Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm sorry

Guys, this has been a crazy couple weeks. Of the last 13 days, I've been home for two. Missed all but the last two minutes of the Wofford game, and all of the Cornell game (may have been a good thing).

And my laptop died. This is yet anothe painful BlackBerry post.

So that's why there's not much going on here.

I thought life might catch up with me like this at some point, bummer it happened during the tournament. Hopefully I can catch up later.

Probably not going to happen now. Most of my free time is spent creating and selling Wisconsin-themed shirts on Our first big hit was the Worst Call Ever shirt inspired by the Packer-Seahawks debacle that spelled the end of the NFL/officials standoff. My personal favorite: Wisconsin Pass the Salt, which was designed by my 8-year-old son Will. Check it out, buy a shirt.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Greetings from I-94 just north of Chicago. (Don't worry Mom, Dad's driving.)

Still on the BlackBerry, no computer, and tomorrow is super busy at work, so I'll try to squeeze a thought or two in here.

Like the matchup, though admittedly know nothing about Wofford. Like the Temple-Cornell second round potential, would be great challenges. Kentucky in the sweet 16? Awesome. Play Marquette for the Final Four? I might have a heart attack.

Of course, if we play like we did Friday we won't be around long. But I'm optimistic.

FYI: if you ever get a chance to watch an important Indiana high school basketball game, do it. We went to a thrilling game last night, best one we saw all weekend.

In dire need of basketball detox ...

Friday, March 12, 2010


I'm a silver lining type of guy, so in the little bit I can type on my BlackBerry I'll acknowledge our frantic, entertaining comeback effort.That was fun to see.

When I get at a laptop, I'll vent over the god-awful first 35 minutes. That was disgusting.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

UW-Illinois thoughts

Today's win was bittersweet. Sweet, for obvious reasons: dominating Illinois in Champaign doesn't happen often. This one was nice payback for our one home loss this year, a truly disappointing performance several weeks ago.

Bitter, because it became all too apparent today that if Jon Leuer hadn't been hurt, Wisconsin would have won at least a share of the Big Ten title. Wait! you say. All four of the top teams in the conference had their best player miss time because of injury. But here's the difference: Leuer missed nine games. Robbie Hummel missed three (asterisk to Lewis Jackson); Evan Turner missed two Big Ten games; Kalin Lucas missed one.

I'm not saying the Badgers are better than Ohio State, Michigan State, and Purdue, although we did beat all three at home, State without Leuer and Purdue with Leuer playing hurt. I am saying that the Badgers are as good as anyone in the league, and are playing as well as anyone in the league heading to Indianapolis, which is more than I expected from the team this year.

-Where was Leuer missed more in the home loss to Illinois: guarding the pick and roll, or contributing scoring from a variety of spots on the floor?

-Wow, what a game for Jordan Taylor. When am I going to stop being surprised when he makes tough shots? He's been doing it all year. And eight rebounds today for the little guy.

-But wait! Trevon Hughes with 11 rebounds! Of those, seven were offensive! So in the last two games, Hughes had 11, J-Bo had nine, and Taylor had eight.

-This afternoon's biggest: free throw shooting. After a year in which I have seldom felt nervous about our charity stripe work, today it felt like we were going to miss every single one.

Here's another: we're up 16 points, cruising, when Pop comes down and takes a quick, bad shot, then gets himself too close to the Illini ballhandler and picks up his fourth foul. Our offense sputters, they make some shots, and gradually cut the lead to five. If they weren't playing so poorly today, that could have been fatal. He's got to be smarter than that.

-Remember a few days ago when I said we should play only five guys barring foul trouble and injury? Today we got both! Let's hope it's the last we see of that for the year. Will remarked that Hughes looked like he was hurt pretty bad, but I was reminded of his sophomore year, when he went down like that several times and only once really missed a game, the landmark win at Texas.

-One other thing to note: J-Bo was very quiet today, only took six shots while playing the entire game. It seemed like Bill Cole was guarding him, a 6-9 guy. If we're playing three guards most of the time, and the other team has a traditional 3 man that's sort of tall, J-Bo might have a tough time getting shots off.

