Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Marquette, Wisconsin, and UWM Student Section Report Cards

A big Pun City shout-out to the Wisconsin Badgers on their new ranking of #4 in both polls.

On a somewhat-related note, this blog was able to sit in the student sections of 3 of Wisconsin's Division I basketball programs in the last month, so it figured it could now provide a primer and some ratings for these sections. (In the interest of full disclosure, this blog is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, so has much more game experience in that section). Here goes:

UW-Milwaukee -

Tough to rate this one with the program rebuilding. This blog has been to a few of the bigger games that UWM has had over the last few years, and sat in the student section for most of those. The students always pack it full for big games. And this blog can say that the section was by far the drunkest basketball student section this blog has ever encountered. Pun City is convinced you would blow a .06 just having breathed in the air all game. This is a double-edged sword, of course. On the one hand, you have uninhibited students willing to scream anything and everything at the players and officials. While this can lead to some humorous moments, the drunk students aren't usually well-informed on college hoops in the first place, so there are some seriously dumb comments that detract from the game.

That's the big-game crowd. As previously mentioned, UWM is rebuilding this year. Which brings us to the next point: UWM's student fans are very much of the fair-weather variety. This year, the 2-11 Panthers have seen multiple games where there are less than 50 students in the section. This blog sat in the student section last week for a game where they were giving away free shirts to students, and less than 20 students showed. That's too bad. Now given the small sample size, this blog does have to give those that show up credit.

Obviously they're showing tremendous team spirit by being there, and they still make it a challenge for opponents when they're on the student end of the court. While not the most hoops-savvy crowd in the state, this blog gives those that show up all the credit in the world. Marquette and Wisconsin haven't had down years in a long while to test their fan bases, so it's tough to say what would happen if those programs were in rebuilding mode. This blog needed to borrow a Student ID to get the free shirt, but as long as you look mildly like a student, the section is easy to get into and closely-situated seats are no problem. This blog surmises that you could probably sneak in there even if you were well above college-age since the US Cellular Arena ushers are pretty cool.

Hoops Knowledge: 4 out of 10
School Spirit: 7 out of 10
Attendance: 3 out of 10
Ease of Entry for Non-Students: 10 of 10

Marquette -

This is the student section this blog has the least experience in of the 3 reviewed. Definitely a section that fills it up for big games. Weird attendance patterns outside of that. First off, being a school where a lot of students don't stick around over winter break, those games are poorly attended (by all fans including students). One might ask: Why would the other fans not attend these games? A fair question. This most likely has to do with the quality of non-conference opponents Marquette schedules for their home games.

To this point in the season, Marquette has the 112th-best strength of schedule in the nation. UWM has the 104th-best, Wisconsin the 64th. MU is typically the worst of these 3 because of their standard scheduling practices. Marquette's basketball program (like UWM's) has to support the bulk of their athletic department's budget. Because of this, MU will only go on the road in exchange for a home game that they are sure will sell out. On other occasions, MU will give a 1-and-1 to some schools when MU has a player from around the opponent's home. The "auto-sellout-type" opponents are few and far between. Recent examples of "1-for-1s" include Wisconsin (every other year) and Arizona (one shot deal). These games sold out. Other examples were Oakland, near former Golden Eagle Chris Grimm's hometown; and Valparaiso, near current players Dominic James' and Jerel McNeal's hometowns.

Anyway, the NCAA has a subset of teams that will play Marquette in Milwaukee without a promised return game. These teams support their athletic programs by getting a huge check from MU. These teams also tend to suck. Which finally brings us back to the student section. Faced with unpalateable opponents, students (and other fans) miss these games in droves. Now granted, these aren't big-name opponents, but this blog still thinks you should show up (especially if you already have the ticket).

They do still fill the lower deck student section with regularity, so it's not the worse attendance you could have there. This blog thinks it can chalk it up to bad luck, but thinks it is worth mentioning that both the guy next to Pun City and the guy behind Pun City spilled their beers during one visit, and in another visit frequent contributor Wells had his jacket spilled upon. MU's Gold Rush as a result gets the award for "most beer-spillingest" section in the state.

