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Monday, December 31, 2007

Hook'em Bucky


It's been a few days since the Badgers shocked the 9th-ranked Texas Longhorns and I'm still giddy. Just the type of win Wisconsin needed to validate the non-conference portion of the schedule. Not only did the Badgers get their first road win against a top ten opponent in 27 years, but the team inspired a great new one-liner from Jay Bilas: "Bo Ryan is a thief!"

It was a thrilling game that was tight the entire 40 minutes. If I had to categorize the upset, I'd apply two labels. First, the Most Pleasantly Surprising Finish Ever. Losing arguably the team's most talented player the night before a game in which UW squared off against the quickest point guard in the nation, no one expected the Badgers to hang with the Longhorns, let alone win on the road. Secondly, I would call the performance Wisconsin's Best Executed Game Plan of the Year. Bo out-coached Rick Barnes and effectively set the tempo in Wisconsin's favor. What a breath of fresh air to see Wisconsin pound the ball inside to its best scorers (Butch and Landry) with smart passes (14 assists) and few turnovers (10 total). [box score]

While the ending was historic, none of it happens without Brian Butch. The Polar Bear dominated the post, using shot fakes and a deft touch around the rim. He tallied 21 points, 11 boards and three assists to lead UW in each category. Even so, when Butch missed the front end of a bonus opportunity -- part of another poor showing at the free throw stripe -- I thought the Badgers were sunk. But that's where the hometown boy come in ...

The last 30 seconds contained three of the most important plays of Michael Flowers' career. Saying he stepped up is more than a huge understatement. It started with his hustle for an offensive rebound in the corner after an absolutely pathetic possession in which J-Bo fired up an off-balance prayer with the shot clock winding down. Bo's decision to go for a quick two-pointer out of the timeout was perfect; the execution by Marcus Landry was priceless.

A missed free throw by A.J. Abrams (Texas was equally awful at hitting freebies) was all Wisconsin needed to complete the coup. And there are hardly any words for that ... as Bo proved by choking up in the post-game interview.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy a Merry Christmas tomorrow and do not dwell about the stink bomb Wisconsin threw out against Valparaiso on Saturday night, which included the following lumps of coal:

-a season-high 20 turnovers
-shooting 17-of-36 from the FT line, including 7-of-19 from UW's starting guards
-a puzzling over the back call on a monster Butch put-back slam

In light of those blemishes, pulling out a win could be viewed as a gift from God. In reality, lock down second-half D provided the Badgers with the backdrop for a few minor Christmas miracles:

-an ill-advised Trevon Hughes 3-point attempt from 23 feet that hit nothing but net to give the team its final lead
-Kevin Gullickson's surprisingly swift running bank shot in which he was temporarily afforded gazelle-like speed
-the interception/prayer/and-1 shot by Michael Flowers to ice the game

And with Michigan State's victory over undefeated Texas this past weekend, there is hope for a great Badger contest next Saturday afternoon in Austin.

: : :

Congratulations are also in order for Illinois. The Illini escaped with a one-point win on rival Missouri's home floor and got word that former Michigan commit and now ex-Kentucky guard Alex Legion will transfer to Illinois. Legion will have two and a half years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the next two semesters. Bruce Weber has a stockade of good clay to mold in his backcourt over the next few years.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Where Are They Now? (Part 2)

Two years ago, the infamous Gregg Doyel previewed the Wisconsin-Marquette game with a column detailing how successful the two programs had been in keeping state prospects at home. One school or the other had snagged every consensus Top 100 recruit in Wisconsin since 2000. In the two subsequent classes, Wisconsin signed two out of three such recruits while one fled the state (Jerry Smith).

The perception here is that more players than ever are being offered scholarships to D-I schools. More top-flight talent is sprinkled in the growing pool of middle-tier prospects, but no more D-I programs are springing up, which means more Wisconsin athletes find their niche outside of their home state. Based on who I was able to track down, the perception appears correct.

We started with players from the 2004 and 2005 classes. Only the earliest results are in for the two most recent harvests, but let's look at what they've yielded thus far ...

