In a recent online article from Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated, a Big Ten coach or assistant anonymously claimed that the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team “cheats the game.”
Prior to the juicy details of the article, which attempts to exploit the weaknesses of the power conference’s best teams, Davis warns that some entries may be overly negative or critical.
In the Badgers case, I think it’s safe to say their passage falls somewhere in that overly negative category.
Is it possible that some of these claims are true or does it stem from the frustration the Badgers bring on opponents when playing their hard-nosed style of basketball?
If you’re wondering how the Badgers “cheat the game,” don’t worry, there’s an explanation:
“I don’t really respect the way they play. Jordan Taylor likes to run and grab you, and then throw his head back and try to get a call. If you set a pick, they take a dive. They cheat the game. Everybody raves about this defensive juggernaut, but that’s bull. They dribble the clock out and mug you out of the building. Part of the reason they lost to Cornell and Davidson is because when you get into the tournament, refs outside the Big Ten don’t fall for that.”
Unless this is an extreme exaggeration from Davis himself, this is a coach who is extremely pissed off with the way the Badgers play.
And this isn’t the first time this season where someone has displayed some kind of frustration with the way the Badgers play.
Soon after the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Badgers in Madison, Satch Sullinger, father of Jared Sullinger, told the Columbus Dispatch that teams were getting too physical with his son. He went on to claim teams were “beating on him just to make him lose his cool.”
Satch went on to say, “The first time you see it you can say it’s an accident. The second time it’s a pattern; third time, it’s a program,” without mentioning the actual program. A lot of people believe he was referring to the pesky Badgers.
Criticism of the Badgers in Davis’ article didn’t end at their suspected thuggish-ruggish play, but also went on to bash their offense as well.
“Taylor is kind of struggling, but they’re always going to be in the game because they’re not going to shoot until there are six seconds left on the shot clock. Then they give it to Taylor. That’s their offense. They don’t even run the swing as much as they used to. Taylor plays no defense because he’s trying to save his energy. Jared Berggren, Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz have all had fabulous seasons, and Ryan Evans has really taken his game to the next level. They’re going to be in every game because of the way they play and the fact that they have a lot of weapons.”
The full article can be found here and is actually a great read.
The last couple of sentences must be from the other coach in question (Davis informs readers he talked to two coaches from the conference) because it doesn’t really vibe with the assault on the Badgers.
Whether there is any truth to these claims is hard to prove and in reality for any observer to judge themselves. One thing that can be proved is the success that Bo Ryan has brought to the University of Wisconsin basketball program.
They are on the verge of making their thirteenth consecutive NCAA Tournament, one of only six programs in the country which can make that claim.
If I had to guess, I would say this mystery coach is someone who is unable to explain how the Badgers were able to string together so many successful seasons without the talent that so many other teams have.
How did they do it?
Definitely not by cheating, but rather with good ol’ fundamental basketball.
What did you think of the mystery coaches comments? Is there some validity or are they absolutely absurd? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.