This blog would say they are also the most fiercely loyal section in the state, having enormous rivalries with non-conference and conference schools alike, and students rabidly defend their school and team. Sometimes this leads to some insane proclamations, but those can be fun as long as one remembers to keep it all in perspective.

A positive is that MU, like UWM, doesn't have another sport to distract most students, so Midnight Madness is the first major sporting event they have during the school year. Not a lot to do (sports wise) other than catch up on basketball, so the students generally have a good grasp on the college hoops landscape.

The biggest downside from this blog's perspective would be the difficulty in sneaking into the student section, since they have all entrances blocked by fences, and you generally have to show your ticket (which is paper and thusly very different-looking than a normal ticket) to ushers to gain entry. Some games they haven't been very stringent, but typically your best bet is to sit in a section adjacent to the student section, then sneak over when an usher isn't looking, since the ushers within the section generally are there just to indicate when the section is filled.

Hoops Knowledge: 8 out of 10
School Spirit: 8 out of 10
Attendance: 6 out of 10
Ease of Entry for Non-Students: 3 of 10


The section Pun City has the most experience with (pretty much in all sports). Perennially sells out, similar to Marquette except Wisconsin fills in all decks for the games where school is in session. Winter break usually finds some empty seats, but mainly just a lot of old people replacing the students.

The Kohl Center does not sell alcohol (except for Suites, where it's included in the cost of the Suite), so there aren't too many issues of drunk students and definitely not any spilled beer. A rare drunk student will have had to have gotten drunk before the game and/or brought in a flask. This blog has seen maybe 2 or 3 drunks in the student section in roughly 100 games over the last 7 years. This isn't half bad because everyone's brains are working at full capacity when they're screaming at the officials or opponents.

This blog would say that sneaking into the student section isn't a problem, since they don't really check tickets too closely. The main issues would be a) Getting into the building in the first place, and b) Finding an unoccupied seat that someone isn't going to boot you from.

Since the entire season has been sold out for all seats since around 2000 (if not before), it's tough to get a ticket. Obviously they're available at a price, but still a pain to mess with. If you're lucky enough to get into the building, and for some reason want to switch seats into the student section, good luck. On the one hand, there's probably a couple seats here and there that you can find. This blog imagines most of them would be on the 2nd or 3rd deck, even though there are a few to be had on the lower level for some Winter Break games or early non-conference games. On the other hand, students are a late-arriving crowd so it's unlikely that you'll be there long before someone kicks you out of their seat. And unlike MU and UWM, it's pretty rigidly-followed assigned seating, so you can't just go anywhere.

A plus is that ushers never check your ticket unless they're called over by someone who's had their seat taken, so you can get into the student section easily although it's tough to find an individual seat once there.

The Wisconsin basketball crowd is a lot different than the football crowd there, so this blog is going to rate them pretty high in hoops knowledge. After all, this blog went there, so there's some knowledge base right there. Although, there's some overlap of football and basketball fans and the football fans are not always the most focused sports fans, to say the least.

Wisconsin hoops fans are pretty rabid as far as school spirit goes. There's a bunch of different chants and songs that most students seem to keep up with. This blog is among those that think some of the songs/hand motions are kinda dumb, so people like Pun City often sit out a couple. There is probably more school spirit exhibited at football games, but there's still a lot at the hoops games. Perhaps not as much as Marquette because UW fans "split" their intensity over the 2 sports (and for some 3 or 4 with Hockey and even Volleyball factored in). UW fans, at least in this blog's estimation, also avoid being as unrealistic/optimistic/delusional as MU fans can sometimes get. This speaks to their hoops knowledge but detracts from school spirit.

Hoops Knowledge: 9 out of 10
School Spirit: 7 out of 10
Attendance: 9 out of 10
Ease of Entry for Non-Students: 5 of 10

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fo Shizzle, The Grizzle

This blog has posted a couple times on UWM's passing compared to their shooting. In that vacuum, one is only able to to compare UWM to its past self. So this blog decided it would get an entire hold on some more passing statistics for your perusal. Here's the data from the Oakland-Marquette game tonight.

