Friday, February 29, 2008

Glowing Badgers

I love beating MSU at basketball. It's because they beat us 4 times in 2000, the last time in the Final Four. We've been beating them pretty badly ever since Devin Harris threw an end of the game, clock winding down, nobody's on defense, alley-oop to Alando Tucker. It was one of our first ever IN YOUR FACE dunks. Two guys slama jama ing on somebody's head and that head was the flinty recently post-3-in-a-row Final Four MSU Spartans. The dunk annoyed Izzo. Now we dominate Izzo. 

The post game interviews from the Spartans were consistent: "They have to many able guys, can't stop one thing". We are 24-4. Randy, sign a contract or something, because if you didn't thoroughly enjoy that win last night, maybe you should loosen the dreads. A 7 footer who hit 3s? His name is Brian Butch and he is a shooter, a frail goofy, gritty, shooter. Naymick knows the difficulty in defending a 'pick and pop' big, he complained about it during the post game. 

Also, Flowers as a DB? I'll do some snooping around...

"Go Home Izzo"

Last nights game was awful. If it weren't for a 7 footer shooting threes we could have lost. I wish we were more consistent in the post. I guess they play good defense. I guess. Suck it Izzo.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What can you say?

UW just keeps finding a way to win. Total ugliness but clutch three point shooting in the first half, then mistake free basketball in the second, but poor shooting. Ohio State scored 7 points in the last ten minutes of the game. UW hardly shot any free throws and gave up a bunch of offensive rebounds, and turned the ball over a dozen times in the first half, but still came out on top. Craziness. Random thoughts--

- The most interesting development in this recent string of big victories is Flowers and Bohannon getting hot from outside. Both have been stroking it of late, and made three pointers will make up for several other ugly possessions. Flowers is having a hell of a senior year. He may not make first or second team all-Big Ten, but if you did an All-League Senior team, he would have to be on it.

- Did Hughes score any points this afternoon?

- Does it seem like OSU has more talent than the Badgers but significantly worse results? I know they lost four starters, but they have three seniors on the team, and a lot of talented guys, so it still seems to me like they're underperforming this year. They don't seem to play that intelligently, especially on offense, and they're just not that cohesive. I guess you could say it's youth, but Cook, Lighty, Oden and Conley all played huge minutes for them last year. Also, did you see all the empty seats in Columbus? OSU is on the bubble, they're playing against a top ten team who was their biggest in-conference rival last year, in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday, and there are hundreds of visibly empty seats? Sure, the drop-off from Conley and Oden is a bummer, but come on. Get some loyalty, Buckeye fans. Maybe last year's success in football and basketball spoiled them.

- That was the last tough road stretch of the regular season. Coming out 2-0 from games at Illinois and at Columbus was enormous. Crazy to think that the only road games Wisconsin has lost this season, so far, are at Duke and Purdue. UW now has home games against Sparty and Penn State, and then finishes at Northwestern. (I won't even get into how nerve-racking an ugly game in Evanston could be with a possible league crown on the line. Ugh.) Sparty should be tough stuff, although they've laid some huge eggs on the road this year. I'm sure they'll be looking to redeem themselves and get some momentum going for post-season runs. Penn State has been adapting to losing Claxton and is playing far better than they were when UW hammered them.

- It's interesting to see that Tim Jarmusz, who I earlier criticized for not redshirting this season, has gotten over ten minutes in both of the last two games. He hasn't been an impact player, and he doesn't wow you with his physical abilities, but he hasn't had any huge screw-ups, and he's been able to deepen what had been a three guard rotation. Sounds like he's just been busting his ass in practice, and earned his minutes. Way to go, Tim. Guess I should have been on the former (Madison Memorial) Spartan, Nankivil, to redshirt instead. I was wrong, although I maintain my position that five free years at UW is not something that should be scoffed at. Anyhow, this is a positive development, and it's good to see the team will have some guard depth next year after Flowers graduates.

