Thursday, January 31, 2008

Goldmine Radio

Another quick plug for something work-related: last week we launched an online radio station for Goldmine Magazine. We're calling it Goldmine Radio, you can check it out at

Let me know what you think, from the quality of the music to the quality of the stream. We have a pretty wide variety of artists' music, from unknown indie label fare to local musicians to Willie Nelson and Barry White. And if you have friends or relatives who are looking for an outlet for their music, send it my way and we'll put it up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hayden, Evans in TSN

A couple notes from last week's Sporting News:

-Nick Hayden was mentioned as one of five East players who helped themselves most in the East-West Shrine Game.

A dominant week assured him of being drafted. Hayden will stick as a third or fourth tackle who consistently contributes.

That's great to hear. Hayden seems to be a good fit as a 3-4 end.

-Lee Evans was mentioned in a column called Restoration Projects.

Bills WR Lee Evans went from an 82-catch season in 2006 to a 55-catch campaign. With his great speed an body control, he should be more of a factor. Evans needs to get stronger and add more polish to his route running, and the team should move him around to make it harder for opponents to key on him.

You know what else would help? Get him a competent quarterback! Same thing Chris Chambers went through in Miami. It kills me to see these talented UW receivers getting stuck with worse QB play in the NFL than they had in Madison. Back in the Chilly-Samuel years, used to be the other way around.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Auf wiedersehen

In a couple hours I'm getting on a plane headed for Germany. For the next week I'll be camped out in Berlin at the World's Money Fair, a major event in the coin industry. While there, we will be promoting our company's new website, NumisMaster, which has received over 1.5 million page views in the last 30 days.

We will also be presenting our company's Coin of the Year Awards. For the first time this year we added a People's Choice component to the awards, and the Hungarian entry was the runaway winner, thanks to a huge voting surge.

Don't think I'll have much time for site seeing, although we will be attending a reception of the Royal Canadian Mint and an event with German chancellor Angela Merkel, which should be a great experience.

As such, Badgercentric will not receive the usual attention it gets from yours truly, but I've pre-written a few posts to keep things somewhat fresh. See you in February.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Athletic Board dealings

Usually, when the State Journal and Cap Times sports staffs cover an athletic-related event, the accounts are pretty similar. Not so Saturday, when the papers published very different accounts of Friday's University of Wisconsin Athletic Board meeting.

Andy Baggot's State Journal story led with the news on coaching contract extensions, and focused on the fact that Barry Alvarez wanted a performance review in light of John Wiley's upcoming departure as chancellor. (Has it really been almost four years since Barry took over as AD?)

Jason McMahon's Cap Times story was more compelling, reporting that the board meeting got tense at times. Unlike Baggot, McMahon quoted history professor/board member Jeremi Suri, who seems like a squeaky wheel who was looking for an audience. Read the story - his big beefs seem to center on the Big Ten Network fiasco and the athletic department's tendency to operate separately from the rest of the university. Valid points, it would seem.

-Also have to give a plug to Polzin's column on Ike's fall from a charmed existence in 14 months. Jim gives some perspective on Ike's personality that as far as I know hasn't been revealed before.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A word on hockey

Good news on the hockey front: the Badgers went undefeated in their weekend series against Minnesota. The kicker: Minnesota isn't very good right now, at least not as good as they've been since I've been paying attention.

Both Todd Milewski and Andy Baggot did a good job in their Saturday gamers describing why these teams have fallen off a bit from their pace at the beginning of the century. The reason: the NHL's collective bargaining agreement has made it more logical for teams to sign their draftees, which keeps them out of the college game.

I'm not an expert on these things, but off the top of my head I can think of these guys who have left Madison prematurely in the last couple years: Robbie Earl, Joe Pavelski, Jack Skille. The Gophers have been hit just as hard, if not harder. It's even money that Kyle Turris, who Wayne Gretzky made the #3 pick in the last NHL draft for Phoenix, will leave after this season.

So why is this hitting the Badgers and Gophers harder than, say Colorado College, Denver, or North Dakota? I can't say for sure, but it's probably a parallel to college basketball programs that recruit Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo, and Michael Beasley types - you hope to get one great, transcendental year out of them a la Carmelo Anthony. Meanwhile, programs recruiting three- and four-year guys are just consistently solid, like Badger basketball.

It seems that the Badgers, for all their struggles this season, are still in good shape to make the tournament, where anything can happen. Here's hoping Turris gets to raise a championship banner in Madison before putting on a Coyotes jersey for good.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wisconsin-Purdue thoughts

One day this week after basketball two of my buddies were talking about college hoops. One of them is a big North Carolina fan (way to cheer for the underdog, dude), and they were talking about how superior ACC ball is to Big Ten ball, mocking games with 23-20 halftime scores.

You know what? That's called defense, not putting together 10 McDonald's All-Americans on the court and letting them run around. You can argue about the aesthetic merits of each conference, point to the ACC's dominance in the annual challenge, etc., but if you want to see a well-rounded game, you're more likely to see it in the Midwest than out East.

There's beauty in watching a big guy hedge properly on a pick and roll, or watch weakside help in the post. Three years ago our "offensively challenged" team played Carolina's collection of future professionals recruited by Matt Doherty and scored 80 points - Clayton Hanson had a big game, for crying out loud. So don't tell me Big Ten kids don't have skills.

This is my way of leading into today's Wisconsin-Purdue game, which was not an exercise in offensive futility, but in well-executed defense.

No shame in this loss. Purdue's legit, and if they don't factor in the conference title race this year, they will next year. Those are freshmen who are going to be around for four years, and they've got good sophomores, too - probably not a dominant group, but a very good one.

Don't know about you, but I'm just tickled that we are now a team that students storm the court for. Last year Indiana, this year Purdue - beating Wisconsin is a huge deal for these storied Big Ten powerhouses. I could get used to that.

