OPINION: Sideline Slants

Sports fans like flash, pizzazz and sizzle. We like pushing the basketball up the court?run and gun.

You can call the Wisconsin Badgers style of basketball boring and dull. Whatever you call it, call it effective.

Indiana, KU, LSU, Temple, UCLA and nearly every other NCAA Division I basketball program took a seat on the sideline while Wisconsin plodded ahead in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The Badgers don?t win on style points. They just win. It?s not a crime to win playing fundamental, sound basketball with players who probably are not among the top draft picks of the NBA. Fact is, most of those players wouldn?t be among the list of most wanted players in the Big 10.

I doubt that Wisconsin opponents felt that the Badgers won with sheer talent. Two things Wisconsin had more of were discipline and patience.

Much was made of their stifling defense, but they controlled the tempo of the game with their patient offense, running the shot clock down before trying to score.

Wisconsin?s opponents rushed up the floor and often put up shots in 10 to 15 seconds. If the shot didn?t go in though, Wisconsin normally got the rebound, walked the ball up the court and took another 25 to 30 seconds off the shot clock before trying to score.

The result? Wisconsin?s opponents often spent 60 to 70 percent of the game on defense. That takes a toll, because it?s more tiring to play defense than offense.

Like it or not, Wisconsin won games the old fashioned way?they earned it.

* * *

— Would you believe I had Wisconsin in the Final Four on my tournament bracket?

I wouldn?t believe it either. Actually, I had them losing in the first round to Fresno State.

— An editorial cartoon in the Cincinnati Post pictured a TV broadcaster giving a business update… ?And the NCAA office pool brackets took an ugly turn downward.?

— I know why the NCAA Women?s Basketball Tournament lets the highest seeded teams host some of the early tournament games ?so the crowds will be bigger and the gate will be higher. However, until all games are played at a neutral site, the women?s tournament will continue to have more lopsided games in the early rounds.

— You don?t think the number one seeds in the men?s tournament would mind hosting some early round games, do you?

— Wouldn?t it be nice if we could choose the game we wanted to watch during the NCAA tournament instead of getting the game that CBS shows us?

— Those of you with ESPN and ESPN2 could switch back and forth between two games being played simultaneously during the NCAA Women?s Basketball Tournament. How sweet it would be to do the same with the men?s tournament.

— It?s not the same without Dick Vitale announcing the games, baby! Maybe it?s better. Maybe it?s worse, but it?s not the same.

— Why is the men?s tournament so much more unpredictable than the women?s tournament?

— Can someone explain to me why so many college players appear exhausted during a game? A common pose is a player bent over trying to catch his or her breath. It seems to me that players should be in good enough shape to play knowing they have a TV timeout every four minutes of playing time in addition to other called timeouts.

They must not make these younger models like they used to.

— I wonder what Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy?s blood pressure was when he had the meltdown against Michigan State and he was ejected with just a few seconds left to play. Give him credit for at least recovering quickly enough to shake hands civilly with MSU coach Tom Izzo before leaving the floor and apologizing afterward.

— Now that the NCAA basketball tournament is over, don?t you miss those insightful 15 second interviews with the coaches at halftime?

I?ll bet CBS announcers were glad they didn?t have to try to interview the Iowa State coach as he left the court following his ejection.

— It?s NBA and NHL playoff time again. There?s something wrong with a playoff system when it takes two months or more to determine a winner.

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