Badger Nation's View from the Box

After playing like a freshmen through the first half of the season, point guard Jordan Taylor has stepped up to the plate, bringing his scoring touch and toughness into the Wisconsin lineup during this difficult time.

MADISON — Last Thursday, one day after his University of Wisconsin men's basketball team had lost its third straight game at lowly Iowa, coach Bo Ryan was in an uncharacteristically goofy mood, joking with reporters and even taking friendly shots at his own players.

Consider this exchange a few minutes into Ryan's post-practice Q&A…

Reporter: Jordan hadn't been shooting particularly well before yesterday…

Ryan: That's an understatement. What was he shooting?

Reporter: 20 percent.

Ryan: Now what do you think that is?

Reporter: Not very good.

Ryan: You can say it. You could say, ‘man, Jordan's really stunk it up as a shooter' (laughter). Now, see, I would go with that, because that's the truth.

The ‘Jordan' in question is freshman point guard Jordan Taylor, who indeed had made just six of his first 30 shots coming into that Iowa loss.

Taylor hadn't just been missing; at times, one had to question what hoop he was shooting for. In prior road losses to Marquette and Purdue, some of Taylor's shots either airballed or went way high and wide off the glass, indicating that the Badgers' most ballyhooed recruit for this season was completely uncomfortable shooting the ball.

That all changed in that Iowa game, when Taylor jacked up a 25-foot three-point attempt at the buzzer to try and send the game to overtime. Somehow, someway, the basketball gods smiled on young Taylor, and the ball hit nothing but net.

Although UW lost in the extra period, Taylor was assertively looking to score points in overtime, something he had not done before while running the offense.

As Thursday's press conference exchange continued, Ryan was asked, in a weird way, could that Iowa shot at the end of regulation boost his confidence as a shooter?

Ryan looked over at this reporter and responded, "How will I know that? How can I answer that until we play again?"

There's no question now; Taylor's as confident as ever. Shooting, passing, dribbling, defense, answering tough questions from us media hounds, whatever.

Heck, when crunch time hit Tuesday night against Purdue, Taylor took four consecutive shots for the Badgers in the final 1:21. True, he only hit one of them; but all were reasonably smart attempts, and it says something about his budding offensive moxie that he felt comfortable taking the shot with the game on the line.

But let's go back once more; on Saturday, in that next game at Illinois, Wisconsin once again lost a game it had to have. But once again, all anybody could talk about from a positive light was No. 11.

"Let's just put it this way: Jordan Taylor is a man," Ryan said Saturday, effectively ending the conversation about Taylor's confidence, as well as that conversation about whether Taylor would see more playing time.

"He's going to play and he's earned it," Ryan said. "He was just close, close, close … now, it's not close anymore. He's going to be on the floor. Because he'll stick his nose in, he'll get bloody. He's tough. I can only coach those kind of guys."

The current Badger that most exemplifies "that kind of guy", Joe Krabbenhoft, was asked a few minutes later in an Assembly Hall corridor about Taylor, and dropped a jaw-droppingly fawning statement.

"That's a guy that when I'm done playing, when I think about my teammates, Jordan Taylor's always going to come up," Krabbenhoft said. "I just love playing with him because he gives it his all."

Let us recall here that Krabbenhoft's Wisconsin teammates have included Alando Tucker, Brian Butch and Michael Flowers, three guys that arguably should be known more for their work ethic and perseverance than natural basketball ability.

Let us also recall that, uh, it's been 19 games. In fact, it's been one game and 10 minutes – the last five minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime at Iowa – since anybody outside the UW program started noticing Taylor.

And yet, that's all it took for Taylor to make an impression on the wisest, most mature, most warrior-like teammate he may ever have here at Wisconsin?

Says a little something about Taylor's potential, doesn't it?

Perhaps something good will come of this losing streak, after all.


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