This year was great for the Badger basketball team. You didn't need me to tell you that. If you listen to the Sports Exchange from 5-6 on WKTY, you already know that I am anything but a Wisconsin homer. A Notre Dame homer? Yes, a Columbus Blue Jacket homer? Yes. But I have never been a Wisconsin homer........but this year was different. The Badger basketball team has never really "done it" for me, not sure if it is because I have always bought into the theory of it being boring basketball or what. 5 guys walking down the court and passing the ball for 30 seconds then shooting with time running out on the shot clock just has never been appealing to me. It is obviously effective, but so boring to watch. The Badgers have in my eyes always been behind in basketball because of their fear of offense.
Going into the season, I didn't expect anything different, seemed like a typical Badger basketball team. Then the first game happened, they put up 83 on St. John's it was impressive, but not really a reason to believe this team was "different" or "special". The second game of the season they played ranked Florida, they were down BIG early, but still found a way to come back and win the game. They just kept on rolling all the way into the new year, when you start a new year and you still haven't lost a single game, it is time to pay attention. Not only were they winning basketball games, but they were exciting to watch. They still played defense, but for some reason, Bo Ryan must have decided that it might be fun to play some offense too. Obviously as the season went on there were a few disappointing losses along the way, and the hopes of winning the Big Ten were gone, but still there was excitement going into the tournament.
When Wisconsin gets to the tournament no matter what seed they are, the feeling always is that there is going to be some school that we have barely heard of before, that has 1 star just dominate and end the badgers season. We knew it was going to happen, we were used to it by now. The strange thing this year was, that never happened, round after round, weekend after weekend, the Badgers stayed alive. And then Saturday night happened, I don't know where you were or your experience watching the game, but I know I was at a local watering hole and hanging out with a bunch of my good friends. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible, Saturday nights game was on the same level for me as waking up at 6:30 in the morning to watch the Americans play the Russians in hockey, it was special, it was different. Obviously the outcome of the game was not what anyone wanted, but that line about "it isn't about the goal at the end as much as it is about the journey".......I know that is supposed to be used for the "life lessons" you learn as an athlete or coach. But on a spring Saturday night in a town about 2 hours away from Madison in a bar filled with a sea of red, I have a hard time believing that anyone will forget "the journey" that this team allowed us to go on with them! They should be proud of themselves, I know on Saturday night at every bar in this state it was packed with fans that were proud of them..............including me!