- Was anyone else a little embarrassed that this ugly a game was nationally televised on a major network? And right after a Notre Dame-Syracuse game where the scores were in the 90s? Any of the Indiana or Purdue games would have been preferable. Also, it has become clear that Billy Packer just makes things up in order to have something to say. For example, toward the end of the game, Diebler for OSU was being guarded by the Hoft, and he slipped and fell to the ground, and called a timeout. Packer said that Krabby tripped him. The Hoft did not get anywhere close to tripping him. Earlier, Flowers hit Bohannon on a nice in-bounds pass for a quick lay up. Packer said Bohannon's man got cut off by a "backside screen". I rewound and watched the play repeatedly. J-Bo's defender was not only not "screened," he wasn't even touched by any player, either on OSU or Wisconsin. Packer also kept saying that J-Bo was unable to drive to the basket, a fact that was been repeatedly disproven over the past few weeks. In summary, Packer makes things up and does a poor job of scouting the teams he "covers". He makes me yearn for Big Ten Network color commentating, which for those of you who don't have BTN, is really saying something.

UPDATE-- The Journal Sentinel's coverage of the game says it was played "in front of a sellout crowd of 19,049." Sellout? Maybe. But there's no way in hell there were 19,000 people in that place.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Program

We are perennial. We are Top 15. We are a Program. We find kids when they are 14 and properly gauge that they will become tall and white and goofy and gritty. We win with them. It's not hope, it's science. It's been measured and noted. Also, we have the slickest jerseys and shorts this year. Badger Basketball. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Illinois is in the bottom half of the big ten in every major statistical category except rebounding (36.8) and field goal percentage (%43.7), and are last in 3ptfg percentage (%30.9). The rebounding and overall accuracy seem sound, but they obviously can't hit shots when it counts and the result is 1.19 points per possession (better than only Penn st. and Michigan).
This is great. They've lost 11 of their last 14 games, starting with their last non-conference game against Tennessee State. Halfway through that stretch,their best player, Shaun Pruitt, was benched (at Ohio State) for cursing out Their head coach. I made that up. but why else would you bench your leading scorer and rebounder as your season was slipping away. My guess is that the words 'old man', and 'fuck you', were used in conjunction.
Crush the racists.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bwah Ha Ha Ha!

That was effing brilliant. Wisconsin had no business being in that game, at Indiana, getting very little from Hughes and having no inside presence. And the "no business" business won out on that fluke three pointer. Hurry up and put that on youtube, somebody. That's the first time I've jumped around in my living room at the end of a game in a long time. (Ok, I probably would have been jumping around after the Texas game if I hadn't tivo'd it and already known the score.) Random notes--

- I'm confused that Indiana couldn't adjust to Wisconsin's defensive fronting of White. He's a dominant inside player. They should have come up with some way for him to continue scoring.

- I hope this is the last time UW plays Indiana with Eric Gordon. He is explosive and a great free throw shooter. And a solid defender.

- Bohannon. Man. Way to keep UW in the game. Especially after airballing his second trey. Way to strap one on and man up, buddy.

- Anyone notice that the Badgers had very few turnovers? There's a direct correlation to UW being in games, regardless of what the other team is doing offensively, and having very few turnovers.

- Flowers is a heck of a leader. He kept attacking when the offense was stagnant and played intense defense on a guy who's going to be an NBA all-star. Well done.

- The NCAA report accusing Sampson of a bunch of violations. First off, it's hilarious that one of the alleged violations is an assistant giving a potential recruit a drawstring back pack. I mean, would you take one of those things if something was giving them away on a street corner? I wouldn't. Second, this report seems sort of Scooter Libby-esque. Meaning that the worst things Sampson is accused of, as far as I can tell, is lying about the relatively minor violations. Important note-- lying about something naughty you've done almost always only gets you into more trouble. Oftentimes federal prosecutors or the FBI will interview someone they know has committed a relatively minor offense, sort of encourage them to lie about it, and bam-- they've got you. Lying to an FBI agent or a federal prosecutor is a federal offense. Sampson's sort of put himself in that boat. The pater familias said that the Indiana AD looked severely displeased about the report. Wonder if he's thinking back about his unique hiring decision-- plucking Sampson from Oklahoma right when he was initially getting sanctioned by the NCAA. It will be interesting to see what happens with this stuff.

