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March 6, 2012

Ryan makes case for Taylor

MADISON -- Jordan Taylor did not have as good a senior season as he did his junior year. There's no denying that.

Not from a statistical standpoint, anyway.

Taylor's numbers were down across the board. He scored fewer points per game, dished out less assists and turned the ball over at a higher rate.

But that did not make him any less valuable to the Badgers.

It also did not keep Taylor from being a first-team all-Big Ten selection by the coaches, and second-team honoree on the media ballot Monday when the teams were announced.

"I'm very honored to have my name written alongside the great players in the Big Ten," Taylor said. "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."

Still, some aren't convinced that Taylor, who finished seventh in the Big Ten with 16.3 points per game in conference play, should be a first-team selection. Even with his 2.20 assist-to-turnover ratio ranking second in the Big Ten, there are those who seemed to fall in line with the media's decision to put Taylor on the second team.

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan made his case for Taylor at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon.

"Here's what I can make a case for: what he means to us," Ryan said. "What other people perceive that to be or feel strongly about, I can along with any of it because it's all in the numbers that Jordan has been around and has helped create.

"People can say a lot of things, people can infer, people can kind of speak their mind, but for me, I know what Jordan has meant. His teammates, they can tell you what he has meant. Any fan that has ever followed Wisconsin basketball can tell you how valuable a guy like Jordan Taylor is to the program.

Ryan went on to describe Taylor coming into his office while still in high school, with a "wide-eyed, smile on his face" look.

Right there, Ryan already saw a lot to like about Taylor.

"There's just certain things you can feel, I guess, that you can sense," Ryan said. "We liked him. And we still like him. And we're glad he liked us."

Taylor joins five other Badgers as a two-time, first-team all-Big Ten selection. He is the first since Alando Tucker in 2006 and '07. Others to do so were Kirk Penney ('02 and '03), Michael Finley (1993 and '95), Ab Nicholas ('51 and '52) and Don Rehfeldt ('49 and '50).

The senior guard earned the 10th first-team honor in Ryan's 11 years as head coach, the most in the Big Ten since the start of the 2001-02 season.

Earlier this month, Ryan noted that Taylor's season has been impressive not so much for what he has done from a statistical standpoint, but because of the work Taylor has done to assimilate his teammates into the starting rotation with Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz all having graduated after last season.

"His shooting percentage is down a little bit but not his leadership," Ryan said. "And that is what has enabled us to hang in there and to keep competing in the top level of the Big Ten, which for Jordan has been quite an accomplishment."

Joining Taylor in being recognized Monday evening were two of those first-year starters, Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren. The two redshirt juniors were consensus honorable mention selections.

Taylor's fellow senior guard, Rob Wilson earned the Sportsmanship Award for UW, while backcourt mate Josh Gasser was named by the coaches to the Big Ten all-Defensive team.

In being selected to the all-Defensive team, Gasser accomplished a UW first. No Badgers sophomore had ever received all-Defensive team honors. Gasser is just the fifth player overall to be named to the defensive team, joining Michael Flowers (2007 and '08), Joe Krabbenhoft ('08), Trevon Hughes ('10) and Taylor ('11).

"Being named to the all-Defensive team means a lot to me," Gasser said. "I really pride myself on that end of the court, so to have coaches around the league recognize that gives me great pride. 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."


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