Friday, March 03, 2017
(3/03/2017 02:40:00 PM) - Al
Lots of folks on the ledge today about the Badgers. As I have mentioned numerous times over the years, we're incredibly spoiled by their run of success. Even with their recent slump, they will still make the NCAA tourney for the 19th straight season, they will still finish in the top 4 (or tied for the top 4) in the conference for the 16th straight season.
The other streaks sometimes discussed, that they've never failed to secure a "double bye" since the Big Ten expanded, could be in jeopardy if they lose SUN and other games do not go their way. They have not played in the 1st round of the conference tourney since 2000-01, and will not again this time around.
It's certainly too bad they have faded, through a mixture of running into hot teams and simply not playing up to the standards they set for themselves the first 75% of the campaign. It always reminds me of teams that are ahead with 10 minutes to go in the game, but fall behind late and lose.
It's easy to do well for a fraction of a game or season, that's why Doug Melvin used to say (and probably still does) not to think SEP stats will carry over to the next season. After a while, scouting catches up, as does depth. Teams take away your top option or two, and what used to work does not, or at least, not with consistency. Injuries and foul trouble pop up. One game, it's one thing; the next game, it's something else.
At some point, those streaks I mentioned in the top paragraph will end. I've thought for a while it might be next year, as they will lose about 60-65% of their minutes...assuming, of course, Happ returns. They have a very good recruiting class, probably the best in a couple decades, but freshmen, even the upper echelon ones, are still freshmen, often vastly outmuscled by guys 2-3 years older and with 2-3 more years of weight room work under their belt.
On one of the message boards, I always recall one guy had the signature line of "These are the good old days." It's easy to forget, especially when guys in their 4th season make silly mistakes late, but in a 2 point game, every failed possession, turnover, missed shot, missed assignment, fumbled loose ball, failed block out, and so on "cost you the game."
Trust me, that first year they're not in the top 4, or not in the tourney, the sky is falling folks will be out in force, as they were for a bit last season (after they were 6-5, the boards were full of them), and a 20+ win "failure" will be remembered as fondly as a young Jennifer Love Hewitt when the topic of tank tops is broached.
3/03/2017 02:40:00 PM