Thursday, April 16, 2015

Season Finale Mailbag

Well. The 2014-2015 Badger football and hoops seasons sure ended quickly. Now we're just left sweating through summer, patiently awaiting a date with Alabama in Dallas. Oh fuck, that's not good. But at least we still have STAVE. Can't wait for #Sunshine to silence the haters once and for all this fall.

Now, your questions. And I'm going to make this easy for you since this will most likely be really long - I'll group questions together by topic. So if you're still smarting from the Duke game and don't want to read anything about it, go ahead and skip on down. Oh yeah almost forgot, fuck Duke your fans are lame and I never share news stories on Facebook but if Coach K got arrested for running a prostitution ring in his spare time I would share the shit out of that story on Facebook.



Rachel S:
I understand that as a die hard Badger, I am 100% biased in judging that game. I understand as a sports fan that no game comes down to one call, and we had a lead (and momentum) that we shouldn't have given up, especially since Okafor was on the bench in foul trouble. HOWEVER, there were two calls at the end of the game that were UNDENIABLY called wrong (and in Duke's favor) that lead to points by Duke that iced it for them. What do we do about the officiating moving forward? Their excuse that they "didn't see the angle we did" is no consolation - in fact, it's maddening. It just felt like we were supposed to win, didn't it? UNC. Arizona. Kentucky. I can appreciate how fun this team was to watch - on and off the court. But I'm having a really hard time making peace with the fact that we can make a very real argument that this game was taken out of our hands because of disgusting reffing, and I'm not sure how to make peace with that. Not with this team. Not this year. Help me make peace with losing this way. How many questions/requests is that?
Bruce G:

Tired? Ran out of gas? Forget the officiating. Had we done our job as we have in the past we would have won by 15. I'm going with Post-Kentucky Stress Syndrome. Thanks for walking us through a great year of Badger bball.
Bruce is pretty spot on here. Blaming the officials is a bad look for ANYONE. It's just not how you wanna go down. And to be honest, while there were a few rough calls, we still woulda needed some SERIOUS magic to make that comeback. I refuse to watch highlights or check box scores so I'm going off drunken recall, but I think all the controversy happened after Duke made their run and crushed our souls.

Do you want to know why we lost? We lost because we stopped playing our game. Right when the tournament began, all I could think was that we were the Americans and Kentucky was the Russians and the Miracle on Ice was about to have a sequel. It all lined up so well: Kentucky a well-oiled machine of professionals stuck playing against amateurs (ignore all our NBA talent). Biggest game in the entire tournament just being a semifinal. And after the emotionally draining victory over the anonymously evil Kentuckussians, we still had Dukeland to conquer for the gold. IT ALL MADE SO MUCH SENSE.

Every thing about this team made perfect sense. It was all aligned. But in the end, the boys just came up about 13 minutes shorts. Think about that. They played over 1,600 minutes of hoops this year and they were 13 minutes away from walking off the court as National Champions. That's insane.

I don't blame fatigue, or emotional exhaustion, or PKSS. I simply attribute the loss to playing a top 4 team that figured out how to play defense, and that defense made us uncomfortable enough to get out of our offensive rhythm. It's unfortunate as hell, and I'll never forget it.

Seth M:
What is the potential ceiling for next years badger basketball team...and how bad could they be?
The ceiling for any Bo Ryan team is a Final Four appearance. I love how people are down on next year's team. Yeah, I get we're losing arguably the greatest player in UW history, and Dekker, AND a multi-year starting point guard. But we return two sophomores that will battle for first team recognition in the conference. Nigel might even warrant some inclusion on preseason All-American lists. Look at how far his game expanded after one year under Bo's tutelage. Now, go give him ANOTHER offseason to improve his game. That's scary.

Of course, the other super-soph returning is Koenig. You remember how we talked about Trae going down being a mixed bag because it would give Koenig valuable development time in live game action? That has already started paying off, but next year it's going to explode. I think the world is going to be blown away with what that kid will do the next two years.

Two studs and solid role players with a dash of Bo Ryan is a recipe for another top 4 finish in the conference and a chance to make a run in March. Why do people expect anything else? This is how we do.

PS - If you want a name to look out for next year, it's definitely Ethan Happ. Happ redshirted this year (I can't imagine how difficult a decision that was knowing how good this team was going to be) and has been battling Frank/Sam/Nigel in practice every single day. Reports are glowing, but the George Marshall Effect may apply here. Either way, playing time is wide open, and I'll give the kid who's spent a year in the program the benefit of the doubt over any of the true freshmen coming in.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

NCAA Tournament Final Four

Having too much fun, Charlie Murphy. Having way too much fun.

That's about all I can say about this team and what they've been doing all season. The UNC game was a blast - Will's was bumpin', UNC gave us their best shot, and we still rolled out of there on top.

The Arizona game was something truly fantastic. I watched it at a tiny Badger bar in San Francisco and you could not move in there. Just a little pocket of Badger freaks surrounded in all directions by hipsters and venture capitalists. Didn't stop us from guzzling Miller Lites and freaking out after every Dekker bomb. That last one? The dagger?

Brought me so much joy. Like a lot of people, I've had sky high expectations for Dekker since he committed. There have been some ups and downs, and he's had the shortest Bo leash I've ever seen, but it all pays off with performances like this. The kid has been CRUSHING it in the tournament. Anytime Frank drops 29 and 6 and isn't the best player on the floor is a good time to be alive.

With that win, the matchup the world has been waiting for finally arrives: Wisconsin vs. Kentucky. Revenge vs. The Streak (I'm making these names up). Can UW avenge last year's crushing defeat? Will Kentucky go 40-0? I think you know what I'm rooting for, but how about the entire country?

I love you, Minnesota. Don't ever change.

Now. Let's go beat Kentucky: