Friday, March 20, 2009

UW-Florida State thoughts

All day I had people asking me "Badgers got a shot tonight?" In the break room. In the hallway. In the door of my office. In conference calls. To each questioner I said, with a goofy grin, "I think we're going to win tonight."

There were plenty of times tonight when that seemed far-fetched, but wow, what a great day to be right!

Yes, it's just one win, far away in Idaho, but right now a warm feeling is washing over me. Temporarily wiping away the disappointment of the football season, the six-game hoops losing streak in January, Lawrence Westbrook, etc., etc., etc.

Life is good.

We won this game because, as it turned out, we were the better team. Florida State played really good defense, and Douglas is as good as advertised, but they didn't have much offensively besides him. We had a couple guys get hot when it was just about to be too late, and Pop did his Virginia Tech circus shot thing at the end to beat another ACC team. Very gratifying that we could play a far from perfect game and still come out on top.

-The first half was absolutely horrible, again. 26.9% shooting. Leuer was 0-for-7 at one point. Our guys were double clutching and scared to shoot. If you live in Wisconsin, you should have been watching the Madison Memorial-Bay Port state semifinal game (Vander Blue hit a big 3-pointer and blocked one, too, to lead the Spartans to the finals).

-But looks who comes out hot in the second half, Keaton Nankivil. His shot is aesthetically pleasing, and I'm counting on a huge step forward from him next year. I still can't fathom why he wasn't playing more in this last stretch; at the very least he should have been getting Gullikson's minutes.

-Then J-Bo snaps out of his slump at just the right time. After he hit that long 3 with under a minute to play he started pumping his arms and yelling -- never seen him so fired up. It was refreshing! Hopefully he uses his clutch performance tonight as a springboard to a big senior season.

-Landry's play tonight might go overlooked, but it was solid. He went up against some good, long post defenders and still found a way to make five shots.

-Jordan Taylor's play was steady if not spectacular. I can't remember any turnovers from him, and he made that late layup to bring us within a point. Also played pretty good defense.

-And what can you say about Pop's game-winner? Watching the replay a couple times, there was a high degree of difficulty on that one. His arm was almost fully extended trailing the rest of his body.

-Douglas was really aided by some superstar calls late. The foul on Pop that led to Douglas's game-tying free throws at the end of regulation was a bad call, Douglas just fell down. On the 3-pointer he made to put them up three late in OT he appeared to push his man down (although I didn't see a replay and might be wrong). He may have had 26, but I thought our guys did a pretty good job on him.

-Our guys missed some big free throws down the stretch, and the way this season has gone I fully expected it to cost us the game.

-Twenty wins again, not a bad total for a down year.

-Between our game and Siena beating Ohio State (aww, too bad ... there goes my Big Ten allegiance), what an exciting end to the first round.

Who's next, Xavier? No problem ...

I'll think more about them after getting some sleep. Which might be easier said than done after that finish.


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