-Free throws, free throws, free throws. If we hit the same percentage at Purdue, we're ahead in the last minute - maybe with a cushion if we hit the front end of one-and-ones. You knew it was going to cost us at some point, and it did today.

-A good indicator of the job Purdue did defensively: we dribbled the ball way more than usual. This led to people like Pop getting caught in tough positions, like along the baseline, and turning the ball over. Still, we found good looks. Really liked the job Leuer did passing, although the rest of his game left something to be desired.

-On a similar note: is it just me, or does it seem like television broadcasters are always talking about how seldom we turn the ball over, then point out how we're trending ahead of that average in the game? Tonight that happened, although we came in at the 13 per game average.

-Stiemsma was very weak in the post on offense tonight, as happens too often. This is odd, because on defense his personality is strong and aggressive.

-Speaking of Stiemsma, he hung on the rim once to avoid landing on a Purdue player and the PU student section went nuts. This happens way too often, and indicates a low basketball IQ in the crowd. It reminds me of freshman year, when our varsity was playing Milwaukee North at the West Bend Fieldhouse, and one of their players dunked on us. One of our guy's dads, who had probably never seen a dunk in person before, started hollering for a technical foul to be called, and looked like a real rube in the process.

-Butch played really well tonight. If he can start hitting 3-pointers on even a 25 percent basis (he was shooting 9 percent heading into this game), our offense is much more dangerous, and Landry will have more room to operate down low. The Sporting News college hoops column this week made note of his nice senior season, and noted that he had redshirted during our run at a national championship in 2003-04. Really, national championship? I mean, we had Devin playing at the top of his game, and Wilkinson, but Alando had gotten hurt early and robbed us of that third dynamic player you need to make a serious push.

-In about a two-minute span in the broadcast, the announcers referred to Bo Ryan as one of the most underrated coaches in the country, and Krabby as the most underrated player in the Big Ten. I appreciate the sentiment, but again, this seems to be noted in every UW broadcast, so who's underrating them anymore? It reminds me of when I was in Ohio covering Fremont Ross, and I wrote in the paper that Ross point guard Robb Ritzmann was the most underrated player in the Great Lakes League. Mike Pidanick, ever the smartass, said "You're the only one who covers this league and you're always raving about him, so who else other than you would be underrating him?" Good point. At some point that "underrated" tag is a cliche and you need to come up with a better way to describe someone.

-Thought the officiating in this game was subpar, lots of iffy foul calls, out of bounds calls, and resulting makeup calls.

-Did you hear Doris Burke call Hughes a "next level" player? What do you think? The potential is there.

-I like Matt Painter and he's doing a great job rebuilding that program. But he's too demonstrative for my taste, constantly running up and down the sidelines, arms wildly gesticulating. Not to say that Bo doesn't get emotional and let refs have it, but he's steadier. When Landry hit that big shot against Michigan the other night, Bo clapped twice, pointed at him, and said "nice shot." Not that anyone heard him. Leave it to the kids and the fans to get emotional - I want our leader to be in control of his emotions at most times.

-Landry had a tough game, 2-for-10 from the field. He had trouble finishing in close, and threw up some bad-looking shots.

-On ESPN today Doug Gottlieb, explaining why he didn't hate Wisconsin as an emailer from Florida opined, called the loss to Marquette at the Kohl Center a bad loss, and denigrated the Big Ten. Gottlieb's smarminess is his shtick and he's looking for outrage, but I respectfully disagree. Also: in the midst of praising Kansas for running roughshod over its competition, a "very good Big 12." Really? Outside of Kansas, only Baylor has less than four losses, and they aren't for real. Back to the lead of this post - people have their beliefs and biases and it's going to be awhile until the Big Ten is admired nationwide.

-Indiana in Madison and Minnesota at the Barn - we could be looking at a three-game losing streak heading to Iowa. But I'm optimistic we won't be.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Badgers basketball coaching tree, part 2

Thanks to Hazaert, anonymous, and ajs for their input, which I'm going to break out here into a new post:

-Sharif Chambliss, a student-athlete mentor/tutor for Rob Jeter at UWM who sits on the bench during games. In the UWM athletic department directory, he's listed compliance/athletic assistance. (Thanks to Andy for pointing out my earlier mistake.) Also on Jeter's staff is Duffy Conroy, who was video coordinator and director of basketball operations for Bo in Madison.

-Brian Good, who Hill and I used to joke about being the best free throw shooter in the country a long time ago, is the head coach at Queens University in Charlotte.

-Brian Vraney, a walk-on hero in our first couple years in Madison, is the head coach at Beloit. He previously coached in the Midwest Conference (Vershaw's conference) at Ripon and Lake Forest.

-Chris Conger, the subject of a Chris Earl story in J206 for Steve Lorenzo, coaches at Lake Forest, where he is the winningest coach in the program's history.

-Jon Bryant ("I'm Jon Bryant") runs a basketball school in Minnesota called Triple Threat Academy. I found this mugshot on a site called

-Freddie Owens is an assistant coach at Adams State College, a Division II program in Alamosa, Colo., and is apparently aiming to recruit Milwaukee hard. Found this mug on a website called, also found Chambliss there.

Good stuff here, it's fun tracking these guys down.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ike blows out knee

Bob McGinn is reporting on the Journal Sentinel's Badgers Blog that Jack Ikegwuonu blew out his knee in a training exercise and won't be able to play in 2008. Per McGinn's style, several anonymous sources are quoted in brutal fashion, including this:

"He's screwed now," an executive in personnel for an NFL team said. "He wasn't going to be that high of a pick, anyway. Fourth round. "I blame the agent for talking the kid into coming out. Stupid. Because he wasn't a first-day player."