: : : Class of 2006

Jerry Smith, G, Louisville [stats]
This one hurts. As mentioned on Friday, Bo Ryan has made in-state bigs a priority. So with J.P. Gavinski wrapped up in red 'n white since 10th grade, only two spots remained for three fantastic guards in last year's incoming class. Smith, a blue-chip recruit out of Wauwatosa East, probably would have chosen Louisville anyway, but when J-Bo and Hughes verballed, the fat lady sang on Smith coming to Madison.

Smith logged an impressive 20 min/g in his rookie year, but now starts and is playing 30 min/g as a sophomore. He was hardly heard from in a recent loss to Dayton, however. Known as a powerful, athletic guard in HS, Smith has become a reknowned sniper from behind the 3-point arc.

Steve Gruber, G, Brown [stats]
Gruber is a sophomore from Whitefish Bay who must be getting an excellent education in the Ivy League. He is not playing much basketball from the looks of it.

Mitchell Carter, C, South Carolina [stats]
Sophomore Mitchell Carter never was a star at Milwaukee King, but always a college prospect due to his enormous size. Unfortunately size has not translated into playing time yet at South Carolina for the 6'10", 260 lb. wide body. Despite rarely seeing the floor now, schools like Iowa, Notre Dame and Marquette offered Carter a scholarship.

Andy Polka, F, Loyola [stats]
Polka teamed with Tim Jarmusz to win a state title for Oshkosh West two season ago and is now progressing nicely in his second year at Loyola. The Ramblers play a decent non-conference schedule, but Polka was a borderline major conference prospect who played a smart, hard-nosed brand of basketball. He led the team in rebounding in 2006-07, becoming only the second freshman in Loyola history to do so. Polka will be a four-year starter.

Adam Koch, F, Northern Iowa [stats]
This Ashwaubenon product has a bright future with the Panthers after playing in every game last year as a freshman. Koch is averaging around 8+8 this season in 26 min/g. He was a first-team all-state pick last season on a one-loss state tournament team, so he is the real deal. Northern Iowa run a fun system as well.

: : : Class of 2007

Diante Garrett, G, Iowa St. [stats]
Freshman from Milwaukee Vincent has the body and quickness of Devin Harris. I'm disappointed he is not suiting up in Badger Red, despite his 0-for-12 FG shooting the last three games. Still needs work on his outside shot. Garrett started versus Minnesota and more often than not is the first player off the bench for the Cyclones.

Matt Dorlack, C, Eastern Illinois [stats]
Standing tall at 6'11", Dorlack is easily EIU's tallest player. Apparently he had started a few games this season before missing time recently with a knee injury. Best of luck on a quick recovery to this freshman from New Berlin Eisenhower.

Will Hudson, F, Oakland [stats]
Middleton's Will Hudson was the only area player to match Keaton Nankivil's brawn last season. Despite struggling in those Big 8 conference tilts, the WBCA named Hudson first-team all-state as a high school senior. He is the protoypical size for a D-I power forward at 6'9" and started two games so far this year. His statistics say he's still learning the college game, but you cannot ignore 68% FG shooting!

Andrew Zimmerman, F, Santa Clara [stats]
Zimmerman was a pretty well-regarded F/C recruit out of Oostburg this past year. His playing time has recently skyrocketed for the Broncos, including his best outing of his career this week against Pacific in which he nearly notched a double-double. If he can keep improving the way he has been, he'll be a tough player in the West Coast Conference by the time he's done.

Conor Smith, F, Richmond
I believe Smith is redshirting as a freshman this season for the Spiders, but played his high school ball at Waukesha Catholic Memorial. He mans the small forward spot, but like most of these 6'7" to 6'10" guys, he needs to add weight and strength.