Leading off, Oakland:

G Rick Billings 0 shots, 3 passes
F Shane Lawal 0 shots, 2 passes
F Patrick McCloskey 1 shot every 22 passes (1 and 22)
G Jonathon Jones 1 shot every 7.91 passes (11 and 87)
F Derick Nelson 1 shot every 6.80 passes (5 and 35)
F Vova Severovas 1 shot every 4.33 passes (3 and 13)
G Keith MacKenzie 1 shot every 3 passes (1 and 3)
G Brandon Cassise 1 shot every 2.33 passes (9 and 21)
G Erik Kangas 1 shot every 1.67 passes (15 and 25)
C Shawn Hopes 1 shot every 1.17 passes (6 and 7)

And the shooting percentages:

Kangas 40.0%
Cassise 33.3%
Hopes 33.3%
Severovas 33.3%
Jones 27.3%
Nelson 20.0%
MacKenzie 0.0%
McCloskey 0.0%
(Lawal and Billings did not shoot)

This is pretty balanced, MacKenzie missed his only shot and didn't pass much, but he passed more than he shot and there weren't any "ball-hog-esque" statistics that stood out. (What did stand out was Jones's 87 passes, obviously he's the point guard and the offense runs through him)

Let's get Marquette's up here.

Lawrence Blackledge 0 shots, 2 passes
Tommy Brice 0 shots, 2 passes
David Cubillan 1 shot every 7.67 passes (3 and 23)
Dominic James 1 shot every 3.07 passes (14 and 43)
Dan Fitzgerald 1 shot every 3 passes (2 and 6)
Jerel McNeal 1 shot every 2.67 passes (9 and 24)
Wesley Matthews 1 shot every 2.43 passes (7 and 17)
Lazar Hayward 1 shot every 1.5 passes (4 and 6)
Ousmane Barro 1 shot every 0.71 passes (7 and 5)
Dwight Burke 1 shot, 0 passes
Jamil Lott 2 shots, 0 passes

MU Shooting Percentages:

Ousmane Barro 71.4%
Jerel McNeal 66.7%
David Cubillan 66.7%
Dominic James 57.1%
Wesley Matthews 57.1%
Lazar Hayward 50.0%
Dan Fitzgerald 50.0%
Jamil Lott 50.0%
Dwight Burke 0.0%
(Lawrence Blackledge and Tommy Brice did not shoot)

Aside from the ridiculously high shooting percentages, the only thing that really stands out for Pun City is seeing that Barro, Burke, and Lott all shot more than they passed. These are the forwards for MU, and clearly it shows Marquette doesn't like to pass out of the post. Given the shooting percentage MU had from those 3 (combined 60%), it's understandable that they prefer the shot (except for Burke, but he only had 1 shot).

Marquette seems to be the model that most teams are looking for, where guards have the most passes per shot, the frontcourt has a high shooting percentage, and no one really is a "black hole" that shoots poorly.

Incidentally, Marquette won the game 80-62 despite being outpassed 217-128. More passing doesn't guarantee a win, but this blog would say that Oakland was able to stay closer than they would have had they not been sharing the ball effectively.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

A Thorn-ton of Shots

This blog was at the UW-Milwaukee game when they took on Youngstown State on December 10th. There were a few advantages to this.

A) UWM was having a "White-out" day where all fans were supposed to wear white, presumably setting up a cool and intimidating backdrop for the opposing Penguins.

B) Among UWM's better chances at winning a game the rest of the way.

C) Plenty of great seats available.

D) Free white Panthers t-shirt with student ID. (This blog was able to get ahold of one)

E) It's college basketball, come on!

The initial goal was to grab a shirt, sit in the student section (pretty close to the court), and again count passes. All went well until just before the tipoff, when one of the 6 or 7 students in the front row turned around, pointed to Pun City, and said, "Hey you! Get down here, we gotta white 'em out!"

Pun City's a sucker for front row seats, and this blog had to give the dude some credit for being at this game in the midst of a poor start (2-9) for the Panthers and a relatively early start time (12:00 PM). Aside from this, he wasn't down on them, seemed to legitimately care, and knew that filling the front row with white would have pretty much the desired effect of the white-out.

