Monday, June 30, 2008

Badgers-Gophers: A '97 classic

March 8, 1997 is a special day for me. It was the day the Badger basketball team beat Minnesota at the Fieldhouse in a dramatic game to clinch a birth in the NCAA tournament. It preceded a great pull-out section we put together for the Cardinal, and propelled a few of us to a memorable trip to Pittsburgh.

And the Notorious B.I.G. was killed that night.

The Big Ten Network brought me back to that day by replaying that game, won 66-65 by Wisconsin, on its recent Wisconsin day. Watched it last night, and here are some thoughts:

-Starting lineup for Wisconsin: Ty Calderwood, David Burkemper, Sam Okey, Sean Daughtery, Paul Grant. That's a big lineup, like ours this year before Flowers was reinserted into the lineup, probably too big and slow to win big.

-Daugherty would have been a good fit in the Swing offense. His game was similar to Butch's, but he was smoother and Butch was more assertive.

-Grant was somewhat clumsy at times, but really athletic and pretty jacked. Not too hard to see why the NBA made him a first rounder. Just checked, and he played 111 minutes in his NBA career, and interestingly had five years between stints with the Bucks and the Jazz.

-Burkemper was rocking some Hasselhoffian chest hair.

-Minnesota had a really good team, so deep and balanced. Courtney James was a stud. Sam Jacobson was an awesome athlete. Quincy Lewis was just flashing what he would become. That doesn't even mention Bobby Jackson, the best of the bunch.

-All that said, looking at Clem Haskins makes my blood boil. He and the athletic department that enabled him got what they deserved.

-Calderwood's shot wasn't pretty, but it was courageous. That kid was just a winner, flat-out. You could see his importance to our program in how the team did the next year when he was injured - the last losing season we've had.

-Did you know Mike Kosolcharoen's dad was an Olympic swimmer for Thailand? Ahh, Special K. My memory's fuzzy, but didn't we do a point-counterpoint in the Cardinal debating whether he should be starting (when he was), with Gitter taking the point that he shouldn't be? And didn't Mike call Gitter up to share his opinion?

-Man, did the Fieldhouse get loud. Always thought the move to the shiny new Kohl Center would mean a diminished home court advantage. Good call.

-The Badgers played great defense in that game, but it looked different than the great defense we play now. It was much more frenetic and scrambling than our current scheme, and probably more than Bennett's usually was. Minnesota was the first and only opponent to score 60 points in the Fieldhouse that year, that's impressive.

-I really like that on the Badgers' last offensive possession, which ended with Calderwood getting fouled, Bennett didn't call timeout. Trust your kids, let them play.

-Okey, Okey, Okey ... what could have been. I wonder how he would have fit in under Bo, or Stu Jackson for that matter.
There were times when I'd go "Huh" or "nice shot" and Jana would say "I thought you were at this game." True, but I didn't remember every last bounce of the ball. I remembered the winning free throws and steal, but that's about it. That's what's great about this series on the BTN, and why I can't wait to watch the other games.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Welcome new Badgers

The football program has added six new recruits lately, filling out the class at a variety of positions. I used to get a lot more excited about this part of the college football experience, but not as much any more. We could sit around gnashing our teeth about all these three-star guys (why aren't we getting more four- and five-star guys?!?!?!?) but for the past 15-plus years the program has been built on three-star guys who have worked to improve and been coached up to an elite level. Anyway, here are the latest soon-to-be Badgers:

Montee Ball, RB, Wentzville, Mo.
He's 5-11, 200 pounds, the right size for a back. He's rushed for about 5,000 yards in his sophomore and junior years, and has about 4.5 speed. We beat Kansas and Missouri for him. Scout has him as the 48th best back in his class.

Zac Matthias, OL, Hemlock, Mich.
Typical of the guys we recruit to play the line - 6-6, 305. We beat Michigan State and some MAC schools for him. Read a quote from his high school coach who said that if Lloyd Carr was still at Michigan, Matthias would have been holding out for an offer from them, but since RichRod is at Ann Arbor playing touch football, we got him.