James Haarsma, F, Army
Haarsma led Racine St. Catherine's to a D-III title last year and opted for the armed services. You will likely see him on the Army basketball team after a year of prep school. (4/22 - ed: Haarsma will attend Evansville on a basketball scholarship)

: : : Other players with a Madison/Big Ten connection : : :

Jerard Ajami, G Northern Michigan - Unbeknownst to me, Northern Michigan is not a D-I school but Ajami has had some pretty good games so far this year for the team. And by pretty good, I mean very good. I'm a little surprised, but he is straight out of the Madison Memorial factory.

Mickey Perry, G, Dayton - Perry left the Wisconsin program last season and will be eligible to play in Dayton's game on December 19th. I think he'll prove his worth there if he can stay on top of his studies.

Tyler Smith, F, Tennessee - Arguably Iowa's most talented player as a frosh last season, Smith moved closer to home to be with an ailing family member and happened to be welcomed with open arms by Bruce Pearl and the elite Volunteers. He is a big-time player now on a big-time stage. He is third on the team in scoring right now and will be needed even more now that Duke Crews is out with a heart condition.

: : :

In addition, Indian Hills C.C. has three players from Wisconsin high schools on its roster this season, including Dwight Buycks. Madison Memorial's Dan Brown and Milwaukee Washington's Chris Vines are also listed as freshmen on the team.

Buycks, a tweener guard, had originally committed to Bradley but either couldn't qualify or had other off-court issues that kept him from attending. He was an unstoppable scorer for a good Milwaukee Bay View team last season and is putting up 20-point games on the JUCO circuit as well. Look for Buycks to land at a D-I school as early as next season. Hopefully. It's a shame to see so many of the talented Milwaukee city conference players held back by academics and off-court issues. There is really a lot of misdirected talent in that public school system.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chopping Up Green Bay

On a snowy Saturday, I made my way to the Kohl Center to cheer on the Badgers from the student section for the first time as an alum. In front of a mainly subdued home crowd, Wisconsin started a 17-0 run with 13 minutes left in the first half to erase a 15-7 deficit and bury UW-Green Bay, 70-52.

The biggest ovation of the evening wasn't for the team, but for Scott Van Pelt, who was spotted in the crowd with Andy North. He was gracious and bowed to the students, who returned the gesture. Beyond that, only a selection of the sparsely-populated student end of the arena got riled up for much of anything on Saturday. Unless you count the halftime performance by the Bucket Boys -- right up there with the gymnastics routine in my book!

As for the game, I was happy to see Marcus Landry dominate the first half by posting up, but disappointed that he was not utilized in the second half. Trevon Hughes was invisible. Jason Bohannon got plenty of open looks and struggled from 3-point land, as did his teammates. [box score]

Count me officially frightened by Hughes' poor free throw shooting. He plays more minutes than anyone on the team and handles the ball twice as much as the next guy. Shooting 5-of-12 on freebies just doesn't cut it. It got to the point where sinking both attempts was a genuine surprise. His misses are not "near misses."

So where did the victory come from? With the exception of Butch and Krabbenhoft, the Wisconsin bigs shot incredibly well. Krabby did make his mark on the offensive glass, with several one-handed rebound and put backs clustered together in the second half. He finished with six offensive rebounds and led a balanced scoring attack with 12 points.

The story, though, was Kevin Gullickson. He played a season-high 20 minutes against the Phoenix in light of Jon Leuer sitting out the game with an ankle injury. The former walk-on from Stillwater, Minnesota did not miss a single shot all night (4-4 FGs, 1-1 FTs). While Gullickson has had his ups and downs as well as plenty of fan criticism, what I love about him is that he wants to score. When he has an opportunity to take a shot, he gets himself into position and makes it happen. If the rest of the team shared Gullickson's approach, UW would be much better. I see too much passive play from Badgers not named Hughes or Butch.

In a related note, the most irritating storyline of the season continues: Tanner Bronson running out the clock at the end of the game. It is bad enough that he is the first scrub into the game at garbage time and that these players never get any burn. But what is so annoying is that he acts like he is the "good sportsmanship steward" who maintains order by not passing the ball to anyone else in the last 30 seconds, lest they -- gasp! -- find an open shot to take. All I ask Tanner is that you remember back a few years when you were the little fan favorite who everybody went wild for when you got to take a shot. That's all we want in the closing seconds, for someone else to get a chance.

