Sunday, March 22, 2009
This game was a bit of the microcosm of the issues with this year's team, honestly. When Leuer and Nankivil were playing decently, the team was right in the thick of things. When they started fouling (Leuer), and bricking decent shot after shot in the post (Nankivil), and blowing defensive assignments (both, but most plainly Nankivil on that wide open dunk), things broke down. Pop and Landry kept them in it for a bit, with Hughes drawing fouls, and Marcus scoring on some nice post moves, but Xavier adjusted on Landry, Pop stopped getting the calls and couldn't really convert on most of his shots. Thus, the offense dried up, the lead evaporated, and the season trickled to an end.
In order to beat better teams this year, and there's no doubt in my mind that Xavier was a slightly better team, UW either needed a great team effort, or for someone to be on fire. When the production from your five spot is poor, when you don't have anyone hitting their shots (like Bohannon was against FSU in the second half), when your team's heart and best rebounder (Krabby) is hampered by fouls the entire game and you're playing against a big team with excellent rebounders, well, that's a sure recipe for a loss. Thus, this loss highlighted the issues with this team once more:
- The lack of quality depth.
- The lack of a go-to scorer on offense.
- The revolving door at the third frontcourt spot.
- The lack of physicality, athleticism and size up front.
So they went out like they played. They were who we thought they were, to paraphrase Denny Green. The failure of JP Gavinski to develop in his third year in the program and provide the team with a serviceable big guy, the failure to land a true impact player in the last few years of recruiting, the lack of depth due to the impatience of guys like Mickey Perry (who certainly would have played just about as much on this year's team as he did for Dayton--- 14 minutes a game), Leuer and Nankivil's slow grasping of the team's defensive principles, the bill on all of this stuff came due, again. Of course, there was a big positive in this game-- except for some loosening down the stretch, they held a pretty darn good Xavier team to less than 40% from the field. That's solid defense any way you slice it, and bodes well for the future, especially since Krabby was on the bench for a fair amount of the game.
It was nice to see Landry have a solid game in his last college outing-- stepping up on the boards and getting a double-double. He's had some serious times in Madison, and seems to have matured immensely. He will be missed. Good luck to him and his family.
I felt the worst for Krabby-- no points, just a few rebounds, fouling out, and (worst of all for him) going out with a loss. But remember Joe, unless you play in the Ivy League, or win the Tourney, the NIT, or that other weird tournament, every squad ends the season on the right hand side. Good luck to Krabby, as well.
More forward-looking thoughts later on this week.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
That game was the exact opposite of every big game that the Badgers had played all season. Slow start; two come backs from 7 or more down; clutch shooting and rebounding; effective substitutions; great play calling and execution at the end of the game and in over time; and most importantly a FINISH.
A couple observations:
I felt like FSU's fatal mistake was not maintaining their defensive intensity in the second half. This might have been due to an active offense that frankly tired them out by the end. Maybe that was why we got as many open threes as we did. Or maybe it was because we were bombing from 40 feet.
Jason Bohannon's clutch 3's were not only huge tonight, but they are huge for next year. He seemed to be battling on and off with confidence problems all season. Can't think of a better time to get over those.
Being the 12 seed was nice. It sounded like we were getting the support of the neutral fans that were there. It helped late.
We should've won in regulation. Douglas fell. That was a horrible call.
Keaton Nankivil was the only thing that could've happened to that game. He has a certain switch that I haven't seen since Ty Calderwood. Yeah, I just said that. When he's hot he needs to be shooting everything. He's legit. I eat my words in regards to Keaton Nankivil. I love Keaton Nankivil. Too bad he didn't touch the court for the last 3 weeks of the season (including 0 minutes in the Big Ten Tourney match-up w/ Ohio St.).
Bo's clearout for Hughes after Douglas' 3, when he shuffled the ball down to Taylor to get within 1, was an odd play. It looked like poor communication by FSU. Nonetheless, Bo made his time-outs count down the stretch. The execution was refreshing.
