Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Still Searching

There was a point in last night's game when it looked like the Badgers were finally going to turn things around. Up 5 with 3ish minutes to go, they were playing better on both ends of the floor than they had in weeks. And then Purdue hit a 3 and then another 3, Jordan Taylor's shot goes 3/4 of the way down and pops out, and UW is stuck with its fifth straight loss.

Bo Ryan is clearly trying to find some combination players that he can rely on. The pieces for success might all be there but if they are, he hasn't figured out how best to put them together, particularly when they need a big basket or a bit stop. For whatever reason--youth, lack of toughness, lack of confidence or focus--this team just hasn't gelled together.

I think it's still too early to close the book on them, though. They have ten conference games to go and their schedule gets marginally easier over the next couple of weeks. If they can build on the good stretches they had against Purdue, then a spot in the NCAA tourney is within reach. It's not like their getting blown off the floor; they're just falling a little bit short a bit too frequently. On the other hand, if Ryan isn't able to identify his core cast of performers, or if the players give into their frustration (which has to be mounting) then they could very well find themselves NIT-bound.

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