"Wait till Next Year." I loath that phrase because the first thing I think of is the pathetic Chicago Cubs fans, and their year in and year out mantra, when their team is not even close to making the playoffs let alone winning it all.
Saturday night (4-5-14) the #2 seeded Badgers fell to the #8 seeded Kentucky Wildcats 74-73, but this time the "wait till next year" cry makes sense. The Badgers finished their phenomenal season with a 30- 8 record, the second most wins in school history. This was their 3rd Final Four (last in 2000), and will only be losing 2 seniors (Ben Brust and Zach Bohannon), from next years squad.
The Badgers will get to March Madness again next season, and it would be 16 consecutive seasons for the program, and 14th consecutive for head coach Bo Ryan. It also means that UW will enter next year as an early favorite and ranked in the top 5 (remember #8 seeded Kentucky was the pre-season #1 team in the nation).
The game that would've gave the Badger faithful their second title game in 73 years, the Badgers won it all in 1941 when they defeated Washington State Cougars.
Saturday night the "One and Done" Kentucky Wildcats not only set a Final Four record for freshman scoring, when they scored 66 of the teams 74 points, they also held the Badgers weapon as of late Frank Kaminsky to only 8 points and 5 board. The UW led half 40-36, but the Wildcats came out on fire with a 15 - 0 run. The Badgers were able to get back in the game when Duje Dukan hit two quick 3 pointers, it was the spark the Bucky needed, and Badgers got back into the game.
With time winding down and the score tied at 71, Badger guard Traevon Jackson had one of the more "headsy" plays of the game when Kentucky's Andrew Harrison went up to block Jackson's three point attempt, Jackson released the ball and was fouled, which meant three free throws, and a chance to go up by three.
At this point the Badgers were 17-17 from the charity stripe. Jackson missed the first and drained the second two giving UW a two point lead. Kentucky promptly came down the court, and with 5.7 seconds left Aaron Harrison hit a 3 pointer, reminiscent of the one he made to win the game the previous Saturday against Michigan State.
With plenty of time on the clock the Badgers inbounded to Traevon Jackson, he drove up the left side of the court and took a clean look jumper that was between a shot off the backboard and swish, it hit off the heel of the rim, rebounded into the air and time expired.
This is a really good team with a great coach who will find a way to get that extra something out of his returning players and make a run next season that is worthy of phrase "WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR!"
(photos courtesy of Rick Schabowski)