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Friday, October 12, 2007

Night of the Grateful Red

You remember the Hambone, right? Well, you only had to wait until right after the player introductions to see why Bo Ryan is still one of the best in the business. And by business I mean the "old man dancing a young man's dance"-business.

A highlight of tonight's "Night of the Grateful Red" at the Kohl Center was the video scoreboard showing Bo doing the Soulja Boy dance. He does these routines well enough to avoid embarrassment, but just well enough to be hilarious. The Big Ten Network has free coverage of the event, along with four other basketball tip-off events across the conference, on their website (IE only) if you need the visual fix. Bo blew everybody not named Howard Moore out of the water.

Of course, you can't tell much from a night of drills and contests, but you can pick up a few impressions:

- Keaton Nankivil is all limbs, even more so than I remember from his high school days. If he's not done growing, he might have a 10-foot wingspan by the end of the year.
- I'm not sure what J.P. Gavinski did during his redshirt season. He is still big and slow. By comparison, Greg Stiemsma looked like Kevin Garnett in warmups.

- According to his bio, Mike Flowers has worked on his endurance the most this off-season. I must say he did look thinner and faster to me. He is the unquestioned leader of the team.
- Following in his mentor's footsteps, Marcus Landry seems to be one of the kindest and most likable athletes on campus. He went waaaay out of his way multiple times to get to the kids in attendance to slap high-fives.
- I realize there is no way to say this without sounding racist, but ... seeing this team together for the first time on the floor instead of just on paper makes you say, "Wow, they have a very white team." The only reason this could possible matter would relate to recruiting, where frankly, this type of thing does matter to players. A kid is going to go play basketball where he feels most at home among other things.
Landry and Cain are from Milwaukee, Pop Hughes is originally from NYC and Flowers is home grown. That's it for diversity on this basketball team. It's a known fact that despite its progressive attitude, the UW-Madison campus struggles to maintain a significant African-American population among its students. The composition of the basketball team reflects that. One of the reasons why Chicago phenoms aren't knocking down Bucky's door is because when they come to hang, they run into a bunch of kids from up north that love ice fishing. Thankfully having Coach Moore on staff probably alleviates some of that disconnect. Besides, racial makeup has nothing to do with how well the team plays basketball.

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Question: Why does the three-point shooting contest stand the test of time and the slam dunk competition does not anymore?

It's an accepted premise even at the pro level. You get the same thing every time in the shooting competition, yet the minute someone gets on a hot streak, you're glued. On the other hand, unless you see someone dunk the ball in a way you've never seen before (almost never these days), the thing never lives up to the hype.

I was a bit off on my predictions. The highlight of the three-point shooting portion was Butch draining the whole fourth rack of balls ... and still missing out on the finals. Frosh Tim Jarmusz looked legit in topping Bohannon in the finals. The foursome in the dunk contest each had their moments, including a nice leaning one-hander by Flowers. However, the Landry-Flowers showdown left something to be desired.

The official Badger men's basketball blog on features a moment-by-moment breakdown of the evening. Look out for those 1940-41 throwbacks on Dec. 3 ...

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