Hammer always complains about how the game is called, but usually it's the officiating. This time, it's the commentators. Brent Musburger and Steve Lavin spent the entire game rooting for the Hoosiers. In the television world, you always want the time that's behind to make a run. People would rather watch Indiana catching up than Wisconsin pulling away. But this was egregious.
Musburger spent the entire game hoping Bracey Wright would start scoring. Musburger never mentioned Clayton Hanson, the man guarding Wright for most of the game.
Lavin started to blame Indiana's loss on the officiating. At one point, Lavin actually went blind. ESPN showed a slow motion replay of a Mike Wilkinson being hacked on the arm. As the defender's hand slapped Wilkinson's forearm, Lavin claimed not to see any contact. At the end of the game Lavin apologized for how hard it was to win on the road in the Big Ten.
It is hard to win on the road in the Big Ten. Home teams do get calls. But last night's game was very typical of how the Big Ten works. Announcers generally refuse to question the integrity of the game by criticizing the officials, except when an official makes an obvious, demonstrable error. Lavin criticized the officiating when the video replay clearly showed the official made the correct call. That's something I expect to hear in my own basement, not something you should hear from a national announcer.
I bring this up to introduce and deemphasize the following apology to Jeff Hagen. I have personal objections to his approach to the game. On the other hand, he's just a kid playing basketball. If I'm going to object to criticism of Brian Butch, it's not fair that I level harsh, personal criticism at Hagen.
Besides, Hammer's big brother -- Gambly Hammer -- says members of the Hagen family are very nice. So, 3WN apologizes to Jeff Hagen and will immediately begin the search for a new whipping boy. If the search goes poorly, we can only hope Hagen goes pro. At that point, the gloves are off.