So this blog abandoned its notebook and headed to the front row. A fun game to watch, and both teams were putting a lot of effort into the game, which is good to see because it's not always the case with struggling programs.

Fortunately for you, Pun City was able to head back to the 8th row for the 2nd half, and tracked passes for that period.

Here's the breakdown (2nd-half stats only):

Marcus Skinner: 4 passes, 0 shots
Sam Mauldin: 1 pass, 0 shots
Charlie Swiggett: 1 shot every 10 passes (1 and 10)
Allan Hanson: 1 shot every 6 passes (4 and 24)
Kevin Massiah: 1 shot every 3.75 passes (4 and 15)
Roman Gentry: 1 shot every 3 passes (3 and 9)
Avery Smith: 1 shot every 2.86 passes (7 and 20)
Ricky Franklin: 1 shot every 2 passes (1 and 2)
Paige Paulsen: 1 shot every 1.57 passes (7 and 11)
Ryan Thornton: 1 shot every 0.75 passes (4 and 3)

And the 2nd-half shooting percentages:

Kevin Massiah: 75.o%
Paige Paulsen: 57.1%
Avery Smith: 42.9%
Roman Gentry: 33.3%
Allan Hanson: 25.0%
Ricky Franklin: 0.0%
Charlie Swiggett: 0.0%
Ryan Thornton: 0.0%
(Sam Mauldin and Marcus Skinner did not shoot)

Once again, dismal from Ryan Thornton. Four shots, three passes, 0 made shots. Swiggett and Franklin passed more than they shot and only missed one shot apiece.

This blog is going to take the opportunity to defend Thornton actually. On the one hand, UWM runs the "Swing" offense, and in an offense named after a pass, one would imagine everyone would emphasize the pass. At the very least, you'd hope everyone would pass more than they shoot, which is difficult to avoid in any basketball game.

While Thornton may in fact be a ball hog, there is at least a partial explanation for his statistical oddity. Panthers coach Rob Jeter seems to have defined his role as a shooter, and very possibly a specialist in this regard. Before the end of each half (excepting very close games near the end of regulation), Jeter inserts Thornton for what this blog believes to be 2 reasons: a) to shoot the last-second buzzer-beater, which perhaps Thornton has shown aptitude for in practice (certainly not in games, but it's a tough shot so no big deal); and b) hoping Thornton gets fouled. This blog is fairly convinced that Thornton can shoot free throws better than most of the Panthers. There isn't a lot of hard evidence for this, but he is 9 of 10 from the line this year, so that's good even if it's spread over 11 games.

So it's very possible that Thornton is supposed to be, or at least is being set up to be the statistical anomaly he has become. The problem is the dude's shooting 26% from the field and rarely passing in a position that would require a high shooting percentage, a lot of passing, or both.

Most likely a combination of better coaching and playing would improve the situation. Shot selection would seem to be the main culprit for Thornton's poor percentage, but he's often faced with a defender all over him, so if he were the recipient of more screens or set plays where he could catch and shoot without having to worry about a defender, his percentage would go up.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Live Long as Props Purr.

This blog is a little busy this evening so it is posting a subpar blog. Suitable posts to come will be on the UWM, Marquette, and Wisconsin basketball student sections; as well as another "pass analysis" on UWM's recent contest vs. Youngstown State at home. (This blog wasn't going to save that one, but it's 15 days until their next home game, so it works out that this site uses the spacing).

What this blog does have, living up to its name, are some bad puns.

The following conversation is sort of an actual conversation this blog had while swabbing the deck with another actual deck swabber, after this blog had been given "mad props." (Which happens all the time on the ship). This blog hadn't yet made a pun, and its co-worker was looking for one:

Fellow Deck Swabber: I thought you'd come up with something funny.

Pun City: So you're saying that answer was prop plain?

Fellow Deck Swabber: I don't understand that.

Pun City: A prop plane is a variety of aircraft

Fellow Deck Swabber: Oh.

Pun City: Was that ina-prop-riate?

Fellow Deck Swabber: Oh, getting better.

Pun City: I don't know how long I can prop this up.

Fellow Deck Swabber: Keep going.

Pun City: Prop-ably for a few more I suppose.

