Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wisconsin-Michigan State thoughts

You know what? I love this senior class, and tonight is the perfect illustration why. Stiemsma plays great minutes in the first half and scores six points. Flowers holds Neitzel to three points. Butch makes four 3-pointers. Badgers win.

And isn't that what this is all about? Our kids keep going up against teams with rosters stocked full of players who were more highly rated coming out of high school, projected to finish higher than the Badgers this year, and keep beating them because they play sound basketball.

Two games to go, Penn State and Northwestern. We're right where we want to be. So why am I happy and nervous as hell at the same time?

-One turnover tonight. One! After watching the first half in Columbus, I wouldn't have been surprised if we turned it over 20 times against Michigan State. But we took care of the ball tonight, and even though State played very good defense, kept us off the boards, and held us under 40% from the field, we still ground out 57 points. If we can take care of the ball like that going forward, we'll be tough to beat.

-Early in the game, Musberger talked about Flowers playing football, claiming that Alvarez said the school would like Flowers to play defensive back for a year. Does anyone know if that was serious? Why not give it a shot? From everything I heard he was an electrifying high school quarterback.

He was terrific tonight, hit some key shots, but most importantly held Neitzel to 1-for-10 from the floor. Mike did a great job, but Neitzel looked to be off his game. It reminded me of our matchups last year. In Lansing, he had his feet set and was ready to shoot whenever he came off a screen. In the Big Ten Tournament, and tonight, he looked hesitant when he caught the ball. One time near the end, when the game was pretty much out of reach, Flowers fell down coming off a screen when Neitzel caught the ball at the top of the key; Neitzel didn't shoot, instead waiting for Flowers to get to his feet and challenge.

Izzo said State was playing as well as they could possibly be playing heading into this game. Guns loaded, eh? Hmmm. Just hope they're good enough to knock off Indiana on Sunday.

-One turnover!

-Anyone else notice Flowers holding his right elbow tonight? He was doing that against Ohio State, too.

-Here's why I love watching Butch make 3-pointers: he reminds me of myself. He's capable of making 3-pointers, but overall shoots a fairly low percentage (27.5% on the year). However, when he's feeling it, like tonight, he can put a few together. I probably made one of the first 10 I took this week at hoops, then made three of about five today. In both our cases, it's important to at least try 3-pointers to open up other parts of our games. Yep, me and Butch, outside shooters separated at birth.

Good Musberger quote on Butch: "I want to be his agent on a European contract, he'd be huge over there!" I could see him having a nice career in one of those leagues over there.

-Liked that Bo played Stiemsma and Butch together for stretches in the first half. State is one of the teams where that pairing makes sense, they're so tough going to the offensive boards.

-Quiet 13 for Pop tonight, but his steady play was important.

-Krabby hit a couple big outside shots at key times, making up for J-Bo's scoreless night.

-I'm so glad none of our guys wear cornrows like Morgan and Allen. Even though it makes me sound like Grandpa Simpson commenting on a young Joe Namath, "They look like girls!"

-Great Musberger quote late: "I can't wait to see Erin Andrews on YouTube tonight, she'll have 2,000 hits by midnight!" No new ones from me tonight, but that one I posted a month ago of Erin, Brent, Lav, Stiemsma, et al has been viewed 2,588 times thus far.

-One turnover!

-Flipped to the Big Ten Network during a commercial and saw a projection that had us as a 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now, I know there are a million bracketologists out there and there's no use getting your undies in a bundle before anything happens, but in the Internet shorthand that the kids are using nowadays - WTF? We've lost four games, to teams ranked #7, #16, and #21. We've beaten the #5 team in the country, which has the same record as us, at their place, without our point guard. We've swept the #12 team in the country and now beaten #19. You're telling me there's 12 teams with a better resume than that?

There's a long way to go still, but we've been screwed by the selection committee so much that things like this get me agitated.

OK, I'm over it. Great win - let's rest up and take two next week!


ajs said...

I've been noticing Flowers holding that elbow gingerly for last 3-4 weeks -and it's wrapped somewhat?. He left the game up in Minny a month or so ago holding his elbow but returned a few minutes later so I'm assuming it's lingering effects from that? He must tweak it wrong and you can tell from his facial expressions it hurts like a mother.

mjschwal said...

AJS - It happened originally at the Minnesota game as you allude to.

Other Flowers thoughts: I caught the fifth-year football thing and thought what a great idea if he's serious and it's legal. With the questions at corner next year, who knows? If BJ Tucker can hang out for 3 plus years in the NFL, I don't see why Flowers couldn't.

I also found the NBA talk interesting as well. I still don't think he has shown enough offensive consistency to be an NBA draft pick, but what do I know?

I think Mike Kelley was probably considered the best on-ball defender in UW history. While Flowers may not have the same stats, I would say he is the best defender in UW history.

His performance last night was a piece of work and enjoyable to watch. Here comes Musberger-like hyperbole: Last night could have been the best defensive job I've ever seen.

OK, enough. My man-crush ranting is now over.

Deuces said...

Well, that answers the previous question -- Michael Flowers was the person who searched for "tight end schwalbach".

mjschwal said...

Touche, Dueces, touche.

scott.tappa said...

Quote from Lucas's story:

... But the tenacious Flowers never allowed Neitzel to get untracked. And, yes, that did frustrate Neitzel. "It's hard (to handle) as a scorer, as a shooter," he said softly. "He (Flowers) did a good job of trailing me hard on my screens and just not letting me get into a rhythm ... Sometimes I came off a screen and I was open. But he was there so much that I figured that he was just there again and I wouldn't have the shot. You've got to give him some credit, too. A lot of it is scouting. They know what our tendencies and what we're going to do. He did a good job."

Funny, because that's what I thought, but I never thought he'd admit it. Give him credit for candor and honesty.

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