Jon Lechner, OL, Omaha
Another 6-6 kid, primarily a run blocker. We beat out home state Nebraska for this guy. Apparently there's been some conflicting reports or wavering here, as Lechner's name has disappeared from the commit list.

Chris Borland, LB, Kettering, Ohio
Don't know much about this dude, but he's from a football hotbed, and I'm always for taking kids from Ohio. A linebacker from the Columbus area, doesn't seem like you can go wrong with that.

Brian Wozniak, TE, Loveland, Ohio
Another Ohio boy, I love it! He's 6-5, 225, already pretty good size for the position, and it stands to reason he'll grow. Looks like we beat Louisville, Maryland, and MAC schools for this guy.

Travis Frederick, OL, Walworth, Wis.
A Wisconsin kid! Travis is a 6-5, 302-pound tackle, the kind of kid we've built the program on over the years. He's also a really good student, over a 4.0 GPA, so you figure he's a good character guy.

Gotta wonder why the rash of recent commitments. Most likely offers coming after summer camps. Or are the coaches just pushing to get their recruiting done so they can spend the rest of the summer playing golf?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Help Iowa

The floods that are ravaging the Midwest have hit the University of Iowa and damaged many of that school's facilities.

Click here to learn more about how you can help Iowa's campus flood relief efforts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Year in review

Was watching the Wisconsin year in review, and reflecting on another very good year for Barry Alvarez's program. Some more thoughts:

-Nine straight Big Ten titles for the men's cross country team? Impressive. No wonder coach Jerry Schumacher was a hot commodity for Nike, which lured him away.

-The women's hockey team finished second in the country ... and it was sort of disappointing for a program that had won the previous two national championships. Mark Johnson's got things going well.

-The football team had a 14-game winning streak and was ranked #5 heading into the loss at Illinois. It's easy to forget the team had reached those heights.

-Tyler Donovan was one tough SOB.

-Gerry DiNardo made the point that the football program under Bielema, while not struggling by any means, has not been as consistent as it was under Alvarez. Interesting point, one that bears watching closely as the roster becomes more and more BB's.

-USC and West Virginia are the only other programs to have played in four straight January bowl games. No reason that can't continue this season, although it's far from a certainty.

-Jolene Anderson left Madison as the fourth-leading scorer in Big Ten women's basketball history, and she's never been mentioned in this blog. Shame on me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spring game thoughts

During the Big Ten Network's day-long orgy of UW athletics, I recorded the spring game, and watched it on a rainy Sunday. Not too much going on, but it satisfied my football jones for the time being, and I've got some thoughts and feelings.

-Philip Welch looks like the kicker, more reliable on his attemps than Matt Fischer. The other specialist, punter Brad DeBauche, didn't look all that good, leaving the door wide open for incoming freshman Brad Nortman.

-Scott Tolzien looked pretty good at quarterback, showed nice chemistry with T.J. Theus. Tolzien did miss a wide open Maurice Moore in the end zone, a play that Jay Valai misplayed. Valai did make a nice pick later.

-Allen Evridge was OK, nothing spectacular, nothing horrible. Most of the national stuff that's been written about our team lately has been calling quarterback play a big question mark and doubting our guys. Setting the bar low ... I have a feeling the guys will jump over that bar.

-Chris Maragos showed great ball skills and athleticism, with one interception and another one that should have been. Niles Brinkley made a really nice play on his pick as well.

-On the flip side, Prince Moody and Otis Merrill didn't look very good at cornerback.

-The first string Cardinal squad ran the ball well enough, but given that the first string offensive line was fully in tact, and the defensive line was missing about 87 guys because of injury, the O Line did not dominate as much as would have been expected.

-Lance Smith looked really good, showing patience as his blocking developed. Having him for all games, health willing, will add a dynamic element to the offense. Zach Brown ran well before going down. And John Clay was as good as advertised - not dominant yet, but effective right off the bat. He's going to be a beast; I can see "Joooooohn Clay" becoming the new "Roooooon Dayne." We've got to have the best group of running backs in the country.