Ouch. I didn't know that Ike had signed with Drew Rosenhaus, might be a good choice for a guy on the mend. What is it with Badger cornerbacks and knee injuries nowadays? Somewhere, Nate Odomes probably just blew out his knee shoveling the snow.

This sucks. The anonymous guy's comments regardless, he had a chance to be a first day pick and play next year. Now he faces a big uphill battle to make a roster in 2009 and beyond. If you voted for Ike in that poll to the right, you might want to reconsider going forward.

-Thanks to Toohey for pointing out that today is the birthday of Mr. Andrew Bernard, aka actor Ed Helms. "When the hell is this strike going to end?" Tim writes. I hear you, man. Thursday blogging just isn't the same thanks to to acronymed groups battling over Internet money.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Badgers basketball coaching tree

It's funny: when doing the Wisconsin football coaching tree, I was able to remember dozens of former assistant coaches, even guys who were only with the program for a couple years. But when trying to remember basketball assistants, I drew a blank. Thankfully the media guide materials available for download at has a list of all former assistant coaches, just as it did for football.

Writing this before I start the compilation, my gut feeling is that this list might be even more impressive than the football list. Let's see.

-Stu Jackson, executive vice president of basketball operations for the NBA. The man who really got the ball rolling on the Badgers' basketball renaissance is in the news a lot, mostly for suspension and referee-related issues.

-Stan Van Gundy, head coach of the Orlando Magic. Stan Van was the head man during my freshman year, 1994-95, arguably the most underachieving team in UW athletic history. How do you finish with a losing record with Rashard Griffith, Michael Finley, and others? Still, if Pat Riley had an ounce of selflessness in his body, Stan would have won an NBA title with the Heat two years ago, on the heels of the league refs' Dwayne Wade free throw-a-thon. Good for him.

-Tony Bennett, one of the hottest coaches in the nation for the job he's doing at Washington State. Give Dick a lot of credit for his plan, it worked out well for both WSU and his son. My gut says that Tony should move on to a better job after this season, since he'll lose a lot from a veteran team. Maybe he, not Jeter, is Bo's heir apparent.

-Rob Jeter, leading a baffling turnaround at UWM. If he gets some more talented kids who play with the kind of chemistry and fire his current kids are playing, they'll be a force.

-Saul Phillips (left), head coach at North Dakota State. He's an up-and-comer, and has Bo's kid, Will Ryan (right - what a resemblance!), on his staff. Also of note from this staff: Dan Weisse, former UWM and Oshkosh West standout, is Saul's director of basketball operations.

-Brad Soderberg recruited the players who scored 20 points in a game for St. Louis a couple weeks ago, and current coach Rick Majerus is throwing him under the bus. Classy, Rick. (If you haven't, read the SI story about Majerus, it showed a side of him I hadn't heard about before. Interesting guy.)

-Mark Vershaw, head coach at Monmouth (Ill.) College. From the little bit I've seen, his team is struggling.

-Howard Moore returned to UW after Jeter left and is doing a nice job for Bo.

-Tracy Webster has hooked up with Billy Gillispie at Kentucky. They're struggling, last night's win over Tennessee notwithstanding, but even money says Billy has them in the Final four within five years. He just needs time to fix the roster after Tubby Smith left it relatively bare.

-Brian Hecker, scouting information director for the Miami Heat.

-Sean Miller, an assistant for one year under Stu, is the coach at Xavier and one of the real rising stars in the profession.

-Tim Buckley, an assistant under Stu, is back at Marquette after stints at Ball State and Iowa.

-Bob Beyer, the third assistant on the 1993-94 staff, is an assistant at Dayton.

-Dave Bollwinkel, an assistant under Van Gundy, is a part-time scout for the Boston Celtics after serving as St. Mary's coach.

-Ray McCallum is an assistant with Kelvin Sampson at Indiana after being a head coach at Ball State and Houston.

Whew! That's more than I thought there would be. Who am I forgetting?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wisconsin-Michigan thoughts

Are you in a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full mood tonight? Whatever your answer will dictate how you feel about the Badgers' too-close-for-comfort win over Michigan.

Let's start with glass-half-full: nice to pull out a close win; lots of different guys hit big shots, none bigger than Landry's; TV viewers got to see Erin Andrews work a power auger.

Glass-half-empty: we almost lost at home to a 5-14 team we beat in our sleep three weeks ago at their place; we looked sluggish, giving up 21 - 21! - offensive rebounds; we let their precocious freshman - their only scoring threat - get in too much of a rhythm. This might be the #11 team in the country right now, but I don't see them staying undefeated in the Big Ten much longer, and the efforts against Northwestern and Michigan suggest the Badgers are not serious conference title contenders.

Which isn't the end of the world, really. Better get to the highlights before I start sounding like a spoiled fan.

-After the NU stinker, I said that we needed Stiemsma against Michigan - just didn't think we'd need him that much. His big block on Ekpe Udoh's dunk attempt made sure Michigan never got the lead, which was so important. His other block, on DeShawn Sims, continued Sims' frustration. He made a nice layup, took a charge. And he and Greg Gard took the ESPN gang ice fishing (more on that later).

-Flowers' shot looked good again tonight. No reason he shouldn't be averaging 12-14 points a game (currently at 9).

-Twenty-one friggin' offensive boards! Credit Michigan for going hard, but some of those were a lack of effort or execution breakdown on our part. Case in point were Zack Griffin's two boards, in which he didn't have a Badger within five feet of him.

-Another indicator of subpar effort: nine free throws attempted, after 37 against Northwestern. Then again, credit Michigan's defense and a well-refereed game. And just in time for a State Journal story about free throw shooting.

-I thought Hughes' and Flowers' back-to-back steals were the dagger, but Michigan showed heart in not folding at that point.

