We've Said It All

Ho-hum, Tucker does it again, becomes UW's career scoring leader

CHICAGO – For each and every one of Alando Tucker's 2,167 career points, somebody somewhere had something to say about him.

So when the Big Ten Player of the Year knocked down number one of seven first-half field goals against Illinois to pass Michael Finley for first on the Wisconsin all-time career scoring list, what else was left to say?

For anyone who had never seen Tucker play the game of basketball, a tape from that first half might be the only way to describe it. With mostly cold teammates, Tucker per usual took the Badgers along on his shoulders long enough for help to arrive. He finished with 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting as the No. 3 Badgers bested the Illini 53-41 to advance to the Big Ten Championship.

Tucker pulled up. He faded away. Scissor-kick and tongue flip, back down and turn around, he checked them off the list. Less than 24 hours after Tucker made it rain from beyond the arc, he did all he could within it for the first 20 minutes. It was as simple as that.

"That was a real good half," approved Kammron Taylor. "I think he scored like our first 10 out of 12 points – something like that. He just does a lot for this team. You know, when he's on like that you have to keep going to him. And once again today he showed why he's the best in the country."

But a lot of players enjoy hot halves of basketball. There are just so many now featured in Tucker's resume that it is often difficult to find new ways to describe them – even on the occasions when records are shattered.

"That's a great feat, a great accomplishment," Tucker said of passing Finley, who held the previous UW mark with 2,147. "It's one of those things that the team has been so successful this year. It's one of those things that it's helped me out, confidence-wise, the way everybody has been playing.

"Our coaching staff keeps us on it, and it's been one of those things where it happened unselfishly, and that's what -- in the manner we've been doing it, we've been winning. It always feels good when you're successful, and everything else comes. It seems like everything is falling in place. It's great. It's great for the whole team."

So, Tucker was crediting everyone but himself for reaching the most individual of plateaus? Well, that doesn't sound too out of the ordinary. Essentially told by a reporter following the game that he addresses the media with the demeanor and perhaps political correctness of a cautious head coach, Tucker looked to coach Bo Ryan.

"This guy on the far left of us," Tucker quipped. "I've been around him for five years. I can't do anything but learn from him. I knew leaving here I'd have to pick up something."

Ryan was quick on the comeback. "I hope you picked up more than that," he shot back to the laughter of the room. Indeed, Tucker did.

Over the years, Tucker never struggled too frequently when it came to scoring the basketball. But each season he seemed to add more to his arsenal, as well as address the weaknesses his critics emphasized. This past off-season it was Tucker's perimeter shooting that served as a topic of speculation. The Spartans could attest to whether he worked on that.

Ultimately Tucker transformed himself into one of the nation's most dangerous weapons – one Taylor praises in particular for consistency. "He's not one of those superstars who are up and down," Taylor said.

And from point A to point 2,167, Tucker did it with his personality. After all, for all the super-human traits he seems to possess on the floor, they probably fall short of those he displays off it.

"I mean, yeah, you guys know it all about his career," smiled Jason Chappell, struggling to find anything novel to add concerning the on-court exploits. "But I think the thing that makes Alando so special is his personality off the court. He's one of the most genuine, down-to-earth people you'll ever meet.

"That's just something that a lot of people might not know about him. But he's down to do anything, help out anybody on the team. He'll do anything for anybody he's close to. He's just one of the nicest guys ever. That's one of the things a lot of people don't get to see, but they should know about it."

They should know about the guy who fails miserably to blend in at a popular college bar and pays the price with his personal space. Tucker roams the crowd inches above. He's not holding a drink, as the Badger role model pledged long ago not to touch the stuff. But he is probably holding a shoulder and managing a smile, courteously agreeing as the camera phones come out and the poses begin.

It's not usually a struggle for Tucker to stretch that grin – the team jokester, chatterbox and singer to boot. (Although, on the level, don't look for Simon Cowell to come calling.) He simply goes about his business everywhere with the same attitude, whether a desire to help his team or help his neighborhood. He's not a man of many secrets.

"Well, he's a wonderful person," Marcus Landry summarized. "I have the chance to be his roommate and things like that, so I see a lot of things that he does off the court that maybe some other people don't see. He's a very talented person and very caring. We hang out together and he's always making me laugh. Sometimes I get down and miss my family and things like that, but Tuck is always there. He's like a big brother. Just being around him and picking up some of the things he does, he's a very great leader, and I'm just ready to follow in his footsteps and get things done."

Landry would need to take quite a few steps and get quite a lot of things done. Although, that's not to say Tucker is ready to leave his legacy to the books quite yet.

"We're hungry," Tucker said after the win over Illinois. "We're anxious. And I told these guys before the game, we want it more than anybody. We want W's more than anybody else."

That's what he told them before the game. At halftime it was another reminder. The veteran eyed down his teammates and told them he "didn't come down here for nothing," according to Michael Flowers.

The Badgers certainly caught the message. Tucker only scored seven after the break, but by no means did he struggle. The touches simply spread more to Taylor and Landry and others, who helped contribute to another team effort on Wisconsin's current quest for a trophy.

"That's a big relief," Tucker said. "Because one man can't beat a team."

"I keep telling my team that we have more to prove," Tucker later went on. "I kind of want to install that into their heads to make them believe and show. We have so much to show."

Well, that's comforting. For those who watch him, it's nice to know Tucker plans to show us more. After all, as of now there's little else to say.

"We want to prove that we are one of the top teams in the nation," said one of its greatest players. "And we don't want it just to be said. We want to prove it with our play."

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