I realize that this statement is going to be whole heartedly stupid as Wisconsin does seem to be trending in the right direction, but if I had to watch buzzcut basketball (games in the 40 pt range) year after year, I don't know if I could do it without some help in the form of beer.
I've always thought that there are two issues hindering this program as of late. The first is that IU is no longer in the valley that Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson put them in during the mid/late 2000's. I still believe that us getting Oden and Conley was a direct result of IU being down. Not to mention Deshaun Thomas (all Indiana recruits). Say what you will about Crean but for the most part he has righted the Hoosier ship and will continue to grab top Indiana talent. I think Matta still has "it" when recruiting players. He's a likable guy, and very relatable. He clearly has a sense of humor and is not one to complain/place blame when things go awry -- Russell is a prime example of him still being able to attract top talent -- however this brings me to a point that a lot have mentioned -- Matta's health.
I'm convinced no one truly knows how bad Matta's back is, and it's because he won't allow anyone to know. However, if I was a recruit and I saw my future practice being led by a head coach who can't get out of his chair, I would either need to fall in love his philosophy and character (entirely possible), or I would start seriously questioning how long that coach could physically be around the game of basketball. Also in terms of culture, how difficult would it be to get your players to the gym, when your next worry is how you're going to get home and take off your shoes and socks? I honestly think it's Matta's declining health that you can use as a corollary to negative trending records. I think the only reason this hasn't affected his teams more is because of the kind of upstanding guy Thad is, and I think it takes a truly special person to be in his position and keep the focus away from him. I just wonder how much longer he can continue to push that issue aside.