressive.

As for the rest of the team, Stiemsma seems more confident in his role-- he was quick to take his mid-range jumpers when they were there and stayed aggressive on defense. It'll be fun to see him defend some other big guys, like in UW's games against Duke, Texas and Indiana. Butch looks a bit quicker and ran the floor decently, finishing well on a great Hughes feed, and pulling an elaborate low post move for a bucket. Landry didn't get a lot of shots, but cleaned up around the basket for some points, and threw down a hard one-handed slam on a fast break. Krabbenhoft looked good and more confident. I'd still like to see him dunk someday, but he grabbed a bunch of boards, hit a three, and had a bunch of great hustle plays. He may very well lead the team in rebounding this season. Since minutes were spread around so thinly none of these guys really got the chance to show their stuff. As per usual, for most of the game the Badgers ran their offense, moving the ball around the perimeter, probing for openings, not forcing things to one player in particular.

The starters were Butch, Stiemer, Landry, Krabby and Hughes, but I doubt that will stay. Flowers will start when the regular season comes, hopefully with Hughes. And since the line up is in flux, I'm not going to guess at the starters. But I think it's safe to say the rotation will be as follows:
Backcourt-- Hughes, Flowers, Bohannon, and Krabby (swingman)
Frontcourt-- Butch, Landry, Stiemsma, Leuer, and Nankivil (occasionally)
Reserves-- Jarmusz (the third freshman and a possible redshirt candidate), Gullickson, Gavinski, Cain, Valentyn, Bronson

I know this first game was against Edgewood, of all schools, so we have no idea how the Badgers will look against other D-I teams. And I know many of these players are pretty green. But I feel good about the talent on hand, and the senior leadership in Flowers, Butch and Stiemsma. This team could make some noise this season.

The next exhibition game is Wednesday night at 8, against UW-Eau Claire, as further part of Bo's neat outreach project to the state's D-III teams. It'll be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network so set your Tivo's. Goodness, that channel rules. They appear to be broadcasting about 18 more Badger games this season, including the games against Georgia, at Illinois and at Indiana. Get Dish Network, people. Or DirecTV if you want NFL Sunday Ticket.


I'm not sure what 7-1 means. We have the same record as the colts. We're going to get a bye. Detroit is fat and stupid. We are tough and angry. We hate it when other teams try. It is beautiful. Who is Greg Jennings? Jerry Rice or Sterling Sharpe? Jerry Rice + Sterling Sharpe? You're right.

Al Harris referred to himself and Woodson as Anthrax and Cyanide. Word.

Favre had 2 fumbles and 2 picks and we won. On the road. What is Ricky Williams doing. This fairy tale needs a caterpillar with a hooka. The Packers in wonderland. Whoooo rrrrrrr youuuuuuu?

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Dean who Hates her Athletic Department

We play the #1 team in the nation, at a stadium that has a nickname, against a team that has been in 2 of the last 5 BCS title games, in the month of November, and we play at 11 AM?

11 AM? That's disrespect.

Interesting bit came out today about Lance Smith. Turns out a suspension for the first 5 games was available, but Bielema suggested the road game ban. He was worried about having no backups against WSU and he gambled that the Dean would commute the sentence after favorable details about the case became known. When those details came out, the Dean didn't budge. That's why we saw Bielema railing on it at a press conference awhile ago he was banking on it being commuted. An awfully large gamble.

(Reminds me of the guy that would routinely go for it on 4th down last year and would put the pedal to the metal at the end of halves, but not so much the new guy this year who can't manage the clock and who likes to punt from the opponents 40 yard line.)

He put a lot of weight on that WSU game, and that's fair. Also, he ran with Lance 11 times so it was clearly part of the game plan. But its hard to look at our schedule and come up with any other conlcusion than "wow, the first five teams pretty much suck". Its almost as if the Dean should have suggested the road game ban and Bielema should have suggested the 5 game ban. Our losses at Illinois and at PSU have a little different light on them now. Also, the games ahead with OSU and MN. The more I think about this the more I want to barf.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Abatement of Mysterious Illnesses

Michael "Mikhail" Flowers has returned to the Badgers' Men's Basketball team. And again, the "we refuse to tell you anything about what the hell happened with him" policy is in effect. Privacy is sooo overrated. Any further thoughts about what the ailment might have been? Since the media apparently saw him playing pretty well in practice, it seems my prediction of mono is off. (You wouldn't be dominating practice two weeks after coming down with mono.)

The male basketballing Badgers play their first "game" of the season this Sunday night. I'm using air-quotes when referring to this as a "game" because it's an exhibition, and it's against Edgewood College. Right, that teeny college that's hidden behind Edgewood High School on Madison's near West side. Since Edgewood High's enrollment is probably larger than its associated college, the "game" will likely be a near total beatdown. But still, it's the first "game" of the season for the Badgers men's team, and thus something to celebrate. And, it's being broadcast on the Big Ten Network on Sunday night, at 8 pm, I believe. This means I can watch Keaton Nankivil dunk for the first time in a Badger uniform from the comfort of my very own futon. And so can you, if you own a futon and have a TV service that has caved in to the Big Ten Network's exorbitant demands. If it turns out to be a rough weekend football-wise (which it could be, since the Badgers and Packers are playing against good teams in two of the toughest venues around), Wisconsin sports fans should have something to ease their minds come Sunday night.

Honestly, this should be a great sports weekend. The Badgers are huge underdogs at #1 Ohio State in a 11 am Saturday game, so a win there would be fabulous gravy. The Packers play at the Chiefs at Noon on Sunday, and hopefully re-enact Super Bowl I on their butts, then that game is immediately followed by Colts-Pats. Then a two hour break until the UW Men's Basketball team opens its season. Hoo-wah!