Kentucky Ruins Wisconsin's Season: How The Badgers Deal With It

By Mike Young on April 7, 2014 at 11:15a



This year's run to the Final Four could've been redemption for Bo Ryan. 

After years of living devoid of basic human emotion, the Wisconsin head coach completed the NCAA Tournament's biggest upset by appearing somewhat sympathetic, in an interview following their regional final win over Arizona. 

Ryan was a man who went on national TV and radio to defend the hypocrisy of college coaches. He dismissed the actions of his repulsive fan base, who allegedly spat on Jared Sullinger, and simultaneously gave birth to an infamous phrase. In the moments after clinching his first Final Four appearance, though, he was neither tone-deaf nor cold-hearted – he was relatable to fellow human beings for the first time. 

If anything, Buckeye fans know the pain of losing on a last-second shot to Kentucky and igniting a parade of tears.

"Anybody that watches it more than once, I feel sorry for them.  If you know the result, why would you?" Ryan said, in his postgame press conference. "I watched Dumb and Dumber about 20 times, and I might watch it a 21st when I get home, and I know the ending. "

white athletes stick together
 Dekker comforts Brust after their loss to UK. 

Will that tough loss or his affection for Dumb and Dumber change the way Ohio State fans feel about him and also undo this vindictive smile I have when watching Aaron Harrison bury Wisconsin? No, absolutely not. 

Perhaps what this Final Four run showed was Ryan isn't on Tom Crean's level of despicability. While it was a tremendous accomplishment to be in that elite category, Ryan's skill as the director of the Badgers' swing offense far outweighs Crean's contributions to the game. At least at that level, Ryan has earned respect. 

Unlike Crean's Indiana teams, he's expected to maintain a higher level of consistency and follow through on it. Ryan is on par with Thad Matta, both having won at least 10 conference games in all but one season of their Big Ten coaching careers. 

This season's team, however, felt different. Tempo statistics reflect it (No. 292 overall in terms of quickest pace, while they're usually in the mid-300s) and Wisconsin seemed to be more aggressive on offense. Their versatility allowed Ryan to loosen his typical restrictions and, in turn, made him a better coach.

"I really love coaching this team," Ryan said. "I knew they had something in them it was just trying to get it out of them sometimes that was a little bit of a challenge."

As tough as it is to repeat a Final Four run, the Badgers have all the pieces in place to do it. Guard Ben Brust is the only contributing senior that will graduate, while junior Frank Kaminsky and sophomore Sam Dekker are expected to return. 

With good reason, OSU should regret making a delayed effort at recruiting Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year and Toledo native Nigel Hayes. Between him, Dekker and Kaminsky, there are few team in the Big Ten or, let alone, the country that will be able to match up with that frontcourt. 

As much as we may like to see Wisconsin fans wallow in sadness, next year's team will have a similar feel and should enter the season as the prohibitive conference favorites. 


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BucksfanXC's picture

Yeah, Wisconsin and Nebraska bring back the same team next year. UofM is going to depend on who jumps to the NBA but could either be good again or terrible depending on who all they lose. MSU will regress as they lose Payne and Appling if not also Harris and Dawson, without bringing much of a recruiting class in next year (so far).

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

TossTrap's picture

God, did it have to be Kentucky and Calipari.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+5 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I really wanted Wisky to win and I feel bad for the kids on the team - but Stone Cold Harrison had Ice in his Veins 

route4buckeye's picture

DAT NOSE. would smash tho.

jamesrbrown322's picture

I hate that everyone is talking about what a great coaching job Calipari has done. How is managing to lose 10 games with far and away the most talented roster in the entire country, including losing 6 in a very pitiful conference, a great coaching job. it is total BS.

This is the same thing he did at Memphis - Recruit like no one else, and eventually you will have enough talent on your roster to overcome your many deficiencies as a coach.

In short, Calipari's teams have always been successful DESPITE his coaching, but because of his recruiting. it's not brain science. He still is a pretty poor X's and O's guy who is an exceptional recruiter.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+2 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

I disagree. I'm not a Calipari or UK fan in any way, but to say he's not a good coach is pretty silly. Yes, he's a great recruiter who works the NBA age requirement rules to his advantage and his teams have all the talent in the world, but do you think the guy just rolls some balls out on the court during practice and tells them to do whatever they want?

I get that people don't like him. Heck, I think he's shadier than an oak tree, but I've watched a lot of Kentucky basketball this year and this is not the same team playing right now as I saw back in November and December. They have improved dramatically even from the last month or so. So are we just supposed to chalk that up to his good players learning how to play together and give him no credit? The basketball season is all about peaking at the right time and this team has done just that. 

+5 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

The only change that he has made was that he used to jump down their throats about effort. Allegedly, once he stopped that and have given up some hope on them succeeding in the postseason, the kids began to turn it around.

And yes, I do think that a great deal of their success simply has to do with the kids learning to play together and reading each other. I am not saying that he had absolutely nothing to do with it. What I am saying is that he is not an elite coach. However, I acknowledge that he is an exceptional recruiter.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+1 HS
tennbuckeye19's picture

Who do you consider an 'elite' coach? 

jamesrbrown322's picture

Are we talking just X's and O'S? Because game-planning wise, I'd say games like Wright, and Howland need to be added to the list. However, the ones that come to mind are Coach K, Izzo, Few, Ryan, Sean Miller, Boeheim, Montgomery, Donovan, Self, Smart, Roy Williams and Pitino.

Also think guys like Rick Byrd and Bob Huggins are pretty underrated now too. I think guys like Pearl and Matta are on the cusp also.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+2 HS
stevebelliseeya's picture


"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

+4 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Suffer weasels. love it when The Other Th'Hurteen  fail to win. Cause I'm from O-HI-O. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

gm3jones's picture

Sorry, but I was happy they won strictly because I won my bracket challenge at work. I felt really dirty when I was actually cheering for them to win... Would anyone else do/feel the same as me if you would of won your bracket?

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

seafus26's picture

Wisconsin stuck with what they know.. Cutting cheese. Kentucky did what they do.. Cut down the nets. Is it football season?

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

Poison nuts's picture

Really wanted Wisky to win that one. Gotta say, Ryan is a damn good coach. No denying that.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.