UW men’s basketball: Taylor named first-team All-Big Ten by coaches
By: By Jim Polzin, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
When University of Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan was asked about Jordan Taylor recently, he encouraged people to look beyond the numbers when measuring the point guard’s senior season.
Ryan’s coaching colleagues in the Big Ten Conference thought enough of Taylor to name him first-team All-Big Ten. But it wasn’t a clean sweep for Taylor, who was named to the media’s second team.
Taylor was one of five Badgers honored Monday night when the Big Ten announced its awards. Junior center Jared Berggren and junior forward Ryan Evans were named honorable mention by both the coaches and the media.
Sophomore guard Josh Gasser was named to the league’s All-Defensive team, which is selected by the coaches, while senior swingman Rob Wilson was UW’s recipient of the Big Ten’s sportsmanship award.
Taylor, who was a first-team pick as a junior by both the coaches and the media, became just the sixth UW player to be a two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection. He joins Alando Tucker, Kirk Penney, Michael Finley, Ab Nicholas and Don Rehfeldt on that exclusive list.
“I’m very honored to have my name written alongside the great players in the Big Ten,” Taylor said in a statement. “Our league is so deep and talented this year, you can’t go wrong with any of the players on the three All-Big Ten teams or even the guys who earned honorable mention like Ryan and Jared.
“There is no question my being named all-conference is a reflection of our team’s success, and I owe a lot to my teammates and coaches for that. It’s a great honor.”
Taylor was joined on the coaches’ first team by Michigan State senior forward Draymond Green, Ohio State sophomore center Jared Sullinger, Purdue senior forward Robbie Hummel and Northwestern senior forward John Shurna.
Green, Sullinger, Hummel and Shurna were also on the media’s first team, but Taylor was passed over in favor of Penn State junior guard Tim Frazier. Green was the consensus player of the year.
Frazier was second in the Big Ten in scoring in league play with 19.6 points per game. He led the league with 5.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game, but those numbers couldn’t prevent the Nittany Lions from finishing in a tie for last place in the Big Ten with a 4-14 record.
Taylor averaged 20.1 points per game in league play last season, when he shot 46.3 percent overall and 46.7 percent from 3-point range. He led the league with an amazing 4.63-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
Those numbers all went down this season as Taylor became No. 1 with a bullet on opponents’ scouting reports.
Taylor finished seventh in the Big Ten in scoring during league play, averaging 16.3 points per game, and his shooting percentages dropped to 41.7 percent overall and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. He was second in the league behind Purdue’s Lewis Jackson with a 2.2-to-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
When asked about Taylor’s senior season recently, Ryan came to his star’s defense.
“I think it’s been tremendous because of how he’s brought along the other guys,” Ryan said of Taylor, who helped the Badgers finish fourth in the Big Ten with a 12-6 record, one game out of a three-way tie for the title. “When you say something a thousand times, sometimes you hesitate to say it again, but I can’t with Jordan: He’s brought along this front line as well as anybody that I could have had out there, or that a coach could ask for. He’s helped three reserve players from last year who didn’t get a lot of time (turn) into guys that are competing at a high level. And not every point guard in America can do that, but Jordan can.
“His shooting percentage is down a little bit, but not his leadership. And that’s what’s enabled us to hang in there and to keep competing in the top level of the Big Ten.”
Berggren and Evans were two of the players Ryan was referring to. Both went from minor contributors as sophomores to All-Big Ten honorable mention status this season with the help of Taylor.
Berggren averaged 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds last year. This season, he’s averaging 10.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. Evans improved from 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game to 10.7 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds per contest.
Gasser became the first UW sophomore to be named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team, which debuted in 2003, and gave the Badgers a representative on that squad for the third consecutive season. Taylor was honored last season, while Trevon Hughes was named to the team in 2009-10.
“I really pride myself on that end of the court, so to have coaches around the league recognize that gives me great pride,” Gasser said in a statement. “But at the same time, I think this is representative of our team defense. When we’re holding teams to the points and shooting percentage that we are, I realize that I’m just a part of that. But I’m proud to be honored.”
The Badgers (23-8), who remained at No. 14 in The Associated Press’ poll and climbed three spots to No. 12 in the coaches’ poll, are off until Friday’s quarterfinal round of the Big Ten tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. UW will play the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between No. 15 Indiana and Penn State.
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was the consensus coach of the year. Indiana center Cody Zeller was the coaches’ pick as freshman of the year, while the media tabbed Michigan guard Trey Burke for that honor.
Copyright (c)2012 The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by MCT Information Services