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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things That Go Clang In The Night

The Night of the Grateful Red returned for its second incarnation last night at the Kohl Center. From missed layups and dunks in the first warm-up drill to a painfully developing slam dunk contest, the session looked every bit like the "first practice of the year" that it is.

Every year, I know this going in. Yet I still get that occasional twinge in my stomach, thinking "shouldn't these guys be better at this?" That is, until I get home and see similar contests across the league via the Big Ten Network's Midnight Madness special [highlights]. The fact is that all of these dunk contests are hard to watch.

This year's event did not include a scrimmage, so I was disappointed that we did not get to see any of the new players in action for the first time.

So on to the recap ...

This year's dunk contest field grew to five participants, including newcomers Ryan Evans and Rob Wilson. Keaton Nankivil got a nice dunk in after a try or two, but it was Morris Cain leading the way in round one. Rumors persisted that Evans was freaky athletic and that proved true as he topped Cain in the finals and capped the night off with an East Bay Funk-style dunk between the legs (after three or four tries, admittedly).

Prior to that, the seven contestants in the 3-point shooting contest displayed their skills behind the new white 20'9" arc. Jon Leuer struggled and his form still looks incredibly goofy. Frosh point guard Jordan Taylor handled himself well in his first performance on the new floor of the "Herb Garden." It was a great move to put Joe Krabbenhoft in this contest and believe it or not, he won it! We can only hope that is a sign of things to come. Maybe that has been the problem all these years -- Krabby is just too strong for the shorter 3-point line. Yeah, that's it ... too strong.

There was no way for Bo Ryan to top last year's dance video and I think they knew that. They tried to spice it up this time with an old school vs. new school dance-off between Bo and Marcus Landry that fell flat.

Despite adding cheerleaders, the whole dance concept is a little tired. However, it does give some individual flavor to each player as they are introduced. For example, Wquinton Smith is by far the best dance man on the squad. He could do Dancing With The Stars easily. I thought Jared Berggren, Tim Jarmusz and Brett Valentyn were awful. But then I saw J-Bo attempt to dance. Not pretty. Too timid. He is going to get grief from Bo all year long for that.

Final thoughts: Nankivil still looks like he should be able to pack more muscle onto that big frame of his. But after two seasons of waiting, maybe it's not going to happen ... While Wquinton was the same height as his dance team partner, Ian Markolf showed he was a legit 7-footer by kneeling next to his cheerleader and still edging her height-wise ... The cowboy hat during player intros might become an annual tradition. Last year it was Trevon Hughes, this time it was Krabby.

: : :

- This running the hill business has taken on a life of its own. At any rate, I look forward to seeing the Bo Ryan's best-conditioned team yet.
- Mike Wilkinson is out of action due to a knee injury, so back in town for the Penn State game, he explained how fanatic Greek basketball fans are compared to Wisconsin football fans. The craziest part of the article is wife Alexis telling how she used to get death threats from Michigan fans. Ah Wolverines ... stick to football.
- One of my favorite new blogs is Jerry Tarkanian's Shark Bytes for the Las Vegas Sun. If you followed college hoops in the late '80s or early '90s, this will be a hilarious retreat.

1 comment:

  1. Hope you're going to the scrimmage on Wednesday, and can write up a full report, Phil!


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