I coined this mantra while doing battle in the Torvik's family basement while wearing hockey gear far to large for me. Perhaps Bo heard about my epic battles and stole the idea of always looking to the next battle, game, opportunity, etc. but he may have started this before my time.
Torvik correctly told me at the Big Ten Tournament that we all know how this season is going to end, with the Badgers losing a game because they can't make any shots. The only question was when that game would come, and unfortunately it happened in the first round so we don't get any more basketball this season.
I am already looking forward to next season, but here's a little reflection on the season that just concluded.
The loss of Gasser probably cost this team a few wins over the course of the season, and they may have been good enough to win a Big Ten Championship if he had been healthy. In the end, Bo's greatness just wouldn't allow this team to fold when he went down. As always he figured out a way to get the most out of every player on his team, and continued the 2 most remarkable streaks in WI basketball history: consecutive top 4 big ten finishes, and consecutive NCAA appearances.
In addition to the streaks, Bo as always did something remarkable that no Badger fan would have ever thought possible. This year UW played 4 teams that were ranked in the top 6 at the time UW played them. One on the road, one at home and 2 on a neutral court. UW's record, 4-0. Unbelievable.
Here's a look back at this year's seniors. I'll see if I can do another post on the returning players.
Berggren- Was the best defender in the Big Ten, and played well on the offensive end. Berggren was the best player on this team, but never became a dominating offensive inside presence for this team. He was a dominating presence on defense with 73 blocked shots, and many more alters. He was the core of the best defense in the Big Ten and Bo's best defensive team at UW. He shot 47%, which would have been better if he had not shot just 25% on 3s, which made up 27% of his shots. He will have a future in pro basketball. Certainly overseas, and maybe someday in the NBA.
Evans- Again a great defender, which was obvious from the moment he stepped on the floor as a freshman against Purdue with the task of guarding Robbie Hummel and effectively shut him down in the second half of that game. Evan's became a great offensive tease when in his junior year he became the teams 2nd leading scorer. He shot a respectable 44% that year, and was 2nd on the team in free throw attempts. Of course all of that came crashing down with this year's dismal offensive season. 39.5%FG, 42.6%FT and 8.3% 3ptFG. To Evans credit, he went to great lengths to get himself out of the slump including his jumpshot free throws. Even more than that, unlike so many other kids that mope and let the other parts of their game suffer when they don't make shots, Evan's defense was top notch all season long whether he made shots or not.
Brusier- At the beginning of the season I expected this to be the year Gasser took over this team and filled the leadership role Jordan Taylor had filled in past seasons. When he got hurt I asked the question, Who's team will this be now. I had hoped it would become Dekker's team as his game grew, but that role for him will have to wait a year. Evans, Jackson, and Brust all had their moments during the year, but in the end no one asserted themselves on this team. That's where Bruiser comes in. No one will ever confuse Bruiser with some of the other stars UW has had, as his production was minimal at best 6.4PPG, 40%FG, 28%3pt%. Perhaps I'm just trying to send him out on a positive note here, but when has there been a player with so little production (Bruiser was only the 6th leading scorer on the team in his Junior and Senior seasons) that has been such a frontline leader. If this team had a personality, it was his. He couldn't shoot, but was fearless in taking any shot big or small. He wasn't a shut down defender, but constantly scrapped and got beat up in the process. He was the face of a team despite being one of it's least productive members. The stat sheets will remember him in the realm of the Jarmusz's in UW history, but in this season that probably wouldn't do justice to his contributions.
Another great UW season has brought me all kinds of joy. Thanks to all the coaches and players, and I can't wait until next season.