The Cheesehead Corner Pub

The Badgers = U-G-L-Y

UW basketball clearly puts the F in F-ugly.

How in the hell can a team consistently blow leads with 10 or less minutes left in games, all the while not being to score at all whatsoever?

Once again, the Badgers blew a 7-point lead with 6 minutes left in the Big Ten quarterfinals and lost to a mediocre Ohio State team that the Badgers had beaten during the regular season, albeit not by much.

This has been the story time and time again from arguably the worst Badger team I have seen since the days of Steve Yoder. Heck, it even looks like a Steve Yoder team. Slow, non-athletic, a collection of vanilla guerrillas. That is, white stiffs.

This team was a major disappointment all season long. A combination of lousy recruiting and — I never thought I’d say this — bad coaching has cost the Badgers dearly. There’s no leadership on the court, no go-to guy with the game on the line. Calling the game for ESPN, both Brent Musberger and his partner said they’d had never seen a Bo Ryan-coached team make some many mental mistakes in crunch time.

Well, that comes from a team that puts the “S” in stupid. Normally, you can watch an entire season of college basketball games and not see more than a handful of shot-clock violations. Watching Wisconsin this year, you can see 3 or 4 shot-clock violations per game. And that doesn’t count the low-percentage shots fired off just to beat the buzzer.

That’s just dumb basketball. Did Ryan and his staff even evaluate the on-court IQ of some of their recruits? Trevon Hughes just is not suited for point guard. Period. He’s been a major disappointment after coming in with such hype. Neither Hughes nor Marcus Landry are leaders, capable of taking over a close game at the end.

And the only way players like Kevin Gullickson and Tim Jarmusz should be able to get into a Big Ten game is to buy a ticket. What were Ryan and his coaches thinking? Gullickson was a top recruit of, ahem, UW-Green Bay. UWGB. Mid-major. Why was UW battling with UWGB for a recruit, any recruit?

Theory here is Ryan has fallen in love with his system to the extent that he believes he can plug any player into the system and make it work. Problem is, you need athletes to make any system work. And UW just doesn’t have enough of those, and that comes back to recruiting. Ryan and his staff have done a lousy job of recruiting the last few years, which is difficult to stomach considering the Badgers’ success. Theoretically, it should have been easy to recruit players when you are succeeding. But UW targeted the wrong players. Period.

There’s also no height on this team. While you cannot coach height, you can recruit it. Looking at the UW roster, there’s a 6-11 and a 7-0 player, but they must really be awful since they rarely get to take off their warmups, let alone see meanignful minutes. Defensively, the Badgers are like a custard filled donut, soft in the middle.

And no speed, either. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen Badger defenders beaten flat-out off the dribble. Once again, that can’t be coached but it can be recruited.

We just watched the likely Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin, Jamil Wilson of Racine Horlick, sign with a losing program at Oregon instead of UW, despite the fact that Wilson wanted to play for the Badgers. But Ryan showed little if any interest in Wilson. He let Korie Lucious of Milwaukee Pius XI get out of state to rival Michigan State. He let Devron Bostick of Racine St. Catherine’s get out of state to Minnesota. All Bostick did was play a key role in beating the Badgers at the Kohl Center in January as UW blew a 14-point lead with 3 minutes to play.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not in the “Fire Bo Ryan” camp, although there are some on various Badger forums who are (firing the Boy Genius, Bret Bielema, is another story). But I am not a Ryan Kool-Aid drinker who believes the man should never be criticized when he does a poor job at something. And he has done a lousy job of recruiting the last 2-3 years and hasn’t done his usual stellar job of coaching in close games this year.

How so? At Minnesota — another lead blown late in a game — UW came out of not one but two timeouts with two bizarre plays called, one had Hughes dribbling out the clock near the top of the key jsut to fire up a prayer with 4 seconds left on the shot clock. The other had Landry take a shot from the Uecker seats as the shot clock ran out. At both junctures, UW was leading. All it would have taken was a high percentage shot inside or at least draw a foul.

By the way, next year doesn’t look any better for UW. This may be the program’s high water mark for the next 2-3 years. Other teams in the Big Ten have caught and passed Wisconsin. Now the ball’s in Bo’s court. It’s up to him to upgrade the recruiting and if necessary adapt his system to his talent, not the other way around.

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March 14, 2009 Posted by | Badgers | Leave a comment