Wisconsin basketball has had a long lineage of decorated “glue guys” whose contributions to the program have been immeasurable. Whether it be: Josh Gasser, Zac Showalter, Mike Kelley, Brevin Pritzl, Brad Davison, Joe Krabenhoft, Marcus Landry, Khalil Iverson or Michael Flowers – it’s hard to imagine the program finding the success they’ve had over the years without the willingness of these players doing the thankless dirty work, all so their team can win.
Thankfully, in a re-tooling year for the badgers – Tyler Wahl has emerged as the latest glue guy on a young team that needs to do the small things to win games.
Now, to anyone who has watched Wahl play over the last two seasons, they already knew he was this kind of player. It’s the expanded opportunity that has highlighted just how hard he plays, because he plays with the same kind of grit and urgency now as he did when he came off the bench. In year three, Tyler Wahl has taken his game to another level and is impacting the game in a significant way – albeit one that might not appease the casual fan.
Players like Tyler Wahl never seem to get appreciated the way they deserve. Yet, it’s hard to imagine Wisconsin playing at the level they are right now without the Minnesota native. Much has been made of Tyler Wahl’s inability to shoot from 3, but to discredit Wahl for what he can’t do is disrespectful to the player that he is – and he’s damn good.
Wahl has been Wisconsin’s low post presence, and has stepped into one of the team’s leadership roles. All of that however pales in comparison to what he brings this team on the defensive end.
• Wahl is seemingly always in the right defensive position
• Moves his feet and anticipates at an incredibly high level without reaching.
• Versatile defender who can guard 1-4 effectively, thus allowing him to switch onto almost anyone.
• His defensive instincts and overall motor are elite.
Tyler Wahl by the numbers:
• 1st on the team in blocks (9)
• 1st in defensive win shares (0.5)
• 2nd on the team in offensive rebounds (9)
• 3rd on the team in FT attempts (15), and he’s hitting them at a career high clip (80%).
• 3rd in offensive win shares (0.3)
No, the numbers are never going to be eye popping, but they don’t need to be for opposing teams to feel the impact he has on the game. Anyone who can’t appreciate the player that Tyler Wahl has become for Wisconsin, just doesn’t understand how important he is to the teams success.
Tyler Wahl needs to be appreciated for what he is, not what he isn’t. Tyler Wahl will never be the best player on his team, but he certainly has what it takes to be the most important. I’ll take a roster full of players who play the game as hard as Tyler Wahl does, but good luck finding them.
Wisconsin has a niche for finding these kinds of players and molding them into some of the most irreplaceable players in the program. We’re fortunate to have a player as selfless as Tyler Wahl on the roster, and it’s time he begins to be appreciated for all he does to help Wisconsin win games – I can assure you Wisconsin isn’t where they are this season without Tyler Wahl.
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