By Wade Flavion
MADISON- Last season Wisconsin Basketball finished at 14-6, and floundered out of the March Madness tournament against a tough Oregon team. After three seasons of underwhelming play, Badger fans were looking for answers as talented in-state recruits went elsewhere, and the team always proved to never have ability to be elite like in previous seasons under Bo Ryan.
Then came the chants from writers, twitter users, and from us fans that he should be fired because Wisconsin appeared to be a below-average Big Ten team and had struggled to bring in recruits. Wisconsin had gone from a National Championship contender to now unable to escape the Big Ten Tournament. This season, Greg Gard has changed the narrative into one that is not nearly as negative. Look towards the future, and make the most of the talent that Wisconsin has right now. This includes getting one of the best recruiting classes in the country for 2021, and the emergence of Kobe King, Nate Reuvers, Micah Potter, and Tyler Wahl have made the Badgers into an upset machine this reason in ranked play. They have beaten Ohio State, Penn State, and Maryland after losing by one to Illinois. This team is dangerous, and even though they did just lose to a good Michigan State team, this team can beat anyone at any time.
Greg Gard deserves a lot of this credit, he has re-established Wisconsin as the dangerous team to play in the Big Ten. He has also given hope to the future of the program with getting great Wisconsin athletes to stay in-state and finding young talent in general that may fly under the radar. This team may not play pretty basketball, but their sound fundamentals allow them to stay close in games against very talented teams, and in the end more often than not Wisconsin makes a clutch few plays to win the game. This team could be very scary to play against in postseason play and could make a sneakily deep run in March Madness.
The boos have silenced, and Greg Gard may finally start to be winning the hearts of Wisconsin Basketball fans. He has started to win games, and build a program full of talented players, instead of just focusing on one person like Ethan Happ. Greg Gard may have turned out for Wisconsin after all, and it is a great thing to see as a fan.