4.09.2008

Weekly Wisconsin Sports Wank



Marquette University men's basketball.
If you are a Warrior it has been a tough week. First the coach who returned the basketball program to national prominence some 25+ years after they won their first and only national championship jumped ship . . . for Indiana of all places. After the initial shock had time to sink in you began to rationalize, and you start thinking this could actually turn into a positive thing. You were beginning to have doubts about what's-his-name anyway. Sure he took you to the Final Four but what coach couldn't with D. Wade, and until this year he hadn't won a NCAA tournament game since then. And what about all the indications that he wasn't the greatest bench coach, the seeming lack of ability to make in-game adjustments, failure to recruit or develop any decent low post player since he's been here. Come to think of it maybe it wasn't going to be too long before this guy was out the door anyway, you know the whole 'he's-gone-as-far-as-he-can-go-here' kind of thing. Besides we're a top tier team in the Big East now, the conference all college b-ball fans look to in awe of their power. We can have our pick of big time coaches who will take us even farther than Crean did and we'll play for national championships, forget about conference titles! Yep, no worries here. Just gonna sit back and wait for Marquette's extremely competent athletic administrators to take their time and make a good selec . . . huh?! Are you serious!!!? But it's only been like 5 days!!? WTF!!! Who the hell is Buzz Williams??!! I wonder how the players feel about this.

Oh, and one more piece of dubious news to round it out (dramatic pause) promising sophomore-to-be Trevor Mbakwe who might have finally been the athletic, skilled inside player Marquette needed will most likely not be playing for Buzz next season. From Todd Rosiak's MJS blog:

-- It appears as though freshman forward Trevor Mbakwe is leaning toward transferring following the end of the semester due to family concerns in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn. Apparently this was a situation that has been in place, and coach Tom Crean's departure will have little if anything to do with it.

University of Wisconsin men's basketball.
Badgers picked up a new recruit they other day, one Ryan Evans from Chandler, AZ; 6'-6" and still growing. Another typically vanilla recruit for Bo. Little to no mention of his ranking on Scout.com or Rivals. This guy's scholarship kicks in for the 2009 season which could mean that the Badgers have given up on getting one of the best players in state, Racine's Jamil Wilson (don't scoff non-Wisconsinites. Racine has produced NBA-caliber players like Nick Van Exel and more recently Caron Butler) because UW is out of scholarships for that class. I have great faith in the Bo Ryan Way but I don't know how long you can have a consistent top notch program when the top recruits in the state constantly slip thru UW's recruiting efforts like a sieve. There's not one super athletic kid in the state that will fit into his style of play? Bo deserves a lot of credit though for building the program up to a level to where we all expect excellence. That's why he won the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. He probably would have won the AP award also if not for all the Drakes, Davidsons and Purdues this year. Keep toiling in obscurity Bo but with much appreciation, we know you'll never pull a Crean on us.

Milwaukee Brewers.
Brewers have started off the season a lot like last year. Tied for the best record in baseball. Alone in first place in the NL Central (with St. Louis right on our ass). The infamous Four Blocks to Miller Park blog best describes what it feels like to be a Brewers fan right now. And it also helps to partially explain why I am such a casual baseball fan. Didn't use to be that way. When the Brewers went to the '82 series I was posted up in front of the tv, notebook in hand, recording every strike, ball, and out of every game (might seem lame but I was like 9). Eventually the perennial disappointment got to me and I came to be the fan I am today. A solid supporter, but you're not going to get me overly excited about playoff hopes until they actually make the playoffs. Yes things are different now with new management, new talent, new contracts. But that was the sell last year and I was almost sold when the Crew promptly blew a double digit game division lead in the last month and missed the playoffs after being one of the top teams all season long. So you'll forgive me if I just jog alongside the bandwagon for now.

Green Bay Packers.
An aquaintance of mine who has an iGoogle account with a Packer themed home page just told me that Brett Favre's retirement is officially official today because Google has removed his image from the theme and replaced it with one of Aaron Rodgers. While I don't doubt that Google has it's fingers on the pulse of the sports world and the rest of society, I think for fans it was official for us once the words came from #4 himself. Lots of people have claimed that Favre is more shrewd media manipulator than good 'ol country boy who shoots from the hip. I think maybe he might be a little bit of both, but I don't think he would go thru all the machinations of retiring simply to try to sneak off to another team as SI's Peter King suggested last week. Favre himself has called BS on the notion that he would ever unretire . . . unless the Packers really needed him. I think someone who can start 250 some games in a row as a QB in the NFL is pretty much a guy who has some discipline, holds himself to a certain standard, and is a man of his word. That said I think we all can forget this foolishness and continue to wish Brett happy retirement without having nightmares of seeing him in a Dolphins uniform (or worse Bears!). No real recent news in free agency. I'm waiting to see what comes of these 9 draft picks and if Thompson can shut the haters up and prove he deserved that NFL Executive of the Year award.

Milwaukee Bucks.
And so we come once again to the most depressing topic of the Wank, your Milwaukee Bucks. Didn't use to be like this for the Bucks either. Once upon a time the Bucks were Wisconsin's most stable professional sports franchise, on and off the court. For perspective I was born in '72 the year they one their only NBA Championship with Kareem and Oscar. In the world I grew up in the Bucks were always one of the upper tier teams in the league. They always went to the playoffs, so much so that for a while I wasn't aware that there were teams that didn't make the playoffs. They never went to the NBA Finals but look at the teams that were in their way, Bird's Celtics, Dr. J's Sixers, Isiah's Pistons, Cavs when they had Price, Daughtery, and Nance. The rest of the state's professional teams were kind of in a state of flux. The Crew went to the Series in '82 but never really made any noise for the rest of the decade. Packers had head coaches like Forrest Gregg and Lindy Infante and drafted guys like Brent Fulwood in the first round. So thankfully we could always head down to the Mecca for a dose of consistency from Sidney Moncrief and Paul Pressey. To bad those guys couldn't play forever because look at us now. It's been a long time since the Bucks have been respected like that. I hope somewhere in this state or this country there is a Milwaukee/Wisconsin/Midwest native who is seriously well off and remembers those days who will soon call Herb Kohl and say "What will it take to get this done?" The senator has served his constituents and fan base well over these years. Who knows how many times his loyalty to this state deflected attempts to rip this franchise away from our community. But it's time for a new direction now, new blood, new perspective, new ideas building on the old values. Especially after reading about the tired ass candidates being linked to rumors about the Bucks GM job.

P.S. Shot out to the Wisconsin Sports Bar blog where I got the lead pic. They have a bunch of others check 'em out.

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