- Was it driving anyone else crazy when Landry wouldn't go right at whoever was guarding him when White was on someone else? Indiana's big weakness is they don't have a second strong frontcourt guy. Landry ate up the Hoosiers' other 4s and 5s whenever he got the chance. (Example-- the go ahead tip in basket over Stemler with 25 seconds left.)

- What a way to rally after the Purdue home loss. Reporters were saying that Indiana was in the driver's seat for the league championship after Purdue beat us, because IU had the easiest remaining schedule. But this puts Wisco right back in the conversation, though someone will need to dispatch the Boilermakers. Maybe it will be Indiana. They host Purdue next Tuesday. The Badgers do have a bunch of tough game remaining including games at OSU, at an unlucky Illinois, and home against Sparty. Plus, Minnie will be looking for revenge this weekend. Wild times.

Proven Right Again!

The mainstream media (if you can call the Cap Times "mainstream") validates my theory that the Badgers had dead legs against Purdon't because of ridiculous travel issues.

The ridiculous weather this winter has now, arguably, cost the state of Wisconsin two huge sports victories-- the Packers loss to the Giants in the -30 degree wind chill NFC championship game (I guarantee Favre would have played better had it been right around freezing), and now the Badgers home loss to Purdue that may very well cost them a shot at the Big Ten title. Curse you, old man winter. If only the groundhog hadn't seen his shadow! Where's global warming when you need it?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Badgers Get Purdidn't

Ouch. That smarts. Despite a few horrible calls, the game was called as it should have been in W. Lafayette--- and thus Purdue was largely taken to task for their handsy, chippy defense and UW shot and made a ton of free throws. But it didn't matter anyway. And that's because Purdue came out on fire, built up a fourteen point lead, and shot quite well for the entire game (53%) and UW shot horribly for the entire game (32% and 16% (!) on three pointers) and had way too many turnovers (18), especially in the first half when Purdue was building up its lead. Actually, I think you could trace how close the game was based on if UW was turning the ball over. When they turned the ball over, Purdue's lead grew. When they stopped doing that, it shrank. The Badgers pulled close in the second half, partly because they weren't turning the ball over. Then there were a couple of key turnovers late in the game that sealed it, like Trevon dribbling the ball off a Purdue guy's foot, while trying to split a trap. The lead was four then, but the breakaway dunk that TO lead to made it an insurmountable six.

To give credit where it's due, Purdue's defense was pretty good when they weren't fouling. The Badgers did not have a lot of clean looks. But they missed a lot, and I mean a lot, of short range decent shots. Now what's this due to? Partly, I think it might be due to being tired, both mentally and physically. Physically, look at the box score for this game and the Iowa game. With Leuer and Stiemsma not seeing many minutes and Gullickson still in the dog house, the Badgers have essentially become a six man rotation-- only six guys played more than 5 minutes. Plus, the Badgers spent Wednesday night in Iowa City due to the weather, and that was after traveling to Minneapolis last Sunday. Then they were required by NCAA rules to take Thursday off, though they spent half that day getting back from Iowa, leaving them only one day, Friday, to get prepared for Purdue. And I have always felt, under Ryan, that the Badgers played far, far better with several days to prepare. They're worst performances, like UNLV and the Ohio State game in the Big Ten Tournament, often came on short turnarounds. Purdue, conversely, played their last game on Tuesday night at home, giving them Wednesday through Friday to rest and get prepped. And it really seemed like Purdue was more prepared, more energetic and more intense. The Badgers just looked reactionary and frustrated the entire game, like they were playing on tired legs. I thought that was especially notable on defense-- Purdue wasn't gashing them, but looks were often less contested than they normally are, and the help rotations were missing sometimes.

Now it's time to admit something-- Purdue is a good team. They start a bunch of freshmen, but those guys are really, really talented. Take a look at the ranking of their current freshmen class. Last year was a banner year in Northwest Indiana high school basketball, and the Boilermakers took full advantage of it. The youth apparently caused them to totally blow it a few times earlier in the season (losing at home to Wofford and Iowa State), but they've matured. They're a team to be reckoned with, unfortunately.

