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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Henson:Lots to like about win against Duke

Two days later and that win over Duke still has Badgerland buzzing.

It was a game Badger fans will never forget.

But I’ll be honest, when it was revealed that a Duke fan won the first seat in the student section lottery, and I realized a man in a blue sweatshirt would be leading the Grateful Red into their seats, I had a bad feeling about the highly-anticipated game that lie ahead.


Thankfully, that was the first and last lead Duke would attain the entire night as the Badgers did the unthinkable in upsetting the No.6 team in the country.

Needless to say I’m still pretty excited about the win. How could you not be?

And as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, it was a team effort that got Bucky one of its greatest wins ever at the Kohl Center. It was inspiring to see every single Badger on the floor play with such confidence as they refused to back down.

Look at a guy like Ryan Evans.

The redshirt freshman was a last-minute pick up in the 2008 recruiting cycle, and most in Madison thought flat top would just sit the bench throughout most of his career.

He’s too raw and inexperienced to play on the same court as the Blue Devils, right? Not exactly.

We knew he was athletic, we knew he could jump out of the building and now we know he can battle with some of the best college basketball players in the country.

Evans had the task of guarding All-American forward Kyle Singler — a tall order for any defender. And yes, Singler got his 20-plus points, but he had to earn every single one of them. For a while it looked like Singler couldn’t miss, but Evans made it tough on him all night and it showed in the final minutes.

Singler went strong to the rim with Duke down by two and less than 30 seconds remaining. Evans was there for the denial.

And what about senior guard Jason Bohannon, who had a dreadful night from beyond the arc?

Let me get this out there — Bohannon is not a great shooter, he is a streaky one. When he is on, he’s lethal, and when he’s off, the rim just seems to get smaller and smaller with each attempt. You just never know what you’re going to get with him on a nightly basis.

But Bohannon impressed me Wednesday night, even with the poor shooting performance.

Despite all the missed shots, all the wide-open looks, Bohannon stepped to line and hit all four of his free-throws with the game hanging in the balance.

For a guy struggling to connect all game, those shots from the charity stripe showed true mental toughness.

Additionally, he was poised during the late-game inbounds pass (something that UW has struggled with) and he delivered for his team when he had to.

I wish I could discuss everyone’s performance from Wednesday. Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer played great and Jordan Taylor looked like a senior out there.

But if there was one man on the floor who stole the show, it was Trevon Hughes.

The senior point guard was everything this team needed him to be. He knocked down open threes with ease, he drove to the lane with efficiency (like Bohannon, he too was 4-4 from the line) and he held down one of the nation’s best guards in Jon Scheyer.

And to top it all off — not a single turnover.

Hughes has had an up and down career at UW, with inconsistency and carelessness oftentimes plaguing him. But he is finally taking ownership of this squad, and his confidence and leadership makes this team a legitimate Big Ten title contender.

Now I’ve touched on the impressive performances by Wisconsin’s players, but how about the inspired final group that took the floor for UW — the students.

Wisconsin’s student section has gotten plenty of the criticism over the years. The late arrivals to football games are well documented and some say the Grateful Red has lost the edge it had when the Badgers were an up-and-coming program.

But the Kohl Center was absolutely rocking Wednesday night.

Hundreds of students lined up hours before tip-off to get as close to the action as possible, and every time Duke touched the ball the noise was relentless.

And of course, when all was said and done, we stormed the court.

Already there are those questioning the mass exodus of students from their seats. Some will say UW should “act like you’ve been there before” and even Brent Musburger commented that it looked like the Badgers had won a Final Four game. ESPN’s Dana O’Neil dropped this line in a blog post, “And really? Storming the court in December?”

But Wisconsin students had every right to storm the court. We would have been crazy not to.

You see, we stormed the court because:

? The Badgers were picked to finish in the bottom of the Big Ten despite making it to 11 straight NCAA tournaments under Bo Ryan. For some reason, this program still doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

? Games in December can loom large on a tournament r?sum? come March.

? Two years ago Duke obliterated the Badgers in Durham and yeah, revenge is just that sweet.

? The Big Ten had never won the Big Ten/ACC challenge over its 11 year history, and a UW win all but ensured the first ever Big Ten victory.

? No one gave this team a chance against almighty Duke, who came in undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the nation, so that group of underrated Badgers deserved to have that moment.

So yeah, we ran all over that court to engulf the Badgers with Coach K and perennial power Duke watching — and for an underappreciated program that just keeps proving the doubters wrong, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Max is a junior majoring in journalism. Think he is overboard in his love for the Badgers? Let him know at [email protected]

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