-Dustin Sherer had some nice hook-ups with David Gilreath. Gilreath had a strong showing overall.

-Curt Phillips didn't do much, but my favorite moment for him actually came after a play was whistled dead. Phillips was wearing a green no-contact jersey, and as defenders encountered him on one play it was whistled dead, but he took off upfield and showed a tremendous burst. I'm looking forward to him getting a year under him as a redshirt and getting ready to compete for the starting job in 2009.

-James Stallon is Jim Sorgi skinny, maybe even more. He's listed at 6-5, 172 pounds ... maybe pass rushers won't see him back there. And apparently his last name is pronounced "Stalins" not "Stal - ens." I'd rethink that if I was him.

-Said it before, will say it again: Lance Kendricks is the next Travis Beckum, starting in 2009.

-On the mic, the normally steady Jay Wilson made mistake after mistake, and not on obscure seventh stringers but on guys who will see time this season. Luke Swan wasn't as bad as I thought he'd be, although his voice did get drowned out by the band at times. He looked really small next to Wilson, surprisingly small.

Only a couple months until fall camp starts, can't wait!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hockey: Feeling a draft

What a draft for the Wisconsin hockey program. A total of seven Badgers or soon-to-be Badgers were selected in the NHL draft, including five of the first 51 picks.

They were: Jake Gardiner, Cody Golobef, Patrick Wiercioch, Justin Schultz, Derek Stepan, Patrick Johnson, and Nick Pryor. Gardiner, and incoming freshman defenseman, was the top pick of the group, going 17th overall to Anaheim.

In his State Journal blog Andy Baggot compares this draft haul to other collegiate classes. Pretty impressive.

The question is: will this lead to conference titles and postseason success? Last year's team featured a bunch of high draft picks and, while it finished one goal short of the Frozen Four, it finished with a losing record.

Kudos to Baggot and Todd Milewski for great work previewing this draft, reporting on it, and providing perspective.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Andy and Bret

The other day on Facebook I got a notification that my brother had changed his profile picture, and since he's been adding pictures of us as little kids lately I thought I'd take a look. But from the thumbnail, it looked like him and someone famous.

Check it out.

Pretty cool. I emailed Andy to ask him about it, and here was his tongue in cheek response:

"Mendota Gridiron Club's annual 'IT Day.' BB and the coaches emailed a bunch of IT people on campus and we sat down with the guys to show them how to use Powerpoint and YouTube. Xavier Harris now loves playing World of WarCraft ..."

And the real story:

"It was actually at a 'rock & roll concert' in Middleton last weekend. Someone spotted BB from like 30 yards away and he was nice enough to let us take a picture with him."

As cool as it must be to be Bret Bielema, it's also got to be challenging. You want to be accommodating to fans like Andy and his buddies, but let's say 25 people come up to him during this concert asking for pictures. Can you ever say no? If you do just once, you come off as a jerk. Suppose that's just the price that comes with living as a celebrity and not being content to be homebound or exceedingly private.

Andy also said they couldn't have their beers in their pictures with the coach, which makes sense -- he doesn't want another Larry Eustachy-esque picture gallery popping up on a message board or in the blogosphere.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Badger burgers, anyone?

Don't know about you, but I had a wonderful Father's Day. Will, Charlie (and Jana) brought me breakfast in bed. I got a handmade "World's Greatest Dad" shirt from Will (not like Kohn's, Schwib, much cuter). We went to a wildlife sanctuary, then to a little amusement park where we went on rides, including bumper cars.

I'm already making plans for what I want next year: a Badger-themed Grill Topper. How cool is that?
Now, let's be honest: there is only about a 10-second span between the grill and your mouth where you can see what it looks like. Usually, I'm just trying to put the side that is more burnt face down, so Jana doesn't think I messed it up.
But this would be great for tailgates, parties, etc. Hell, maybe I'll get one for Will - he loves the letter W and Bucky Badgerso much that I could probably convince him this would be a good gift for him.