Now UW has a few days to rest, but their next game may be an even tougher affair-- at Indiana on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers will likely be smelling blood, and will be looking for some payback. And they should probably get it-- their three-point shooters were remarkably off at Madison a week and a half back, and UW can't count on that happening again. A tough loss and a tough road ahead for Wisconsin.

Technical Foul

They never said what it was for.
chris kramer traveled badly.

THat's all I know.

I also know that robbie hummel aka "Wes Lafayette",
is dope.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Bielema's answers to your burning questions...

Here's a Cap Times article in which Bielema answers some of the questions that I posed earlier this week:

Interesting perspective. It also brought up problems with the lateness of signing day that I had never really considered.


There hasn't been much about last weekend's Super Bowl on our fair to middlin' site, but this Onion article almost exactly encapsulates how I feel about things.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Intriguing Signing Day Links

This story, reveals that UW currently makes no effort to recruit the Northeast or the West coast. Interesting. This story has various interesting tidbits, including the unfortunate news that Coach Henry Mason is still not ready to be back on staff. Here's an article, by way of the Journal-Sentinel's Badger Blog, about UW's quarterback recruit-- Curt Phillips. Finally, here you can watch the individual highlight clips for the UW signees. I highly recommend the clips of two of UW's lower rated recruits-- Zach Davison and Antonio Fenelus. Fun stuff.

Cold as Ice

A snowy Iowa evening, a subterranean field house full of drunken students, a semi-en fuego shooting night from a few upperclassmen, lots of things were looking right for the Iowa Hawkeyes' men's basketball team last night. Thankfully, generally solid defense and icily competent free throw shooting late allowed Wisconsin to pull out the victory.

Iowa's Tony Freeman hit 5 three-pointers, and Hawkie's unfortunate looking senior center, Gorney, played the first half of his life. Nonetheless, though they looked staid and out of sorts, UW kept in it-- the lead was only three at half-time, and Iowa's biggest lead was five. Then in the second half, the defense really clamped down, and the Badgers were able to score enough, especially from the line, to pull away. After Hughes missed 2 of 3 free throws, and the front end of a one and one in the late second half, I started freaking out, but eventually the team started raining them down. Even Krabbenhoft, who sometimes displays a painful shooting touch, nailed two clutch free throws. Redemption at the charity stripe was sweet, given that two of Wisconsin's losses (to Marquette and at Purdue) can be closely tied to iffy free throwing.

That much of the clutch free throw shooting came via native Iowan Jason Bohannon (6 for 6 in the last few minutes) made the victory even more satisfying. As many UW fans know, Bohannon's dad was the starting QB for the Hawkeyes in the early 80s, and Jason was offered a scholarship there. Since he chose to go to UW instead, for most of the game, the Iowa students, all of whom were admitted free to the game since massive snowfall through the area had prevented many folks from coming, heckled Bohannon. At the start, there were chants of "traitor! traitor!" when he entered the game, and then throughout just a general chorus of boos whenever he touched the ball. Personally, I find this a bit tiresome and pathetic, particularly because Iowa has some pretty good guards in Justin Johnson and Tony Freeman. Thus, my reaction to the chants and the booing was "get over it, you friggin' losers." To be fair though, the Wisconsin equivalent is the Wes Mathews, Jr. situation, whose dad starred at UW in the 70s, and who was born and raised in Madison, but decided to go to Marquette. Both Bohannon and Mathews were high profile recruits, who were their respective states' player of the year as seniors. I can't remember what happened this December, but I do know that the students roundly mocked Wes upon his first game in Madison two plus years ago. He probably didn't deserve it then, and whatever grief came his way two months ago was also probably undeserved. Kids should be able to find their own paths. Although I hope not to be referencing Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster or his family very often, his son Nolan, who chose to accept a scholarship to play football at Texas instead of playing for his dad, had it right-- "College is where you have to go out and do your own thing." Lets leave these kids alone about this stuff.

A few other observations from this game--
- Even though that arena was far from full, it seemed very loud. Just goes to show you how overly quiet a lot of season-ticket holding adults are, and how effective rowdy students can be. That thought reminded me of the Kohl Center a bit, and the impassivity of the red sweater crowd, although that place was good and loud for the Indiana game. I hope it's the same way on Saturday night for Purdue.

