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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Daniels: UW may be better off without Taylor

After the public unveiling of the Wisconsin men’s 2012-13 basketball team Sunday during the annual Red/White Scrimmage, Badger basketball fans may have less to worry about this season than they originally thought.

Call me crazy, but maybe expectations should even be raised.

With the losses of Jordan Taylor, who graduated last spring, junior guard Josh Gasser to a season-ending torn ACL and senior forward Mike Bruesewitz for four-to-six weeks with a leg laceration, it would have been understandable to expect this season to be a down year. The preseason AP ranking of No. 23 might just have been a bit too lofty an expectation for a ragged Badger team.


But if you thought that, as many people have in the past, then you obviously must be unfamiliar with head coach Bo Ryan.

In his 11 years at the helm of Wisconsin, Ryan has never failed to make the NCAA tournament – giving the Badgers the seventh-longest appearance streak in NCAA history – sometimes with the most mediocre of teams garnering the most impressive results.

Ryan has become famous for his plug-and-chug basketball program and has continued to replace last year’s stars with new ones year in and year out.

If Sunday’s scrimmage is any indication, Ryan seems to have proven that he can do it once more, despite this year’s needs being greater than in years past.

Generally not an important part of the UW preseason, all eyes were glued to the key matchup between redshirt freshman George Marshall and sophomore Traevon Jackson as they battled for the vacant point guard position.

The two young guards didn’t disappoint either, as Jackson finished with 16 points and Marshall finished with 14. In Taylor-esque fashion, Jackson did not turn the ball over, and Marshall only turned it over twice.

Now, before I continue, I am by no means arguing their statistics in the Red/White Scrimmage indicate they will put out those kinds of numbers all season. But it does indicate both players are familiar with and capable of executing in Ryan’s system when called upon to do so. 

While Taylor may have been one of the best players to ever grace the Kohl Center hardwood, it could be argued that the Jordan Taylor of 2011-12 was too talented to play on Ryan’s team last year.

Just look at the season-ending play against Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament.

With the final few seconds on the clock winding down and the Badgers down by one to the Orange, Taylor passed the ball to then senior forward Rob Wilson, who immediately passed it straight back to Taylor. With time about to expire, Taylor heaved up a Hail Mary effort that didn’t even manage to touch the rim, leaving Gasser, who recovered the miss, too little time to toss up for one more good attempt.

Unfortunately, this was the theme last season, not the exception, as teams knew exactly whom to watch for when the Badgers were in trouble in the waning seconds of a close game.

Perhaps even more importantly, even though Taylor had proven himself to be a clutch shooter in his first three seasons and periodically throughout his senior campaign with Wisconsin, he was not the most efficient shooter on the team in 2011-12 by any means.

On the season, Taylor had the second-worst field goal percentage among the starting five, shooting just more than a .400 clip. When you isolate his three-point shooting, Taylor’s percentage (.369) ranked third-worst in the starting lineup.

Some of the Badgers’ most impressive, balanced scoring runs occurred in the rare moments when Taylor was taking a breather on the bench.

And yet, time and again Taylor was the go-to player for a last-second three-point heave.

Without Taylor around to toss up the last-second shot this year, things are already guaranteed to be different.

I am not arguing that Taylor’s presence on the team won’t be missed. It will. He had the best assist-to-turnover ratio in NCAA history (3.01), an essential attribute for any point guard in Ryan’s system.

But as far as scoring is concerned, without one clear star player on the team, the role players who might have settled for a pass to Taylor at the top of the key last year will now be forced to create their own plays this year.

At first that might be a bit worrisome, but the vast majority of players that make it onto Ryan’s squad are fundamentally sound and perfectly capable of making that big shot themselves.

With a fully stocked senior frontcourt in Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans and Bruesewitz, there will not be immediate pressure on the young point guards to become Wisconsin’s main scoring threats from the first tip, either.

So when the first close game of the year comes around and the Badgers are forced to heave up one last buzzer-beating shot at the end of a game, fans might not know who will take the all-important shot. But then again, neither will the Badgers’ opponents.

Nick Daniels is a junior studying journalism and political science. Who do you think should take a game-winning shot for the Badgers? Let him know via email [email protected] or on Twitter @npdaniels31.

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