: : :

In other Big Ten news:
-Michigan's basketball program is in disarray. Michigan (4-7) lost to Central Michigan (4-5) at home and you cannot even find a story about the fiasco on the Detroit Free Press website.
-Young Purdue stops slumping Louisville.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Where are they now? (Part 1)

Seeing how some of the ex-Badgers are doing overseas prompted me to finish looking into how some former Wisconsin high schoolers are faring outside of the Badger State. With few exceptions, most of these players were not really recruited by Wisconsin or Marquette, but landed safely at other Division I universities on basketball scholarships.

You will not see any players on UW-Milwaukee or UW-Green Bay listed because those rosters are usually full of names from around the state. As the two other D-I programs in the state, they are easy to keep track of for those following the Badgers.

Notice the majority of the success stories and more highly sought-after players that I describe are guards. Wisconsin clearly places an emphasis on keeping its big men at home first, little fellas second. Sometimes that comes back to bite you. The Badgers seem to have gotten the best of the big men, but wouldn't having one or two more quality guards be nice? You will find a few on this list -- a list that turned out long enough to be split into a two-part series.

So without further adieu, let's begin way back when with the ...

: : : Class of 2004

Kyle Weaver, G, Washington St. [stats]
The Cinderella story you've all heard about, on a Cinderella team. Weaver is having another solid year and undefeated Washington State is perched in the Top 5. Nice way to close out a career, huh? His shooting percentages are up so far this season, especially from 3-point land. This was Dick Bennett's last (only?) recruiting gem; Tony has turned Weaver into a star. How good would this formerly wiry Beloit Memorial grad have looked next to Tucker and Taylor on the wing last year?

Draelon Burns, G, DePaul [stats]
"Dre" Burns was named Big East Player of the Week after back-to-back 32-point games before stumbling against Kansas last weekend. This senior guard started the year slow, but seems to be back on track to exceed his very good sophomore and junior numbers at DePaul. Burns put up big numbers at Milwaukee Custer, although he spent his last HS season at the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina.

Mike Nelson, G, North Dakota St. [stats]
Another feel-good story, this time from the Badgers' own backyard. Nelson played his prep hoops for Steve Collins at Madison Memorial and was Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball in 2004 despite being overshadowed at times by a few of his highly-touted teammates. Nelson averages about 15 ppg in a high-scoring offense, but has also nearly doubled his per-game rebounding totals of a year ago. While the Bison are hovering around .500 this season, this redshirt junior will always have bragging rights thanks to N.D. State's January 2006 upset of Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. Nelson's head coach is former Wisconsin assistant Saul Phillips.

Dave Bliss, C, Georgia [stats]
Wisconsin saw him first-hand earlier this year and he was largely a non-factor. However, Bliss has started nearly every game for the Bulldogs in his four years there, the only exception being the first month or so last year. He was even the valedictorian of his senior class at Wausau West in 2004. What a swell guy. By the way, Georgia's only loss so far was to Bucky.

Jermyl Jackson-Wilson, F, Colorado [stats]
This guy has really bounced around. He came to fame as a smooth, shot-blocking big man for the Milwaukee King powerhouse. He spent a post-graduate year at Fork Union Military Academy in New Mexico. Jackson-Wilson then signed with Ohio State in 2004 and played in a handful of games there as a freshman. He sat out last year upon transferring, but was a bright spot for Colorado on the floor. Now, as a redshirt junior, Jackson-Wilson is struggling to find his offense, but did post a 13-rebound game in the America's Youth Classic tourney hosted by Wisconsin earlier this year. He will continue to block shots, regardless.

Shae McNamara, F, Marist [stats]
Now a senior, McNamara's playing time has been amazingly consistent for three years before seeing a modest uptick in 2007. He's stands a lanky 6'8" tall and was actually a McDonald's All-American nominee during his senior season at Milwaukee Marquette University HS. Though he'll never put up significant numbers, he seems to be a well-rounded, integral part of Marist's program.

