BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 15: Greg Gard the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on February 15, 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Basketball: State of the Union Address

My colleague Ryan Harings of Locked on Badgers asked BadgerNotes a series of questions regarding the current state of the Wisconsin men’s basketball program and where things stand under head coach Greg Gard.


Program trend, has it gone up, down, or stayed the same under Coach Gard?

There was a ton of animosity surrounding how Greg Gard became the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. Like it or not, Bo Ryan set things up so that his right-hand man would get a crack at landing the full-time gig – which he did. However, coach Gard has received far more criticism from the fan base than I feel is justified.

Coach Gard’s resume through seven seasons as head coach:

  • Winning percentage of (.649%).
  • Won two Big Ten regular-season titles.
  • Has two Big Ten Coach of the Year awards (2020, 2022).
  • Won the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award (2016).
  • Coached two All-Americans (Happ, Davis).
  • Made the NCAA Tournament in all but one season.

Coach Ryan’s resume through his first seven seasons as head coach:

  • Winning percentage of (.742%).
  • Won three Big Ten regular-season titles.
  • Had two Big Ten Coach of the Year awards (2002, 2003)
  • Won the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award (2008).
  • Coached two All-Americans (Harris, Tucker).
  • Made the NCAA Tournament every season while at UW.

Both coaches have enjoyed comparable on-court success throughout their first seven years. Coach Ryan is obviously in a league of his own, but I’m using his resume as a frame of reference for Gards’ on-court success.

Appreciating coach Gard

Had these results come from an outside hire, I feel confident saying the Badgers fan base would feel optimistic about the state of the program and the man leading it.

When replacing a Hall of Fame coach like Bo Ryan, it’s only fair to expect a drop-off, at least in some capacity. Coach Ryan owns the best winning percentage in the history of the Big Ten conference, so setting the bar that high in his absence would be downright ludicrous.

Everyone wants to hire a young, up-and-coming coach who can sell ice to an Eskimo, preferably with NBA pedigree or strong ties to the program. Those types of coaches don’t exactly grow on trees.

In reality, Wisconsin is unlikely to attract that kind of candidate. Even if they could, would you want to risk being repeatedly used as a stepping stone and hitting reset every couple of seasons?

While that certainly has its advantages, I ask that Wisconsin fans appreciate having someone like Gard, who can coach the game, is in his dream position, and is a wealth of knowledge for his players to lean on.

That said, coach Gard has done a terrific job keeping the train on the proverbial tracks. So, to answer your question, I’d say it’s gone down some, which I expected, but not nearly as much as people will lead you to believe. The Wisconsin men’s basketball program is in capable hands.


Can coach Gard elevate the program from its current state?

As for the question of whether or not Gard can elevate the program, I’d say I have serious doubts. I’m a realist regarding the men’s basketball program and understand UW’s obstacles on the recruiting trail.

Wisconsin simply isn’t going to land four and five-star recruits annually. There will always be outliers in recruiting, but overall, it’s an unrealistic expectation.

UW has a well-established identity, and they’ve consistently identified and developed players that systematically fit what they want to do – why fix something that’s not broken?

For a program focused on recruiting and developing its players, the transfer portal could also pose an interesting problem for UW as it relates to roster building.

Internal growth and cohesion have always kept Wisconsin competitive on the court. With the transfer portals usage becoming so prevalent, players are less likely to sit and wait their turn if they see a better opportunity to play elsewhere.

To combat this, Wisconsin will need to alter how they do business to keep pace with other top-flight programs in the Big Ten.

That said, I believe Wisconsin basketball Is unlikely to take the next step and become an upper-echelon program, at least in the eyes of the national media.

UW will remain one of the most consistent teams in the Big Ten, make the NCAA Tournament, and have themselves in a position to compete for league titles more often than not – with the occasional season where everything clicks and they accomplish something extraordinary.

That’s an excellent place to be if you’re a Wisconsin basketball fan, and while it’s reasonable to want more from the program, it’s just not likely to come to fruition.


Grading the strength of the roster now, with a look at the future:

Basketball has changed considerably in recent years, forcing a notable shift in UW’s playing and recruiting philosophy. Because of this, it took some time for Gardo to adapt his coaching style and revisit how he wants to construct his roster moving forward.

UW has shifted towards smaller lineups that put a premium on defensive versatility and the ability to be multiple – a vastly different strategy than some of the more pigeon-holed roles asked of players in the past.

However, in doing this, Coach Gard still looks for players possessing the same characteristics that align with the program’s core philosophy – just a different athletic makeup in some cases.

If I had to grade the overall state of the roster right now, I would give it a due to the lack of high-end talent. There are far more high-floor prospects on the roster than high-upside, but overall, solid talent across the board.

As this relates to the future, I expect the talent level to stay roughly the same, perhaps improving a modest amount. It may not be what people want to hear, but Wisconsin will continue to recruit quality culture fits that play their brand of basketball and win games doing so.


What should the expectations be for Wisconsin Basketball?

I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet. Realistically, I feel that expectations should be that Wisconsin consistently finishes in the upper third of the Big Ten, be in the mix to compete for regular-season conference titles and make the NCAA Tournament every season.

I also believe that the fan base can rationally expect UW to produce a top-10-ranked team with a chance to make a deep run every three or four years. When Wisconsin has the time to develop its players and grow together, anything’s possible.


Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow Dillon Graff on Twitter @DillonGraff.

*Chat about this article over at Badgers After Dark

*Subscribe and listen to the Badger Notes Podcast (as seen on Apple, Google, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts). 

0 thoughts on “Wisconsin Basketball: State of the Union Address

  • Jon Bevan

    You are so awesome! I do not suppose I’ve truly read through a single thing like this before. So good to find someone with unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  • Jon Bevan

    always i used to read smaller content that as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am reading at this place.

  • Jon Bevan

    My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different web address and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking at your web page for a second time.

  • Jon Bevan

    I have been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i am satisfied to exhibit that I’ve a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed. I most surely will make certain to do not overlook this web site and provides it a look on a continuing basis.

  • Jon Bevan

    Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

  • Jon Bevan

    Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you really understand what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked. Please additionally consult with my website =). We will have a hyperlink trade agreement among us

  • Jon Bevan

    Normally I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.

  • Jon Bevan

    This design is spectacular! You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  • Jon Bevan

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. Cheers

  • Jon Bevan

    This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

  • Jon Bevan

    Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is great, let alone the content!

  • Jon Bevan

    Thank you for any other informative blog. The place else may just I am getting that type of information written in such a perfect manner? I have a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  • Agustin Oles

    great submit, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  • Jon Bevan

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always exciting to read content from other authors and use something from other web sites.

  • Jon Bevan

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  • Jon Bevan

    Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics? Thank you so much!

  • Jon Bevan

    I truly love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very own blog and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Thank you!

  • Jon Bevan

    Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  • Jon Bevan

    Thank you for some other magnificent post. Where else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect means of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such information.

  • Jon Bevan

    each time i used to read smaller content that also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this piece of writing which I am reading at this place.

  • Jon Bevan

    What’s Happening i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & assist different customers like its aided me. Great job.

Comments are closed.