Sunday, March 1, 2009

UW-Michigan thoughts

I'm either going to hell or I'm onto something.

Didn't watch today's game live, but kept abreast of the proceedings, despite being in church. After listening to the first half on the radio, we entered Our Lady of Lourdes Church in De Pere for a service connected to Jana's participation in the Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults. The Badgers, who had been up seven just minutes before, were down two at the half.

Yet, in a ceremony marked by hundreds of confirmation candidates, I was able to sneak away and get score updates on my BlackBerry. First in the reconciliation room, then behind various pillars displaying stations of the cross. Several times I had to slip the device into my pocket when a dude with a collar approached. Without knowing exactly how, I saw the Badgers build a lead against a team that's really playing well, then hold on at the end. Divine intervention?

Maybe not today, but after that six-game losin streak it seemed like it would take divine intervention for Wisconsin to make the NCAA Tournament. But that's exactly where we seem to be headed after today's crucial win. It was a nice one; I saw Michigan beat Purdue on Thursday, and they looked damn good, like they probably looked in beateing Duke and UCLA.

What's nice is that we now own the season series against Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State, the teams around us in the standings. Our odds of not playing Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament appear pretty good, but as stated before, that wouldn't be the end of the world provided we finish sixth and would draw Indiana.

As for today's game:

-What an incredible start, that was beautiful offensive basketball. In recent years Michigan would have packed it in at that point, credit them with coming back strong, taking control of the game late in the first half, then fighting us to the end. John Beilein is a really nice coach for them. He got a lot less buzz than the other coach they lured from West Virginia, but might end up being the far better hire.

-Everyone raves about Manny Harris, and he's good, but for the last two years I've thought DeShawn Sims was the better player on that team. He was pretty bad on two late 3-point attempts today.

-Great to hear Gus Johnson calling games on the Big Ten Network, he's one of my favorites. His enthusiasm on certain calls is genuine and not Musberger overblown. Heck, today he even started talking about Bob Sura, one of my all-time favorites. Trent Tucker, on the other hand, not a big fan.

-Pop was the guy we needed him to be today, creating his own shot off penetration and hitting from outside. Had he been able to put together just one game like this during our losing streak it would never have gotten so long.

-Leuer did a nice job getting himself in position to use his size advantage to get easy shots. I especially like the little jump hook he's using, even though I think he only made one of them today.

-Landry had a nice little game today, too. Good shooting, six boards, five assists. He's the one reason I wouldn't mind a 4-5 matchup with Penn State in the conference tournament. The sight of him shooting those short turnarounds reminded me of how well he played in those matchups this season.

-Krabby missed another wide-open left-handed layup, don't even think he hit the rim on him. Still love him and his all-around game -- 11 boards today -- but his lack of confidence shooting the ball in college remains a mystery to me. Had he had the mindset to score 12-13 points a game he would have been all-conference caliber. Joe also had some turnovers today that looked like me playing noon ball at the Iola Fitness Center, head-scratching passes.

-We ourebounded them by 10, grabbing eight on the offensive glass. That's how it should be againt a team that plays so small. It will be interesting to see if Michigan can bring in personnel that fits Beilein's system but allows them to be more competitive on the boards. One of Krabby's offensive boards gave me a big smile. J-Bo missed a 3-pointer from the corner, and Harris half-heartedly boxed him out. Krabby just muscled him aside and grabbed the errant shot, drawing a foul. Beautiful.

-Boy, if Jason Bohannon finds his shot by the time postseason play begins we'll be tough to beat.

-Pretty tight rotation today, Jarmusz was the only bench player to get double-digit minutes. I wouldn't mind if this trend continued down the stretch. Only exception -- stop me if you've heard this before -- is that I'd like to see Nankivil get more minutes. At some point, like last week in East Lansing, we're going to run into a team that can kill us on the boards, and his big frame would come in handy.

-We didn't close out very efficiently with spotty free throw shooting and that dumb foul by Hughes. Good thing we defended well.

Bottom line is another nice win, and pretty darn close to clinching a spot in the Dance. Even with a loss at The Barn, there's no way we should lose to Indiana, which leaves us 19-11 overall, with a strong RPI. Might be a double-digit seed, but that's OK -- just need to get in, then anything can happen.


Anonymous said...

"Boy, if Jason Bohannon finds his shot by the time postseason play begins we'll be tough to beat."

...and we continue playing mediocre teams. Comments like this make me giggle and also make me wonder what you've been watching all year.

Jeff Burch said...

For as much hatred as Anonymous is dishing out, he/she sure seems to be an avid fan of your blog Tappa. Keep up the good work.

Scott Tappa said...

Thanks Jeff, and glad you're commenting, appreciate it.

Anonymous -- so you're arguing that if Bohannon is shooting better, we're still only able to beat "mediocre" teams? I disagree. This team needs everyone on to beat really good teams, which we haven't really done this year precisely because a guy or two is usually off.

As for Michigan being mediocre, you didn't watch their win over Purdue, they played excellent basketball and really needed that game against us Sunday. Inconsistent and undersized, but not mediocre.

Anonymous said...

Also, how is Jason going to find his shot when this offense doesn't get him open. Plus, does it piss anyone off watching the Badgers set screens. Talk about lazy! No wonder Jason is never open.