Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wisconsin-Kansas State thoughts ... Sweet

Terrific win for the Badgers, as close to a perfect second half as we could play. As the minutes wound down, I started thinking big picture about what this win over an upstart like Kansas State, with the kind of players it has, means.

It's validation in Bo's way of doing things: defense, control, steadiness. It's validation in the strength of building your program on veteran players who stick around for four or five years rather than one-and-doners who arrive on campus with one foot in the NBA draft. It's validation of an offensive philosophy that stresses balance rather than dominance. Last year, losing the Big Ten to Ohio State in spite of our tremendous team shook my confidence in this method. Now I'm back feeling good about it again.

It adds up to 31 wins and counting, and a chance to play into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time this decade. Just try to wipe this smile off my face.

Game and second half thoughts:

-Good time for Pop and Stiemsma to have career games. Pop for the most part played under control, his charge notwithstanding, and showed K-State's youngsters how to make a shot. Stiemsma was around the ball and active all the time. Man, I wish he would have redshirted as a freshman, I'd be feeling a lot better about our chances next year.

-Landry gets two points - with zero field goal attemps! - and we win by 17? Wow. His third foul was careless.

-I was dead wrong that Krabby on Beasley and Flowers on Walker would get us beat. Beasley didn't do much in the second half, primarily against Krabby while the game was still in the balance. The announcers speculated it might have been his ankle. It was probably some of that, and probably some of us adjusting the defense to take away his drives.

Flowers battled Walker hard, that was a tough assignment. Walker was pushing a lot before the refs stepped in, but he's an athletic freak whose game is more fitted to the NBA game than the college game right now.

-Speaking of Walker, I thought the refs did a nice job of gaining control of the game when it was teetering on getting out of hand. The double technical on Walker and Butch was the right call, and they called some other ensuing chippy acts, and things settled down. K-State was upset about some of the fouls being called, but you know what? They were using their hands on defense - a lot. We don't, much. That's why we see the foul disparities most of the time, not some far-reaching officiating conspiracy funded by Andy North's golf winnings and orchestrated by the devious Bo Ryan.

-I love legal bone crushing picks, like Landry's on Pullen. There were a couple vicious ones in the West Virginia-Duke game. Shame on the on-ball defender's teammates for not calling it out.

-Think I heard that we play Friday, which is nice - an extra day to rest Pop's and Bohannon's ankles. Five full days off is golden this time of year, especially with a physical battle with Georgetown looming.

-One thing I like about winning this game so early on Saturday is our win will be scrolling across he bottom of the screen for the final 14 games, reminding people that we're still playing.

-Think I read in Brian Lucas's newsletter that we are one of only three Big Ten programs to win at least 30 games in back to back seasons, along with Indiana and Michigan State. Nice.

-A final thought before coloring Easter eggs: this team can still play better. Imagine an effort in which the guards are hitting their shots and locking down their guys; Butch and Landry are scoring inside; we are locking down the defensive boards; Stiemsma and J-Bo are doing their thing off the bench; and we're making 75% of our free throws. I would argue that of all the things the Badgers are capable of doing very well, in most wins we see only about 75% of them. We're going to need 100% efforts to beat Georgetown and Kansas.


Rob J said...

I thought Bo did a great job working the refs after the technical. If I remember right, KState had just scored to cut the lead to 11 and it looked like the tech was called just on Butch at first for the retaliation shove.

Bo started stating his case right away for the double tech, the refs huddled and called the double tech. Otherwise it could have gone from us with the ball up 11, to them at the line shooting 2 and getting possession which could have been a pretty big swing.

And yes, when I say "us" I do feel that I am part of the team.

Scott Tappa said...

I know what you're talking about, but think that the refs did intend to call the double T from the start. I didn't see Walker's involvement in it, just Butch's shove, but was steamed that Walker had been shoving Flowers to the floor repeatedly on offense in the preceding minutes. When they immediately cut to Bo, it did make it seem that he talked the refs into the T on both Walker and Butch, but I don't think his lobbying was the deciding factor. Could be wrong, though ...

Scott Tappa said...

By the way, the AP writer covering the Omaha games is named Eric Olson ... coincidence?