-Michigan is much-improved since the first time we met. Still, they have about three legit players right now in Sims, Udoh, and Manny Harris. Sims is a 45% shooter and went 4-for-19. Udoh looked comfortable shooting jumpers. Harris was obviously great, but we seemed a step slow coming over to help, except for the two charges drawn by Krabby and Stiemsma.

-Down the stretch it was nice to see a variety of guys hit clutch shots: J-Bo, Krabby, Landry. J-Bo's runner was pretty, I'd rather see him do that than take 3-pointers nowadays. Krabby's move in the lane was strong. And Landry looked so confident and quick after taking that pass from Pop on the late 3.

-Twenty-one offensive rebounds!

-The ice fishing segment featuring Stiemsma, Gard (and his uncle), Erin, Lavin, and Musberger was entertaining. It's fun when ESPN does goofy stuff like that, I wonder whose idea it was. Really wish Greg would have shown a little personality, though. At the end of the segment Erin says "... cook them in the, uh, microwave? Can this go with wine, Lav?"

Also, how about that kid in the polar bear suit? That thing has gotten out of hand, although it does ensure Lav and Brent are talking about our players and team in other games they do, which is good for building recognition for the program.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Plaxico-Harris: Plaxico-Fletcher or Fletcher-Mitchell?

At the start of last night's disappointing NFC championship game (congrats to the Giants, who clearly played the better game and deserved to win), I found myself thinking about the Plaxico Burress-Al Harris matchup and how it reminded me of the Michigan State-Wisconsin game in 1999. In that game Jamar Fletcher shut Burress down after publicly demanding the assignment, and I was hoping Harris would shut Plax down like Fletch did.

No dice. As Burress dominated the early going, I got to thinking of a different high profile matchup - Fletcher vs. UCLA's Freddie Mitchell in the next season's Sun Bowl, where Mitchell got the better of Fletch. In case you've blocked that game from your memory even though it was a Badger win, check out the recap. I remember being really sick and having to work that day, and Fletch's play and actions didn't make me feel much better; sort of like Harris last night.

Tying this all back to the NFL, Mitchell, a true horse's ass, made the fourth-and-26 catch for the Eagles to hand the Packers their most painful recent loss until last night.

Was planning on writing about this Burress-Fletcher memory last night, but the loss had made me numb and I took to watching Big Ten women's basketball. Then, logging on to the website of my favorite Madison afternoon newspaper, I see Lucas had the same thoughts, and did a nice job fleshing it out.

The other UW-related note on last night's bummer was that Mark Tauscher played really well. As far as I could tell, Tausch didn't let Michael Strahan do anything on him. And he recovered a fumble after a Giants interception, which thanks to curious play calling turned into just three points for the Packers. Tausch is a great player and a class act, one of the true underrated players in the league.

No Badgers in the Super Bowl ... sigh.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shrine Game notes

The East-West Shrine Game was held in Houston last night, and I caught bits and pieces of it during basketball commercials. Paul Hubbard, Nick Hayden, and Taylor Mehlhaff played in the game. Hubbard had two catches for 25 yards, Mehlhaff kicked 28- and 42-yard field goals.

Houston Chronicle blogger Lance Zierlein was very complimentary of Hayden and Hubbard in his practice notes.

- I continue to be impressed with Wisconsin DT Nick Hayden. The guy has a phenomenal motor. He's not a big guy despite being at right around 300, but would be a good rotation player in a 1-gap system as he is a mother bleeper in the gaps. He uses his hands great. He might also potentially be a good 3-4 DE as well. - Wisconsin WR Paul Hubbard is the WR with the most buzz and has clearly helped his stock this week. Scouts have been impressed with his size and quickness and I think he'll lock in on the 3rd round.

The SFGate Niner Insider blog also mentioned Hayden and Hubbard.

-Wisconsin receiver Paul Hubbard made a tough catch in traffic but then limped off the field. He's got size (6-3, 218) and speed.

-Wisconsin defensive tackle Nick Hayden put a great spin move on and nearly got to O'Connell.

Wow, nice praise for both. Earlier in the week ESPN's Todd McShay had praise for the job Hayden was doing against Michigan's Adam Kraus.

I saw Hayden as a fifth-seventh rounder, and Hubbard as a fringe pick, although both should have good measurables. My prediction is that of these three guys and Ike, Mehlhaff will have the best professional career, even if he does not get drafted.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wisconsin-Northwestern thoughts

Sshould have watched Happy Feet on Showtime instead of that pile of crap. And I've seen Happy Feet - it sucks.

Not much good to report here, other than Landry's game, which was basically taking what Northwestern gave him. My biggest disappointment was not getting to see Wquinton Smith tonight, thought there was an even-money shot.

-Marcus really did play well, finishing inside against guys he should be able to finish against. This whole five different guys scoring 20 in five straight games is really pretty incredible. They're saying this is the first time that's happened in Wisconsin history; I would guess it's the first time this has happened in all of college basketball history.

As much fun as it was to watch Alando and, to an extent, Kam, take over games on a regular basis, it might be more fun to watch a different guy do it every night.

-Krabby also pretty well, especially on defense, but still had some pretty horrible passes. His reverse layups are sweet.

-Trevon had a really bad game. Wasn't able to penetrate until Northwestern was scrambling late, missed his shots, fell asleep on defense at times. Did he really hurt his ankle again? It looked like he'd have to come out, then five seconds later he's back at full speed.

-J-Bo didn't play very well, either. Before the game Northwestern's radio guy was talking about how their 1-3-1 leaves openings for 3-pointers. We were only 4-for-14 there, and J-Bo's looks were open. Also, he seemed like a magnet for double teams and did not deal with them proactively.

-On that note, our first half offensive approach was embarrassing. It looked like we hadn't prepared for the 1-3-1 at all, we made them look like friggin' Duke for 20 minutes.

-Flowers played a good game, did a nice job on Moore and pitched in his share of scoring. Maybe my favorite play of the game was when he leveled Thompson with that pick near the end, although it looked like Thompson was acting (shocking!).

