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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life At The Top

A lot of people say they do not care about how high their team is ranked during the season, but I disagree. I think it's a really big deal to make it to the top ten and stay there. Think about ESPN's Bottom Line: no matter what programming is on at the time, you know when the college hoop scores scroll by, they are going to show results from top ten teams. It's free, extraneous publicity.

Free pub is also a benefit of making it to the second weekend of the tournament. To be able to stay on people's minds, even if it's not by choice, enhances the brand. In this case, Wisconsin's brand. When you lose as a high seed, especially on a Thursday or Saturday, people are rehashing your unexpected demise over and over. Advance to the Sweet 16 and every sports website around is digging up stories on your team--The Sporting News, ESPN, SI, Fox Sports ... even the Washington Post. (Oops, I guess the Badgers aren't familiar to entire nation quite yet.)

But some national love is coming UW's way. On Tuesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram discussed the obvious turning point in Wisconsin's season, the Badgers' gritty win at Texas without Trevon Hughes' services. Since then, the Badgers have gone 21-2. Their 12-game winning streak is tied for the second-longest in the nation with UCLA. Wisconsin will try to end the longest winning streak in the land, Davidson's 24 in a row, on Friday night.

Gary Parrish at CBS Sports gives another great example of Bo Ryan's sense of humor as well. The article dovetails well off of my comments the other day about being able to accept winning ugly or playing "boring" basketball. The program is really starting to get its due as a winner.

Locally, both UW's future has been discussed from two different angles. The UW assistant coaches shed some light on the progress Wisconsin's freshmen class has made and what to expect in the future. The legacy that the current senior class will leave is significant also. The loss of Alando Tucker and Kam Taylor last season could be spun as a step toward a more cohesive and balanced team, but I think the void left by Brian Butch and Greg Stiemsma inside is glaring no matter how you look at it. Add Mike Flowers to that mix and the losses are every bit as significant as last year. Then again, look where that got the Badgers.

Update: Minnesota Recruits
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune named its Metro Player of the Year this week, selecting Minnetonka's Anthony Tucker over Badger recruit Jordan Taylor. That must have gotten Taylor fired up because he tore into Como Park for 43 points tonight in the opening round of the Minnesota Class 3A State Tournament. Minnetonka. Benilde-St. Margaret's is the top seed in their division and will play Minneapolis Patrick Henry on Thursday in the semifinals.

The paper also released its All-Metro teams and named Taylor, Tucker and Jared Berggren to the first team. This might sound familiar, but Taylor and Tucker appear to be very close (even though Tucker will be a Hawkeye). Again, it sounds like Jordan comes from a solid family and will no doubt be a great addition for Bo next season.

Another UW recruit, Mike Bruesewitz, also picked up a win tonight in the Class 4A tournament. Bruiser's Henry Sibley team advances to face Rodney Williams and Robbinsdale Cooper tomorrow. Williams was a second-team All-Metro selection while Bruiser was a third-team pick. Speaking of which, someone tracked down some video highlights of Bruisewitz and John Millea says Bruiser talks to himself.

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Lost in the shuffle of the NCAA tournament hype was the firing of Milwaukee Bucks GM Larry Harris, who had manned the position since July 2003. This might have been strategic timing by Sen. Herb Kohl to allow Harris to slither out of the limelight without much attention. That would of course assume anyone is still paying attention to the Bucks at all.

The draft picks of the Larry Harris Era have been hit-or-miss, with no uncovered gems. Even though a couple of big free agent blunders (Jamaal Magloire, Dan Gadzuric, Bobby Simmons) have left the Bucks in an undesirable salary cap situation for the near future, Harris will probably be remembered for the inane shuffling of inexperienced head coaches that took place on his watch. I wonder if he'd take Terry Porter back now. You have to wonder if that rumored trade for Zach Randolph nixed by Sen. Kohl could have save Harris.

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Assorted Prep Links:
- (3/25) Jeronne Maymon didn't sound too eloquent in the Wisconsin State Journal's Q &A last Sunday when he was named area POY, but apparently, former Badger Hennssy Auriantal has a plan to get the junior's grades up.
- (3/1) Catching up with Rodney Williams at
- (2/22) An older article on Texas giant Ian Markolf landed him on the cover of RISE magazine [requires login]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Phil,

    Wanted to e-mail you but couldn't find an e-mail contact on the site.

    Just wanted to let you know that we featured Hoops Marinara as a place for Badger fans to get info during March Madness - here's the link.

    and we've got a guide to San Antonio so you can plan your trip once the Badgers get to the final four.


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