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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Midevening Madness

Wisconsin's first public appearance of the season comes this Friday at "Night of the Grateful Red" which is UW's version of the now-diluted Midnight Madness concept. The sneak peak at a Badger practice starts at 7 p.m. and will feature a slam dunk and three-point shooting contest.

Former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell gets credit for starting the madness back in 1971 when he tried to get a leg up on the competition with the earliest possible practice. Hundreds of fans found out and showed up despite the late hour. A year later when the practice turned into a scrimmage, thousands of rabid basketball fans attended and a phenomenon was born.

Basketball hotbeds like Kentucky can sell thousands of tickets to Big Blue Madness and actually make money off of the first practice of the year. Thankfully for hoop heads, Wisconsin is still a football school and lets fans in for free. Ever since 2005, when the NCAA allowed schools to move the practice up to about 7 p.m., you would be hard-pressed to find a campus without such an event, each branded with its own variation of the "Madness" name.

Now, if I were a betting man -- and I am -- I'd say that either Marcus Landry or Trevon Hughes would win a Badger dunk contest. Hughes has the "wow"-factor advantage because of his small stature, while Landry is simply the most athletic player. But it's much more fun to just declare that Morris "Sugar" Cain will take home the honors.

As for the long-distance shootout, another pair of front runners jump to mind: Brian Butch and Jason Bohannon. I recall Butch taking home some sharp-shooting hardware at the McDonald's All-American festivities, but J-Bo is the clear favorite. Frankly, if Bohannon doesn't win this contest, I will be worried. For all the hype and hope Badger fans have heaped on the sophomore's shooting prowess, it ought to be in the bag. Considering the scoring void left by Tucker and Taylor, Wisconsin needs J-Bo to be a confident, dagger-tossing killer behind the arc. Every waking minute.

If you're more in the mood for an intra-squad scrimmage, the Badgers have one of those too, on Sunday, Oct. 21. I hope to personally take in a bit of each event and then report back on what haircut Greg Stiemsma will be sporting this year, which freshman needs to redshirt, and whether or not Joe Krabbenhoft is still frightened by open 16-footers.

: : :

The Bucks beat the Bulls in LaCrosse in their exhibition opener last night. Now that the international Yi incident has been put to bed, the Chairman should concentrate on staying on the floor with better defense. Yi fouled out in 15 minutes of play. [See video here]

Don't worry Yi, you're not the only one.

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