The Grill Topper, check it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The other day, Jana and I were at Pick 'N Save with the boys, eating muffins and reading the papers, when I came across a news item about UW athletic teams' grades.

Overall, I thought it looked pretty good, as the program recorded a cumulative 2.99 GPA for the spring term, the second-highest in school history. When I relayed the good news to Jana, she arched her eyebrow, as if to say "That's it?"

But that's pretty darn good. I think my final GPA ended up being around 3.2 in not the most challenging majors, and I didn't spend 30 hours a week playing sports. It would be interesting to see how athletes' GPAs compare to the student body in general.

Another interesting thing is that across the board, the chicks have better grades than the dudes. Not sure what to make of that, but hats off to the ladies for their academic acumen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Big Ten Network coming to you soon?

In the bathroom today at work my boss said "Sounds like Comcast is going to carry the Big Ten Network." To which I said "I can't believe you're talking to me in the bathroom," and stormed away.

Then he caught up to me, and I said "It's funny, because as a DirecTV subscriber I've had the Big Ten Network all along, which has definitely influenced my opinion of the whole matter. A lot of my friends have been pretty upset about this, and while I understand, I don't have the urgency they do.

"Once everyone gets it, though ... they'll really like it."

And hopefully Time Warner, Charter, and the other popular Midwest carriers follow Comcast's lead and get this Network working for the conference, even if it is a year late.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Looking down on Camp Randall

Last week I read in the Sporting News about an interesting site focusing on college football, The first thing I found was a Google Maps view of Camp Randall Stadium.

The site also has a recruiting map, showing the origins of a school's recruits.

It also gives information on teams' road game performance. Since 1998, the Badgers have traveled 17,588 miles for non-conference road games, and 28,745 miles overall. Wisconsin is batting .800 in non-conference road games, and 62% in road games overall.

Do you remember who the Badgers have lost to on the road in non-conference play in the last 10 years?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Charlie, you're going to be a long snapper

At least that's what I'm planning on instructing my son once he's able to bend over and grab a football with two hands. Recently Will emailed a few of us a story about arguably the premier high school long snapper in Georgia.

Let that title sink in: arguably the premier high school long snapper in Georgia. (His name is Michael Brodsky, in case you're interested.)

Used to be long snappers were guys who couldn't get playing time at other positions, really wanted to play, and volunteered to long snap. Some of them turn out to be really good at and turn in long careers, like former Packer Rob Davis.

Some Badgers, like Mike Schneck, Mike Solwold, and Matt Katula, have used long snapping as a ticket to the NFL.

Still, it seems to me that ranking high school long snappers is just a wee bit silly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Wire: Season Two

Jana and I finished watching Season Two of The Wire last week, and I remember Will was curious to see what we thought of it. We really liked it, what a phenomenal show - well written, well acted.

It was like a book you can't put down, we had to keep watching it, even though it was past our bedtime. When people saw us bleary-eyed they'd ask "Baby keeping you up?" And we'd nod, but it was really staying up with Bunk and Jimmy McNulty.
The Frank Sobotka/dock workers storyline was terrific. Chris Bauer, who played Sobotka, portrayed one of the most likeable bad guys recently seen on TV (The Wire has a way of producing guys like that). He was doing the wrong things, but for the right reasons, and you can appreciate that. Pablo Schreiber, a poor man's Ben Affleck, played Sobotka's nephew Nick the same way. A dying union was a fertile source of drama and intrigue to build the season around.
The detective work was once again fascinating, and the detail's failure to land the ultimate prize was excruciating. In the third-to-last episode, as the good guys file the necessary paperwork for a search warrant, the bad guys shred documents and flush drugs down the drain. You want to scream! A very similar finish to the first season, where Avon Barksdale goes down, but if D'Angelo had not listened to his mother, he could have taken down the whole empire, politicians and all.
There were some things I didn't like. Take, for instance, the lapses back into the Barksdale storyline. They seemed forced, and shifted valuable time away from developing the Sobotka plot. At least it appears McNulty and Greggs they will tie Stringer Bell to Proposition Joe in the next season, something I expected to happen earlier in season two. A little too much going on.
Sobotka's son Ziggy was over-the-top stupid, a bit beyond believable. Didn't need to see McNulty's and Gregg's family troubles. The in-prison drama orchestrated by Avon was off-topic too, although it was interesting to see the relationship between Avon and Stringer grow strained.
And our favorite moment: when Prez punched Valchek. I may have actually cheered.
Looking forward to season three.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wisconsin Day on the Big Ten Network

