I took in this year's MU-UW contest from inside enemy territory, and walked away with a few observations.
My brother picked up free tickets to the Marquette-Wisconsin game from his boss. As his favorite (read as: only) older brother, he took me along. Openly decorated in my best blue & gold finery and willing to cheer anything resembling a positive play for Marquette, we headed to the Kohl Center. The following are my notes, stories and thoughts about my experience:
- The entryways and stairways in the Kohl Center are overly complicated. From Gate C on the southeast corner, we had to go up a stairway right away to get to the ticket scanners, and then there's no signage to explain to first time visitors that the 200 and 300 levels are reachable from the same concourse. Once up on the 2nd level, we had to go up another set of stairs and then take a turn and go through a short tunnel to get to our section in the 300 level. Even the Allstate Arena in Chicago isn't as ridiculously put together, and that building's a dump.
- I had expected to be able to provide you with all sorts of wild comments from the largely ridiculous and uninformed Bucky fans. But our section was mostly quiet other than standard basketball crowd noise. Only 2 things are even close to worth mentioning: 1) After Davante Gardner got whistled for travelling at the 14:11 mark of the first half, someone behind me shouted at Buzz to sit down. A quick check on Bo Ryan showed that he was also currently standing. 2) On two separate occasions, a guy behind me somewhere complained about hand checking, by ordering Derrick Wilson to get his hands off Jordan Taylor. Apparently either A) it's completely illegal to EVER touch Jordan Taylor or B) Bo Ryan's squads NEVER hand check.
- Through the first half and the first few plays of the 2nd, I noticed that the female Bucky fan in front of me on the left kept covering her ear on my side every time I started clapping or cheering for Marquette. Either when Josh Gasser hit a three to cut the Marquette lead to 3 or when Ben Brust's layup made the lead 1, she leaned back, turned her head about halfway towards me, grabbed her ear again (obviously I wasn't making any noise now), and turned to say something to the gentleman that she was with. I think I got chirped for doing nothing more than cheering for my team when appropriate (I listened to you, @mukate08!) and not cheering when the Badgers scored.
- For all of the laughing and joking that we do about Wisconsin and Jump Around, they didn't play it in the Kohl Center. I didn't realize this in the building, but instead after the game when I realized that I never thought about it during the game and would have if they had played it.
Vander Blue got booed during intros and booed when Buzz would sub him back in. Eventually the Bucky crowd got bored with that and at about the 7 minute mark of the first half, started booing him every time he touched the ball. Then he got the ball down the left wing, looked at the nearest defender, who was making no effort to come anywhere closer to him, and then said "EFF YOU GUYS" and BURIED a triple amidst a cascade of boos to give Marquette a 2 point lead. Not only would he not get booed again, but Marquette would never relinquish the lead, not even to a tie score. For what it's worth, that was Vander's only 3 point attempt of the game. Well played, young man.
We'll continue with some slightly more whimsical notes after the jump.
- I suspect that @BBaranowski's section was leading the regular chants of "DEFENSE" when Bucky had the ball and "WE ARE *clapclap* MARQUETTE *clapclap*" where appropriate. Mrs. B tells me that the We Are Marquette chants were clearly audible on television, but the loud chorus of boos that would drown it out after about 4 go-rounds were NOT. Weird.
- When Darius Johnson-Odom drained 2 FTs to put Marquette up 6 with 51.8 seconds remaining, a few Badger fans started to slowly drift out. Kind of weird, since Bucky has the ball and Bill James' college basketball safe lead equation says that Marquette's lead isn't truly safe until there's less than 6 seconds left. But it was just a few. But when Gasser missed a layup and Brust missed a 3 on the ensuing possession and Jamil Wilson snared the rebound, the red clad spectators scurried for the safety of the network of tunnels, much like their mascot would.
- These seats in the 200 level stayed empty the entire game. It's directly above the obvious student section in the 100 level. What's the deal with that?
- Marquette made no effort to avoid interfering in this timeout contest. It was awesome.