Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Butch should play more down stretch

Imagine this: The San Antonio Spurs are down seven points with six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Tim Duncan has only three fouls, and Greg Popovich sits him on the bench.

For the remainder of the game.

Sound crazy? I think so, too.


In a sense, that?s what Badger head coach Bo Ryan has been doing all season. I?m not sure it?s working.

It?s hard to question a coach who has lost to only two Big Ten schools at home in six-plus seasons and has won eight NCAA Tournament games. But everyone makes mistakes. This may be one of them.

It?s hard to compare Wisconsin forward Brian Butch to Duncan, who was ranked as the 21st-best NCAA basketball player of all time by Monday. However, Butch does lead UW in scoring and rebounding, which includes the most offensive rebounds by a margin of 13 over Joe Krabbenhoft. Don?t you want to have that guy ? a former McDonald?s All-American ? on the court in crunch time while your team is trying to mount a comeback?

Apparently not.

All season Ryan has gone small during the final six or so minutes in close games with what is basically a four guard set: Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon, Michael Flowers, Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry. That?s who ended the game Saturday night against Purdue.

And to put it bluntly, they looked awful.

This year?s Badger team is much different than last year?s, mainly because it lacks that go-to guy. This isn?t necessarily a bad thing, as it often makes players more team-oriented. Just ask the Washington Wizards, as they have put themselves in sixth place in the Eastern Conference without all-star Gilbert Arenas. However, down the stretch of close games, it?s nice to have that go-to option, and the Kammron Taylor and Alando Tucker-less Badgers seem to be realizing that right about now.

Flowers was the go-to guy Jan. 2 against Texas, and he came through with a miraculous three-pointer and subsequent steal to shock the Longhorns in Austin. But unfortunately, I believe it was exactly that: a miracle.

Twenty-four days later, Ryan drew up the same play for Flowers, but the results were far different, as the senior guard was rejected under the rim by Purdue guard Robbie Hummel.

Saturday night?s rematch with the Boilermakers was equally unsuccessful, as Hughes committed a catastrophic turnover down four points in the midst of a comeback. This was followed by a fade-away miss on a three-pointer by Landry after Wisconsin failed to find a decent look at the basket when Bohannon, the team?s best 3-point shooter (though technically Jon Leuer and Tanner Bronson have better percentages than him) was nowhere to be found.

So we?ve established that the Badgers lack that first-option presence in crunch time. Isn?t it time to give Butch a shot?

In no way am I telling you that Brain Butch is the next Dwight Howard. He?s not. I?ve watched the same games you have; I?ve seen the dropped passes and the weak finishes.

But I also watched Butch play against No. 2 Pittsburgh last season. Forget that one? That was the game when the Polar Bear scored 20 points in the first half against now-Chicago Bull Aaron Gray. He couldn?t miss from anywhere on the court, including behind the 3-point arc.

I vividly remember him nailing a three, turning around waving his arms for the Grateful Red to get loud. The Panthers called a timeout and the place erupted. I thought it was going to fall down.

Over break, I went to four Celtics games in Boston. When the Celtics are in a tight game, Kevin Garnett stands at midcourt, raises his arms, and the place goes bananas. Even if Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are the first and second options for Boston down the stretch, it?s Garnett who gets the place energized, creating a real fourth quarter home-court advantage.

Again, Butch is no Garnett, but he brings that fire to the table, a fire currently absent on the Kohl Center floor.

Come tournament time, analysts always talk about senior leadership and experience. Butch doesn?t have to be the first, or even second option in crunch time. But with the game on the line, I want my senior leader out on the floor.

It?s time for a change.

Derek is a sophomore majoring in economics. If you’d like to further discuss the Polar Bear’s playing time, you can e-mail him at [email protected].

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