Photo courtesy of UWBadgers.com
The last time the Wisconsin Badgers scored 100 points was 1995.
The last time a Badgers player scored 43 points was never.
So in one fell swoop Tuesday night, Frank Kaminsky changed Wisconsin’s history books. His single-game school record of 43 points spearheaded the Badgers’ 103-85 win over North Dakota. The last time Wisconsin cracked 100 was Dec. 23, 1995, in a 105-70 thrashing of Eastern Illinois.
Which has some Badgers fans wondering, perhaps even salivating: Are they on the verge of a new and unfamiliar Badgers basketball era?
Bo Ryan’s previous 12 seasons as Wisconsin’s coach have featured two main characteristics: success, and an offense that works at the speed of a Crock-pot.
His teams have reached the NCAA Tournament each and every season, including five Sweet 16 appearances and one Elite Eight trip. And they’ve done so averaging about 67 points per game.
Only three seasons have seen a Ryan-coached Badgers team average more than 70 points per game: In 2002-03, his second season, they put up 70.3 per game, and in 2006-07, they averaged 70.2. His most prolific scoring season came in 2005-06, when the Badgers scored at an average clip of 71.1.
On the other end of the spectrum, his teams have averaged 65 points or fewer in three separate seasons, including the two most recent ones: 2012-13 (65.0), 2011-12 (64.0) and 2008-09 (63.8).
And right now, after Tuesday’s offensive explosion in this season’s fourth game, the Badgers are scoring at the rate of 79.25 points per game.
Is Bo loosening up? Are talented players like Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and the suddenly prolific Kaminsky leading their coach to turn over a newer, faster offensive leaf?
Well, not so fast.
This is far from the first time the Badgers have come out of the gates scoring more than you’d expect. In fact, remember those three lowest-scoring seasons? Turns out the Badgers were actually hotter at the beginning of those than they are now.
Last season, the Badgers averaged 82.5 points through their first four games. In 2011-12, they put up 74.75 points through the first four games, and even in Ryan’s lowest-scoring season, 2008-09, Wisconsin’s first four games saw an average of 70.0 points.
That’s not to say the Badgers can’t keep up this pace, only that it’s far from a sure thing. It’s not like Ryan’s going to shelve the deliberate swing offense that’s brought his teams so much success. More likely, as the Badgers get into the rigors of their plodding Big Ten schedule, they’ll meet it with, well, more plodding.
And, if history holds, more winning.
Hey, Bo’s style may be slow. But there’s a reason people swear by those Crock-pots.
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