Not to be hack about the apparent lack of emphasis put on academics at Florida State University, but did you pay attention to the majors on some of their players? There were several good ones, but the best belonged to Jordan Demercy, who is getting his degree in "Recreation and Leisure administration". Might as well say water park techniciary. Gorgeous. Two losses to FSU in one year would've been rough.
Bring on the Jesuits!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
- Western K-Tuck over Illinois. Why? Because I'd really like it to happen. No seriously, Westbound K-Tuck has some good perimeter guys named Sergio and Orlando (hot-blooded, fiery Latins, no doubt), and uh, ahh hell. Western K-Tuck can't really play defense (as per Pomeroy), and is likely going to lose by ten points. Honestly, I'd just really like to see this upset happen, and I think Illinois was overseeded. Pomeroy has Illinois's odds of winning at 83%, though I'm given hope by the fact they're down senior leader and solid defender/ballhandler Chester Frazier. I'm getting psyched for fabulous Orlando to do some tooling of Michael Jordan's kid.
- Conversely, I like Michigan over Clemson. Clemson is certainly deeper, but Michigan's zone is kind of weird, and they have a bunch of hyper-motivated senior guards who are decent outside shooters-- exactly the kind of guys the tournament is made for. Seriously now, Clemson isn't all that big, and it's teams with size inside that have really bedeviled the Wolverines.
- Finally, I like ten seed Maryland over Cal. Why? Well, I did just read that series on Maryland coach Gary Williams, and now have come around to the turtle. But seriously, they start a kid named Greveis, who is actually really good. Isn't that the name of a general from one of the awful new Star Wars movies? Plus, the Turtle just beat NC State, Wake Forest, and gave Duke a hard run. Also, the kids at Cal are clearly dirty hippies. I mean, that's just a given.
Anyhow, enjoy the first day of the Madness, my friends. Yee haw.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Now, after squeaking into the field of 65 with a hilarious 12 seed which they don't deserve, Badger faithful prepare to watch them get high-jumped by a team which was competing for an ACC title well into February. I guess it's better this way.
But there is little reason to believe that our beloved Badgers, who have shown next to no heart all season long, will all of a sudden sack-up for the NCAA tournament. That is... Until now.
Perhaps Carl Landry's Shot in the leg is just the shot in the leg Marcus Landry will need. You know what they say, "one Landry's terrifying brush with death is another Landry's reason to get his head out of his ass." Too true. Not that it guarantees an inspired performance, but I'm sure Carl will be in Boise supporting his brother, and we all know how Marcus likes as many family members as possible at his games. Thank you, Carl. God bless you. And know that the next two weeks of your season died for your brother's apparent disinterest in the game of basketball.
Seriously get well Carl, and tell your brother that it's his last chance to accomplish something in an otherwise very forgettable senior season.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Plus, you'd think that during some intense physical training regimine would not be the time to go out on random benders, but rather eat really well and get a lot of sleep. Just straight dumb, my friend. And he seemed like such a nice, jolly kid. He has a great smile. Sigh. Can you say undrafted? If so, you've said it all.
Monday, March 16, 2009
- First off, I find it a bit funny that Michigan gets a ten and UW gets a 12. I know, I know, Michigan beat Duke once in Ann Arbor, and beat UCLA on a neutral floor (an accomplishment that doesn't look all that impressive now-- UCLA got a 6 seed), and the bear-skunks managed to beat Purdue once, unlike UW. But we swept them, and we played a tougher non-conference schedule. Come on, now.
- Penn State apparently paid the price for us sweeping them. Little did they know that us beating them in the Valley of Happiness would doom them to the National Invitational. Switch that game around, and we're probably out and they're probably in. Poor little extinct mountain lions. 22 wins, 10-8 in the conference, sweep Illinois (who received a far too generous 5 seed), and you get a ticket to the NIT. Guess you have to schedule some better non-conference competition, PSU. Plus, they totally got the "we can't add another Big Ten team" bias. Wonder if they're wishing they had joined the Big East. Sadly for them, I bet this year is their topping out for a while. Two of their three best guys (Stanley Pringle and Jamelle Cornely) are outta-here as soon as their NIT ride is over. And the kids they have coming in don't look like super stars.