-Thirty-seven free throws: good. Sixty-five percent free throw shooting: ugh. It's going to catch up to us at some point.

-Stiemsma didn't play tonight, and I figured it was just because of matchup reasons, but Bo just said on the radio that Greg had been nicked up physically and didn't practice yesterday. Hope he's better for Michigan on Tuesday, there are good matchups there.

-Poorly officiated game, the refs let both coaches influence calls

-How in the world does Coble average 18 a game? Krabby did a good job on him, but he didn't look like he had any moves to free himself for open looks, and Lord knows their offense isn't designed for anyone to score.

-Bill Carmody and Conan O'Brien: separated at birth?

-My take on Northwestern: I don't see how Carmody ever wins here. Granted, no one ever has won with that program, but his "system" is ridiculous. On offense, they do most of their work 45 feet from the basket, and their guards execute spin dribbles for no apparent reason.

The only consistent threat they had tonight was Michael Thompson driving - not fast enough to get around his defender - drawing contact, and going to the free throw line because Carmody whined enough to get a technical.

They shot 13 free throws, but probably earned about three of them. They miss a ton of shots, but don't send anyone to the offensive boards. Their first possession of each half end with a shot clock violation, and it couldn't have been because we threw an exotic defensive look at them.

The announcers said Carmody was making recruiting inroads into the Chicago Public League, but if the best he can get is Thompson, who didn't even attempt a jump shot tonight, and Sterling Williams, who looks like he'd be a better fit at Whitewater, well, that ain't gonna get it done.

Northwestern should follow the long-ago example of the University of Chicago and withdraw from Division I Big Ten athletic competition, put the money it saves on sports on its academic/research pursuits that would further mankind. God knows it would be better for someone in Evanston to cure cancer than watch Jeremy Nash hit the side of the backboard on a 3-pointer attempt.

At least the only time we saw Tim Doyle tonight was in the Big Ten Network studio at halftime.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Badger coaching tree, part 2

Thanks to ajs for commenting on these guys who should definitely be mentioned as prominent parts of the Badger coaching tree. I feel like I was trying too hard to look for long-ago guys and missed these more recent ones.

-Dan McCarney, Barry's old defensive coordinator, had a fairly successful stint as the head at Iowa State. Mac's now the assistant head coach/defensive line coach at South Florida, which we all know had a Cinderella season of sorts.

-John Palermo, now Miami's defensive line coach. It's cool to read his bio and see all the All-Americans he produced while at Wisconsin.

UPDATE - Polzin comment: Just to clarify, Palermo left Miami after the 2006 season and spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee Tech under Watson Brown (Mack's brother). Palermo has since announced his retirement.

-Ron Lee, our secondary coach for a couple years, moved on to coach cornerbacks at Michigan in 2006, now coaching Minnesota's defensive backs.

-Bernie Wyatt - ajs says he took another job at Iowa after leaving UW in 1996, but I haven't been able to find any evidence of that, and we all know that Google is infallible. Jimmy, you worked with him on your All-Alvarez team, right? What did he do after UW?

UPDATE - Polzin comment: I believe Wyatt was a ``consultant'' at Iowa.

-Todd Orlando, who played linebacker at UW and was a member of the '93 Rose Bowl team, is the defensive coordinator at Connecticut, which had a great season. Dave Heller's JS blog says Orlando is a candidate to be Pittsburgh's new defensive coordinator.

Anyone else?

UPDATE - I somehow forgot Kevin Cosgrove, also shown the door at Nebraska along with Bill Callahan. Doesn't look like he's found a new job yet. Interesting tidbit I found with a story that mentions the new Huskers staff: they had eight de-commits following Cally's departure. Shows you the value of getting your new coach in place at the right time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Badger coaching tree

Last week, when Purdue was pursuing Paul Chryst to be its next head coach, one thought that crossed my mind was that it would be a blow to the program, but it would extend the Wisconsin coaching tree. Coaching trees are such a strong indicator of a program's success - a strong coaching staff produces strong coaches, which then go build their own strong staffs elsewhere.

Think about the North Carolina basketball coaching tree. Or the Packers' staff under Mike Holmgren, which at times had Steve Mariucci, Jon Gruden, Dick Jauron, and others.

This also applies to former players. If your program is producing players who go on to become coaches, it is an indicator that you have intelligent athletes with leadership skills. That's why I have a soft spot for Tracy Webster, even if he was coaching at Illinois for four years before moving on to Kentucky.

Yesterday I read that Mel Tucker had been named defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. Tucker will always be remembered as the defensive back who made the hit on a Minnesota tight end to secure Barry Alvarez's first road win as Wisconsin coach. After graduating from UW with an ag journalism major, Tucker coached under Nick Saban at Michigan State, then moved on to Miami (Ohio), LSU, and Ohio State before joining Romeo Crennel's staff. Here's hoping Mel gets the Browns' defense in shape and becomes a head coaching candidate.

This all got me thinking about other prominent coaches who played or coached at UW:

-Jay Norvell, just hired today as Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinator. As long as he keeps the Sooners' offense humming, he'll be a head coaching candidate next winter.

-Brad Childress, former UW offensive coordinator, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

-Darrell Bevell, former UW quarterback, Chilly's offensive coordinator.

-Jim Hueber, Chilly's offensive line coach. All the UW ties on the Vikings make me slightly nauseous.

-Bill Callahan, former UW offensive line coach, recently fired as Nebraska's coach. Led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl.

-Jay Hayes, defensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals.

-Rob Ianello, Notre Dame's recruiting coordinator. As he did in Madison, Rob is tearing it up on the recruiting trail, as the Irish currently have the nation's #1 recruiting class.

-Ron McBride, head coach at Weber State.

-Packers special teams coordinator Mike Stock.

