By JIM RUTLEDGE
Coinciding with the launch of our new website, espnwisconsin.com, I’m launching my new blog. And I’m going with the title “The Takeaway” with hopes being to provide some post game perspective.
Ohio State 58 Wisconsin 52
If Wisconsin had won on Saturday it would have been a bigger upset than their win over then-undefeated Ohio State last year at the Kohl Center. The Buckeyes are a better team than they were mainly because Jared Sullinger has evolved from a college freshman to a NBA lottery pick.
Sullinger wasn’t the reason that Wisconsin lost to Ohio State, though. He is one of the best college basketball players in the country and he’s going to dominate just about any team that he plays. Yes, Sullinger finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and three steals but he scored 16 of his points in the first half. Ryan Evans should be commended for his defensive effort on Sullinger in the second half. That is why Sullinger isn’t the reason the Badgers lost.
We wanted to see “Michael” Jordan Taylor on Saturday but instead we saw ‘average’ Jordan Taylor. On the season he is averaging around 14 points, four rebounds and four assist per game, against the Buckeyes he scored 12 points with six assist and three rebounds. Instead of a positive aberration in Taylor’s numbers we saw a negative one, well actually three negatives, after going over 150 minutes without a turnover, Taylor had three in the second half. But Taylor was also not why the Badgers lost to Ohio State.
Shooting 40 percent from the field and 18.5 percent from downtown will not get it done against a top five team in the country. Wisconsin settled for too many jumpers and didn’t force the issue enough on offense. Shooting only three free throws is shocking especially from a team that tries to make more free throws than the other team attempts.
Wisconsin lost to Ohio State because coaching can only take you so far. The Badgers have an All-American point guard and a bunch of not-quite-ready-for-primetime players surrounding him. I think Evans, Josh Gasser, Mike Bruesewitz, Ben Brust and Jared Berggren are all going to develop into better players than they are today, but that doesn’t do Taylor any good. Coach Ryan is coaching his butt off this year to make this a good team —a 20-win team — and a tournament team. The collective talent on this team is average when you factor in youth. No coach can make “average” into “great.”
The Badgers lost to the Buckeyes because Ohio State is a great team and Wisconsin is a good team.
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