- Speaking of recruits, last night I was reading this Washington Post series about Gary Williams and the Maryland basketball team's quick fall from "elite" status after their national championship in '02. It makes for fascinating reading. This article, the second in the series, contained the following description of how AAU teams serve as the new means to use money to secure recruits (background-- many AAU teams actually incorporate themselves as not for profit corporations):
For years, college coaches have hired AAU coaches as assistants in attempts to attract players from that AAU program. Plus, AAU coaches have been paid to speak at camps affiliated with the college coaches. But in recent years, a few dozen elite AAU coaches have engaged in a variety of more creative practices to make money in exchange for access to their players, according to several prominent college and AAU coaches across the country.
The funneling of cash recruiting inducements between colleges and AAU or high school coaches, in the form of tax-deductible donations usually made by college athletic boosters at the behest of the coach, has become common, according to several prominent college and AAU coaches. Some summer league coaches also charge college coaches -- sometimes hundreds of dollars -- for copies of "scouting reports" that are often little more than lists of players' names. What's more, one elite AAU coach has suggested that he will create a 1-900 telephone number so he can make money when college coaches call him about recruits.Read that bit in italics again. Instead of paying high school coaches, parents, friends or other family members, boosters are bribing recruits' AAU coaches. I imagine these guys either keep the money for themselves and try to "influence" their player to choose a certain school, or skim some of it off the top and furtively funnel some back to the player and his family or friends. (One of the writers talked about a certain unnamed recruit's mother driving some new car with a license plate number that was registered to no one.) Fascinating stuff, and the sort of thing that makes you feel pretty good about being a Badger fan, since it seems like UW and its boosters don't play those games. Here's the first article in the series.
- Now I feel I should have paid more attention to the Duke-Florida State game that was on yesterday afternoon. Instead, I fell asleep when Duke was up 20, and woke up with my arm asleep, some droll leaking into my armpit, and Greg Anthony trying to sound smart. Florida State did beat North Carolina in the ACC-semis, no? That's a bit scary. Yeah, UNC didn't have their bowling ball point guard, but still.
- So all I really know about Florida State is that they have one really good guard (Douglas) who was a transfer from Auburn. And I think their coach just won ACC Coach of the Year, and used to be the Miami coach. And they lost to Northwestern at Northwestern in the Big-Ten ACC challenge. (That's right, Northwestern beat a 2 seed and two 5 seeds.) All I know is I am deathly afraid of hearing the following chant coming from the FSU fans who actually make the trans-continental trip to scenic Boise: "Just Like Foot-ball! Clap-clap-clap-clap-clap" (and repeat). I heard that once at Northwestern's horrific minor league arena, and never want to hear it again.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Seriously, it can't be good. Anyhow, another game, another horribly unclutch and crucial cold stretch, another late lead dissolves. Bummer, another thing that could have redeemed the season--- winning the Big Ten tournament-- crossed off the list. Time to look ahead to the tournament. Yeah, I'm coming around now to the "seriously, they should get in camp." They were fourth in the league. You going to let in Penn State or Michigan but not them? Come on, now.
Maybe they'll be a ten seed now. That'd be excellent. (See below.) With the added plus that UW could finally put those annoying Marquette taunts--- "When is Bo going to win a game against a higher seed?"-- to rest.
In each of the four regions, the 9 seed plays the 8 seed in the first round. So, usually this will be a decently tough match-up with another team that's relatively even with your squad. And the statistics bear this out, as the results of that game are pretty even (9 seeds have won 52 8/9 games; 8 seeds have won 44 of these games). The problem is that the winner of this game plays the winner of the 1 v. 16 seed. Considering that no 1 seed has ever lost in the first round, winning this game is a near lock to face one of the top four teams in the country. This sounds tough, and history shows that it has been-- 8 seeds have managed to beat 1 seeds 20% of the time, but 9 seeds have beaten 1 seeds only 6% of the time. Ouch. And that's currently where UW is projected to be seeded.
