Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me three times, you must be Bo Ryan Basketball.
For some reason, even though we totally know that Wisconsin Basketball is not a tournament team, even though in our preseason posts we all expect Wisconsin to fail in the Big Dance, we still get behind Wisconsin in March. We still think that this is their year and they will buck the trend and come up big and make it to the Final Four. Wisconsin Basketball is like that girl that you always come back to. You love the good times, and there are a lot of them, but she will constantly fuck you over when it matters most. What makes it worse for the Badgers, is they always seemingly have a great tournament draw. They always lose to a team that you think they should beat, and lose badly - 2008 vs Davidson, 2010 vs Cornell, 2011 vs Butler. Man, frustrating. And, those bad loses to end the season (or your girl cheating on you to extend the metaphor) make you forget about the rest of the season. If we lost to Kansas or Duke or something and played well, we'd say, "Well it was a great season, but we lost to a better team." You can never say that in UW's tourney losses (well maybe 2009).
A few things were evident this game and this tournament. Jon Leuer is anti-clutch. He can score 25 against UWM and Northwestern, but in big games becomes like the McFly children in Back to the Future - non-existant.
Also, the Len Elmore and Reggie Miller were really getting on my nerves. It's obvious they know nothing of Wisconsin basketball. Yes, it would be nice to put players on the block, especially Leuer, but that is not our game and back down big men are not our players. The swing offensive is predicated on moving the ball, moving players and creating mismatches. We recruit big men that can shoot and guards that can post up. The problem, as we've seen a number of times in the last few years, is what do we do when that system is not working. Butler's defense was all over us. Wisconsin is at its best when they have someone that can create their own shot when the system breaks down - Devin Harris, Alando Tucker, and sometimes Jordan Taylor. Bo Ryan, for better or worse, is gonna dance with who brung him.
Speed was an issue. Taylor is an average defender. Tim Jarmusz cannot defend worth a dime and Gasser is slow. Butler's guards were able to penetrate when they needed to. Even if we would have made it to Florida, their guards would have torn us apart.
Lastly, I'm one of the biggest Jordan Taylor fans out there. I've been writing about how he is going to be a star since the beginning of last season. But he was tired out there. He had a great season, but ran out of gas in March. There shouldn't be any excuse for that happening to a college athlete, but it does happen when you have to do it all for your team. Look at Jimmer Fredette last night. When you are tired your defense suffers and your shots suffer. And Jordan, unlike Jimmer, not only has to do it all on offense, but often times ends up guarding the other team's best player. Next year we need Gasser to become a ball handler and give Taylor some possessions away from the point position. This worked last year switching Hughes and Taylor. It would also help if someone other than Taylor could become a lockdown defender to give him some rest on the defensive end. JT has got to be fresh at the end of games and at the end of the season.
One thing is for sure, I'm going to love this Badger team next year. They will be so much more fun to watch, probably not better, but surely more fun. Get rid of the apathetic Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil and the irrelevent Tim Jarmusz. You got a staring lineup of Taylor, Gasser, Ryan Evans?, Bruesewitz, and Jared Berggren. That team is going to bust their ass, play with passion, make some mistakes, but always bring the effort. That is Wisconsin Basketball!
Let's go Red!