By TOM LEA
To jump right into it, I thought Jared Berggren played the best game of his collegiate career Sunday afternoon at Ohio State. Thusly I got a little bothered when the announcers were talking about how Jared Sullinger seemed to be struggling from the offensive side of the floor like it had nothing to do with Berggren.
It actually had everything to do with him. He worked Sullinger from start to finish. I thought that was the most determined — yet controlled — Berggren I have seen play during his four years in Madison.
That type of intensity and mindset would be an asset for the Badgers the remainder of this season. He has the skills to play with guys the caliber of Sullinger, it’s just a matter of funneling that intensity on a game-by-game basis.
I thought Rob Wilson looked confident. For a guy that has struggled to earn minutes throughout the course of his career, it has been impressive for him to make as much of an impact as he has throughout the past two games.
He had open shots that he might have passed up in the past. It seems as though Bo Ryan has given him a longer leash over the past week — maybe out of necessity — and that seems to be fueling a more confident Wilson. Maybe he’ll be the piece that helps the Badgers make a run in March. At least he seems to be another offensive threat, especially from the perimeter, that could help an offense that at times can be anemic.
How about Jordan Taylor? He quietly hit six of eight shots, including a number of huge shots at the back end of the shot clock, he took Aaron Craft off the dribble and attacked the rim. If he can do that against Craft, universally regarded as one of the best defenders in the Big Ten and country, he can probably do it against just about anybody.
There have been times when I’ve thought Taylor looked a bit stagnant and potentially tired throughout the course of the regular season. But that game added some pep to his step. He was the guy that was suddenly overshadowed by Berggren’s game and his production against Sullinger.
But I thought we saw a different moxie and determination out of Taylor, right from the opening possession. That’s encouraging for UW moving forward.
I think it’s clear how Ryan Evans has emerged as a legitimate scorer for the Badgers. Now there are two guys, potentially three if you include Gasser, Brust or Berggren, who can score on a nightly basis. That’s always a bonus.
What does the win mean? Not much in the standings. UW will still wind up with the four-seed unless Ohio State or Michigan completely struggle during the final week of the regular season. But it does solidify that first signature win for a team that had been painfully close so many times throughout the season. That is going to be crucial moving into tournament play. This team should feel as though it can compete with any team in the country. So in that sense Sunday’s win meant a lot.
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