The Gophers have lost five in a row, including getting destroyed by the Hoosiers on Sunday. Badgers just bested Ohio State on the road. That should tell you all you need to know about the game tonight. Though, these games are usually tight, regardless of the talent on either bench.
One lucky break, Gus Johnson will be calling this game for the Big 10 Network. Fairness in disclosure, I am a Gus apologist. Perhaps not to the level of ESPN’s Bill Simmons, but, it is close.
20:00: Gophers C Ralph Sampson actually fades away when the line-ups are announced. He comes off the bench momentarily and then runs away like his teammates are infected with a malaria/herpes hybrid.
16:11: Prior to taking the job at SJU, Stevey Lavin used to do color commentary and, whenever he had a Badger game, he would rave about the hunyucks (read: big dudes who rebound and play fundamental hoops) that Bo Ryan always recruited to lace em up for Bucky. This year is no different: Brusewitz, Berggren, etc. Just once, I wish the Gophers had some hunyucks on our team. Is our team so bad, I am missing the days of Spencer Tollackson (yikes — where did my beer go…)
7:11: Rodney Williams has decided to participate in the evening’s activities. He is playing inspired basketball right now. Gophers fans should consider finding the writer that said Williams was a potential NBA prospect at the beginning of the season and force him to watch the last six games. Essentially non-existent. There may not be absolute proof of it, but, I think Rodney started believing his own clippings and the rest, is history.
4:25: Shockingly enough, not a high scoring game. You know it is bad when Gus Johnson sounds bored. That guy could make a backgammon tournament exciting. If I told you the score was 13 to 11, you would probably believe it. Instead, 19 to 13 — Gophers. The Gophs are actually playing inspired basketball. As I write that, Sampson gets out-hustled for a rebound by a 6’2″ PG. Obviously. He should have used the fade away.
2:08: Love watching Bo Ryan work the officials. Every college coach is different. Bo is the smooth, Italian gangster-style coach. He owns that parquet floor. Strolling the bench with a power suit and an attitude like, “Just try and tell me it was a foul on my guy.” The result: four touch fouls go the Badgers way and a 10 point lead for the Gophers is reduced to 7.
Halftime: Gophers have brought their game tonight. This is the team that nearly beat MSU. Solid defense and relentless offense. This is not the team that got blown out by the Hoosiers. Bucky just looks flat. Even with Ryan prowling the bench, there has been no energy in the red and white. Good teams bounce back. The second half will be an indicator of what we can expect out of this Wisconsin team come tournament time.
18:04: Sampson attempts a terrible bounce pass to a PG in the post. There is something wrong with that. I do not claim to understand all the idiosyncrasies of the game, but, shouldn’t the guy who is 7′ tall be in the post? Just unreal. He then jogs down the floor and picks up a terrible foul. Perfect.
14:23: The Gophers commit their 57th loose ball foul in this game. Sign of a sloppy team. It is one thing to go hard after rebounds. It is another to just be reckless. Right now, the Gophers are playing like Gophers wrestling team. Not good.
11:59: Gus says that it is Tubby’s turn to work the officials following a terrible missed call on a Hollins three point shot. Tubby is seen trying to buy an ice cream treat from an arena vendor. Is it any wonder how this season is going for the Gophers?!?!
9:05: katn;qt3ju9[gjaiperjgqi3jrgwrkj’wlrprthjw’pthl…sorry, fell asleep on my laptop. Badgers lead a thriller 34 to 29.
0:33: Wisonsin leads 50 to 43. This one is over. This installment of the border battle has been a real snoozer. The refs ruined any chance that either squad had of getting into the flow of the game. Bucky’s talent has been just enough tonight to overcome a fairly game Gophers squad.
RECAP: About the only Gophers highlight was the surprisingly strong performance from Dre Hollins. Looked like he might finally be coming into his own as a PG. Also, Rodney Williams played like the psuedo-prospect he was (is?) supposed to be. Bucky scrapes out a win and avoids the let-down trap. This is what good teams do. Not sure the Badgers are going to do much in this year’s tournament. They will need steady play from the supporting cast (i.e. Evans, Gosser, or Trust), to help ensure that Taylor is not responsible for all the scoring. He plays better when he can pick and choose his spots.
All in all, we might have gotten better hoops fix watching one of the local Ultimate Hoops league game. But, that is the Big 10. If you are not using the whole shot clock, you are not playing basketball the right way. It was a good warm up for what is sure to be an exciting Big 10 tournament in a week or so.