As the Wisconsin basketball radio announcer, this past weekend presented both an exhilarating part of the job as well as an assignment I that is among those I have grown to dread.
I’ll start with the latter. One of the tasks I truly do not enjoy is going into the locker room after the Badgers are eliminated from the NCAA tournament. Normally, a locker room is closed to the media, but that changes once the tournament begins. Among my duties is to grab a few interviews for WIBA radio, the Madison affiliate for UW sports broadcasts.
After a loss to end the season, the look of disappointment on the player’s faces is very evident. I watched Joe Krabbenhoft, who for four years left everything he had out on the floor, staring at his locker, knowing this will be the last time he wears a Wisconsin uniform. As you might guess, he appeared to be in no hurry to take off his jersey one final time.
I watched Marcus Landry, the hurt plain to see, stand tall once again while answering questions from reporters. Spend 10 seconds in that room, and you realize how much these players care, and how badly they wanted to move onto Boston for the Sweet 16. However, along with the sting of defeat, I believe I also noticed a large supply of resolve from the returning players.
I can’t help but think this season, and in particular this past weekend of NCAA play, can go a long way in the development of young players such as Jon Leuer, Tim Jarmusz, Keaton Nankivil, Jordan Taylor, Rob Wilson, and the rest of the Badgers who soon will begin their off-season workout programs. They all know how important the spring and summer months can be in making everyone a little bit better. My guess is each will be out to do just that.
Now to the exhilarating part. As lousy as it is to enter a locker room after a season ending loss, Friday’s overtime thriller with Florida State is a game I’ll remember the rest of my life. If you have not done so already, do yourself a favor and check out the video on this very Web site of the post-game locker room scene. I am not sure whether I have been happier for a group of players than I was that evening, when the Badgers rallied from 12 down at the half to force overtime, then beat the Seminoles.
People often ask me about my favorite moment calling UW football and basketball. It is a difficult question to answer, for the simple reason there have been so many electrifying games. I don’t know where I would rank Trevon Hughes’ twisting shot in the lane to beat FSU, but I can say it will make the short list of my favorite plays. For that matter, Jason Bohannon’s 25-footer late in regulation, with about a millionth of a second left on the shot clock, was pretty cool as well.
Most of us can only imagine how Trevon and his teammates felt after that game. In the last couple of weeks, he was basically calling himself out, saying he needs to play better and be the leader at crunch time. On Friday evening, he was all that and more. It is great to see a young man live a moment the rest of us can only play out in our dreams.
Sunday’s result will hurt for awhile, and that is ok. This team has an exciting future in front of it, and it will get some good early tests next season in the Maui Invitational, as well as the reminder of what I am sure will be another highly challenging schedule.
No doubt Badger fans already are counting the days until the next game.