-When they beat us in Madison, Illinois looked like a team that could make a run at the top. McCamey looked like a superstar, Tisdale was a great-shooting big man, Cole a good role player who can make 3-pointers. Today McCamey was absolutely awful, and when he got into it with Weber after his intentional foul it seemed to reveal underlying tension. Mike Davis, who I thought might become a star this year, seems to have regressed. Paul and Richardson are too inconsistent. They should have been hungry -- starving -- for a win today. But they sucked. I think they need to win at least two games in Indy to even get on the bubble.

We're heading to Indy on Thursday, the sixth straight year we've gone to the Big Ten Tournament. Really looking forward to it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

UW-Iowa thoughts

Always enjoy Senior Night, a chance to honor kids who have devoted themselves to a program for four or five years, remember how far they've come.

I remember Trevon Hughes as a freshman, playing great defense in a surprising win at Marquette, but mostly playing out of control and making you hold your breath. I remember Jason Bohannon as a freshman, going off in a big game at Ohio State, but mostly seeming like a one-dimensional kid tethered to the 3-point line.

They've come so far. Pop is one of the best point guards in the country, and a top pickpocket. J-Bo has mastered the jab step-stepback jumper, and threw a sweet pass to Bruiser tonight -- and did you see he had nine rebounds?!? More than anything, these kids are winners. Just like the kids in every senior class that passes through nowadays. Makes you smile.

-Obviously the story line tonight was Jon Leuer's play, he was outstanding in a variety of ways. His dunks were the highlight, but I was more heartened by his turnaround jump shot, which he had struggled with since returning from the wrist injury. And he's blocking more shots now.

-Speaking of Leuer's dunks, Keaton Nankivil had a sweet one himself. I would argue that Leuer and Nankivil are the most athletic pair of true big men -- 6-8 and taller -- we've had at UW at one time.

-Wayne Larrivee was talking about how Leuer's absence was a blessing in disguise for the Badgers, since it forced other guys to fill the void. That's true to an extent, as guys like Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson have played a lot more important minutes than they otherwise might have.

But here's the thing: we lost three games without Leuer, and another one in his return where he was rusty and ineffective. If we win just one of those games -- not a stretch -- we're playing for a share of the Big Ten title on Sunday. So yeah, if we win the Big Ten Tournament or go to the Final Four because of the growth our guys showed without Leuer, then it was a good thing. But otherwise, I would have rather his wrist never been broken, he kept playing, and Jordan and Rob waited until next year to grow all the way up. I like winning the Big Ten more than personal growth.

-Here's another thing: when we had Leuer, Nankivil, Hughes, J-Bo and Taylor on the floor, I found myself thinking that barring foul trouble or injuries, Bo shouldn't use his bench much from here on out. I don't mind when Evans, Jarmusz, Wilson or Bruiser play, they all have their moments. But our starting five is by far the best combination we put out there, offensively and defensively. If Taylor can guard a guy like Gatens, using his strength to offset his lack of height, then there aren't many teams that are going to use combinations those guys can't handle.

I heard someone talking about this the other night in regards to Ohio State, which is playing its starters almost the entire game. The guy said that in the postseason, where TV timeouts are longer, fatigue shouldn't be much of a factor. So barring foul trouble, why not severely tighten the rotation?

-Wilson only had four points tonight, but I'm really looking forward to seeing him play major minutes next year. Mainly because he's shown more aptitude for the post-up game than any other guard we've had recently. He had a nice post move today to get himself a layup, and if he does that on a regular basis next year, that'll give us two bona fide post scorers.

-Iowa is awful, and it doesn't look like it's going to be getting better any time soon. Fuller and Gatens are nice players, and Cole looks like a player. But Cully Payne? Brennan Cougill? They should only be playing in televised basketball games in a movie like Teen Wolf. There were times tonight that I thought Gatens was going to hit one of his teammates for their awful play.

-You know who else had a good game tonight? Tim Doyle on the BTN. He annoys me every so often, but he did a really good job tonight. It always helps when your team is on the right side of a blowout, but he made a lot of good points tonight. In particular, he talked about Leuer's tendency to shoot his turnaround post jumper spinning to his right.

Let's finish strong at Illinois, could be seeing them twice in a week.