Matt Ryan: More bloggage

And now deep blogs...by Matt Ryan

Hey, shhhhh, I'm here, it's O.K.  Daddy Bloggage is here.  Calm down, everything is going to be alright.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Courtside_bloggage_image.jpgDaddy Bloggage? Really? I do have a delete button.  Ahhh, self-inflicted nicknames, what a narcissistic way to live life.

However, I do share my self-acclaimed brilliance with others. We have approximately 18 managers and they all work in the basketball offices throughout the week so I can't help but to indulge them with my creative side. We have one manager named Roman and one day I looked at him and said, "Big Skillz." He was clueless and asked me what the heck I was talking about. I looked at him even more intently and I said, "Big Skillz. That's your nickname. You said you didn't have a nickname so that is now your nickname."

He hated it, but who doesn't hate a nickname given to them for the first time?  Within two weeks the coaches, all the managers, and even our secretary simply referred to him as, Skillz.  Shortly following, Skillz was telling me how much he loved the name Skillz and that even his family and friends from back home were calling him Skillz.

But here is where this mind blowing story takes a sharp right turn...and I'm talking two wheels, maybe one.  We were at Illinois for our last regular season game and at our hotel, Skillz mistakenly, and what looked to be regrettably, told me he has changed his name from Skillz, to Skill$.  I said, "Whoa whoa whoa, hold on there pal. Nobody gave you permission to change your nickname. Any changes go through the originator." After a brief, stern lecture to my boy Skillz, I allowed him to spell his nickname, $killz. In this case both parties win.  This is what I like to call a win, win situation.  $killz knows better now and he promised he would always check in with me before any more changes can be made.  (Happy $killz?  You asked for a shout out and I gave you an entire story with that crazy non-Nascar-like turn.  You see you're supposed to turn left but this Nascar driver, me the story-teller, went right hence the possible one wheel turn.  Am I really still going with this?  I hate Nascar.  And why won't my right pinky finger hit this backspace button?  Mmmoooooooom.....oh go scratch.  But...)

Then the managers tried to nickname me but all I have is Matty. I told them nicknaming me is not possible because I am too weird and unpredictable; nothing would ever stick. All of a sudden I blurted out, Night Hawk. They loved it because you can take that name many different ways. Am I stalking innocent people? Do I squawk like a bird when I snore? Am I a super hero tracking down villains? Who knows? It hasn't caught on yet because self-proclaimed nicknames never work, as I explained to Mr. $killz, except if you leave town and arrive somewhere new as an unknown; in which case you can sell yourself off as Blue Jelly Smoove and nobody would know the difference.

(We also have another manager who goes by the name of A.J. VanHandel and when I am asked where A.J. is or any question about him really, I always respond, "He is probably somewhere A.J. VanHandeling his business."  Thank you).

When we arrived at Assembly Hall in Illinois the following day, I went straight from the bus to the coach's locker room, as usual, to hang up my clothing and get my stat sheets prepared. I went into the bathroom to hang up my suit bag and then sat down in the lounge area.  As I sat down I tried to say something to Coach Greg Gard and Luke Wainwright when Coach Gard interrupts me by saying, "Oh hey look, a mouse just went under the door." Notice the period (.) after the word door.  Whereas in my case it would have said, DOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Being from Cobb, WI, or just not being a total wimp, Coach Gard was very calm.  In my case, I was in a living nightmare knowing I was in a small bathroom with a giant succubus rat. Then thinking about how they can fit through the tiniest cracks made the dry-heaving process begin. The mouse decided to head into the official's dressing room.  For most of the game I thought the officials were mad at us for somehow intentionally slipping a mouse under their door.  I only kid.  But seriously.  In the end, it was a great road win for us and I will be wary the next time I head into to Assembly Hall.

The Big Ten Tournament was disappointing to say the least, but I was mightily impressed by the fact that we played a very good team fighting for their tournament lives, shot our worst percentage from the floor all year, missed some front ends of one-and-ones (along with some other key free throws), and we had a shot to tie the game with less than a minute to play. That shows me this team has a lot of fight in them and getting us out of the NCAA tournament is not going to be an easy task.
 
At the level Division 1 basketball is played, a student-athlete requires an immense amount of mental and physical preparation.  I'll never forget a buddy of mine who came to watch us practice at Michigan and his jaw dropped when we started full court possessions.  He looked at me and said, "This is the level they play at?  And this is just practice?  I will never bad mouth another player again."  It really does look a lot easier on T.V. or from the stands.  So when fans haul off on 18-22 year olds when they have never been up close in that environment, I just have to shake my head and take a deep breath.

We go in and beat Illinois on their senior night by 15 points and less than a week later the tables turn completely. This is one of the many reasons I think conference tournaments should be eliminated entirely or at least not have the conference tournament mean so much to the tournament selection committee.

One mini-streak over a 1-4 day span, win or lose, can affect your entire season and the panel's opinion of your team. We need more emphasis on the regular season because that is where over 90% of your season's production comes from and a team never will play 3 or 4 games in a row throughout the season (except for a possible early pre-conference tourney).

Even in the NCAA tourney a team can only play twice in a three-day span.  In the end, we received a No. 4 seed in Jacksonville and considering the way we have been treated in the past, a No. 4 seed was a sigh of relief for any Badger fan I talked to. The team started to receive some national respect in the latter part of the season which was nice to see. However, to begin the Big Ten Tournament, we were announced in Conseco Field House as the Wisconsin Buckeyes and Jordan Taylor became a freshman again (or so they announced).  Classic.

I'll end this blog with an excerpt from Mike Lucas's article on 3-15-10 in the Wisconsin State Journal...

By the sounds of it, the Wofford Terriers think they're good enough to beat Wisconsin in a first round game of NCAA's East Regional.

"I got flooded with texts,'' Wofford's Cam Rundles told the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal after learning that the Terriers, a No. 13 seed, had drawn the Badgers, a No. 4 seed.

"Everybody back home (Minneapolis) was telling me, 'Y'all can beat those guys.' I was texting them back, 'I know.'

"It's a dream matchup,'' Rundles continued. "Wisconsin is a great team, but we couldn't have asked for a better matchup.

. . ."I think we can battle Wisconsin down to the wire.''
Dahlman was also confident over the draw. "They've got some great players,'' he said, "but I think we match up well with them.''

. . .Noah Dahlman said that he plans on talking with his brother Isaiah Dahlman to get the skinny on the Badgers and the swing offense.

"I'm sure the Michigan State coaches will give coach (Mike) Young some tape if he needs it,'' Noah Dahlman said.

Izzo would probably walk through the snow to personally hand the tape to Young, if necessary."

Well, we know we are up against a confident team that's for sure.  The rest I shall keep to myself.  I'll blog y'all later.

P.S.   A.J. just VanHandeled his business after he read this blog and told me Club Tril, or Mark the Shark, did a pod-cast about self-imposed nicknames. I have never heard a Club Tril pod-cast nor have I read one of his blogs and as A.J. pointed out once again, I am the king of randomness.  (No offense to Club Tril, my brother loves your blogs and people around the office always talk about how funny they are).  I guess great minds think alike.  Oh, and a good family friend told me if I stepped it up I could be funnier than Club Trillion and receive national attention with my blogs as well.  As I just mentioned I don't know of Club Trillion's material, but I replied, "in that case would I become Club Sextillion?"  Too bad I couldn't use the shortened nickname.  Or could I?   Lates.

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