Tom Levin, F, Loyola [stats]
Levin started the Oshkosh West pipeline to the Windy City and now enters his final season at Loyola. He was a part-time starter in his first two seasons, but has battled injuries over the last couple of years, grinding his minutes to a near-halt.

: : : Class of 2005

J.R. Blount, G, Loyola [stats]
Walter "J.R." Blount put up historically good numbers for a freshman and sophomore and is continuing that trend this season. Blount it easily pacing the team in scoring with almost 18 points and 2 steals per game. The junior point guard also leads the Ramblers in assists.

In high school, Blount propelled Whitefish Bay Dominican's undefeated romp to the state championship in Division III for what might have been the state's best team overall that year regardless of division. Obviously, Wisconsin-made products will be leaving their mark all over the Loyola record book.

Jacob Baryenbruch, G, Drake [stats]
I don't know much about Baryenbruch except that he is a 6-foot junior from River Valley HS near Spring Green. He is starting to see more playing time in a very good conference (Missouri Valley) but is not producing as of yet.

David DuBois, G, Western Illinois [stats]
Speaking of bouncing around, you are not alone if you lost track of former Madison LaFollette athlete David DuBois. He began his career in the WAC in 2005-06 by leading the Idaho Vandals in rebounding. Not bad for a freshman. Perhaps seeing his opportunity to move upward and onward, he played his sophomore season for the famed Indian Hills Community College before landing at Western Illinois this year.

While the Summit Conference is a step down from the WAC, at least DuBois is close to home. Many of his high school comrades have joined together to make Winona State a D-II powerhouse up north. DuBois is quietly leading the Leathernecks in minutes and rebounding this year and should be very proud of what he's accomplished in 2+ years.

John Rybak, F, Texas State [stats]
Transferred from Akron after two non-productive years and will sit out the 2007-08 season to regain his eligibility. At 6'5", Rybak was a pretty good producer out of West Allis Hale in Milwaukee. He'll be a decent shooter on the wing Texas State if he can get on the floor.

: : :

Look for the 2006 and 2007 classes in part two. And in between, I will be attending my first live Badger game of the season, versus UW-Green Bay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Advantage: Madison

In the second of three consecutive games against in-state opponents, Wisconsin handled a smaller, more "athletic" team. Finally.

No, UW-Milwaukee is not good. However, the Badgers imposed their will on the Panthers last night and I, for one, could not be more delighted. Wisconsin pounded the ball in the post time and time again. So it is no surprise that Marcus Landry had his best game of the season, finishing with a game-high 16 points. And what's even better, the team took only seven 3-point attempts -- I only counted one being forced (by Trevon Hughes, no less). Torre Johnson was the only Panther to crack double-digits (10) in scoring.

Overall, Wisconsin shot the lights out in every aspect versus UWM [box score]. The Badgers forced the tempo all night long, resulting in a lower score than anticipated. Of course, the low score also pointed to the astounding 18 (!)turnovers the Badgers surrendered yet again. Just as ugly as ever, including four by Landry.

Hughes was guilty of several bad passes too, but I must say that he played very well. He was magnificent -- yes, magnificent -- at drawing defenders in the lane and making a tough pass look easy. I think the scorekeepers screwed Hughes by only giving him credit for three assists. I saw him drop a minimum of five dimes.

Finally, UW owned the glass. As it should. Brian Butch looked dominant at times inside and Mike Flowers appears to be all the way back after starting his second straight game.

: : :

If you've watched high school sports in this state over the last decade or so, you've probably seen a number of teams adopt Wisconsin's "Motion W" logo. Well, if you are a college or university that did so, look out. A week ago, the University of Wisconsin filed its first trademark infringement lawsuit regarding the now famous emblem.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

On and Off Campus ...

I'm linking to the BadgerNation message board for a neat thread about a number of ex-Badgers playing professional basketball overseas.