(UW has had mixed results with this seeding. In the 2000 Final Four year, they were an 8 seed, and beat 1 seed Arizona in the second round. In 1994 though, the Griffith/Webster/Finley/Stu Jackson year, they won their 8/9 game, and then got bounced hard by 1 seed Missouri.)
Thus, the far preferable option would be for UW to dodge a 1 seed for as long as possible. Given UW's resume, a 7 seed seems to be the highest they could reach. A 7 seed plays the 10 seed in the first round, and the winner of that game plays the 2 seed (unless a 15 plays an upset). As you'd expect, 7 seeds beat 10 seeds most of the time (62% of the time). But oddly, 10 seeds, if they manage to advance, are historically far more likely to beat 2 seeds than 7 seeds are. Namely, 10 seeds have beaten 2 seeds 44% of the time. 7 seeds have beaten 2 seeds 29% of the time. Thus history says that being a 10 seed might actually improve UW's chances of making the Sweet Sixteen, more than being a 7 seed. Weird, huh?
So as a UW fan, where does this leave us? Obviously, you want UW to win every game, especially against other douchey Big Ten teams that nab our recruits (cough, Evan Turner, cough; yes, I'm bitter). But if UW wins today and goes out and loses to Sparty, probably nothing changes. They stay an 8 or 9 seed. If they win today, beat Sparty or the Goofs tomorrow, and make it to the finals of the Big Ten tournament, I think there's a decent chance they could get bumped to a 7 seed. That would be excellent. But then again, history shows that UW might be best served by being a 10 seed. That would require losing to The Ohio A&M College today, most likely, something that would place UW, in my opinion, squarely on the bubble again. And nobody but some typically spastic Buckeye fan would want that. But still, there's your silver lining if Evan Turner, BJ Mullen's struggling goatee, and Coach Matta and his Judge Alvin Valkenheiser nose (yeah, I'm referencing the worst Chevy Chase movie ever) manage to take the Badgers this afternoon.
Note: statistics were derived from this extremely helpful website.
Monday, March 09, 2009
PG: Devin Harris
SG: Kirk Penny (?Michael Flowers?)
SF: Alando Tucker
PF: Mike Wilkinson
C/PF: Brian Butch
Other opinions are requested.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
This raises the question-- would you rather have won the middling bowl game and then have this sort of thing break out, or get stomped and humiliated on national television but maintain some integrity?
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Did we hire a PAC10 ref squad or something? Four of the Badgers first three "fouls" in the second half barely counted as contact in the Sparty game. This was follwing several phantom travelling calls in the first half. Nevertheless, Bucky showed some pluck in the mid-2nd half and mede me think that they had turned the corner on the season...come from behind, adjust to the crappy officiating and take what the opposing team is giving you.
Then the last two minutes happened. Not only did we stop doing what was working, we stopped doing anything. I understand milking the clock with the lead, but keep running the offense. Standing around and watching Pop jack up a jumper is not the swing, and Pop is not Devin Harris. We threw away a game I thought we were going to ice.
Oh, and what is with that M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A cheer? If you are going to have a chant, make it short and catchy. Cal Tech's swim team speeled out all of California Institute of Technology, but that was a nod to their nerdiness. (Funny for the first minute or so.) Stupid Gophers.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Sure feels nice to get a quality BigTen home win. Bo Ryan is now 48-0 against unranked BigTen opponents at the Kohl Center. Read that again. The Bo Ryan basketball stats are absurd. Remember them when you hate the swing because we don't score for 7 minutes at a time.
- UW and Michigan are sort of like polar opposites. Michigan starts a guy who was a walk-on. Pretty much all of their seniors are former walk-ons, and most of them (like Lee and Merritt) play a fair amount. The point is, they have little depth. DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris are burgeoning stars-- true sophmores with legitimate All-conference ability. Zach Novak, their pure shooter 2-guard is a true frosh. Everyone else on that team is pretty fungible. They lack solid role players. UW, by contrast, seems to have a team full of solid role players-- Bohannon is an excellent spot shooter, Krabby is a fine defender and excellent rebounder, etc. But I don't know if UW has a guy with the ceiling that Sims and Harris have. Maybe Leuer. Sometimes Pop, I guess, but he only has one season left. Anyhow, it made for a funny contrast.
