The Second Certainty: Jordan Taylor
In addition to their rock-steady head coach, the Badgers’ other stalwart this season is their star senior point guard, Jordan Taylor. Taylor’s already gathering preseason accolades after being named 1st-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media and 2nd-team All-American by the Associated Press last year. So far he’s been named to the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 and been named a preseason 1st-team All-American by Athlon and the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
After toiling for much of last season in the shadow of second-round NBA draft pick Jon Leuer, Taylor had his coming out party by scoring 21 second-half points in the Badgers’ comeback win over the then top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. When the Badgers were down 15 and appeared to be fading, Taylor scored the next eight points and took over the game for the Badgers by facilitating and hitting key shots down the stretch. The performance made the media’s mouth water, but as impressive as that one game was, Taylor’s sterling statistics were something to salivate over all season.
As noted above, Taylor played over 90 percent of the minutes he could have played while turning it over just over once per game. He also shot 43 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range, and 83 percent from the line all while contributing 4.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Interpreting the statistics in a simplistic way shows that Taylor very rarely committed a point guard’s cardinal sin (a turnover), shot the ball extremely well (over 40 percent from three equates to over 60 percent from two), and had a good floor game as well.
When these numbers are put in the context of Taylor’s responsibilities to the team, they go from amazing to historic. Taylor had the ball in his hands for most of the game, but still almost never turned it over. He took most of the shots at the end of the shot clock (when the defense knew he had to act), and yet still shot a very high percentage and didn’t turn it over during those times. And on top of these things that are measurable by statistics, Taylor was often guarding the opposition’s best guard as he was the quickest Badger defender. While Leuer received most of the publicity last season, Taylor was the most important to the team and perhaps the player most important to any team in the NCAA.
Now he’s coming back for his senior season? That seems like a sure thing.
Coming next, a look at the supporting characters on this year’s Badger hoops team.