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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's About Time

Tonight's title is appropriate on two major fronts. First of all, I'm taking a break from studying accounting to make my first post in 15 days. It's not like nothing has been going on in sports, just nothing that shook the earth so much as to invade my tightly-packed schedule in these busiest of days.

But secondly (and more importantly), I join all Wisconsin basketball fans in taking pleasure that Michael Finley has won his first NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs. In his twelfth NBA season, Finley reached arguably the apex of his career while scoring a career-low 9 ppg during the season.

Finley also played a career low 1,823 minutes, which isn't too surprising considering the club for which he now plays. As much as the nickname is tossed about, this man truly deserves to be called "Iron Mike" for the minutes he has logged over the years. He currently sits 70th all time on the NBA's list of most minutes played and will wind up in the top 40 with about three more decent seasons like he had this year. That type of list is understandably littered with centers and power forwards, but we might soon find Finley in the company of wing players like Clyde Drexler, Jerry West and Alex English, above even Larry Bird. The former Badger's pro career has been one worthy of admiration. Especially since he has accepted a lesser, contributing role with a champ after laying the foundation for for years with another Western Conference juggernaut along the way. We forget what a beast Finley was during the 2002 playoffs with Dallas.

I do not hesitate to dub him the "best Badger ever." Consider Finley's NBA career in that discussion. Or don't. It doesn't matter. It's just the truth. The bar is set pretty high, Alando. Shoot for it.

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Speaking of Tucker, if I'm not going to keep you up to date with his comings and goings on the pre-draft circuit, I might as well point you to someone who gets paid to: Dave Heller. Heller's UW and the Big Ten blog at JSOnline includes a wide range of Badger info, but he's got all Alando's tryout appearances nailed down. The Sporting News also had Tucker going 19th to the Lakers in a mock draft published in its latest issue. Senior writer Sean Deveney cites a correction in Tucker's shooting form:
"In May, trainers found a slight flaw in Tucker's mechanics. He has been shooting the ball well since, which fixes the main concern about his NBA potential--his inconsistent perimeter game."
Then again, Deveney also has Tucker going 24th to Phoenix in Version 3.0 of his online mock draft. Go figure. He also has been fooled into thinking 'Do can play some point a the next level.

The thinning of the draft field on Monday (ESPN's Andy Katz analyzes) probably did not affect Tucker in any way. Let's just hope he avoids a situation that might land him on a "bust" list. Keep your fingers crossed for Tucker on June 28.

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The next crop of freshmen to hit the Big Ten next fall have the marquee name (Eric Gordon) and the highly-rated depth to make the top of the conference very powerful over the next few seasons. Four of the top 15 recruiting classes for 2007 belong to Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State, respectively, according to Wisconsin is listed as bringing in the "sleeper class" of the league, one that focuses on big men rather than the highlighted influx of guard talent.

I cannot find anyway around calling Indiana the team to beat this coming season. I really see them becoming scary good under Kelvin Sampson. They lose two exceptional shooters and yet return two more that are just as good, not to mention the frosh.

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