If you have the Big Ten Network and are suffering Badger withdrawal, plan on taking June 19 off from work. That day, and the early morning hours of June 20, the BTN is devoting an entire day to UW programming. Here's the schedule (scroll down):

Thursday, June 19, 2008
6:00AM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: Wisconsin Reflections 10: Kelly Cobiella (HD)
6:30AM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: Wisconsin Reflections 12: Michael Feldman
7:00AM ET
Big Ten Women's Soccer '07: Ohio State at Wisconsin (HD)
9:00AM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: Wisconsin Reflections 14: Mark Johnson
10:00AM ET
Big Ten Spring Football '08: Wisconsin
12:00PM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: Wisconsin Reflections 15: Allee Willis
1:00PM ET
The Big Ten's Greatest Games - Basketball: 3/8/97 - Minnesota at Wisconsin
3:00PM ET
The Big Ten's Greatest Games - Football: 2003 - Ohio State at Wisconsin
5:00PM ET
Big Ten Men's Indoor Track & Field '07-'08: Big Ten Indoor Championship (HD)
7:00PM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: Wisconsin Reflections 11: Suzy Favor Hamilton
7:30PM ET
Big Ten Men's Basketball: Big Ten Championship Game: Wisconsin vs. Illinois
9:00PM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD) – Debut
9:30PM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD)
10:00PM ET
The Big Ten's Greatest Games - Basketball: 2/13/08 - Wisconsin at Indiana (HD)

Friday, June 20, 2008
12:00AM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD)
12:30AM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD)
1:00AM ET
Wisconsin Campus Programming: First Wave
2:00AM ET
The Big Ten's Greatest Games - Football: 1999 Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. UCLA
5:00AM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD)
5:30AM ET
Big Ten Tonight: Wisconsin: Year In Review (HD)

I'm especially looking forward to recording the '97 Minnesota basketball game, '03 Ohio State football game, and '99 Rose Bowl. Will try to provide some commentary after watching some of these again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Badger update: Mark Anelli

Mark Anelli was a fairly underrated member of the Wisconsin football program a few years back, at a position where, under the radar, we've produced a number of pretty good players.

What's he doing now? This St. Louis Post-Dispatch story says he's working out like a madman while trying to keep his NFL dreams alive.

The story doesn't say exactly what Anelli's 40 time would be right now, but indicates that while he's a slow starter, he really gets moving once he hits stride.
It's amazing how difficult it is for some guys to kick the football bug once it gets in them. Best of luck to Mark, hopefully he gets another shot to make the NFL.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Owen Daniels

The Jon Budmayr commitment got me thinking about all the other high school quarterbacks we've gotten from Chicago, few of whom have worked out all that well. One who did was Owen Daniels, albeit at a different position.

You know what? He's quietly become one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Read this nice little write-up on Owen, part of a look at the AFC South at that position.

I laughed at his "limitations": not a deep threat. How many tight ends are?
Owen's a good example of a guy who realized his greatest potential to contribute and grow as a football player was at a different position, and wasn't too stubborn or proud to make the switch.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Granato to coach Avs again

The surest sign it's slow season in Badgerville: back-to-back days with hockey posts. But here's a fairly significant piece of Badger-related news - Tony Granato has been hired to coach the Colorado Avalanche again. He coached the team five years ago before being demoted.

