By: David Kay
Up until the late 1990’s, the Wisconsin basketball program was mired in mediocrity and lucky to finish at or above the .500 mark. However, the beginning of a new century marked a new era for the Badgers.
In 2000, the school made their first ever trip to the Final Four, making a magical run as an eight seed. Since then, the Badgers have experienced continued and steady success. It is no surprise that Bo Ryan’s arrival in Madison in 2001 helped cement Wisconsin’s status as a serious player in the college basketball scene.
Ryan has raised expectations, helping lead the Badgers to ten straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. The 2000’s saw UW claim a share of three Big Ten titles and two Big Ten Tournament championships. Here is a look at Wisconsin’s All-Decade Team:
PG-Devin Harris (2001-2004): The fifth pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, Harris blew up during his junior year scoring the second most points in a single season in Badgers history. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Big Ten Tournament MVP, and Second Team All-American. Despite playing at Wisconsin for just three season, Harris ranks ninth all-time in scoring, sixth in steals, and seventh in assists.
SG-Kirk Penney (1999-2003): The Aussie will go down as one of the best shooters in Wisconsin history. He ranks second all-time in three-pointers made which helps his standing as the program’s eighth all-time leading scorer. Penney was the first Badger in more than fifty years to earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors in back-to-back seasons.
SF- Alando Tucker (2002-2007): Tucker burst onto the scene at Wisconsin, breaking the single-season record for offensive rebounds as a freshman. After sitting out his second year due to a foot injury, Tucker came back healthy and developed into a dangerous all-around threat. He left the Badgers as the school’s all-time leader in points and was sixth in rebounds. The Lockport, Illinois native was named First Team All-American as a senior and was a finalist for every major Player of the Year Award. He is a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection and ranks first or second in eight different season statistical categories at UW.
C/F- Mike Wilkinson (2001-2005): The third leading rebounder in Wisconsin history, Wilkinson led the Badgers in boards in each of his four seasons at UW. He ranks seventh in the program’s history in points. Wilkinson was Second Team All-Big Ten as a junior and earned First Team honors in his final season.
C/F- Brian Butch (2004-2008): The only McDonald’s All-American to ever attend Wisconsin, Butch failed to live up to lofty expectations that accompanied him to Madison. Still, “The Polar Bear” was an effective big man in Bo Ryan’s system and earned First Team All-Big Ten honors as a senior. He ranks in the top ten in both rebounds and blocked shots at UW. His game-winning banked three-pointer at Indiana in 2008 will go down as one of the top plays in Badger basketball history. He is currently playing for Bakersfield in the NBDL.
PG-Kammron Taylor (2003-2007): Often playing in the shadows of Tucker, Taylor was a three year starter for the Badgers. While he might be known best for his game-winning three against Michigan State in 2007, Taylor ended his collegiate career ranked 15th in scoring and 8th in three-pointers. He earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors as a senior.
G-Michael Flowers (2004-2008): Known for his lock down ability on the defensive end, Flowers was a two-time member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team and ranks third in steals at UW. His steal in the final seconds of the game helped the Badgers secure a huge upset victory at Texas. The Madison native also ranks ninth all-time in assists at Wisconsin and was Second Team All-Big Ten as a senior.
SG-Mike Kelley (1997-2001): With all due respect to Flowers, Kelley will probably go down as the best defensive player in Badger history. Despite averaging just 4.7 points per game during his career, Kelley was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and is the school’s all-time leader in steals. A four-year starter, the now television color analyst played an integral part in Wisconsin’s Final Four run in 2000.
F-Joe Krabbenhoft (2005-2009): Another player not known for his offensive ability, Krabbenhoft defined toughness and hustle; the perfect player for Bo Ryan. The prototypical “glue guy”, Krabby was named to the Big Ten’s All-Defensive Team as a junior and is the seventh leading rebounder in school history. He currently plays for Sioux Falls of the NBDL with former Badger teammate Greg Stiemsma.
F-Marcus Landry (2005-2009): A Second-Team All-Big Ten honoree in his senior season, Landry overcame some adversity early in his career and became the 18th Badger to top the 1,000 point and 500 rebound mark for his career. Landry was also named the Most Outstanding Player in helping lead the Badgers to the 2008 Big Ten Tournament title.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: PG- Trevon Hughes (2006-present), F-Mark Vershaw (1997-2001)