Pun City: Anything over 10 would be prop-lematic.

Fellow Deck Swabber: And....

Pun City: If the author of "The Raven" was reading this conversation, that would be Ap-prop-Poe.

Fellow Deck Swabber: Now build on that.

Pun City: Poe folks don't usually protect their intellectual prop-erty.

Fellow Deck Swabber: Oh, that was superb. You can stop now.

Pun City: Phew, as long as I have permission from the prop-prietor of this conversation.

Fellow Deck Swabber: Ah, a bonus.

Pun City: I thought it only proper.

Fellow Deck Swabber: I'm going to lunch now.

This blog thanks the fellow deck swabber for sacrificing in the name of modest humor. All proceeds generated from this post will be split between Pun City and the fellow swabber.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bradley Center for Decorum Control

This blog took in the entire Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic on Friday and Saturday, as North Dakota State upset Marquette in the tournament final, essentially making it the Pepsi Green & Gold Classic. This followed up last year's Winthrop upset of MU in the final (Pepsi Maroon & Gold Classic), so the Golden Eagles are having a hard time winning their own tournament as of late.

While seeing Marquette fall to unheralded NDSU was mildly humorous, much more humorous were the following quotes during the consolation game, which featured the Princeton Tigers vs. the Northwestern State Demons.

Game quotes:

NW St.'s Luke Rogers pulls up limping on their possession, walks off the court during their possession and garners an official's timeout. He talks to the trainer briefly and then returns to the game. (he should have been forced to sit with the official timeout, and Princeton's head coach Joe Scott understandably complains). Hearing Scott's complaint, NW St. head coach Mike McConathy shouts over to him, with extreme sarcasm: "Oh, well I apologize. We'll see what you do if one of your guys gets injured."

Later in the game....After Keithan Hancock misses a layup, McConathy believes there was a foul on the play. (It looked fine from Pun City's vantage point, but McConathy was already sending in 5 substitutes, so there might not have been much else to do at this point). McConathy glares at the official the entire length of the floor, until he sets up right next to McConathy. At this point, McConathy screams "THAT WAS YOUR CALL!!" Play continues and McConathy continues to give the official the business. Approximately 8 seconds later, he receives a technical foul. After receiving the T, an again-sarcastic McConathey proclaims, "Well I'm sorry if I wasn't 'Po-lit-icly Correct' in front of 35 PEOPLE!!" Of course, McConathey was wrong, there had to have been at least 90 spectators in the 18,600-seat Bradley Center.

Later in the first half, Marcellas Ross appears to have a cramp and is noticeably limping down the court while playing defense. (At this point Princeton is bringing the ball up the court, methodically as always). McConathy calls over to the official, "I've got an injured player when you get a dead ball. 42's injured when you get a dead ball." Because Princeton is taking so long to advance the ball up court, the official grants the timeout and stops play. Scott, unaware of the injury, repeatedly asks, "Why is there a stoppage of play? Why is there a stop?" The official, unnecessarily incensed at this point, sprints over to Scott, then gets right in his face to say "I'll tell you why there's a dead ball! Because 42 is injured!!" An annoyed Scott holds up both hands and says "I was just asking you a question."

So very amusing from this blog's standpoint, it was nice to be able to get close enough to hear all of the banter.

This blog also saw Marquette's win over the Delaware State Hornets tonight, very little of note there except former MU star and current radio color commentator Jim McIlvaine played drums in the band for the night. This was both cheesy and appropriate because McIlvaine always wears a band shirt to the games when broadcasting.

Supposedly McIlvaine was attempting to become the tallest member of a collegiate pep band. He played a decent amount of songs competently, but abstained from playing any drum-only cadences and missed a few minutes while being interviewed on the radio broadcast. This blog will give him credit though, he didn't just play the bass drum a couple times and act like he was "all that." This blog probably wouldn't have noticed him if it hadn't heard his partner mention the change in duty during the pre-game broadcast.

Can't wait for the Wisconsin-Marquette matchup on Saturday, this should be one of the best games in the history of the rivalry in terms of combined rankings. This blog predicts a Wisconsin victory, 63-62.

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