University of Wisconsin men's basketball. A+ After the finality of UW's loss to a once in a generation Davidson team slowly sank in Friday night and Saturday morning, I realized that the Badgers accomplished a lot this year. This was a team that had lost their two top scorers to graduation (one NBA first round pick Alondo Tucker) and had no clear leader or go-to scorer to speak of. They were widely picked to finish in the middle to lower tier of the conference but proceeded to win the regular season and tournament titles. Over the course of the year they grew as individuals and as a team. Brian Butch never has quite live up to his McDonald's All-American status, but he developed into a solid, dependable player who could often deliver in crunch time. Joe Krabbenhoft continued to solidify his status as UW's 'glue' player (although Jason Bohannon has developed some competition for him). Trevon Hughes managed to become a better decision maker as the season wore on. And Michael Flowers may have played himself into a late round draft pick or surely a free agent signing. Next year looks promising with Hughes, Landry, Krabby, and Bohannon all coming back and some of our young big guys are going to get a real look. So we'll see how it shakes out, after all no one expected much this year either. Oh and Spartan fans are still d*&^riding.
Marquette University men's basketball. As you know the Golden Eagles season is ovah falling to Brook Lopez and Stanford, however the outlook for next season is pretty bright. We'll still have the same three ankle breaking guards but with an incoming mix of players who can offer contributions in other areas of the court. MU blog Cracked Sidewalks does a better job than I could of analyzing Marquette's season that was while glancing forward to the season that will be. MJS's Eagles blogger Todd Rosiak has a good post-season interview with Crean, D. James and Jerel McNeal. After reading all that I actually think Marquette could have a better year next season. Georgetown is losing Hibbert, Louisville is losing Padgett and Jerry Smith, hmmm . . .
Ok guess what? I wrote that sappy optimistic paragraph Tuesday morning mere hours before the news broke on ESPN that Crean was leaving Marquette for Indiana. After wasting a couple of hours hoping this was some sort of elaborate April Fools joke on the state of Wisconsin, resolution set in. Crean had a lot of debateable shortcomings as a coach, but he restored Marquette's program to national prominence. It would be a blow for any program in that position to suddenly lose the coach that led that change. On the other hand Crean may have departed at just the right time. After another failure to advance beyond the first weekend of the tourney, the murmurs among the fan base calling for a change were increasing. Basic reaction among us is some people say good riddance (and humorously note that Crean will continue to take a beating from Bo's Badgers in the Big10) and some people think he left MU in the lurch. I work with a lot of MU grads and they say don't let the door hit him in the ass on the way out. I've heard it said of relationships that you should never really trust a girlfriend/boyfriend that you stole from someone else. If they cheated on that person what makes you think they won't do the same to you. Beware IU. This was a guy who spoke awfully highly of 'family values' while he was here, but in the end he didn't even feel attached enough to us to let us know he was leaving. If circumstances play out right what makes you think he won't do the same to you?
Milwaukee Bucks. D How many ways can you write that the Bucks are playing horribly right now? I'm running out of material along those lines and there are no new developments really in the Bucks GM search. Whoever they hire is going to have the deck stacked against them from the jump. The Bucks front office chain of command is too convoluted to be efficient and thus successful. Too many cooks are spoiling the broth. Kohl wants all personnel decisions to go through him, but he knows nothing about personnel. The new GM (if they manage to get one before the draft) will not even have the lead in draft decisions because Kohl wants player personnel director Dave Babcock to handle it. The thing is in successful organizations there is no confusion about high chains of command. Owners with winning franchises tend to be the ones who hire the most competent, qualified people they can to run them and then get out of their way. Part of the Patriots success is the good working relationship between Belichick and Pioli and the fact that they don't have to worry about Robert Kraft's personal whims regarding the roster. They don't have to worry about being second-guessed or getting vetoed on a trade at the last minute and looking totally impotent to their peers across the league. I remember when Kohl was that type of owner, but he seems to be seeking more control in recent years. It's almost like almost getting to the Finals with Glenn, Ray, Sam, and George created an obsession in him to personally drive the franchise to more success. Leading him to dip his two cents into places where maybe he didn't necessarily know what he was talking about. I don't know maybe Simmons would not be such a bad choice after all.
Milwaukee Brewers. A+ For opening up with a win, which they almost jacked off. Eric Gagne was not very impressive, even to the extremely casual fan. But Tony Gwynn was. Glad that our first win was against the Cubs though. Let's use this opening series to set the tone right away with them. This is the kind of game the Brewers would have lost a couple of seasons ago. It is amazing to see just the transformation of attitude and culture that new blood has brought to the locker room. Oh and Prince Fielder may have an ego bigger than his dad's stomach but he's the real deal and if there is really a Brew Crew revival taking place he will be at the head. It's good to see Attanasio ante up and extend Prince's contract and they will be making an offer to Braun soon too. Suddenly the release of Claudio Vargas last week to free up the money for the offers looks like a no-brainer. Can anyone tell me if it's good or bad that Tim McCarver picks us to win the NL?
Green Bay Packers. Offseason news: I hear the Pack will probably look to the draft to answer the question at backup QB, probably later rounds first day. This makes sense because it follows Thompson's m.o. and this time I'm starting to feel the logic. Why pay some free agent at the veterans minimum (on average higher than a say 2nd or 3rd round picks rookie contract) when you can just draft a semi-promising kid to be the backup. Who know he might turn out to be the answer instead of Rodgers. And for all the toughness Rodgers has shown thus far his skill level is still essentially that of a rookie. If he get's hurt will the drop off in caliber of play be that great? Probably not. Also there are fans calling for the Pack to sign Pacman Jones should he be reinstated. Skill set wise he would fit in good with the Pack's physical defensive scheme. Personality wise, he would hate it in Green Bay. It's not as culturally undiverse as is generally thought, but let's just say it's slower than Nashville (I attended college there) and he couldn't stay out of trouble there partly because of boredom (if you are Afr. Am. and looking for a night on the town without involving anything even remotely related to country music your options are very limited). Pack gets a compensatory 4th round pick for losing Ahman Green and David Martin. This brings their total number of picks to 9. Jarrett Bush has a blog on Yardbarker. Ruvell Martin re-signed for a 1-year deal. Oh and Rodgers your first start will be in front of a national primetime audience against one of our most hated rivals on the season premiere of Monday Night Football. . . but no pressure or anything.