Saturday, February 9, 2008

Wisconsin-Purdue thoughts

Feeling pretty raw about this one. Earlier today I was thinking about how confident I was about this game - a rare emotion for me when it comes to big Badger games. But after the close loss in West Lafayette in which we played poorly, I thought the Kohl Center/big game factor would lift us to a comfortable win.

If only. We are not built to come from behind, as Tim McCormick noted correctly on the broadcast, and were never able to get over the hump. Getting down by double digits in the second half against a team that isn't going to implode is a sure recipe for a loss.

First the obligatory gracious words for the victors. Purdue shot well, was scrappy on defense, and didn't let the Kohl Center beat them. They're coming of age sooner than anyone expected, should end up a top 15 or even top 10 team this season.

But man ... we shot 32 percent, allowed them to shot 52 percent, had so many horrible turnovers, left their 3-point shooters open, pushed or backed off on offense at the wrong times, and fell victim to some bad calls and non-calls.

This loss unfolded over such a long time that I experienced all five stages of grief: denial ("we'll still come back ... they can't keep shooting this well"), anger ("that Hummel geek can't keep knocking down 3s ... call the f#$%ing travel!"), bargaining ("if we go stop-score-stop-score-stop-score it's tied ... if I watch the primary coverage on CNN instead of the game we'll cut into their lead"), depression ("I can't believe that after only losing to Illinois at the Kohl in Big Ten play under Bo, this is the second conference team to beat us"), and acceptance ("you know what? 9-2 in the conference, probably ranked in the top 12 on Monday - that's much better than where I thought we'd be at this stage.")

As satisfying as it is to categorize my emotions from a basketball game into the Kubler-Ross model, I'd rather be drinking a Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat and toasting the win that put us in the driver's seat for the Big Ten crown.

-Had a knot in my stomach when their grimy center hit those 3-pointers to start the game, sort of like when Gorney hit several jumpers to start the Iowa game.

-Not going to blame the loss on this, but that was a poorly officiated game. The area in which I thought the refs were consistently off were missing Purdue players shuffling their feet. In the first half, Hummel hit a 3 to stop a rally after traveling twice on the possession. In the second half, Kramer slips and falls, we get called for a foul and a technical, then Calasan knocks down J-Bo with on an illegal screen, none of the calls going our way. (What the hell was that technical about? The TV broadcast never sufficiently found out.) Late in the second half Kramer had a three-point play on a phantom foul call on Flowers.

Yes, they got called for 25 fouls and we shot 33 free throws, but that was appropriate given the style of hands-on defense Purdue played - which limited our penetration and open perimeter looks.

-Pop had a really bad game. It looked like he tweaked his ankle early without anyone noting it, but it's so hard to tell how much it affects him. He wasn't able to get separation for jumpers, which may have been a combination of a slight injury and good, long defenders on him.

-Four points was the deficit hump we couldn't get over. At 26-22 Hummel hit that three after going for a walk. At 59-55 Hughes drove and unwisely put up a shot that was easily blocked. At 64-60 Krabby missed a free throw (you just knew we weren't going to go 33-for-33), Hughes missed a 3, and we committed a turnover. At 69-65 Hughes was stripped and Grant dunked going the other way. At any one of those a conversion could have shifted the balance.

At Indiana on Wednesday, can't imagine that will be a cakewalk.


Desert Oracle said...

What does the fact that UW had a 43-21 rebounding advantage that included 19 offensive rebounds plus a 30 for 33 night at the charity strip and still loses tell you? The Badgers lack shooting ability. Maybe once J. Bohannon learns how to create a shot he will become a threat. Butch and Stiemsma lack the ability to complete a move down low. Flowers for whatever reason just disappears for long stretches. Hughes at times seems to have the necessary qualities to compete at point guard but for the most part he keeps the other team in the game. I believe Leuer is more than a one game wonder but how long do we wait before we see him play a second good game. Landry shows signs of brilliance. Krabbenhoft puts up a good box score game in and game out. How you ask can a team that lacks any resemblance of ability to score be ranked in the Top 10 nationally? Excellent coaching and the fact that the Badgers are playing in a conference that doesn’t have one team that deserves a top 25 ranking. If the current UW basketball team played in The Big East, Atlantic cost conference, The Big 12, Conference USA, Pacific Ten conference or Southeastern conference, they would have a difficult time finishing in the middle of the pack.

mjschwal said...

desert oracle - I can appreciate your frustration, but geez, from the sounds of your post you would think the Badgers are 2-9 in conference play. I hope you are just trying to raise a little hell.

I find it laughable that you do not think there is one team in the Big Ten that deserves a Top-25 ranking and that the Badgers would finish in the middle of many of the conferences you listed. Conference USA? Really?

Out of curiosity, which teams out there not in the top 25 would be more deserving than UW, Indiana, Purdue (which is ranked too low), and Michigan State?

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