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Friday, September 10, 2010

Closing Up Shop

As I alluded to yesterday, change is in the air. So I am taking my talents to South Beach.

Errr, I mean, to a different Web site. From now on, you can find my thoughts, rants and commentary on Wisconsin Badger basketball over at the fantastic Bucky's 5th Quarter community.

Please update your bookmarks and news feeds appropriately. I highly encourage every reader to become a member of the growing Badger community over at B5Q. And if you find the all-sports approach isn't for you, don't worry -- the irrepressible Hoops Marinara tweets will still alert you to newly published basketball articles at the new site. Sign up!

So whether you followed Hoops Marinara via a feed subscription, the Twitter account or just by occasionally Googling a hoops recruit's name, I hope you check out the great things we will be doing over on the SBNation platform (which hopefully will include a preview magazine for the 2011-12 season). All the recruiting information from this site will be transitioned over to a visible spot at B5Q very soon. I cannot promise kindness, but we will be killing 'em with content.

Lastly, a quick thanks to everyone who has supported me and read my stuff here over the past three and a half years of independent blogging. It was a blast.

P.S. -- If I ever again have a coherent thought about the Milwaukee Bucks or WIAA basketball that is not Badger-related, it may wind up here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of Summer Status

Just one week into September and football season, it already feels like the previous basketball season ended years ago.

Luckily a lull in groundbreaking Wisconsin basketball news came at a perfect time. It was a busy summer for me personally and changes are in the works regarding this blog as well. But when I rehash what people might have missed during the lazy summer, it turns out that a lot went down and most of it was good.

While the Big Ten collectively celebrated the return of many of its top players from the brink of the NBA Draft pool, other key pieces like Kevin Coble evaporated unexpectedly. Or in Chris Allen's case, not-so-unexpectedly. Meanwhile, UW said goodbye to two seniors and one non-contributor without any teeth-gnashing. That is especially great when you consider what was going on last year at this time.

Rather than the program kicking a couple kids off the team, recovering from a dramatic decommitment and sending Bo Ryan to coach Team USA, Wisconsin flew under the radar (except for this). A flurry of recruiting activity in June wrapped up nicely with Jarrod Uthoff's semi-surprising commitment in mid-July. What followed was a month of relative silence.

Though student-athletes typically get a couple of short breaks from class and teammates, an incredible amount of hard work is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the next season. Just ask the new freshmen. Or ask sophomore Ryan Evans if the hard work pays off. He was selected by Global Sports Academy for a team that toured Europe in August. Evans played well, even if it barely registered at all in the media.

However, one fellow who is no longer inconspicuous in any sense is Jon Leuer. A lot of praise was heaped on the 6'10" forward this summer as he impressed during his Team USA internship. That'll get you hyped as one of the top three players in your conference, although some draftniks over at Draft Express might be eating some crow based on how low they placed Leuer on their list of Big Ten draft prospects.

Leuer leads a six-man senior class heading into the fall semester as the program adjusts to one new assistant coach in light of Howard Moore's departure. But people forget that number could have doubled if Greg Gard had gotten the UW-Green Bay job in the spring (Ed. note: could have tripled really). Again, disaster averted.

So it's a good time to be optimistic about an even more enjoyable basketball season lurking behind the changing colors of the trees. We can even take a deep, relaxing breath knowing that the divisional realignment scare has passed ... I think.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Decision On New Assistant Expected Soon

Rob Schultz reported last night that Bo Ryan is interviewing four candidates for Wisconsin's vacant assistant coaching position this week. Applications for the opening were due by today, while an official announcement would likely be made closer to the expected start date of Tuesday, Sep. 7.

Three of the candidates appear to be former UW guard Freddie Owens (Montana), Pat Baldwin (Loyola) and Ben Johnson (Northern Iowa). All three men played collegiately in the Big Ten. Possibilities for the fourth candidate include Paris Parham (Illinois State), Sharif Chambliss (UW-Platteville), Rodell Davis (Providence) and Kareem Richardson (Drake) -- several of whom are noted forces in the Chicagoland recruiting game.

The early whispers said that Owens had an edge, but there is no clear leader at this time.

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Many Badger fans will keep an eye on Illinois-Chicago this year because of the man Bo is trying to replace. I know it will be easy for me to root for a guy like Howard Moore to re-energize the UIC program in the near future. Moore hit the turf running by adding two new assistants already, including one sage hire from the Chicago Public League. Assistants from Indiana State and Providence have been rumored for Moore's third opening.

Under Moore's guidance, UIC has extended a slew of scholarship offers to Chicago prepsters already, as well as a familiar name in Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see whether Moore makes acquiring prevelant junior college talent a part of his strategy.

The guys from Illinois Prep Bulls Eye had this to say about whom the Flames might go after next:

"We would also not be the least bit surprised to see UIC end up on the radar of several other 2011 prospects before it is said and done, including 6'7 forward Devon Hodges from Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, IL; 6'4 forward Quintin Chievous from Notre Dame High School in Niles, IL; 6'5 wing Jacob Williams from St. Patrick High School in Chicago and possibly 6'3 shooting guard Will Sullivan from York Township High School in Elmhurst, IL just to name a few."

Do you like the NCAA tournament's new 8-team "first-round" format?

What should Wisconsin do with the newly vacated scholarship?

Poll: Who will win the Big Ten?

Poll: Who was Wisconsin's first-half MVP (thru 16 games)?

Poll: How Many Regular Season games will wisconsin win in 2009-10?