There seems to be an air of disappointment regarding the performance of the UW basketball team so far this season. Perhaps it’s because fans thought the team would immediately build upon last season’s 31 win campaign or maybe coach Bo Ryan’s successful run in Madison has created a sense of entitlement among the Badger faithful. Whatever the reasons, the expectations for this team appear to be at an unrealistic level for this early in the season. Even in taking a highly regarded Texas squad down to the wire, some of the game accounts I read lamented the Badgers lack of a ‘signature victory’.

True, the Badgers have come up short in games against Connecticut, Marquette and Texas but, with the exception of the UConn game in which they faded late, they’ve been competitive in every game. Considering that there are up to 5 players in the regular rotation that barely played last year, it would be illogical to assume that these Badgers would become an elite team right off the bat. Holdovers Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil, and Kevin Gullikson should only get better with more court time. And Rob Wilson and Jordan Taylor, while obviously talented, are still freshmen learning their way.

Having said that, this year’s team faces some difficulties in comparison to last year’s edition. The losses of Michael Flowers and Brian Butch may be harder to overcome that it would seem on the surface. Starting guard Jason Bohannon is a limited player in relation to Flowers, a superior defender and all around player who was well versed in Ryan’s preferred style of play. And Nankivil still needs to get stronger and learn to finish; he’s also not the consistent scoring threat that Butch became by the end of his Badger career.   Forwards Marcus Landry and Joe Krabbenhoft simply aren’t capable of carrying the team the way Alando Tucker did at times at UW.  Wisconsin also suffers when point guard Trevon Hughes tries to do too much by himself, as he did at the end of last night’s game against Texas, instead of staying within the confines of the offense. 

Ryan’s genius resides in a system that gets the most out of his players; history suggests that his teams generally improve as the season progresses. Given the experience level of the current Badgers, that would seem to be especially true this year.  The Badgers may not win the Big Ten(11) this year, but  they should remain in the upper half of the conference.  And there’s no shame in that.


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  • Jon

    I think many people forget that every other team in the league is trying to get better as well…the Michigans of the league are trying desperately to move up and if they move up someone else invariably must move down. Every team in the league cannot finish in the top half. UW needs consistent scoring from Marcus Landry and a better rebounding effort from all or else they may find themselves 5th or 6th in the league.

  • http://mike Mike

    I think it’s unrealistic to expect Bo to perform miracles every year and it’s unfair to the players who are putting in the effort.

  • Chris

    Extremely well written and spot on. As good as anything I have seen in the MKE or MSN media.

    It is kind of sad that in a period of a single decade, winning basketball at UW has bred a sense of entitlement. Many fans sure do have short memories.

  • Gary

    Bo created this situation with the success he has had at UW. I would rather have expectations of this sort as opposed to no expectations as we have many times in the past.

  • http://mike Mike

    I have no problem with high expectations but they also have to be tempered with logic. As Bo has been successful, you’d think they’d be given a little more slack. It’s that kind of thinking that keeps people thinking the Pack would be better off with Favre, and it’s that kind of lack of appreciation that helped cause Bennett to retire prematurely. I’d hate to see the same thing happen with Ryan.

  • Gary

    I think you’re talking apples & oranges when you compare Bo with DB.