I'm not sure I ever thought I would be saying that after an Ohio State win against a No. 16 Wisconsin squad, but the senior proved his worth in this game. Madsen will never be more than a role player, but his play in these last two games has been impressive.
Against the Badgers, Madsen tossed in two key first-half jumpers that helped keep momentum on the side of the Buckeyes while leading scorer Evan Turner was on the sidelines with foul trouble. He added another basket in the second half to finish with six points.
That's not necessarily a total to write home about, but those baskets went a long way toward helping his team's cause. A few nights earlier against Purdue, Madsen was active defensively and helped keep JaJuan Johnson from ever getting comfortable against the Buckeyes in the upset victory.
He was not the only bench player to look solid against the Badgers. With Turner on the bench, senior guard P.J. Hill added 14 key minutes during which the Buckeyes actually increased their lead. Head coach Thad Matta said his plan was to put Turner back in and have him play with two fouls late in the half, but Hill had things under control well enough that the coach could rest his star for the final 20 minutes.
His stat line doesn't really reflect his performance – 0 for 1 from the floor, one rebound, two assists and one turnover – but he steadied the ship against a Wisconsin team that has unhinged plenty of point guards in the past.
I think … that Dallas Lauderdale has to feel good about what he is bringing to the table defensively. His offense remains a work in progress and has been discussed many times in this column, but the big guy is affecting opponents in the paint.
Twice, he's been mentioned by Matta unprompted in the past week as the coach has credited his defense. After this game, Wisconsin's coach did the same and credited him for helping keep the Badgers out of the paint.
Offense comes and goes, but defense stays. It looks to me like Lauderdale is embracing this line of thought.
One request, though: can we knock off the thunderous applause when he hits a free-throw?
I think … that William Buford showed me why he deserves a roster spot as the game went on with his desire to attack the glass. The sophomore had 12 boards, one short of his career high, on a night when his shot was not falling.
Buford was pulling the trigger at, well, will for much of the game, and finished 3 for 12 from the field. A number of his shots came out of the flow of the offense and came without anyone in position to even try and challenge for the rebound.
At one point I felt that he needed to come out of the game until he learned to stop shooting whenever he felt like it, but his willingness to pull down a few boards makes keeping him in the game worthwhile.
He still needs to work on his shot selection, however.
I think … that Jon Diebler is starting to become a more complete player.
In the past few games, we have seen him demonstrate a drive and pull-up jumper that he has selectively displayed throughout the early going. Against Wisconsin, he actually attacked the basket more than I think I've ever seen out of him during his OSU career.
It's ironic that he's figuring out how to drive now that Turner is back in the lineup, however. The Buckeyes could have used any other threats they would have gotten during that stretch.