So even though Alando Tucker got sent down to the D-League recently, it could be worse: he could be struggling in Austria. Yes, Kirk Penney is still the mack, but you have to wonder about the quality of a league in which J-Cheezy averages 12 ppg.

: : :

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt will be delivering the winter commencement address this term at the University of Wisconsin. Van Pelt, a Maryland grad, was flattered and astounded by the honor.

Not too scholarly or ambitious a choice by the selection committee, but fun all the same. For comparison sake, my commencement speaker was an investment banker of some sort who had played for the Chicago Bears. Trust me, that was a boring speech. Jerry Zucker, of Airplane! fame, blew them all out of the water the following year with a hilarious address.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Fighting For Bragging Rights

The home court winning streak is over. And the Badgers just gave it away.

Wisconsin gave the intrastate title belt away by missing free throws. The Badgers shot only 60% from the line, but the statistic cannot do justice to how critical each of those 10 misses were in the game [box score]. Not only could the Badgers have kept the game tight, but they could have extended their lead on repeated occasions while the outcome was still in doubt. Being in the bonus for the last 12 minutes of clock, it was inexcusable that Wisconsin did not make Marquette pay dearly from the charity stripe.

The Badgers went 3-of-8 from the free throw line over a four-minute span in the middle of the second half, including missed front ends of bonus opportunities by Hughes and Leuer. The botched 1-and-1 by Hughes came on the heels of the double technicals he and Dominic James earned for their main event stare down with UW leading, 50-46. To be fair, the extracurricular activity hardly deserved technicals. Nevertheless, Hughes had a chance to extended a 9-3 Wisconsin run that had his team seemingly in control. Yet, the missed freebies completely stifled that momentum and gave a talented opponent hope and heart.

Wisconsin gave the game away by giving the ball away. Marquette brought tenacious pressure defense, as expected. However, the 18 turnovers by UW included many unforced turnovers in the second half. Greg Stiemsma in particular had a terrible game, throwing away three consecutive passes with dumb decisions. Those 18 turnovers matched the season-high set at Duke, another team with good guards and pressure D. The blueprint has been laid out for how to defeat these Badgers.

I think this was clearly Wisconsin 's game to lose, being on their home court. Even down three points with a minute to go, I don't think anyone was truly fearful of losing. That is, until Marcus Landry's awful foul 70 feet away from the ball before an inbounds pass. Trade those two free throws in for one stop and you could be looking at a tie game rather than a Golden Eagle free throw parade. But, not everything was simply given away ...

Marquette took this game with excellent passing. Marquette is eons ahead of Wisconsin in terms of seeing the court and delivering the basketball near the hoop. I'm not a big fan of James' wild approaches to the basket, but he was superb at drawing defenders in this game and had a few dazzling dishes. He really outplayed Hughes.

I've got to give credit to the Marquette coaching staff. The passing lanes and dump-downs on the baseline were exploited to no end. Meanwhile, this Wisconsin club is clearly a step below past incarnations defensively. Say what you want about Tucker, Taylor and Chappell individually, but they appear to have been, at the very least, much better at team defense than their successors.

Marquette took this game by rebounding harder. The Golden Eagles out-hustled the Badgers for loose balls several times and their hunger on the boards showed that they valued the ball tonight much more than the players in Red and White did. It's a rare sight to see a three-guard offense get as many offensive rebounds as Marquette did, resulting in a 37-29 advantage cleaning the glass.

Overall, this was a scrappy, entertaining, hotly-contested rivalry games. The visitors were the higher ranked team in this one and they showed why. Wisconsin's lack of guard depth was exposed again with Flowers and Hughes in foul trouble. Brian Butch disappeared after a truly fantastic first half in which he shot 6-10 from the floor for 16 points. He finished with 17. Flashes of brilliance in the post by Landry continue to convince me that the coaching staff is wrong in trying to move him to the wing. Landry also doubled as the team's best passer tonight.

But it all comes down to Hughes. He was not the passer, shooter, defender or playmaker this team needs him to be. The missed free throws and untimely technical show how far Pop has to go to become "clutch."