- UW only had 7 turnovers. In a low possession game, that was enormous. Wisconsin managed 1.12 points per possession, which was greatly inflated by the low number of turnovers and the hot free throw shooting down the stretch. Iowa averaged 1.01, which is high for UW, and which was inflated by the number of threes the Hawkies hit (7) and their generally good free throw shooting (76%).

- Iowa can be a dreadful team to watch, since they play quite slowly, working to get open looks off of screens, and play very solid, basic defense. Coach Linkliter is not going to help the Big Ten improve the pace of its games. He will, however, improve the quality of the Iowa teams, I predict. They look a heck of a lot better than they did a month ago. I'm glad UW has now played them twice, since they'll likely continue to improve.

- The contribution of older, allegedly neutral, white men to the game was laughable. The refs were completely inconsistent, and just generally all over the place. One type of foul, a not direct charge, would be called one on end, then the same play would happen on the other, not a foul. I'm thinking of the charge they called on Bohannon, and then the charge they didn't call on Flowers late in the game. Both guys didn't directly run into the defender, and were both in the same area of the lane, against the same guy Gorney. One got a call, and one didn't. Plus, the refs would blow a whistle, look at the other refs to see which way they were going and then make the call. That's ridiculous. If there's a whistle, you should already know what the call is.
The other old white male problem was the Big Ten Network announcers. They were openly rooting for Iowa. They praised Iowa so much for just keeping it competitive, you would have thought, if you were just listening, that Iowa was stomping UW. Plus, a play would happen, and a call would be made that you couldn't make out on TV, and they wouldn't explain what had just happened. Totally frustrating. Plus, they called every white player on Wisconsin "Butch" and every black player on the Badgers "Landry". Nice work, guys. Maybe they just wanted a close game, and that's understandable from a ratings perspective, but still. I know half a dozen untrained people that could have done a better job. Hell, Andy North is a golf announcer, and he did a better job when he came on for two minutes.

Next up, Purdon't in Mad-town. Two somewhat unlikely teams tied for the Big Ten lead. Should be fun stuff to watch. I suspect this game will be called a little tighter than the contest in W. Lafayette, where Purr-do was allowed to hand check and forearm shiver every ball-handler for every second of the game. If that's the case, it should be advantage UW.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Answers to your burning questions...

I decided to start a new thread because the post would have been obnoxiously long as a response.

I have often wondered about Wisonsin's lack of recruiting prowess myself (both for basketball and football). Barry never had huge recruting classes either, and his teams seemed to do pretty well, which begs several questions:

1. How much cheating is involved in recruiting, and does Bret refuse to do it?
2. How hard is it to crack into the ranks of OSU, Mich, Miami, USC, Florida, etc. recruiting wise?
3. Is it more important to find players that fit your system rather than going after the top rated players in the country?
4. How important is a players performance in HS vs. how much better you think they might get, and is there a way to predict this?

I think that the answer to questions 1 and 2 are likely related. There is no doubt that (at least historically) the marquee programs used a combination of reputation and booster cash to bring in blue-chippers. As such, I think that Wisconsin hast had comparatively less leverage in recruiting in both areas. I don't think that there is any way of knowing if "Bucky-bucks" change hands in the recruiting process, but I feel that we would be getting better recruits if they were.

For Wisconsin, at least, the answer to question 3 is yes. (I especially believe this is true for Bo Ryan, but I'll save that for a different post.) I think that Barry had a very good idea as to what type of players he wanted in his program, and they weren't necesarily the ones that were considered 5-star prospects. He also recruited this way out of necessity, especially at the beginning. This recruting method is why Wisconsin has won 3 Rose Bowls and several other big bowls without the big recruiting classes. A combination of excellent coaching and smart recruiting can lead to very good football (but probably never BCS Championship class).

The last question may be hardest to answer. Nobody would have predicted that Jim Leonard would be an All-American and Marcus Randle-El would only be useful to get other teams plaers kicked out of games. This may be where Wisconsin has been most successful, and is probably a product of knowing which kids have some potential, are hard workers, and are coachable. Hopefully Bielema will be as good at finding those kids as Barry was, otherwise the #42 recruiting class in the country is pretty meaningless. Also, until we find a way to break into the top 10 to 15 in recruiting we will probably never win the BCS championship, excellent coaching only gets you so far.

