By DREW OLSON
My English teacher, Mrs. Fryer, would bristle at the coarse language, but there is no nice way to put it. It sucks when your favorite team gets blow out. It sucks more when your favorite team loses a nail-biter by a point.
In the NCAA Tournament -- particularly in the second weekend and beyond -- losing stings. It hurts. It leaves a hollow, empty feeling that fades with time but never really goes away.
Wisconsin fans are feeling that sting in the wake of the Badgers' wrenching loss to Syracuse. Many of them are accusing Coach Bo Ryan of malpractice because they didn't like the way the final possession played out, with senior Jordan Taylor missing a long, contested three-pointer as the final seconds ticked away.
"Bo should have called a timeout," the fans said.
"You have to get a better shot than that!" they screamed.
"How could he not have (Jared) Berggren in the game for the last play," others moaned.
"Another gag in the clutch. Bo can't win the big one."
In response, I'd like to quote former Brewers manager Ken Macha, whose language may also make Mrs. Fryer livid.
The Badgers -- overmatched in terms of talent and athleticism all night -- had the ball in their best player's hand with 15 seconds left and a chance to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight.
Bo Ryan didn't choke. If you want to point a finger, point it at Jordan Taylor. He didn't initiate a play. He didn't engineer an open look. Sure, Ryan could have called timeout with 5 or 6 seconds left on the clock He said he didn't because he doesn't like to leave an inbounder without a timeout.
If you don't agree with that logic, fine.
But, ask yourself this: If the Badgers' best player -- a pre-season All-American -- couldn't make something positive happen with 15 seconds left against a long, tough defense, what would have happened on a half-court inbounds play with five or six seconds left? Would the shot have been better?
If Taylor had dribbled a few steps closer and missed, the result would have been the same and folks would have found another reason to blame Ryan.
Here is another one to ponder: What if that had been the Bucks game and it was Brandon Jennings who launched that long, contested three-pointer. Well, Brandon Jennings is a pro, right? Check their birthdates. Brandon Jennins is ONE WEEK OLDER than Jordan Taylor. If he misses that three, he's a hack. He's a butcher. Nobody blames Scott Skiles for not calling timeout or designing a better play.
The bottom line: the Badgers lost a heartbreaker to a better team. It was a game for the ages. You want to talk about missed chances? Go to the DVR, re-watch the game and put your TV in slo-motion for the five missed free throws. The heartbreakingly close rebounds that got away. The uncontested layups that Syracuse's quicker ballhandlers created.
Just don't focus on the final possession. There is a pretty good chance that Bo Ryan knows more about the game than you do. There is a pretty good chance the loss is going to impact his life and general psyche more over the next few weeks than yours.
Get over it. Get over yourself. Bo Ryan wasn't the winning coach on Thursday night, but he was closer to a hero than a villain.
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