Badgers’ MVP? Six candidates, one pickLike many men’s college basketball coaches, Bo Ryan doesn’t believe in giving out a team MVP award.
By: By TOM OATES / The Wisconsin State Journal, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Like many men’s college basketball coaches, Bo Ryan doesn’t believe in giving out a team MVP award.
If the University of Wisconsin coach was ever tempted to change his philosophy, however, this season convinced him otherwise.
That’s because singling out one player from UW’s Big Ten Conference championship team is not something Ryan, or anyone else, can easily do.
“There is no way,” he said. “I don’t know where to start on that one. That’s why I’m glad I don’t do it.”
If ever an entire team deserved an MVP award, this one was it. However, if you were forced to pick an MVP for the Badgers or, say, wear a Drew Neitzel jersey for a week, what would you do?
I know, let the selection process begin.
For the sake of argument, I’ll consider only the six Badgers who received mention in the all-conference voting. So here goes, in inverse order:
The emergence of Jason Bohannon had a positive impact on the 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting and ball-handling, three areas were UW’s sometimes sluggish offense needed help. It is no accident that UW’s impressive seven-game winning streak coincided with Bohannon’s improvement. The only negative? He hasn’t done it all year.
UW’s turnovers are down from earlier in the season and much of that can be attributed to Trevon Hughes. In his first season as the starting point guard, Hughes has had his share of growing pains. But he is greatly improved — only five turnovers in the last six games — and is also becoming a strong defender. When he becomes a consistent scorer, he’ll get more MVP consideration.
Marcus Landry struggled in making the move to the perimeter early in the season, but now he looks comfortable everywhere — inside, outside and mid-range. He’s been UW’s leading scorer in Big Ten play and his ability to guard taller power forwards has made him a major cog in the nation’s No. 1 defense. Landry is UW’s most talented player, but he’s not the MVP. Not yet, anyway.
Need defense? Joe Krabbenhoft is your guy. Need rebounding? Krabbenhoft’s your guy. Need a loose ball? Krabbenhoft’s your guy. Need inspiration? Krabbenhoft’s your guy. When coaches talk about a “glue” player, they’re talking about Krabbenhoft. He’d be the MVP on a lot of teams, but not this one.
My runner-up for MVP is Brian Butch, who leads UW in scoring and rebounding but provides so much more than that. Lighter and more agile this season, he’s been a major defensive factor. His outside shooting makes UW tough to defend and his fiery temperament energizes the Badgers.
We all saw how important Butch was to the team when he couldn’t play late last season, but, though he is UW’s most indispensable player, he is not the most valuable.
By the narrowest of margins, that honor belongs to Michael Flowers, who is UW’s best defender, its toughest-minded competitor and an increasingly effective offensive player. All of the Badgers have provided big plays at critical times this season, but no one has done it as consistently as Flowers. Whenever UW was in dire need of a basket, a steal or an assist, he seemed to provide it. That makes him the Badgers’ MVP.
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