Any views on the recruiting class for UW football?

Today is national signing day for Division I football. The day where high school kids officially commit to a program. UW's class is currently ranked 42 in the nation. There are two things about this class that please me--
(1) Wisco again locked up all the top in-state kids, including guys who turned down scholarships to walk on at UW, and guys who were offered by other big name schools, like Michigan; and
(2) the class is defensive lineman heavy, which matches the team's needs.

Otherwise, I have great hopes for everybody, but frankly, I'm underwhelmed. First off, this was not an awesome year for high school talent in Wisconsin. Second and mainly, BB was allegedly hired in large part because he was a good recruiter. Cooks and Doeren are supposed to be great recruiters. And I've been to many other college campuses. UW has a very good product to sell, and is not far from the Chicago area, which produces a ton of talent. Yet schools like Illinois and friggin' Minnesota beat us out for kids? Are they just dirtier? I know that Henry Mason being incapacitated probably hindered this year's recruiting efforts, but still. Maybe my expectations were out of whack. Maybe UW's staff members are such great talent evaluators that this class is full of overlooked gems? I certainly hope so. I guess we'll check back in four years.

To add fuel to the flame, a recent Sports Illustrated article said that a statistical analysis of the top players in the country and their college decisions revealed that the biggest things for kids are proximity, size of the stadium, and recent success. However, I don't think that necessarily explains things. How did the Zookster bring in so many good kids from DC? How does Notre Dame suck but then still get sick recruits? Anyone else out there have any theories about why UW doesn't recruit as well as it should? Or is it about where it should be, given the iffy talent Wisconsin produces?

Remember the duck?

"If I were to say an MVP, I'd say Wisconsin is the MVP, It's kind of corny but I think it's true. We have a group of guys that have bought into the team concept and no one cares who gets the accolades. It's all about getting the 'W.'

But if I had to pick someone, it'd be Marc Landry. That n---- drops his d--- on fools... watch... watch. He reminds me of me. Or Joe Krabbenhoft. He's nothin' like me though. Really white that guy."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Brillance then Sloppiness

If you didn't see Wisconsin's game against Minnesota yesterday afternoon, you missed out. At least you missed out on a totally dominant first ten minutes, one from which Minnesota never recovered. Wisco came out on fire, with Hughes ripping a bunch of steals for lay-ups, Bohannon and Butch draining threes, and Landry floating in the lane for baskets. Plus, Minnesota's offense was completely stifled. This led to Wisconsin getting a 19 point lead at Minnesota in the first half! Remarkable.

As you could expect, the dynamic offensive display died off in the second half, and the back portion of the game turned into a turnover fest, with both teams being colossally sloppy with the ball, and playing ugly offense. I think the Badgers had something like 12 turnovers in the second period. Ugh. Thankfully, their stifling defense didn't go anywhere, and thus Minnesota never got closer than 14.

The end result was that Wisconsin scored almost twice as much in the first half as they did in the second, but the margin at halftime was the same as the ultimate margin of victory-- 16 points. Wisco averaged a pretty average 1.02 PPP, which reflects how ugly the second half got, while holding the Gophers to an absurd .75 PPP. That's simply outstanding defense.

Notes and observations--

- Al Holen, number 0 on Minnesota, is a real player. He's the kid I mentioned in the previous post who has an absurd rate of steals. He was really impressive-- a total thorn in the side of Wisconsin's backcourt whenever he was on the floor. He's long, quick and aggressive. He should be an all conference defensive team next season, when he'll get some more minutes with McKenzie graduating. Now if he could only stop turning the ball over on offense.

- Second straight game where Butch did not look impressive on the offensive block. (The picture to the left is Brian getting denied by a much shorter but more springy help defender.) He hit a three and made a nice runner, but you'd like to see him effectively working the post. That's a little worrisome.

- Wisconsin held Minnesota frosh, Blake Hoffarber, to zero three point attempts. This is the kid who's leading the league in shooting. That he didn't even get off an attempt shows you how totally discombobulated Minnesota's offense was. That's on top of Coleman, Tollackson and McKenzie all having mouse-like offensive games.

