Five Crucial Wisconsin Moments That Shaped Its Run to North TexasPosted by Brendan Brody on April 4th, 2014
However things turn out in North Texas this weekend, Wisconsin has had a season to remember. The Badgers started the year at 16-0, rose to No. 3 in the polls, and generally dispelled any previously-held stereotypes about their brand of basketball under head coach Bo Ryan. This was a different kind of unit, filled with dead-eye shooters, tremendous ball movement, and a fun team to watch. Four players averaged double figures and no one particularly cared who got the credit for the team’s prodigious success. As a sort of tribute from a writer covering this program for the first time, here are my top five moments from Wisconsin’s Final Four campaign, presented in no particular order.
- Frank Kaminsky scores 43 points against North Dakota: If you have a second or two to kill, check out the thing of beauty that is Kaminsky’s shot chart from this game. He put on an absolute offensive clinic, going 16-of-19 from the field, hitting all six of the three-pointers that he attempted, and making the whole college basketball world take notice of “Frank the Tank.”
- Traveon Jackson hits a game-winner against Michigan State: Coming into this February 9 match-up, Wisconsin had been in the midst of a 2-5 slide where it had started to undo the credibility it had built up during the non-conference schedule. They had just lost to Northwestern and Ohio State at home, and simply couldn’t afford to drop another one in Madison at this point in the season. After falling behind in the first half, Jackson effectively ended a close game with a deadly pull-up jumper from 17 feet. The Badgers went on to win six more games in a row after this one, and in many respects, saving the season.
- Second half comeback against Oregon in the round of 32: Things were looking quite bleak when Oregon marched out to a 49-37 halftime lead during the third round in Milwaukee. Joseph Young and Jason Calliste couldn’t miss anything, and it looked as though the Ducks were going to score 100 for the game. One 17-6 run before the first second half TV timeout later — with the crowd losing its mind in the process — put Bo Ryan’s unit right back in the game. Josh Gasser and Jackson fueled the charge, as they scored on seven of their first nine possessions in an emotionally-charged fury that Wisconsin teams of old weren’t typically known for.
- Kaminsky terrorizes Arizona in Elite Eight overtime classic: Kaminsky once again became the talk of the basketball world after he went for 28 points and 11 rebounds against one of the most vaunted frontcourts in the country. Aaron Gordon, Kaleb Tarczewski and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will all be playing in the NBA someday, but none of them had an answer for number 44 in red. He burned them inside and outside, became the West Region MOP, and got interviewed by Charles Barkley in the process.
- Who is Duje Dukan?: In their Badgers’ opening night win over St. John’s, a little-known former benchwarmer who had previously only scored 11 points in his Wisconsin career topped that number in just one game. Dukan scored 15 points that night, and while he didn’t come close to that kind of production again the rest of the season, he has been a valuable reserve for Ryan’s team. He’s played in all 37 games, usually averaging about eight to 10 minutes per game, and finding some way to contribute when he’s on the floor.
Also Receiving Votes: Beating Florida 59-53; beating Virginia in Charlottesville; any mention on broadcasts of Nigel Hayes’ useless trivia skills; Ben Brust shot fakes; and the segment on The Journey where Sam Dekker and Hayes talk about their rap group “Barz”.