I am what you might call “uber-competitive”. I take losses hard. I used to shed many a tear whenever my favorite team would lose. As I got older, I stopped crying but started getting really mad.
I apologize for not having a recap sooner, but yesterday’s 87-79 OT loss had me spitting bullets.
But, after a few hours of reflection and then a night’s sleep (I can’t say it was good), I realized that while yesterday’s loss was tough to swallow, it just severely hurt, not ended, their chances for an NCAA bid. Then I watched Coach Fickell’s speech to his team and that fired me up. Thanks, Coach.
It also helped to make yesterday a bit more tolerable… a bit.
Wisconsin basketball is getting better
I saw a tweet yesterday that said we’re past the stage of moral victories. While I am in complete agreement with that statement, the fact of the matter is, Wisconsin basketball is definitely improving.
One of the biggest deficiencies this season has been foul shooting. It doesn’t get much better than the 11-12 (91.7%) they went yesterday.
While they got out-rebounded overall, they had nine offensive boards compared to Michigan’s eight. Second-chance points are huge and if Wisconsin can consistently get more chances than their opponents, they will benefit greatly.
The second-half adjustments that Coach Gard made were incredibly effective. Remember, they were down by eight going into the locker room at halftime.
Connor Essegian is just fun to watch
I still think that the season has worn on him a bit, as his 3-point percentage is plummeting, but what impressed me most was the ability to find other ways to score. The growth that he’s had from the beginning of the year is quite impressive. He led Wisconsin in scoring while only going 1-8 from long range.
By no means am I writing the season off, but a full off-season of weight training is going to do him a world of good.
Oftentimes, when history is being made, it may be difficult to realize it.
Ladies and gents, Essegian already broke one record with the most 3’s by a Wisconsin freshman.
That probably won’t be the only time Connor’s name pops up in a Wisconsin record book.
Tyler Wahl is pretty special too
I was a horrible basketball player. I couldn’t shoot, I was slow, and fouled all the time when I played defense.
But I loved to pass. Growing up my idol was Chris Corchiani, the point guard at NC State in the late 80s.
My favorite play of the year, by a country mile, was Wahl’s behind-the-back pass to Crowl.
There are many things about this play that make it special. The shot clock was running out. It was a bounce pass, which greatly increases the level of difficulty. Finally, it went exactly where it was supposed to go.
Being a team leader is more than just about scoring points. I think Wisconsin basketball is very lucky to have him.
Hunter Dickinson is the new Christian Laettner
Growing up, all the girls at my school loved Duke because of Bobby Hurley and Christan Laettner. So naturally, unless you were a Duke fan (I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, not many Duke fans there then) because the girls loved them the boys despised them.
While I really did not like Laettner, I at least respected him.
Unfortunately, I cannot same the same about Hunter Dickinson. I respect his game, but his antics are bush league. I get it, they are young and still prone to do stupid things.
But the play against Wahl was something more.
The refs reviewed the foul against Chucky Hepburn before assessing him with a flagrant one. I get it, he did hit him in the head but it certainly didn’t look intentional.
The same cannot be said with the stomp.
The ship isn’t completely sunk yet
I’m not going to lie, that loss to Michigan hurt Wisconsin basketball’s chances enormously of getting into the NCAA Tournament. Going into the game, the Badgers were listed in the “last four in” group by many “Bracketologists”.
When you’re the last in, it behooves you to keep winning.
But, if they can beat Purdue on Thursday and then win at Minnesota on Sunday, and win a couple of games in the Big Ten tournament, I think they have a very legitimate shot of getting into “The Big Dance”.
It will involve a lot of scoreboard-watching on the fan’s part.
The Badgers have put themselves into a spot where their destiny is no longer in their hands. Unless they win the whole Big Ten tournament.