- The hot start leading to the big lead was a product of hot outside shooting. Hughes, Bohannon and Butch all hit threes to run up the score in that stretch. It's that same feeling you get with Wisconsin-- since they play such solid defense, if they can just hit a few more shots, then man . . .

- The hot start led to an embarrassingly quiet Barn. Except for two or three stretches, that place was as quiet as the Kohl Center on a Wednesday night game against Florida A&M. That's a big advantage that Minnesota loses, and what a boost of confidence to Wisconsin-- hearing the quiet, and knowing it's because you're utterly dismantling the home team.

Next up, Iowa on Wednesday night in Iowa City, Iowa (Iowa). Iowa is one game below five hundred, and has a good shot at getting an NIT berth. Their defense is pretty good, led by excellent defensive rebounding, but their offense has been a bit stagnant. They do attempt a truckload of threes and pass the ball well. The good D was exemplified in their holding Sparty to just 36 (!) points a few weeks ago. Plus, they just beat a good Ohio State team, holding the Bucknoses to only 48 puntas. Both of those victories came at home. Don't you sort of wish that Wisconsin had played Iowa at Iowa a few weeks ago instead of in Madison? Since the Badgers beat them back in January, they've gone 4-4 in the league, including winning two out of their last three, the only loss coming by one point at Purdue. So it looks like Iowa's getting it together a little. Which is a bit worrisome, despite the Badgers recent stretch of great defense. The game is at 8 pm Central on BTN.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Minnesota Minneapolians

The Wisconsin Badgers' men's basketball team plays at Minnesota this afternoon, at 1 pm Central on BTN. Looking over the ratings for Minnesota, one thing jumps out at you-- the way Minnie plays defense. Namely, they foul like crazy, but that comes from forcing tons of turnovers and snatching loads of steals. That is, they force more turnovers and snatch more steals (on a percentage basis) than any other team in the country. Two members of their regular rotation, frosh guard Al Nolen, and sophomore forward Damian Johnson, are in the top twenty in steal rates. Nolen is fourth in the nation. That is awesome, and I use that word reluctantly these days because it's getting thrown around far too easily. Another frosh, guard Blake Hoffarber, rates as the team's most efficient offensive player, largely because he's taken a ton of threes and nailed 47% of them. Get this-- he's taken three times as many threes as twos. Wild stuff.

The king of the neckbeards, Spencer Tollackson, is back, and he's been surprisingly ineffective on offense, mostly because he's having a terrible season from the charity stripe. Kam Taylor's nemesis, Lawrence McKenzie, is still there, and is doing fine-- hitting about forty percent of his threes. But the main beneficiary of Tubby Smith's new reign is senior Dan Coleman, one of those guys who always struck people as an impressive talent, but one that, until this season, had disappointed. He's 6'9", very athletic, and quite skilled. Smith has made him into the offense's focal point, and it seems to be working-- the team is definitely improved from last year, though the two aforementioned frosh are making solid contributions.

Anyhoo, given Minnesota's strength-- causing turnovers-- and its associated weakness-- fouling a lot-- the formula for a Badger victory is probably pretty simple. Don't let them do what they hang their hat on. Hold onto the ball, and make them foul you. Get key guys like McKenzie and Coleman into foul trouble, maybe by having Flowers and Hughes drive and Butch post up, respectively. If the Badgers do that, they'll have a good shot, even though the game is on the road in Minnesota's funky raised-floor arena, where the crowd will be super-psyched to get a win. Minnesota gets a lot of baskets off assists, so try to disrupt the passing. Maybe Flowers and Hughes could look to jump the passing lanes a little more than normal. The defensive key may be who's going to guard Coleman. He may be too big for Landry, and he's certainly too mobile for Butch. A tough game in a raucous environment, but one that the Badgers can win, if they play smart.

Also, there's some football game Sunday evening, right? It's annoying to think about, given how close the Packers were, but I have to say I'm sort of glad it's won't be them getting exposed tonight. Yes, I'm joining the legions in predicting a Patriots beatdown/coronation. I'd love to be surprised though. And I'm loving how additional scuttlebutt on the Patriots videotaping exploits is coming out. Just enough to really peeve Boston sports fans . . . .

