‘The Bet’

I wrote this last summer for a site created to help a friend’s daughter understand the father she never will meet. It’s a password-protected site for family and friends only but I wanted to share it here, as well.

If you knew Paul back then, you know that he was very proud of his band but also unsure where their career would take them. No one had really ever come out of Des Moines and taken the musical world by storm, so Slipknot was definitely forging through some uncharted waters. I, on the other hand, was young and cocky and just had a gut feeling that Slipknot would be the biggest thing to hit metal in a long time.

Paul and I made a bet regarding first-week album sales for the “Slipknot” album. It didn’t come out until late June, so they had been touring on Ozzfest for like a month with no album to support. At the shows I went to (both Ozzfest and others across the Midwest) I would give out sampler cassette tapes that contained (I believe) Spit it Out, Surfacing and Eyeless. Those things got snapped up like crazy and fed the frenzy that helped launch Slipknot to national prominence and help me win my bet. 🙂

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Storming the court

I still can’t believe what I saw, but I sure as hell believe in what Bo Ryan and his Wisconsin Badgers basketball team are doing in the B1G Conference this season.

As I wrote last month, I (along with the rest of the college-basketball world) have learned never to doubt a Ryan-led Badgers squad. There were times earlier this season when I struggled to understand and see how the 2012-’13 Badgers could rebound from the loss of Josh Gasser for the season and meld in time to put together a strong B1G campaign. They didn’t seem to have a go-to scorer, and many players (especially the underclassmen forced into more minutes due to Gasser’s injury) suffered defensive lapses that end up costing victories in close, hard-fought conference battles.

I stand here today proud to say that my early season observations were wrong, and that this year’s squad may be Ryan’s best coaching job to date.

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‘They are who we thought they were’

Yup, this post is long overdue. I began thinking about it in November, and here we are, halfway through January. With a HUGE game on tap for tonight (Tues. 1/15), I figured I should get on with it.

Yeah, I have procrastinated — but with good reason. You see, in order for me to be able to write intelligibly and accurately about a subject, I first must understand said subject. And that hasn’t been an easy thing to do with this year’s University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team.

As with any team who loses one of its best leaders to graduation and another to injury, the Badgers have spent much of the first half of the season trying to overcome those losses and to establish their own identity. It’s been a bumpy road at times, which also helps explain my foot-dragging in writing this post.

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Thank you, seniors!

Tonight the No. 4-seeded University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team takes on No.1-seeded Syracuse University in a Sweet 16 NCAA tournament game. If the Badgers pull the upset, they move on to face the winner of tonight’s Cincinnati-Ohio State matchup in the Elite Eight round. If Bucky falls to the Orangemen, it will bring an end to both the season and the careers of seniors Jordan Taylor and Rob Wilson.

As I wrote last month, one of the biggest reasons I like coach Bo Ryan and his system is his ability and willingness to take a chance on lesser-known recruits and develop their careers over the course of four (sometimes five) years. This year’s senior class is another great example of this basketball and personal development.

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Talkin’ Badgers basketball

I was never a huge fan of the mostly mediocre UW Badgers men’s basketball teams of my youth in the 80s and early 90s, but have grown to be a huge fan of Coach Bo Ryan and his program over the past decade-plus.

Among the reasons why is watching Bo take kids a step or two below “elite” status and develop their games over the course of four or five years, to the point where they leave college as completely different players/people than when they stepped on campus for the first time.Call me old school, but I appreciate the college basketball model of days past, where guys stayed three, four years before moving on to the NBA.

Nowadays, college ball is filled with a lot of guys biding their time until they turn 19 and become eligible for the NBA draft. It’s also filled with coaches who are just biding their time until a big-time school (and big-time dollars) come calling, oftentimes leaving after one year to chase the paycheck. (Keno…cough…Davis… cough…) But that’s a different topic for a different day.

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More than just a game

Baseball long has been woven into the fabric of Americana. It’s “our” game; the one we grew up playing in backyards, parks and vacant lots; the one whose players we idolize and emulate; the game that brings us together.

This was perhaps never more evident than in the days and weeks that followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Mired in shock and disbelief over the horrific events that had unfolded live — and replayed incessantly — on TV, the nation clamored for something to take its collective conscience off the tragedy. That diversion was found in the form of baseball and was centered in New York — not only the site of the most destruction, but also home to the two teams who had battled the previous fall in the 2000 World Series.

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If this is it …

I don’t know exactly why, but this is the song that came to mind when beginning to assemble this site. I long have appreciated Huey Lewis & The News and the song’s moniker seems apropos for me and this site. I plan to use this site/blog as a depository for my writings, photos, website design … Continue reading If this is it …