Monday, December 3, 2007

12/3 - Wofford at Kohl Center

It's either a shocking upset or an angry, gut-check bounce back game.

Running Diary? I think so ...

7:56 - Will the game really get bumped by a women's game? Geez, I hope not.

8:03 - Yup. We've been treated to three timeouts, numerous fouls and an atrocious flop job that fooled an incompetent ref into awarded three free throws.

8:08 - Now we're looking live at Madison, Wisconsin. Luckily for ESPN, the coaches kept UW ranked #23 in this week's poll, so there's at least a smidgen of promotional value. Since we missed the tip, I have to consult the web to see if Bo Ryan indeed made his first starting lineup change of the year. Bohannon and Flowers are in for the senior redwoods, Butch and Stiemsma.

8:11 - Since nothing is happening, it seems like a good time to mention the Badgers are wearing throwback uniforms from the 1941 NCAA Champion squad. Someone forgot to tell UW that they don't have to play like it's still 1941.

8:13 - First basket for Wisconsin comes at the 15:32 mark on a J-Bo trey, bookended by two traveling violations by Wofford. Brutal on both sides right now.

8:21 - Though it's been slow, the Badgers are now outscoring the New England Patriots! A steal and layup by Trevon Hughes sparks a mini-rally from the team. Some good defense underneath stymies some reckless, aggressive play by Wofford, then Butch scores on a nice post move. I hope to see a lot more of that tonight. Jon Leuer, getting inserted early this game as expected, looks especially skinny in the striped throwback socks.

8:27 - Wisconsin is already in the bonus with more than 11 minutes to play. Ah, business as usual. Hughes sinks two. UW 13, W 5.

8:28 - Nice up and under drive by Flowers. That's the way I like to see him play -- need more of it for the Badgers to be successful.

8:31 - J-Bo like butter over an outstretch defender's hand. Nothing but net. The Badgers feed Leuer in the post and he abuses his man and gets the roll. The kid has up, Up, UPSIDE! UW 23, W 10.

8:36 - As soon as I type it, Leuer gets himself into a bad position on defense and pretends to hold his ground while shuffling, arms raised, into a defender. The result? A three-point play, of course. UW 25, W 13.

8:37 - Flowers again gets into the lane and delivers a bounce pass to Landry for the two-handed flush.

8:38 - Facing no resistance, Butch puts up a weak flailing miss with one hand instead of a drop step and dunk. Color analyst Stephen Bardo of Flyin' Illini fame actual calls him on it. Nice work. Stiemsma immediately checks in for first time.

8:41 - Wisconsin settles for a 3-pointer from Krabbenhoft. The shot looks slightly forced and rims out but J-Bo swoops in with a gentle tip-in for the score. He is playing really well, with 10 points so far. Looks like a different player.

Wisconsin is shooting A LOT of threes in the first half. Stiemsma finds himself all alone with the rebound after a Flowers miss from long-distance and decide to bank it home. C'mon Greg. In the words of the immortal Bill Walton, "Throw it down big man!"

8:49 - And now, the Steamboat totally redeems himself with a picture-perfect bounce pass from the top of the key to Krabby for a back-door layup. He continues to impress me as a passer; he may be the second-best on the team behind Hughes.

On the other end, Stiemsma swats a shot from behind, but then fails to call for the ball on offense when he was miles from anyone other than his puny defender. Unacceptable. The Badgers need to enforce this will on all teams, let alone Wofford, by identifying and exploiting those few seconds of a clear mismatch. He didn't even put his arms up, in defense of the ball handler, but perhaps Stiemsma figured he'd never get that pass anyway.

Bonus Bardo: He just suggested that Kansas State's Michael Beasley be renamed Michael "Beast-ley." I've heard him made that reference three times already during different Big Ten games this young season. I guess we know Bardo's 2008 campaign platform.

9:53 - Drew Gibson nails a 28-footer right before the buzzer to bring Wofford within 38-20 at halftime.