Friday, February 01, 2008

Bo is hilarious.

If you have 15 minutes to spare, listen to Bo Ryan's post-game press conference. Here: I think his quote of the night was in regards to a question about Krabbenhoft's put-back of (yet-another) errant three-ball by Bohannon:

Reporter: I'd just like your reaction about the play off of the Bohannon miss.
Bo: Which one?
Reporter: uh...I think it was Bohannon, wait maybe it was...
Bo: By the way, he says he's going to make one of those next game.

How the reporters don't wet their pants with shit like that, I don't know.

Put Ball in Whole. Repeat

That's what neither the Hoosiers (except for DJ White and Gordon for about five minutes) and the Badgers could do last night, and still the Badgers came out on top, due to great rebounding and excellent custody of the ball. That was exemplified by none other than the Hoft, aka Krabby, formally known as Joseph Krabbenhoft the LXVIII. The Krabby one had 12 boards, five assists, played great help defense, made several clutch baskets, and turned the ball over zero times. Yee haw.

Anyhow, a funny game. Here are some neatly packaged thoughts--

- If either team had been able to hit a three pointer, the result could have been a total blowout for Wisconsin, or a win for Indiana. It seemed like Indiana's complimentary shooters, like
Stemler and Bassett missed a lot of open looks. That will likely not happen in Bloomington.

- Thank goodness the Kohl Center was actually loud. Wisco basketball fans are spoiled, spoiled. The Marquette game, against the friggin' papists-- the team's only classic intrastate rival, was nowhere near as loud. Purdue puts the Kohl Center to shame every week. Come on, people! You can't just show up. Get intense. I think the noise made a bit of a difference, and really helped the Badgers pick up their defensive intensity.

- If Gordon can do that without being able to dribble left, ummm, he's really good. Thank goodness he's one and done this season. Also, thank goodness he didn't go to Illinois. (Yes, I still dislike them more than anyone else.) He is explosive. He gets the ball, and things happen very quickly. Shots, drives, passes, turnovers, whatever. He is scary. That second half stretch was frightening.

- Where can you buy those sweet Indiana, barbershop pole warm-up pants?

- Either she got some enhancements or Erin Andrews has some great genes. I don't think she's all that cute, but she is distracting. Jeez. I think I prefer less obtrusive sideline reporters, like Holly Rowe. This is related to how I get uncomfortable when I'm helped by an overtly attractive saleswoman.

- Does anyone else enjoy calling Landry "the Babies' Daddy"? And was it at all disconcerting that
Butch couldn't make a shot against White down low, and generally looked classed against him? Or that Landry played better against White than Butch did? I know White is more athletic, but Butch is two inches taller and has a longer wingspan. Plus, it was clear early on that White was desperately afraid of getting in foul trouble. He'd play good position D, but then when Butch got the ball on him, he'd just put his arms straight up. Maybe it was just Butch being uncomfortable. He can get shots off against White.

- The team shot better from the line last night-- 73%. That's probably the best they can shoot for on average. So good. But if the Badgers want to be at the top of the league, they have to hit their three pointers. They can't miss fifteen a game.

- What's going on with the rotation? No Leuer this game, maybe because Indiana's a bit of a smaller team. No Gullickson still, since the drinking citation. That means the team is only 7 guys deep. Don't know if I like that. Hopefully both of those guys will get some time Sunday against Minnesota. Leuer will probably be booed, a la Bohannon in Iowa.

- Sal is right. Bo's press conference is hilarious. Follow the link in his post above if you haven't already.


Brett Bielema just hired Joe Rudolph, a guard on UW's '94 Rose Bowl team to serve as the football team's tight ends coach. While it's cool to bring home a UW alum, a former team captain and a player from the early Alvarez era, what's really neat is that Rudolph is decidedly not a dummy. He was All-Academic Big Ten three times when he was at UW, and that wasn't majoring in agricultural journalism or "general studies." No, Joe majored in zoology. Bad ass. And then he got an MBA from Carnegie Mellon. What I'm saying basically, is that our tight ends coach is smarter than your tight ends coach. Face . . .