- So the Pops' seats are at the baseline, about ten rows up behind the visiting bench. They're good seats, and thus we're surrounded by the Madison bourgeoise-- a class that seems to be rapidly aging, and growing increasingly persnickety. That is, clapping or shouting during Michigan's offensive possessions (along with the student section) earned me a bevy of stinkeyes from the folks in the rows in front of me. Particularly from this pallid high schooler who was a ringer for the bizarre arty son in Wedding Crashers, and a red-sweatered sextegenarian working a salt-and-pepper afro. Sorry, folks, I like to cheer, and I think making things loud for the opposing team helps UW's cause. We also got some hilarious chatter from the retirees behind us about the referreeing. Apparently every time Marcus Landry touched the ball he got fouled. Who knew? (I tried to get my UM fan to appreciate the comedic value of their complaining. Like the time they started complaining about Michigan goaltending on a rebound on the far baseline--those seats have the worst angle in the stadium for making that call.)
- Whenever the typical Jarmusz-for-Krabby substitution occurred, I experienced a feeling of dread. Don't know why, and I'm not sure if the Badgers' performance merited that feeling. As much as I'd like Timmy to be the new Krabby, I'm just not seeing it-- maybe the new Clayton Hanson, if Hanson was taller and somewhat afraid to shoot...
- I don't know if Michigan will make the tourney or not. I think they have one more conference game. If they win that, and win their first rounder in the Big Ten tournament, then maybe? My buddy kept ranting about how they were the worst road team in the conference-- even when I pointed out that Iowa and Indiana are clearly worse. Anyhow, their best players (Sims and Harris) are both sophs. Novak is a frosh. Transfer Lucas-Perry (who has fallen out of favor, but is still pretty talented) is a soph. They have four decent looking prospects coming in next year, including the 14th rated point guard in the country. Their zone defense in the last 8 minutes of the first half was excellent. I look for them to get better and better in the next few years, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Sims leave early.
- Anyhow, this was a bit of an ugly game. UW was dominant in the first ten minutes, with Michigan coming out man-to-man, and getting owned. Then Wolvie switched to zone and (after a few mintues) really established themselves, and UW did their uber-frustrating "pass the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock is almost up" thing, or turned the ball over. At the other end, UM drained a bunch of threes. During that strech, UW scored once in 8 minutes. Ugh. Thankfully, Hughes and Boyanyon each nailed a three to make the halftime score respectable. Then, to start the second half, UW either put the clamps down defensively, or Michigan went into the dumper. Either way, again, Michigan scored one basket in the first ten minutes of the second half. But the pace was so slow, or UW wasn't hitting enough shots, so they only built up a nine-point lead. Yeesh. It was ugly and semi-tightly contested from then on, especially, as a UW fan, all the missed free throws down the stretch. Not a pretty game. Good thing it was on the Big Ten Network.
- Speaking of free throws, the students need to start doing something when the Badgers are shooting charities. It's too quiet, enabling spoiler visiting fans to be heard. Unfortunatley, given the administration's successful effort to muzzle the student section, I doubt anyone will come up with anything. Speaking of that, there were a lot of empty seats in the lower bowl of the student section. A lot of kids standing around, a fair number sitting, many not really into the game, not dancing with the band. Again, the university needs to change the way they allocate tickets so that passionate student fans get the prime seats down low. The student section was helpfully loud at times, but compared to years' past, it was lame. Come on, Biddy! UW's lost more home games since the student ticket policy was changed than the previous four seasons combined. Time to try something new.
- Final note--for post-game munchies, I can highly recommend the chorizo-egg torta at this establishment, very conveniently located for those heading out of town to the East (just between East Wash and Willie Street).