-Mike Cassity is Louisville's defensive coordinator.

-Jeff Horton, St. Louis Rams offensive assistant.

-Brian White, recently fired as Syracuse's offensive coordinator.

-Phil Elmassian, who seems to change jobs every year, was recently let go along with Callahan and is now interested in the defensive coordinator position at Louisiana-Monroe.

-Darrell Wilson, Iowa's outside linebackers and special teams coach.

-And last but not least, Bears coach Lovie Smith. Not kidding - he was a UW assistant in 1987. Perhaps the only coaching positive to come out of the Don Morton era.

That's all the energy I have to research tonight after a tough evening of shoveling in 25 mph winds. Please post a comment if you can think of anyone I'm forgetting here. Will try to tackle a Badger basketball coaching tree in the next couple days.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Links, links, links

It's a slow night in Badgerland, so I wanted to point out some of the links we've added to the right-hand column in the last month or so.

-The official basketball and football blogs. Some food stuff here from the UW sports information department. The basketball blog, from Brian Lucas, is obviously the more active of the two right now; he also does a daily email newsletter.

-The Wisconsin Basketball Recruiting board. Keep track of the Badgers' recruiting targets (Evan Anderson! Jamil Wilson! Tyler Griffey! Diamond Taylor!) and already-committed high school players. Lots of updates from Heavystarch, who originally turned me onto the site in a comment here.

-The Wisconsin Sports Network, a nice site on state preps sports. Not much on future Badgers (Flavien Davis?!?!), mainly because there's only so many of them.

-Camp Lambeau, a nice blog with an emphasis much like this one, only with more on the Packers and multiple contributors.

-The Chris West Basketball Journal - Chris is a basketball junkie and does a great job getting to a game whenever he can. Apparently he was also worried about the Penn State game.

-Hoopraker, a Big Ten basketball blog that's a good place for getting up to speed on conference opponents.

-Brewercentric, the best blog about the Milwaukee Brewers written by guys from West Bend on the World Wide Web! Stop by to see what these dudes think about Mike Cameron.

-Toohey's Randomania, where Tim Toohey writes about Maxim and brake pads. That dude needs to give me a permanent reciprocal link.

-Chris Earl Books. "You're in the Hot Box, hello! Buy my books!"

-Javier and the Bear, my cousin Dan Zima's band.

If you're looking to exchange reciprocal links, or if you just want to suggest a link to a good Badger-related site, please email me at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wisconsin-Penn State thoughts

This evening I had intended to come downstairs and write a quick "this game scares me, wouldn't be surprised if we lost" post. But then Will and I got caught up wrestling or something and I didn't get around to making a horrible prediction.

Nice win. Really wish Geary Claxton hadn't hurt his knee so early, would have liked to so how we stacked up with Penn State at full strength. Here's hoping he's OK, LePay said the Penn State radio guys are reporting it's season-ending. Throw in their late-game collapse against Minnesota the other day and they were set to be blown out.

But that shouldn't diminish how well we played. Great passing, good rebounding, terrific shooting. Defense was OK, they just missed a lot of shots.

-Star of the game was Flowers. After he hit the 3-pointer to start the game, I jotted down "good-looking shot in rhythm, he needs to shoot more." Every time he lifted up tonight it looked like it was going in, and most times it did. he also did a nice job on Morrissey, who was 1-for-9. That two-handed steal he had was fun to watch, he just embarrassed that guy.

-Krabby's first shot looked terrible, but he followed up with two good-looking shots and played another nice all-around game. On the broadcast Jimmy Jackson correctly pointed out that when he's playing assertively like he was tonight, it adds a whole different dimension to our offense.

One other Krabby note: not sure where I heard or read it, but Bo compared him to former Illinois player Sergio McClain. Don't know if you remember him or not, but he was about a 6-3 forward who probably wasn't named all-conference but was just a winner - played good defense, got key rebounds, found the open man, made a shot when he had to. Apt comparison, and a high compliment.

-Stiemsma played really well tonight ... but every time I was about to write that down in the first half, he made a mistake - let his guy get open for a layup, committed a bad foul, turned it over. His second half was nice, especially that little left-handed half-hook from the right block. He's tried that a couple times this season, and it looks good, but never seems to go in.

-Landry had another good Landry game - taking what was there, including 3-pointers, and generally getting good shots. It was interesting to see him guard Cornley, who really only seemed to go all-out for about 10 minutes in the second half. I would have taken a couple steps back and let him beat me shooting 18-footers rather than letting him build up a head of steam on the dribble.

-Hughes' bank shot 3-pointer seems like a lark in retrospect, but at the time they had come out shooting well and had cut the lead to 11, and we weren't moving on offense. Much like the Illinois game, in which we never let them take the lead, never letting Penn State get the lead into single digits was important tonight, because a home team down less than 10 should always have a run in them.

-Butch and Hughes combined for 16 points, about half their average, and Leuer went scoreless, but we still scored 80 points easily. Shows the nice balance on this team. Trevon only played eight minutes in the first half because of foul trouble and we were still up 16 at the half. I thought his play was a little bit too cavalier at times tonight.

-I thought showing Andy North in the stands was only a prerequisite for ESPN. Forget Jessica Simpson or Eva Longoria, we've got Andy.

-Penn State took on the feeling of a hockey team, shuttling in interchangeable, anonymous guys, none of whom were scoring with regularity.

-Save some of those 3-pointers for a closer game against a better team!

-Jarmusz is the first of the non-regulars in. Nankivil doesn't look ready for the pace of the big time yet. Still waiting for Tanner to make one of those prayers he throws up.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Vote for Joe Thomas!

Joe Thomas had a great rookie season in Cleveland, helping the Browns into playoff contention and making their offense one of the best in the league.

