By TOM LEA
MADISON — This was supposed to be the year Wisconsin was going to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten.
The league was too good for a Badgers squad losing All-American Jordan Taylor to graduation. There was no way Bo Ryan’s crew could hang.
And this was all before Josh Gasser suffered a season-ending torn ACL before the season even started. This was all before Traevon Jackson had to slide over the point guard position after hardly playing any minutes as the off guard as a true freshman.
Most of all, this was the year Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin Badgers had no chance of amounting to anything in the best league in the land. They were, for a lack of better term, outclassed by the Michigan’s, Indiana’s and Ohio State’s of the league.
But then they started beating the Michigan’s, Indiana’s and Ohio State’s. They started making noise in the league and they entered the final week of the season with a chance to claim the school’s first Big Ten title since 2008.
And that’s a credit to Ryan, his resiliency when losing his mother, his determination to develop a young team and most importantly, his ability to get the best out of every single player that stepped on the court.
As a result he was named the Big Ten’s coach of the year during Monday night’s annual awards show. That marks the third time Ryan earned such distinction among his Big Ten peers.
He led the Badgers to their fourth-straight 12-win season and now trails just Gene Keady (7) and Bob Knight (5) for most coach of the year awards in Big Ten history.
OTHER CONFERENCE RECOGNITION
-Senior forward Jared Berggren was named second-team All-Big Ten and also to the All-defense team. He led the league by averaging two blocks per game. He was also one of four players to finish the season as a top-25 scorer and top-10 rebounder in the league. Berggren also won the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, which honors individuals that have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
-Ben Brust, who averaged 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, was a consensus honorable mention player, marking his first career conference accolade.
-Sam Dekker was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by members of the media. He also made the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team.
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