Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On Wisconsin

I don't really give a crap about the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I somehow maintain my sanity throughout the madness. I'm usually too excited about spring training and the upcoming baseball season to be much more than a casual basketball fan. I fill out a bracket and I cheer on my alma mater, Wisconsin, and the local team, Marquette, but that's about it.

And I also read, which had some pretty mean-spirited things to say about Wisconsin in their "Teams we hate" article:

University of Wisconsin, Big Ten Conference, No. 3 in Midwest Region

Everyone bags on Big Ten football, and appropriately so, but the Midwestern brand of pigskin is easy on the eyes compared with Big Ten hoops: a raft of mediocre teams, plenty of flow-restricting physicality, and, all-too-often, Brent Musberger, looking live from Champaign or Iowa City. The most painful Big Ten team to endure is the Badgers, a team that combines brutishness and blandness into an unwatchable goulash.

I blame Bo Ryan, the coach who has created a top program in Madison by installing all manner of defensive tactics while forgetting the game is supposed to be entertainment. To use a soccer analogy, the Badgers always appear to be playing for a draw but manage to get enough muscled-in offensive rebounds from the likes of Brian Butch to get past the league's weak competition. Wisconsin will muck along in the tournament until it runs into a team that knows how to execute a crossover dribble. Until then, I'll be singing my own version of the Badgers' fight song every time they clog up my TV: "Off, Wisconsin!"—Robert Weintraub

First of all, all basketball games are brutish and bland. The problem with basketball is that scoring a point is virtually meaningless since it's so easy to score. Most games have half time scores of something like 34 to 32. To me, that translates to zero-zero. Why'd they even play that half? Then the time outs and the fouls start. Borrrr-rrrinng. And, although I don't know what a "crossover dribble" is, I'm guessing it's part of the reason that scoring is so easy and games are so boring.

Wisconsin basketball is good basketball - at least comparatively. It's like baseball, sort of. First, they sign guys that will stick around until they are juniors and seniors. Bo Ryan and Dick Bennet knew that a team full of experienced players with good fundamentals and strong defense would be competitive from year to year and make the tournament in most years. Let Ohio State and Florida have the superstars (how's that NIT tournament going this year anyway?). Also, they know that a prevented basket is the same as a scored basket, even if it isn't as entertaining for shit-chucking chimps like Robert Weintraub of So they prevent baskets, and it works pretty well.

Strategy is what makes sports exciting, not cross-over dribbles.

Go Badgers!

1 comment:

PaulNoonan said...

What a stupid piece of garbage this guy has turned out. First of all, many Ryan teams actually score quite a bit. The Mike Wilkinson/Alando Tucker elite 8 team routinely scored in the 80s, including in their elite 8 loss to NC.

Secondly, this same idiot will probably go write a column tomorrow criticizing the selfishness of NBA players, including a lack of passing and defense. Wisconsin's offense is almost all passing and getting to spots to create open passing lanes. And they play awesome defense.

They also shoot well from the charity stripe, and "attack the basket to draw fouls."

Many basketball fans are lazy sports fans. They like the showing off instead of the winning. They should go watch figure skating.