Now we can vote for him in a Rookie of the Year competition. Realistically, he has no shot - Adrian Peterson is the overwhelming favorite, Patrick Willis had a great season, and Joe is an offensive lineman.

Last week it was announced he would be going to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, good for him. The UW press release said he's the first Badger Pro Bowler since 2005, when Chris Chambers and Mike Schneck went. Really, Mike Schneck? Mamas, train your boys to be long snappers.

-On another note: did you see that Northwestern hired Mike Hankwitz to be their defensive coordinator? Interesting. Northwestern has never had a good defense, so we'll see if Hank can turn that ship around.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Will's so excited about the Giants' win

As much as I've tried, Will usually hasn't taken much of an interest when I watch sports on TV. Here and there he'll pound on the floor and yell during a Badger game, but for the most part he prefers to run around and do a million other things.

For some reason, during the fourth quarter of tonight's Giants-Cowboys game, he really got into it. Aside from the fact that he declared our unborn child's allegiance to the Cowboys ("because everyone wants to be a cowboy"), he was pulling for he Giants, so the Packers can return to Lambeau Field next Sunday, "because you'll see me out on the field, Daddy!" After Tony Romo's game-clinching interception, Will launched into this impromptu celebration - I swear there was no coaching involved.

Fun stuff. Should be a great game next Sunday. While Romo and Joe Simpson are sipping margaritas in Mexico we'll be playing the hottest team in football to go to the Super Bowl. Here's guessing he's not the only Will I know who's excited about today's outcome!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Badgers' future non-conference schedule

A comment from New England Badger following the last Paul Chryst post called into question our non-conference schedule, and a nice little discussion followed. Let's break it out into its own post.

Here's what we have booked for the next six seasons:

2008 - Akron; Marshall - remember Randy Moss, Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich; Fresno State - a team Sporting News says should make the preseason top 25

2009 - Central Florida - a bowl team this year with the nation's leading rusher; Fresno State - see 2008; at Hawaii - a BCS team this year that will probably regress after losing June Jones

2010 - UNLV; San Diego State; Arizona State - a nice opponent, ranked in the top 10 late this season

2011 - UNLV; Oregon State - played in a BCS game recently, a TSN dark horse in the Pac-10 next year; Northern Illinois

2012 - San Diego State; Arizona State

2013 - Oregon State

That's not too bad, all things considered. Oregon State and Arizona State are about our equivalent in the Pac-10, and Fresno, Hawaii, and Marshall have been the cream of the non-BCS crop at one point or another in the last decade.

But with a nod to New England Badger, look at these 2008 non-conference games and tell me you don't feel jealous we don't get one like these:

Illinois vs. Missouri (annual rivalry game)
Tennessee vs. UCLA (Vols always seem to play a game like this)
Auburn vs. West Virginia
Miami vs. Florida (looked better when they scheduled it)
Ohio State vs. USC (wow! kudos to both schools for having the cajones for scheduling this one)
Arkansas vs. Texas (old rivalry)
Georgia vs. Arizona State

Hopefully one of our upcoming games will take on the stature of these big ones. Time will tell.

Denver clock operators beat Badger hockey team

We haven't talked as much about the Badger hockey team here as I had anticipated, partly because their games aren't on TV as much anymore, partly because the team isn't as good as I thought it would be. But this morning at Pick 'n Save in Waupaca, where Will and I go every Saturday morning to read the Journal Sentinel, drink coffee, and eat muffins, I ran into John, a fellow Badger fan and Focolare Cafe regular who follows the hockey team much more closely than I do.

(To reference an early post, John is the one whose son was agonizing over committing to a holiday trip to Puerto Rico with the family or holding out to follow the Badgers to a BCS bowl. He chose his family and they all had a nice time over Christmas - good call.)

I had just got done reading about how the Badger hockey team got had a game-tying goal at the buzzer overturned last night in Denver. Apparently the refs looked at Matt Ford's goal and said it happened after the period had ended. John said that UW coaches immediately received text messages that it was a blown call, just as he had. This after the home-ice clock operators at Magness Arena had apparently shaved seconds off the clock twice in the final minute.

There was talk Wisconsin would appeal the decision and try to force an extension of the game preceding tonight's game, but it seems like it will be fruitless. Our friend Todd Milewski has done a nice job following the situation on his Cap Times blog.

Hopefully this doesn't end up costing the Badgers home-ice in the WCHA tournament, or an NCAA bid. The more you look at it and read about it, the bigger the travesty it is.

Here's another slow-mo look of just the final part of the sequence.

-In Badger hockey news local to me, a Waupaca kid, Craig Johnson, has started getting some playing time for the Badgers on defense. In true college hockey fashion, Craig is a 21-year-old freshman after playing a couple years in the NAHL. It's a testament to the job Bob Johnson and Jeff Sauer did building interest in the program around the state that there are now so many Wisconsin natives on the roster. When we first got good, it was mostly Minnesotans and Canadians doing the heavy lifting. Now there are a lot more home-grown players, which only builds more interest when the team has success.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Office fix: Kevin sings!

Here's when you know you're missing original episodes of The Office: when you desperately seek video like this one of Brian Baumgartner, aka Kevin Malone, and watch it several times.

He's got a good voice, but I'd rather hear it singing for Scrantonicity than "The Impossible Dream." Thanks to Mr. Austin for sending this one over.

Wisconsin-Illinois thoughts

Earlier today, the prospect of a 10-point win over Illinois would have inspired a shrug and a grin from me. After watching tonight's 70-60 win, I'm feeling a lot happier, the result of my rekindled contempt for the Illini.

Realistically, these guys have just north of zero talent, and were lucky to score 60 points. Can't stand Meacham or Brock, both weenies. Pruitt ran down the court screaming after every shot he made. Randle has been around too long, he reminds me too much of the painful loss to Illinois at the Kohl Center two years ago. That alley-oop at the end of the game (the reverse of Alando's "I'll remember that" dunk for Izzo). They'll do well to make the NIT this year.

This is probably the adrenaline of a win over a conference rival talking, but I'm happy with the win.

The thoughts:

-Good start, and while they got back into the game, we never let them take the lead, which was key. We have some nice momentum-changers this year - Leuer against Michigan, Butch against Iowa, Hughes tonight. Last year it was Alando and Kam, who were great at that, but this year we have more options.

-Thought the officiating in the first half was horrible.

-Butch for 3! Like I said, just keep jacking them up! ;) Another solid game scoring and rebounding in front of his biggest broadcasting fans, but make the front ends of those one-and-ones.

-What a great game for Pop. The 22 points were nice, and big for giving us breathing room, but I think he also had five assists and six steals, which were more impressive. It was important for him to have another 20-plus scoring night, so he remembers he can do it. Did think he took some bad shots, some shots too quickly, but he made a couple of them. Can't wait to see him get even better over the next 2-1/2 years.

-The crowd seemed fairly restrained during some pivotal moments, maybe a sign of how Illinois is now perceived - a rival, but a team we should definitely beat.

-As much as I don't have time for most of that team, I love Chester Frazier, he's all guts. The time he dove into the crowd for the loose ball, I almost wanted to applaud. Not much on offense, but a nice defender and character guy.

-Flowers has to stop getting into foul trouble, we don't have enough guys who can check scoring guards. Trent Meacham and Calvin Brock shouldn't combine for 28 points against the St. Frances Cabrini seventh graders, let alone a top defensive squad like ours.

-Early on I wrote down "great rebounding," then crossed it off emphatically as Illinois did a job on us on the offensive glass. Credit their effort.

-Came in on the conversation late, but I believe Brent Musberger and Steve Lavin were talking about Erin Andrews when Musberger said something to the effect of "When she goes to meet Hugh Hefner, I want to go with her." Yeah, me too Brent! Should be cause for some awkwardness among co-workers. Or did I hear that wrong?

Update: Check out the exchange on YouTube.

-Speaking of the announcing team, I started a drinking game where every time Musberger or Lavin commented on Illinois's newfound "bounce" or "step" or "wind in their sails," and I am totally hammered now.

-Did you see St. Louis scored 20 points tonight? And Brad Soderberg isn't even their coach any more!

-Lastly, kudos to UWM for knocking off Valparaiso tonight. Apparently Rob Jeter's formula for success is to kick your leading returning scorer off the team, same for this year's leading scorer, wave goodbye to a starting guard, and leave your top two freshman in street clothes. I don't get how it's working, but the Panthers are winning now, which is terrific, wish them nothing but the best.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chryst not headed to Purdue

The State Journal is reporting that Paul Chryst has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Purdue job, as many insiders have speculated. Is it because he doesn't like recruiting? Was there not a spot on the Purdue staff for him to bide his time as Tiller-successor-in-waiting?

Don't know, don't care. I'm just glad that after a week of turmoil that some semblance of stability has returned to the program. To recap:

-Bob Palcic left for UCLA. Not altogether surprising or disturbing - he wanted to work with Rick Neuheisel, a close friend. This kind of thing happens in coaching. I'm confident we'll find a solid replacement.

-Bret Bielema fired co-defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz. This was a little surprising and a little disturbing. Is BB throwing Hank under the bus for an underachieving defense? Remember, in 2005 BB followed up a super defense by coordinating the worst unit in team history, and it's unlikely he would toss the coordinator after one subpar year. That would indicate lack of a conscience. My guess, based on pure speculation, is that it was a personality clash issue. When Palcic and Hankwitz were named as part of Bielema's first staff, it surprised me, but his attempt to balance youth and experience seemed sound. As has been pointed out, maybe he's now looking for climbers and not lifers for assistants. Let's hope Dave Doeren is up for the defensive coordinator by himself.

-Even though many things pointed toward it, I actually didn't think Ike would leave for the NFL just yet. My hunch was that he would be left feeling unsatisfied after his inconsistent season. But you know what? He's got to look out for his best interests, and if he's a top three round projection, that money can set him up for life. Obviously very concerned about the cornerback position without him, with Henry and Langford coming off knee injuries. We'll really need a better pass rush next year to give these guys some help.

-Let's not forget about the loss of Wes Kemp to Missouri. Probably not a bad move for him, staying close to home and playing for a pass-happy program that's riding high right now. Yes, we have some nice receivers right now, but not enough that we can just lose talented 6-4 guys without having a replacement. On paper, this is shaping up to be a mediocre recruiting class, which we all know means nothing, but I'd rather have a ton of four- and five-star guys.

My friends and I engaged in a nice back-and-forth yesterday about what all this means, and they made some good points. Here's the one that was the most interesting: what if our record gets worse the next two years? As my buddy pointed out, it's entirely possible, with the recent defections and a difficult schedule, to project 12-1 and 9-4 continuing on to 7-6 and 5-7 after graduation guts the 2008 team.

Look at next year's schedule. The game at Fresno State seems like a trap. We open the Big Ten season at Michigan, home against Ohio State and Penn State, at Iowa, and home against Illinois. That's a rocky road, folks.

If that happens, then what? It's not like the start of Barry Alvarez's tenure, when the program was in shambles and he slowly built from 1-10 to 5-6 and 5-6 before busting through. There aren't many places for Bielema to go but down after starting 12-1. How patient will Barry be if that downward swing dips below .500?

My thought on that was that just about every Big Ten program not named Ohio State and Michigan goes through something like this from time to time. Ours did in 1995 and 2001. In both cases we rebounded and built toward another pinnacle. How will we handle adversity when it inevitably comes?

The nice thing is, there's still a lot to like about this team heading into 2008, and the season may end up being special, like a 1998 or 2006. The last eight days have kind of made it hard to feel that way.