- March 20th, 2023, 9:49 am
My takeaway from being at the game.
You learn a lot by being the visitor and talking with Wisconsin fans about their team. I was fortunate to sit amongst some really nice people who were very knowledgeable about their Badgers. Some observations from them:
> They had a LOT of respect for Liberty, our talent and unique brand of basketball
> They knew a lot about McGhee coming into the game and impressed by his ability to drive and score
> They were disappointed their 6'-3" guards did not exploit the size advantage over our 5'-9" guards. Wisconsin guards could have posted up - especially on Porter and eaten him alive.
> They fully acknowledge B1G Conference physical/thug style basketball and proud of it. Badge of honor for them.
> They were pleasantly surprised at their shooting percentage from the Foul Line. Had complaints about this on the season but shot a very high percentage vs. Liberty.
> They were incredibly frustrated they went 1-15 from 3-point range. This was very unusual for them and a source of consternation all game long.
This is where I will dig in a bit. You won't like what I have to say but let's keep it real here. If Wisconsin makes 33% of their 3-point shots, Liberty trails all game and loses by double digits. Wisconsin was dreadful from 3-point range which allowed a significantly undersized Liberty squad to maintain competitiveness. I'm not taking anything away from Liberty. This is 100% on Wisconsin.
Attendance was 10,426 in a 17,000 seat arena. The 3rd bowl was empty. Despite an arena only 60% full, that place got LOUD a few times. I can only imagine the vibe in there with a capacity 17,000 crowd. Really nice arena, great food, too.
Finally - one of my favorite experiences was pre-game getting an opportunity to meet and chat with parents/family of Liberty players. Zack Cleveland's mom is super cool. We talked for a long time as their family and I are both from Central Illinois. She played basketball at Illinois State and has also coached. Was cool to hear from a parent's perspective how her son got recruited and selected Liberty. He's a great kid and has a bright future at Liberty. He's a great fit for our program. Mom mentioned our coaching staff had the ability to glean more insight from Cleveland's style of play than typical surface level observations. Liberty was drawn to his grit, selflessness in the assist role, next-level competitiveness (he hates to lose more than he loves to win). Mom appreciated the coaches getting to know her son better, at a deeper level than the other schools did. Pretty cool to hear the recruitment story from a parent's perspective.
NIU alumnus - Liberty dad