This is not fun for me to admit, but I don't think I enjoy watching this team play. I don't feel like getting all frustrated talking about how the least efficient players on the team shoot the most or how we don't make shots or how we keep scoring in the 40's or how our seniors haven't even considered stepping up. Nope. I don't wanna do that. I'm just gonna get on with it.
LET'S PLAY A GAME, SHALL WE? I call this game THE SPECIAL GAME.
SPOILER: There are no winners in this game.
What is special about these schools?
Give up? These are the only schools in Division I NCAA Basketball that are worse at shooting free throws than Wisconsin. There are THREE HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN D1 programs. 347! And only these bumfuck establishments are worse at making a motherfucking FREE throw than UW. I've never even heard of 5 of these schools. That is the company we find ourselves in as we clank free throw after free throw.
And that's really the story of the loss to Michigan State. We played tremendous defense. We rebounded. We kept them from getting easy transition points. But we couldn't buy a bucket. And we went 7-18 (39%) from the line in a 2 point loss. Nothing else needs to be said. Forget everything else. 7-18 from the line and you lose by 2? Not too hard to pinpoint the root of the problem. END ANALYSIS.
PS - Your seniors combined to go 9-32 from the field and 3-10 from the line. Your starting point guard went 2-9 from the field. In no galaxy do you win games with shooting like that from your leadership positions. I know Dekker didn't look great and picked up 2 stupid fouls, but you gotta let him loose if the rest of your guys are shooting that poorly. Disgusting.
PPS - I am contractually obligated to point out right now that when the season ended on March 24th, 2011, Wisconsin was one miss away from setting the ALL-TIME NCAA free throw record. We shot 81.8% from the line that year. A certain sophomore by the name of Ryan Reneé Evans (NOTE: Not his real middle name) shot 74% on the year. This was less than 2 years ago. #1 in the land to #331. I. Don't. Even. Know.
That was Bo Ryan's best win at Wisconsin. I could get cute with this and chart my feelings from before the Illinois game on Saturday to the end of the IU game Tuesday (tried it; wasn't funny), but there's no need for that (woulda been a need if it were funny). All you need to know is that people were talking about the NIT a few weeks ago, and now we're 4-0, alone in first place, with a road win over the #2 team in the country firmly planted in that 'Good Wins' category on our tournament resume. NOT TOO SHABBY.
Oh yeah, this was Bo's 11th straight win over Indiana and his 5th straight win in Assembly Hall. I don't have Elias or Stats Inc. at my disposal, but I'm pretty sure NO school has ever won 5 consecutive games at Assembly Hall. I mean, at one point in time Indiana beat us something like 31 consecutive times. They OWNED us. They were basketball royalty - draping newborn babies in mini NCAA Championship banners right out of the womb:
But then they started slipping. And Bo Ryan came to UW. And ever since, we have just pooped all over Hoosier Nation. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. IU fans are insufferable once hoops season rolls around. After a few shitty seasons, the Hoosier Hypewagon was running full steam ahead this season. They were the preseason #1 team and a trendy pick to win it all. Their fans ate that shit up and were convinced this was the year that Crean took them back to the promised land. AND DID THEY MENTION THEIR BANNERS? All those lovely banners that were raised before every IU fan you know was even born. I have no idea where I'm going with this, but I'm just drinking it all in like it's an ice cold Natty Light. IU tears are some of the BEST tears to drink. MMMMMMMMM
PS - Did anyone else get this feeling after watching the game Tuesday night?
At this point I'd like to point out to Dick Pepperfield (I hope that's a real name) the following:
And I'm not even mentioning that IU's foul total is a little inflated from their late game fouling. But sure, Dick Pepperfield, the officials most definitely had an agenda: Screw the Hoosiers by calling more fouls on UW and giving IU 5 more free throw attempts. YOU HAVE CRACKED THE CASE, DICK PEPPERFIELD.
(But agreed - Bo is an awesome coach!)
CHICAGO BADGERS: Saturday night game against Iowa, might be time to kick the tires on our dear old friend Mrs. Red Monds. NOTE: Will be hammered by tip-off.
That was one of the weirdest Badger football seasons I can remember. We've had years where things have gone wrong, and we've had years where we've caught all the breaks. There were seasons where we were winning games on blocked punts or miracle fumble recoveries. I liked to think that I'd seen it all.
How foolish of me.
Heisman Finalist Montee Ball adds an accent to his name, gets arrested, blocks me on Twitter, gets beat up, and then ditches the accent in his name.
A big deal was made about bringing in another ACC QB transfer, all to have Danny O'Brien be more Allan Evridge than Russell Wilson.
A loss at Oregon State was followed up with what should have been the most embarrassing home loss in recent memory against Utah State, but their kicker missed a chip shot to ice us. I distinctly remember not saying, 'Hey, there's a school with a coach who really gets it, I hope he comes to Wisconsin some day.'
Two weeks into the season, Bielema fired the offensive line coach he hired himself months earlier.
Against Nebraska, we benched DOB and started freshman Joel Stave, only to have him replaced by DOB on the last drive. No biggie, DOB changed the play on 4th and 1, didn't tell anyone, fumbled, and we lost a game where we had a 17 point lead.
The next 8 games? Win by 17, win by 24, win by 25, loss in overtime, win by 48, loss in overtime, loss in overtime, and win by 39.
Add that all up and what did we get? A spot in the Rose Bowl? REALLY?
Oh yeah, almost forgot: Bielema bolted for Arkansas after dismantling Nebraska in Indy. Most of the coaching staff took jobs elsewhere, leaving a program en route to its third straight BCS Bowl in shambles. How was all of this possible?
By the time we got to Pasadena, I was exhausted. I imagine this was the sports fan's equivalent of flying from LA to Sydney with nonstop turbulence the entire time and no trip to a magical island in the middle*. Stanford came out, hit us in the mouth, and was about to leave us for dead before UW battled back and made it a ballgame. 4 minutes to go, ball at your own 25, down 6... for a team that didn't 'deserve' to be there, we sure couldn't have asked for a better opportunity. Unfortunately, after a few first downs, great story but not-such-a-great quarterback Curt Phillips tossed a terrible interception, essentially ending Wisconsin's tumultuous season.
Where does that leave things for UW Football going forward? We have a new coach. Most of his staff is in place. A BOATLOAD of talent is returning next season. Almost every recruit has reaffirmed their commitment to Wisconsin. Things are still looking up.
It was a weird fucking year, and a year that leaves all Badger fans wanting one thing: Stability. That's a hard thing to stuff under a Christmas tree, but I'm confident Coach Andersen will steady the ship and maintain our spot as perennial BCS contender. Drink in the optimism, it always goes down smooth.
*It's impossible for me to get on a plane and not play the 'if we crash on an Island, which LOST character is every person gonna be?' game. This is one of those times where being the really fat guy on the plane works out to your advantage, because being the Hurley is AWESOME. You get buckets of sweet, sweet Dharma ranch, a love interest, wicked sideburns, exclusive membership to the island golf course, keys to the only working car, the ability to communicate with dead people, AND you get to be the island's protector when it's all said and done. Not like you have anything to yearn for back at home because everyone around you died after you won the lottery, so might as well chill and be king of the island. I can think of many worse ways to go out, like drowning. Drowning is so scary. Also, I kinda maybe miss LOST a little bit.