I don't have much to add here. I can't write about the emotions of the game because I wussed out and turned it off at halftime. I was so deep in my "I cannot stand the officiating in Kohl" hole that I'm watching the second half on the DVR just now, knowing that we won, and I'm still so angry about Kofi's fourth foul and Griffin's fourth foul. I'm watching the final possession, seeing that the score is 71-70, knowing that the game ends 71-70, and I'm still expecting Wisconsin to get a foul call and win it at the line.
I could feel it building all day. Three hours before the game I'm tweeting about how pictures of the inside of Kohl make me angry at yet-to-be-named officials. The first half, when fouls went to 9-3, I just about lost it. How am I supposed to see injustice like this and just accept it?
Look, I get WHY it happens. No game can be called 50-50, so Big Ten refs, for years, have just gone with "tie goes to the runner" when it comes to the home team. The close calls will go to the home team, if you need to call a ticky-tack foul to calm down some of the contact, you call it on the road team, etc. There are 20 Big Ten games, so we'll have a slight advantage in 10 games and a slight disadvantage in 9 games and then a massive disadvantage at Kohl. Every Big Ten fan just accepts that this is how it works.
(Saw a tweet from Isaac Trotter where he said he was listening to the Wisconsin broadcast and their radio guys were even talking about how they were glad they didn't have to be a visiting coach at Kohl dealing with the calls from the officials. Everyone knows it happens. No one cares to do anything about it.)
So because of all of that, I turned off the game at the start of the second half. I reached that "this isn't worth it" point. Part "there's no way this is good for my health", part "I need to press the reset button". My wife and I have been binging New Girl again (we already watched all of the seasons when it was on, but you can always watch them again), so I chose that instead of the second half at Kohl. I turned my phone off (not silenced, not do-not-disturb - off) and settled in for three episodes of Nick and Jess, Schmidt and Cece.
My wife touched my hand at one point and said "you're burning up". Sure enough, my anger at officials during a basketball game had manifested itself as scalding hot hands (from clenching fists maybe? no idea). Turning off the game was absolutely the best thing to do. I was recording the game on the DVR, so if we won, I would watch it, if we lost, I would delete it. I decided I wouldn't turn my phone back on until 10:30 and settled in to think about anything besides basketball officials calling everything in favor of the home team. I hope this episode has drunk Nick Miller at the end.
At 10:30, I turn my phone back on. I know that if we won I'm going to have a bunch of texts come through, so I need to get the score app open so I can see the score before I have to interpret just how many texts are coming through and what that means. Besides - this is silly. We're playing at Kohl with the officials in Wisconsin's pocket - we didn't win.
I wish I could tell you I then ran around the house celebrating and responded to all 117 texts, but I didn't. Mostly I felt sheepish. Weak. What kind of person doesn't have the mental fortitude to watch a basketball game without throwing a fit? I mean seriously - who turns a game off because he "can't take it" and sits there pouting with hot hands? THIS GUY.
And no, the juxtaposition here is not lost on me. What do great teams do when they're getting homered? They overcome it. They find a way. Kofi and Giorgi and Alan all in four trouble the entire game? Find a way. Taking the lead and then Wisconsin snatches it back at the free throw line after a weak call? Find some way to overcome it.
I wrote that post yesterday about all the things that open up for us if we find a way to win this game, well, we overcame a complete Kohl-ing and opened those doors. Let's go back through that list.
- Break the losing streak against Wisconsin? Check.
- Get a win over a team that's #26 in the all-important NET rankings? Check.
- Add a road win to the resume? Check.
- Be above .500 in the Big Ten after five games for the first time since 2012? Check.
- Sweep Wisconsin in both football and basketball? CHECK.
That last one is the most important. Coming into this year, the last time we beat Wisconsin in football was 2007 and the last time we beat them in basketball was 2011. So to win both games and go into the summer working on two winning streaks? Yes please.
(I know, I know - we're totally going to get matched up with them in the BTT just to ruin this for me.)
I think that's all I have to say about this one. I still feel sheepish talking about it. I didn't have the fortitude to see it through, so you fans who did should celebrate while I sit over here to the side. I tried to overcome my anger at the officiating, but I just couldn't do it.
Thank God our team could.