The news has a Billy Martin feel to it, but that's how it is in the NHL, apparently. Those guys change coaches like most people change underwear. Watching the Stanley Cup finals, I had absoltely no idea who was coaching the Red Wings and Penguins. Granted, I'm a casual fan, but those guys should wear their names on the front all the time, a la Burch at the end of our freshman football season.

Granato is fourth on the all-time UW scoring list with 220 points in 152 games, third all-time with 100 goals, a two-time All-American and a Hobey Baker finalist. That's pretty damn impressive.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Stanley Cup winners

Congrats to two former Badgers who won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings last week: Brian Rafalski (right) and Chris Chelios. Chelly, who's about 80 now, didn't play much, if at all, in the finals, but Raffy played a big role.

Rafalski had goals in the last two games, and would have had the series clincher in Game 5 if not for an exciting late goal by the Penguins. For the playoffs, he had four goals and 14 points and was a plus-6. He's one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

And yet, if you passed him at the mall, you probably wouldn't guess that he's a world class athlete. Listed at 5-10, I'd bet he's two inches shorter. A few summers ago, when the NHL skipped a season because of a strike or a lockout (can't remember which; did you notice?), Rafalski played in the same softball league as me in Waupaca. Apparently he married a girl from Waupaca and owns a home on our beautiful Chain O' Lakes.

Didn't realize it was him until, batting left-handed, he hit a single to left-center (me) and stretched it into a ... triple. Man is he fast!

Congrats to these two guys for getting two more names of former Badgers on the Stanley Cup.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

God bless the Big Ten Network

One of the best things about starting Badgercentric has been hearing from people I haven't seen or been in contact with since college. Last week I got an email from Jake Fisher, a friend of some friends in school who was always fun to talk sports with, a really good guy.

Jake relayed to me that while he's moved around quite a bit after college before landing in Kentucky, he has remained a devoted follower of Badger athletics. A new television option has helped him. "God bless the Big Ten Network!" he writes.

This is exactly what the BTN was created for: to allow Big Ten alumni and potential students (and presumably athletes) in places like Kentucky to see exactly what the conference has to offer. Unfortunately, as has been well-documented, the network did not have its bases covered when it comes to cable carriage, which has meant that many people in Wisconsin, let alone Kentucky, have been shut out from Badger and other Big Ten sports.

I suppose we can only have faith that the BTN will eventually have widespread distribution and there will be lots of people out there like Jake who couldn't fathom living without it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Senior starters

Thought I'd take a look at the converse of the Badgers' reluctance to start freshmen -- what is the frequency of senior starters? While UW has had 11 freshmen who were primary starters in the last 26 years, it has had 49 senior starters, according to the team's record book. That's an average of 1.8 a year.

2008 2
2007 3
2006 1
2005 4
2004 2
2003 2
2002 2
2001 4
2000 1
1999 2
1998 2
1997 1
1996 1
1995 3
1994 1
1993 1
1992 1
1991 4
1990 1
1989 2
1988 0
1987 3
1986 2
1985 2
1984 0
1983 0
1982 2

You can't read as much into this as you can into the lack of freshman starters. The only real correlation I see comes in Bo's years: 2006, in which Ray Nixon was the only senior starter, was the Badgers' worst year under Bo (it's all relative, of course: 19 wins and a trip to the NCAA Tournament). Also, the 2005 team, with four senior starters, overachieved in the Big Dance, advancing to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champ North Carolina.

The 2002, 2003, and 2008 Big Ten championship teams all had just two senior starters. The 2000 team that went to the Final Four had just one, Jon Bryant; that same roster, the next year as seniors, was bounced in the first round by Georgia State. And the 1995 team, with three senior starters, was the most underachieving team in recent memory - no team with Michael Finley and Rashard Griffith should have a losing record.

