Can Wisconsin ‘Control Tempo’ in the Sweet 16?
White-bread, cheese-head, bovine-intensive Wisconsin will meet Syracuse Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen, and I’m appalled & distressed to the point of distraction with the implications. The Wisconsin Badgers, hale & hearty denizens of the Big Ten Conference, home to paragons of American sportsmanship like Woody Hayes & Bobby Knight, where I’m sure they have fine Schools of Agriculture and a proper respect for the rural aesthetic, are a potentially disastrous draw for the Orange. As I mentioned before,(https://joelmarino.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/kareem-said-bas/), there are basically two types of offenses in basketball, a set-court offense & an open-court offense, a half-court offense & a fast-break offense. Properly executed, I enjoy watching either, but they both offer extremes which offend my finely-honed basketball sensitivity. The extreme form of the running, fast-break style that Syracuse employs found it’s grotesque upper-limit in the Loyola Marymount teams of Paul Westhead in the late 80’s. In 1990 LMU averaged 122 pts. per game! I like scoring as much as the next guy, but those games were just run & gun affairs brought to ridiculous heights – Westhead told his team he wanted a shot put up as close to 5 seconds as possible after gaining possession. It was crazy, and fun at first, but it got to be a clown & circus show with guys hoisting prayers from anywhere & everywhere.
At the other end of the spectrum, the extreme form of the half-court set offense, is the plug-ugly, humpbacked monstrosity known as ‘The Burn’. Here, the object is to monotonously swing the ball around the perimeter, with no other purpose in mind but to run as much time off the 35-second clock as his humanly possible before even attempting to score (you finally shot, missed & got an offensive rebound? Don’t even try to put back up, throw it back out & BURN more time off the clock!).Plain & simple, this strategy stinks, and makes for lousy & boring basketball…..and this, dear reader, is how the Wisconsin Badgers play the game. They will try & negate SU’s greatest strength, their ‘transition game’, their ‘points off turnovers’, by simply keeping possession of the ball. The operative word of course, is ”try” – it’s easier said than done…..if the Boring Badgers manage to keep the score in the 50’s or 60’s, the game will most likely come down to who makes the big plays in crunch-time (which the Orange have done all season), if it gets up in the high 70’s or 80’s, it will mean that Syracuse has ‘dictated the tempo’, which I believe to be the key to the game – which team forces the other to play it’s style of ball….Go ‘Cuse!.. Blow-Up the Boring Badgers!!