At halftime, we're informed that Indiana's Eric Gordon injured his back today and sat out the second half of another Hoosier victory. Hopefully nothing serious, because we only have a year to watch this kid before he bolts to the Association.

: : : Second Half

9:09 - Butch is still O-fer from 3-point land but breaks toward the hoop hard and gets the ball back from Krabby for a moster slam.

9:11 - Wofford's leading scorer Corey Godzinksi fouls out!!! The second half is only a minute and a half old! Honestly, it was a very weak call. At least he sandwiched a 3-pointer in between his fourth and fifth hacks.

9:13 - At 17:58, Junior Salters of Wofford runs into and knocks over Stiemsma, who was trying to cut off Salters' progress to the hoop. Stiemsma tries to subtly scissor lock Salters legs while still on the floor and a broo-haha ensues. I know Salters made a movement or two to antagonize the big guy in the whole ordeal, but the replays were not kind to Stiemsma and the elbow shove he delivered at the end. It results in a double foul and a technical for Stiemsma. In a related piece of trivia, which Badger appeared as Hulk Hogan at the team's Night of the Grateful Red introduction? You guessed it.

9:23 - Because of the score, the announcing team has the time to detail how Wisconsin's 1941 team only had to win two games to win the NCAA tournament. Great, thanks guys. Really. Kick us while we're down.

9:25 - Hughes hits the deck hard after a blocked shot attempt that result in a foul and Pop leaving the game. He looks like he'll be fine luckily. Noah Dahlman from Wofford has the ugliest free throw form in the nation this year. The wind-up is underhand (with the right hand), the rest is straight out of the Bill Cartwright handbook. Somehow, this guy is Minnesota's all-time leading prep rebounder.

9:30 - The crowd is noticeably restless as Wofford cuts into the lead. Luckily Krabby goes baseline for a contested reverse with 12:33 remaining that puts Bucky back up, 48-31.

After a Landry bucket in the post, again we are subject to comments about the switch from power forward to small forward. Who cares?! This is supposed to be the swing offense. If Landry is a small forward now, that's an even bigger reason to feed him the rock in the post. No small forward can handle him there.

Broadcast Bonus: The Boston Celtics/Hoosiers commercial. Still not getting old, because Jeff Van Gundy is an all-time classic.

9:35 - Another good vs. bad sequence: Leuer is defending a guard and even though he gets beat, is long enough to recover and alter the pass, resulting in a Wofford turnover. Landry winds up with the ball, but opts not to pass to Krabbenhoft on the fast break. Therefore, Landry gets caught from behind, fouled and cannot convert.

9:43 - The crowd is crowing loudly whenever Wofford's #23 (Marcus Jackson) gets the ball. Not sure why, but it's good to hear something original coming from the student section.

9:37 - Leuer misses three bunnies in rapid succession, padding his stats in a Charles Smith/Lance Wade type of way. The next trip down, he is blocked by a guard at point-blank range after a no-look dish by Hughes. Ouch ... baby steps ...

9:40 - There is 9:07 left and the Badgers have 55 points. There's no reason UW shouldn't have posted 90 in this one.

9:46 - Salters ends a 13-0 Badger run with a 3-pointer. UW 61, W 34.

9:49 - With about six minutes to go, Gully is getting some run ahead of of Keaton. Frustrating.

9:51 - Interesting attendance stat shown on the tube: Wisconsin's sellout crowd tonight (17,190) is larger than last season's total home attendance at Wofford, by about 2,000.

9:53 - Garbage time begins with 3:17 remaining. Bo calls a timeout to get Tanner, Gavinski and Jarmusz in to join Nankivil and Leuer. Four from the freshman class and one senior. Whitewash alert!

Notes: Wisconsin gets outscored in garbage time. Gavinski is soooo S - L - O -W ... Jarmusz with a hoop, but misses both of his FTs ... Tanner pounds the dribble to wind down the final seconds. C'mon ...

Wisconsin wins, 70-43
, extending the nation's third-longest win streak to 28 games. The Badgers shoot 3-of-13 on 3-pointers, but still shoots 47% [box score]

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