Experience and leadership are important, but it doesn't necessarily have to come from seniors.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freshman starters

Reading about Jeronne Maymon's recruitment last week got me thinking: how often have freshmen started at Wisconsin? Off the top of my head, Alando Tucker was the only one I could think of in recent times. Here are the freshman starters for Wisconsin basketball in the last 26 years:

2003: Alando Tucker
2002: Devin Harris
1998: Mike Kelley
1996: Sam Okey, Hennssy Auriantal (Maymon's mentor)
1994: Rashard Griffith
1992: Michael Finley
1990: Larry Hisle
1983: Rick Olson
1982: Brad Sellers, Cory Blackwell

That's some list. Tucker, Harris, Griffith, Finley, Blackwell and Sellers were all first or second round NBA draft picks. Kelley might be the best defensive player in program history. Olson is the program's fifth all-time leading scorer. Okey was Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the only one in school history. Auriantal led the team in steals as a freshman for Dick Bennett's first team.

That's 11 freshman starters in 26 seasons, or ninein 25. Shouldn't be any freshman starters on next year's team, even though we lose two starters to graduation. That's the sign of a stable program that recruits, retains, and develops players well.

Danny Jones: not playing overseas

A couple weeks ago I followed up on a Journal Sentinel list of players with Wisconsin ties still competing in hoops internationally, and said former Badger great Danny Jones was playing in Germany.

Apparently, that's not true. This recent post on Buckyville says Danny has been stateside since 2000. Sounds like a good guy.

Should have known better, the info on Danny was far spottier than the others. My apologies for the mistake.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Big Ten Tournament title game thoughts

The Big Ten Network has been showing the Big Ten Tournament finale against Illinois this week, so I took the time to watch it on television for the first time. It was good to see things from a different angle than we watched it in Indianapolis, and to make some observations after the grind of the long season is over.

-Too bad we couldn't have gotten Stiemsma more of those 16-foot jumpers over his career, he was really good at those.

-Too bad Flowers didn't shoot 3-pointers more before his senior season, he had a really nice storke. He made one at a key point in the first half where he caught a pass, elevated over a solid close-out and was dead-on. In a different program, he could have been a 15 ppg guy.

-Jarmusz's play at the end of the year was really encouraging. Had this year's team not been so experienced, he might have seen as much playing time as J-Bo did as a freshman. He might be a real positive for the team next year.

-On certain days, the Badgers were a very good 3-point shooting team, maybe the best all-aroudn in recent memory. Five different guys hit threes in that game, and the Badgers were 9-of-18 overall.

-I'm worried about Pop's tendency to suffer seemingly minor injuries that disrupt the flow of his game. Then again, the injuries forced him to slow down and play under control more. He's really capable of some special things offensively.

-Illinois was just gassed by the time they played us. Just saw a play where Trent Meacham came off a pick in position to shoot, with a little room, and couldn't squeeze it off.

-Krabby set a hellacious pick on Chester Frazier, really knocked him down. He's so good at those little things. Frazier, to his credit, bounced up and got back to play defense, I really like that kid.

-Billy Packer said Jeff Jordan had scholarship offers to play at Davidson and Valparaiso. He should have taken one of them.

-J.P. Gavinski runs pretty well for a big guy.

-Why call timeout to get Gullikson in there for five seconds at the end of the game?

-Ed Hightower ... sigh. There's a play where Brian Randle trips over his own feet and bowls over Butch, and Eddie calls a foul on Brian. Hightower is just the worst.

-I was damn happy to be there.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cruise with the coaches?

Got my Wisconsin Alumni Travel Adventures brochure in the mail this week, the usual list of trips I won't have the time or money for until I'm 65, hopefully. The back page pushes the Cruise with the Coaches, an "exotic Caribbean cruise that combines fun and football."

Not sure I'd want to go on this one even if I did have the money and time. Maybe it's just me, but if I'm going to go on a Caribbean cruise, I want to share it with my friends and/or family, not the Badgers' football coaches.
I sure as hell don't want to see Bret Bielema rubbing spf 50 sun block all over himself. Sorry, Alumni Association, I'll pass.